Thursday, November 17, 2011

Kel-Tec PMR-30 .22 Magnum Pistol Review

Kel-Tec PMR-30 .22 Magnum Pistol Review

Regardless of what everyone says a gun should look like, Kel-Tec has always bucked the normal path that other manufacturers have followed with truly unique and innovative products.  The Kel-tec PMR-30 translates to Pistol Magnum Rimfire 30-shot and is yet another innovative firearm which fills a niche in the market with a very fun 30-shot .22 WMR semi-auto pistol.

The polymer frame fit is tight and the various material used in the construction are all finished with a soft buffed finish.  Despite the light weight, the PMR-30 is a solidly built gun.
As with any of the Kel-Tec firearms the PMR-30 is uniquely unlike anything else on the market. The ergonomics do not feel odd but different from typical pistols due to the size and shape designed around the magazine. Part of that different feeling is the grip angle and the deeper grip to accommodate the .22 Magnum round.  The other quite noticeable trait is the weight which makes for a fast handling and packable trail gun. At 13.6oz unloaded and 19oz loaded the PMR-30 feels like a well built pellet pistol. 

The Kel-Tec PMR-30 comes with two magazines the pistol and a nice hard case. The pistol makes innovative use of materials starting with the slide and barrel made from 4140 steel and a frame of 7075 aluminum. The grip, slide cover, trigger, mag release, and safety levers are glass reinforced Nylon (Zytel), much like the other Kel-Tec Pistols. The two included 30-round magazines are also very durable Zytel, with handy round count ports. Dual opposing extractors increase reliability of the rim-fire rounds for positive extraction. The Kel-Tec PMR-30 features a heel magazine release instead of a typical thumb release which was still plenty fast to load and adds to the complete ambidextrous function of the pistol.  Recoil is managed by the urethane recoil buffer and captive coaxial recoil springs. Dis-assembly is via a simple single pin removal which breaks the gun down into slide, barrel, buffer, and recoil springs.

The PMR-30’s trigger is a very surprising crisp single action with an over-travel stop. My expectation was that the trigger would be the mushy trigger of my Sub-2000 however this was a really good trigger for an inexpensive pistol. The manual safety is a standard thumb activated ambidextrous safety lever (up for SAFE, down for FIRE) which even my stumpy thumbs could reach and operate.

The sights are high visibility fiber optics with the front green and rear orange of different colors. These sights were fast to pick up and easy to see in all ambient light levels.  Surprisingly with so much zytel utilized on the gun the front sight is dovetailed aluminum front sight which provides windage adjustment.  Elevation is fixed on the PMR-30. The pistol also has an optional accessory mounts for several popular red dot sights which provide mounting just in front of the rear sight, however a plain old picatinny mount up top would have been nice for other optics.  If you want to mount a laser or weapon mounted light the PMR-30 includes a standard 1913 picatinny rail under the barrel.

The Kel-tec PMR-30 design goals were around providing a light weight, full size pistol chambered for the flat-shooting and surprisingly powerful .22Magnum cartridge (.22WMR). The power of this round in many respects match's that of the .380 round for defense, sport, and hunting with much lower recoil even in this ultra-light gun.

The PMR-30 operates on a unique hybrid auto-adjusting blowback/locked-breech system which Kel-Tec indicates allows for the use of a wide variety of ammunition and varying velocities. The system automatically adjusts between locked breach and blowback operation, depending on the pressure of the cartridge. A friend and I worked the gun over hard with about 400 rounds of various Super X, CCI, and Federal rounds and had no failures to fire, feed or extract.  This is a highly reliable gun which I would feel comfortable using for self-defense or survival.

Kelt-Tech has succeeded where others have failed by producing a double stack magazine that holds 30 rounds and fits completely in the grip of the pistol. Of note, if you just start stuffing rounds in as I did and loading the ammo incorrectly, you will never get 30 rounds into the magazine and you will have feeding and functioning issues due to rim locking together. If on the other hand you follow the printed directions which details a technique that combines a 5.56 mag reload and .22 rimfire mag reload you can get the 30 rounds in and not have any functionality issues what so the manual on this gun.

