Kel-Tec PMR 30: A Second Look

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This space-age pistol has a lot of uses. It’s a great pistol for hunting, personal defense, and target practice — and it’s also the fun gun of the century! Also, yes, at the time of the article being published Midsouth does have .22 MAG in stock. You can find it by clicking HERE.


Bob Campbell


Kel-Tec
This is a space-age pistol, but then it is a Kel-Tec! With modern construction, light weight and reliability this is one interesting handgun.

I came to the Kel-Tec PMR 30 in a different manner than I would have thought. My experience with their CMR 30 carbine solidified my confidence in the company and promoted my eager appreciation of this .22 Magnum self-loader. When I had the chance to obtain a PMR 30 pistol, I did not hesitate.

These handguns have been scarce on the market. The situation seems better now and I am seeing more PMR 30s in well-stocked shops. The PMR 30 is a unique and highly interesting handgun. This is a polymer frame pistol with a steel slide and barrel that works on the simple blowback principle. The first thing you notice after the space age appearance is that the pistol weighs less than 14 ounces. Even with a fully-loaded 30-round magazine, the piece weighs but 20 ounces. Yes, 20 ounces for a 30-shot pistol!

The pistol is quite narrow overall, although the grip must be deep enough to accommodate the .22 Magnum cartridge. Just the same, the handgun is manageable by all but the smallest hand sizes. The geometry of the grip is subtle until understood, and when looked at with an experienced eye the engineering is impressive. The safety is ambidextrous and offers ergonomic operation and easy reach.

The pistol is supplied with fiber optic front and rear sights. The sights offer excellent visibility and are precise enough for accurate fire well past 25 yards. The pistol is drilled and tapped for optics from the factory. The PMR 30 also features a light rail — unusual for a rimfire pistol. This rail accommodates popular lasers and combat lights including the LaserMax Spartan red laser.

Kel-Tec PMR-30 sights
Optics ready! Note fiber-optic rear sight — very bright — and the front fiber-optic sight is a good choice for rapid target acquisition.

Among the best features of this single-action handgun is the trigger action. The trigger is clean and crisp, breaking smoother than any factory trigger I’ve tried in recent memory.

The PMR 30 differs from most modern handguns in using a heel-type magazine release. While speed is better with the Browning-type button release, the heel-type magazine release is more secure. Just the same, with sufficient practice reasonable speed may be had with the heel-based system, and, with 30 rounds on tap, I do not foresee the need for a speed load. As heel-based latches go, the Kel-Tec is a good design and faster than most.

Kel-Tec
Note the heel based-magazine catch. With such a relatively long and heavy magazine this is a good choice, but it takes a little practice to perform efficient reloads.

Firing Tests
When loading the magazines, be certain to properly center each cartridge and bump the magazine every 5 or 6 rounds to ensure that the cartridges are seated. This improves reliability. The last few cartridges are rather difficult to load. For informal practice loading 15 to 20 rounds is a sound program and a little easier on the self.

Kel-Tec PMR-30 magazine
The 30-round PMR magazine is well-made of good material.

I have been able to test the pistol with a variety of ammunition, including the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP, Winchester’s 40-grain FMJ, the CCI 40-grain JHP, and Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense. There were no failures to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Engineering a pistol to fire the rimmed .22 Magnum cartridge isn’t an easy task but Kel-Tec took the challenge and ran with it.

CCI
The PMR 30 eats a lot of ammunition quickly. It functioned flawlessly with all four different ammo selections I tried.

The pistol is a joy to handle and fire. Although the .22 Magnum exhibits a healthy muzzle blast, recoil isn’t a factor. A combination of a comfortable grip, excellent sights, and a crisp trigger make the pistol easy to land hits with. At close range, the pistol gave excellent results on the combat course, scoring X-ring hits at 5, 7, and 10 yards.

At a long 25 yards, I tested 3 loads. These were the Winchester 40-grain FMJ, the CCI Maxi Mag JHP, and the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP. Firing offhand, there was little difference in accuracy among all four. Boxes of 50 rounds each went all too quickly!

Bob Campbell
The PMR 30 is accurate in offhand fire. Firing quickly the Kel-Tec PMR is a controllable handgun. Get sighted on a target out to 50 yards and chances are you can hit it with a handgun that shoots as flat as a wire.

Shooting from a solid bench-rest firing position, the Kel-Tec was more than accurate enough for small game or pest control. The fastest load tested was the CCI Maxi Mag at a strong 1440 fps. The best group for accuracy was the Fiocchi 40-grain JSP at 3.5 inches, with the Winchester and CCI each cutting just below 4.0 inches. I suspect that with practice, the pistol may be more accurate, however, it is a light pistol and it takes practice to stabilize the piece.

Personal Defense
While I prefer a larger caliber, there is something to be said for a bullet with plenty of velocity. Hornady’s 45-grain Critical Defense load is designed for defense use and exhibits good penetration and expansion. I would recommend this load, and it is completely reliable in the Kel-Tec pistol. For the recoil-shy this is a first-class alternative to a larger caliber handgun.

Barber Leather Works
The Barber Leather Works Chameleon works well for concealing the PMR 30.

I, frankly, would rather have this pistol loaded with Hornady’s ammunition than a .32 or .380 pistol. Accuracy is good, hit probability is excellent, and you have a good reserve of ammunition. For those who like to practice, the PMR 30 is an alternative to harder-kicking pistols.

The PMR 30 is a surprising piece, well worth its price and one of the top fun guns of the century.


Calibers: .22 Mag. (.22WMR)
Action Type: semi-auto, hybrid blowback/locked-breech system
Frame: 7075 aluminum covered by glass-reinforced Nylon
Barrel length: 4.3″
Rifling: 1:16″ RH twist
Magazine: 30+1 rounds
Sights: Fiber Optic
Trigger pull: 3 lbs. 6 oz.
Overall Length: 7.9″
Weight: 13.6 oz.
Width: 1.3″
Height: 5.8″
Accessories: owner’s manual, hard case, trigger lock, and two magazines
Suggested Retail Price: $415

Kel-Tec.com


Bob Campbell is an established and well-respected outdoors writer, contributing regularly to many publications ranging from SWAT Magazine to Knifeworld. Bob has also authored three books: Holsters For Combat and Concealed Carry (Paladin Press), The 1911 Semi Auto (Stoeger Publishing), and The Handgun In Personal Defense (The Second Amendment Foundation).

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One thought on “Kel-Tec PMR 30: A Second Look”

  1. This looks and sounds like a very neat gun to own. The shame is it is about 25 years behind and nearly identical the Grendel P 30. I own several, 30 rounds one has an extended threaded barrel, the others are short versions and excellent firearms. It is very unfortunate that the company fell victim to the “ugly gun” ban enacted by gun control crazed democrats in 1994.

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