Make Mine Metal: The Alloy-Frame KelTec P15

posted on March 21, 2023
Alloy-Frame P15

When KelTec introduced its P15 at the 2022 SHOT Show, it had two models on display. One is the polymer-frame handgun that the accompanying review focuses on, and the second is nearly identical, except that its frame is rendered in aluminum alloy. As a follow-up to celebrating 30 years in business, KelTec is not only producing its first striker-fired handgun, but also its first metal-frame handgun.

The metal version of the P15 uses a machined aluminum-alloy frame with removable walnut stocks in what the company calls “European styling.” I would add “Eastern” to that description, as the pistol’s profile imparts a mini-Stechkin vibe. Like the polymer version, a serialized alloy chassis is bolted into the alloy frame. Where the polymer frame has molded-in serrations on its front and rear straps, these areas are checkered on the metal-frame version. The molded-in Gator Grip of the side panels of the polymer frame are rendered as removable checkered wood panels on the metal frame. Unlike the polymer-frame version of the P15, the metal-frame model does not have an accessory rail on its dustcover. To cap off its all-metal construction (with the exception of the stocks, grip safety and magazine extension), the removable sight platform at the rear of the slide is also made of aluminum alloy.

The overall specifications are the same as the polymer P15, with the exception of the weight (which is 18.5 ozs.) and the width of the frame over the wood stocks (which measures 1.29")—for a total grip circumference of 5.06", making it one of the “thinnest and lightest” metal-frame double-stack 9 mm Luger handguns. The alloy P15 fit perfectly in our Alien Gear holster designed for the polymer version.

As expected, the metal-frame P15 exhibited the same reliability as the polymer version. Though the weight is nearly identical, the wider grip width helped distribute recoil better. The nearly square cross section of the grip is reminiscent of the Browning Hi-Power, but 0.5" smaller in circumference. I found the wider grip circumference aided in manipulating the magazine release and allowed the extended magazine to drop free while maintaining a firing grip. 

At 25.2 ozs. fully loaded, the metal P15 is still nipping at the heels of the loaded weight of most 15-shot polymer-frame 9 mms. As demonstrated by other metal-frame versions of polymer handguns, such as Smith & Wesson’s M&P, an alloy-frame pistol need only be slightly heavier than its polymer twin. In fact, the metal P15 weighs only 2.4 ozs. more than the polymer version.

While grabbing for titles, with a suggested retail price of $800, the metal-frame P15 is also the most expensive handgun KelTec has ever offered. It’s something unique, even by KelTec standards, and a reminder that just when you think you have the Cocoa, Fla., company figured out, it tosses a curve ball.


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