Similar to the statement you will find with Glock the slide lock lever is noted as not being a slide release.  The suggested method of manipulation is to release the slide via pulling back on the slide to release. A problem I found with this was that my hands never felt like they had a great grip on the slick zytel slide, but maybe some skateboard tape in between the ribs would help. The lock lever will hold back the slide after the last shot and also provides for manual slide lock lever use.  The heel magazine release is different from the now standard thumb release, however with 30 rounds in the magazine and +1 in the chamber, the need to reload is doubtful in all but the most extreme situations and even then mag changes will still be quick.

Thirty rounds, let’s contemplate that.  That’s three mag changes on any standard .22 semi-auto and five revolver reloads.  This is a load of ammo is a light weight standard size gun that just keep s shooting and shooting.  My buddy and I kept saying, “geez I have to be empty by now”, but 30 rounds makes for a long period of shooting.

Buyers of the PMR-30 will have to do a little work to figure out which ammo shoots best in their gun. Figure that out and buy a stack of that ammo. My accuracy results were pretty varied.  With CCI Maxi-Mags the accuracy of this gun was quite good, but with the Winchester Super X rounds, it was what I would term as combat accurate. For a light weight gun and for a pistol hunting where most shooting is in the 2-25 yards range, this gun has more than adequate accuracy with the right ammo and could keep golf balls and pop cans dancing consistently at 25 yards off hand.  My best group with the CCI rounds were .86” which is quite good for a reliable and powerful gun that is priced on the street for $300-$350.

Average 5-shot groups at 25 yards off a rest
CCI Maxi-Mag JHP                           40gr  Accuracy 1.3”
Winchester Super X.22WMR FMJ 40Gr Accuracy 3.1”
Federal .22WMR JHP                       50gr Accuracy 2.25”

When I first picked up the Kel-Tec PMR-30 my first thought was this would make the ultimate gun for a light weight bug out and field bag.  Two 30-round magazines is a ton of ammo at your disposal and tucking in an extra box of ammo is certainly not going to add a ton of weight to a grab and go bag.  The reality is though this gun is more than that.  It is a blast to shoot producing pleasant little fire balls as the sun starts to hide for the evening and very mild recoil all for a very inexpensive price.  The price of .22WMR ammo is about the same as inexpensive 9mm ammo these days, however for the hunter, sportman, or survivalist there is a big weight difference between the rounds and firearm required for each. The .22WMR is the key to this gun’s flexibility.  If it was a standard .22LR it would be underpowered for defensive use or larger game, if it was a larger caliber the grains of lead would start to add up and drastically increase the weight of ammo in the magazine and extra rounds carried.   

This is a great gun for a lot of different duties. The Kel-tec PMR-30  is the quintessential trail and pack gun that could handle all manner of beast and odd situation all in a light weight package that is only 19oz when fully loaded.  It is light to pack, ammo is relatively inexpensive, and easy to operate equally with either hand.  Having 30 rounds on tap in this size gun is just plain fun, but could really be helpful in a defensive situation. Admittedly the grip angle took a little to get used to, but now with a few rounds down range, I like this gun more and more as I shoot it.

Calibers: .22 Magnum (.22WMR)
Weight unloaded: 13.6oz. 385.6g
Loaded Magazine: 6oz. 170.1g
Length: 7.9" 200.7mm
Height: 5.8" 147.3mm
Width: 1.3" 33.0mm
Barrel length: 4.3" 109.2mm
Sight radius: 6.9" 175.3mm
Energy (40gr): 138ft-lbs 187J
Capacity: 30 rounds
Trigger pull: 4-6 lbs 17.8-26.7N

Kel-Tec CNC

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Great write up by an experienced shooter. Been searching for a gun easy to handle for a 75 yr old. Love the idea of 30/60 rounds of ready ammo. Fell in love w/22 mag years ago with my Remington slide action w/scope.