Kel-Tec PMR-30


The Kel-Tec PMR-30 is a semi-automatic large-framed pistol chambered in .22 Mag. The PMR-30 has an interesting feature: it uses both a locked-breech and blowback systems. Kel-Tec says, depending on the pressure of the cartridge, the system will adjust seamlessly.

Features include fiber optic sights that are brightly colored and an easy to see and a Picatinny rail for easy mounting of a light or laser. Its single-action trigger sets off the action with a short four-pound pull. An ambidextrous safety and magazine release located at the heel of the grip. And it is easy to disassemble, just remove a pin and the slide and frame separate.

Kel-Tec recommends the PMR-30 for target shooting and hunting small game.

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Caliber: .22 Mag.
Grip: Nylon Zytel/black
Capacity: 30
Sights: Fiber optic front sight
Features: Picatinny rail; fluted barrel; ambidextrous safety; and easy disassembly<br />Uses both locked-breech and blowback systems
Action: Semi-auto
Material/Finish: Steel/matte black
Size: Large
Trigger: Single-action
Website: http://www.keltecwea…
Weight: 0.375 pounds
Trigger Pull: 4 to 6 pounds
Barrel Length: 4.3"
Length: 7.9"
Height: 5.8"

Editor Review

Perfect Plinking Pistol

About this time of year, when the kids get out of school, my nephews show up for some good old fashioned summer fun.  We live way out in the middle of nowhere.  We have a lovely lake—a river.  The two teenagers eat everything in the fridge, complain about our tiny television and then disappear into the woods. 

Only this year, my youngest nephew is 14 and my brother-in-law has decided that both boys are old enough to put away their Airsoft guns and pick up the real thing.  So I have a job.  No big deal.  We ran down to the Wal-Mart and picked up eleventy hundred .22 LRs, and as much low brass 12 gauge as we could carry.  Ah, summertime….

I used to teach black powder skills for the Boy Scouts.  Imagine it, 13 year olds with .50 calibers.  I still get a bit shaky thinking about it.  Boy Scouts have the most annoying habit of turning to ask a question and swinging the barrel right along with them.  It is a good idea to keep one hand free at all times. 

Conveniently, my brother-in-law had to work, so he wasn’t here for the fun and games, but he did send a present.  Not for me to keep, mind you, but his heart was in the right place.  That week with his boys, I also spent with his Kel-Tec PMR-30 – a beastly little gun.

I like Kel-Tec.  But mostly, I think they have a fascinating business model.  I really respect their low-cost, high quality compact pistols.  However, I’m less attracted to some of their other offerings—the guns that look like toys – the PLR-22 for example.  Call me old fashioned, but I still consider guns to be tools. But the PMR-30 …

What is this thing?

Thirty round magazine.  Combined blowback, locked breech system.  Weird aesthetic design.  The technical specs are interesting, but there’s a lot more going on here.  If you are at all interested in the political or economic elements of American firearms, I’d suggest you read up on the story behind the PMR-30.  The short history of the quirky little gun is fantastic—from the early design of Grendel P-30, to the delivery issues Kel-Tec encountered after the guns release.  I’m still not sure if the scarcity of the PMR-30 is due to production issues, or because of massive popularity, But the Internet discussion boards are full of folks clamoring to find one.

How does it feel?

While I like the way Kel-Tec keeps down costs, I’m a little leery of the way some of their hybrid frames appear to be held together with nuts and bolts.  The slide is a bit skimpy.  Thin and flat.  The grip is OK. Like most polymer-framed pistols, you take what you get.  Though I can’t really get used to the way it looks in my hand, it points well, and the fiber-optic sights are great.

How does it work?

The slide release is on the bottom of the handle.  That’s good for the lefties, but it takes a minute or two to get used to.  And you have to load the magazine carefully.  Most automatic ammunition stacks flat, but the .22 magnum, like the, .45 lc, and the .38, has a protruding rim, so you have to take extra care to make sure the rims don’t overlap.  Kel-Tec even recommends tapping the back of the 30-round magazine while loading to seat the bullets.

Thirty rounds is a lot and may be the biggest selling point for the gun.  The .22 magnum is a fast and devastating little round.  The supersonic speed of these projectiles gives them impressive terminal ballistics.  And yes, they are deadly.

And the rounds are not that expensive.  They aren’t as cheap as a box of .22 LRs and not much is either, but they’re nowhere near as expensive as the 5.7s.

What does the competition look like?

The PMR-30 is great for plinking, but it’s the low muzzle flip and the 30-round magazine that makes it ideal for goofing around.  It is fun to shoot fast and you’ll be surprised how quickly the thing empties out.  The way this thing shoots, I can imagine ammunition getting expensive.  I blew through mags again and again, as did my nephews, which got expensive.

I had fun plinking with it, but my tin cans don’t really care much if they’re plinked with a .22 LR or a .22 magnum.  Clearly the gun’s biggest competition comes from .22 automatics.  Some see the FN 5-7, or Five-seveN, which looks a lot like the PMR-30, as a competitor.  Bogus.  The FN costs three times as much and shoots more expensive (and harder to find) ammunition.

How does it shoot?

Have I mentioned the muzzle flash?  I’m not impressed by a three foot halo of flame emanating from a pistol barrel.  It means that the powder isn’t burning in the barrel, which means that the bullet is not performing up to its potential.  But what do I know?  Maybe you want to plink and roast up some marshmallows at the same time.  Let’s just say the PMR-30 is a flashy little gun. 

We put a lot of rounds through the thing.  The PMR-30 begs for it.  It was actually difficult for me to muster the self-control needed to keep from blazing through the magazine.  Forget my nephews (this was a dubious gun to introduce into their firearms indoctrination), but for the purpose of this review, I ran a hundred rounds through with an eye toward truly evaluating its accuracy.

After taking some time to acclimate to the double-action trigger, I shot five 10-round groups on standard pistol targets.

At 50 feet.

Pulling back a ways didn’t really impede my results.  Maybe I was getting used to the trigger, but I had a really good set.

At 25 yards.

After using all of the patience and skill available, I let loose a little.  I set up a couple of silhouettes and plowed through a few mags.

Of the first 30, 19 were on target. Of the next 30, I either hit all 30, or missed completely, but by that point the target was so mangled that I was having a hard time judging shot placement.  I then emptied two magazines with some conservative combination of rapid-fire speed and diligent aim.  I kept all 60 in the black form 25 feet, and many of them went through the same ragged hole that spread in the middle of the target.


So what do you want the PMR-30 for?  I’m not saying it isn’t cool – whatever that means – or fun.  It is most defiantly fun and affordable (if you can find one).  The PMR-30 is an incredibly satisfying gun to shoot.  The kick is manageable, the sights are clear and bright, and the magazine holds 30 rounds. 

In the end, it comes down to that.  It holds 30 rounds.  Other than that, the PMR-30 doesn’t do anything all that different from many other guns.  I wouldn’t hunt with the PMR-30 and I wouldn’t ever carry the PMR-30. I would rather plink with a .22 LR and that’s about it.  This is all personal preference—the gun is not my style. 

Here’s something I have yet to figure out.  Why do my nephew’s Airsoft guns look so real?  One of them has an AK-74 that is built better than most of the real ones. 

And conversely, why do guns like the PMR-30 look so strange?  Will the zombies fear us if our guns look silly? 

Sorry, I’m feeling a bit like an old codger.  Hanging out with teenagers does that to me, and hanging out with the PMR-30 does that to me, too

I’d highly recommend you try out a Kel-Tec PMR-30 because they’re mighty fun little guns.   

While I don’t really know exactly what I’d do with the thing, I don’t really want to give it back.