The Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm pocket pistol made history when it hit the market in 2006, but it also suffered from some developmental hurdles. It's still the lightest and flattest semi-automatic 9mm pistol there is, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a pretty good one.
Other manufacturers have followed Kel-Tec's lead in the past, and the PF-9 also spurred some competition. At this time, its closest rivals are the Taurus PT709 Slim and Kahr CM9... and neither can come close to Kel-Tec's price - even though the Taurus is made overseas (Brazil) and Kel-Tec is based in Florida, USA. Also, both rivals are heavier. Of these, I've used a PT709, and prefer the Kel-Tec PF-9. The Kahr CM9 holds one less round than the PF-9 and PT709.
With a MSRP of $333 for the blued version, and an average street price well below that number, the PF-9 is an understandably popular little popper. Combine the affordable price with its small dimensions and light weight, and it's no wonder this gun is in demand.
When you make the decision to carry a concealed firearm, you learn quickly that size matters. Carrying a holstered handgun while hunting is one thing (you generally don't care to hide your gun when you're in the woods), and toting a firearm that you need to conceal is another matter entirely.
When I first began carrying, the most suitable handgun I owned was a diminutive little Beretta Tomcat 32 ACP pistol. The 32 ACP is wimpy, but there are times when it can certainly be better than nothing. But even that little gun is thicker (1.1") than the PF-9 (0.97" at its widest point), which packs considerably more punch - and holds the same number of cartridges (7+1).
The Beretta didn't carry as easily as the PF-9 does, either. The stumpy little Tomcat doesn't ride well in the waistband, and it needs a pocket holster to keep it oriented and concealed in a back pocket. I can easily carry the PF-9 in my waistband, which makes drawing it much more convenient.
Comparisons aside, the PF-9 stands on its own. The three-dot sights are adjustable, albeit crudely, and it has proven to be 100% reliable with all the ammo I've fed it - including reloads and hollowpoints, and shooting it after toting it against my often-sweaty body for a few days.
The photo above shows the left side of the Kel-Tec PF-9. The left side of the polymer grip frame has KEL TEC molded into it. The magazine release is located just aft of the trigger guard. Above that is the slide release, and forward of that (above the rear of the trigger) is the takedown pin.
Kel-Tec thoughtfully included a protrusion of plastic below the slide release, to prevent it from snagging on clothing. Nice touch, especially since that is the gun's widest point. The serrations in the slide release are very shallow and largely worthless, and releasing the slide was a chore when I got the gun. A little polishing of the slide notch improved that.
The mag release is almost too tall. The mag did pop loose from the pistol when I was sitting in a truck seat that squeezed the gun between the lumbar support and my body. I wish it was a little more low-profile.