31 Rounds of Fun and Versatility
By Randy Ferris
This is a very difficult review to write, not that there is anything wrong with this pistol, quite the opposite. The Kel-Tec PMR-30 is so much blasted fun to shoot that I had a difficult time pulling myself away from the range to write about it.
I need to start off by mentioning that I have a soft spot in my heart for the .22 Magnum cartridge. The first firearm I ever saved up my own money to buy was a Marlin Model 783 Bolt Action Rifle in .22 Magnum. Since then I have owned five other firearms chambered for what has become my favorite cartridge.
In terms of Kel-Tec firearms, I have owned two of their pistols in the past, a P-3AT in .380 ACP and a PF-9 in 9mm. They were reliable and accurate enough for self-defense but I would describe both of their trigger pulls and slide actions as “gritty”. When I first actually got to see a PMR-30 in-person it was apparent that this was not anything like the Kel-Tec pistols I purchased in the prior decade. The fit and finish was superb. The slide moved along the top of the frame like buttered glass. There was not a hitch, hang-up or any grit involved. I also had three other immediate impressions:
- It was smaller than I had perceived from the photos I had seen.
- The grip frame and slide are out of proportion with each other. The slide is small in comparison to the grip frame. This is not a negative; it is the result of the economy of Kel-Tec’s engineering. The slide is as small as it is because it doesn’t need to be any bigger and the grip is as large as it is because that was the size needed to hold the larger .22 Magnum rounds in a manner so that they feed properly
- There is not much angle to the grip it looks as if it almost sits at a right angle to the slide
One of the other things you notice right away is that this is a very light pistol. It weighs 13.6 ounces unloaded. The trigger pull on my specimen was 4.45 pounds. It has a slight amount of take-up and breaks cleanly. The sight picture is fantastic. The sight up front is made of aluminum, dovetailed into place and contains a half-inch long green fiber optic pipe.
The rear sight is fixed and contains two red fiber optic pipes.
The slide and fluted barrel are made of 4140 steel and they are very nicely finished. The frame is made of 7075 Aluminum and covered with glass-reinforced nylon, known at Zytel, including the slide cover, which extends from the rear of the top of the slide to the beginning of the ejection port. Atop the slide cover there are four screws which, when removed, allow you to affix the red dot scope mount that is available directly from Kel-Tec for about $26.00. Underneath the forward portion of the slide sits a standard Picatinny accessory rail for a light or laser sighting systems.
The ergonomic engineering on this pistol is outstanding. Every control, except for the magazine release, is within the reach of a normal adult’s thumb. This includes the ambidextrous safety levers and the slide release. The width of the pistol is very narrow at 1.3 inches. While this is somewhat narrow the length of the grip gives you enough to hold onto and put my index finger right in the trigger’s sweet spot.
I mentioned above that the magazine release is not within the reach of the shooter’s thumb and that is because it is a heel release. Now most pistols with heel releases I am familiar with have the release at the rear of the bottom of the grip and are activated by pushing the mechanism out, away from the grip. The mag release on the Kel-Tec PMR-30 is at the base of the backstrap and you push it in, toward the grip. This arrangement works very well and the magazine falls freely into your hand when you depress the release.
This certainly may add a second or two to the reloading process but if the first 31 rounds you fired did not solve your problem then you are really in the wrong place at the wrong time.
You do not have to align some marking on the slide with a corresponding marking on the frame, you do not have to remove any bushings and you do not have to dry fire the pistol. Just remove the magazine, push out the pin (which on my model did not require any implement other than my finger), and push the slide off the front of the pistol. From there you just remove the guide rod/spring assembly, take out the barrel block and extract the barrel.
So let’s talk about the way the PMR-30 shoots. It fit my hand well, had great sights, a very good trigger pull and a smooth overall action therefore it should be accurate. It is. The concern of the grip sitting at a right angle disappeared once I started shooting the pistol. This pistol produces a loud report and a sizeable muzzle flash. In essence it gives you all of the sensory perception of shooting a large bore pistol with very minimal recoil. Now, if that muzzle flash bothers you Kel-Tec does have a threaded barrel with a flash reducer offered on their website for $118.00.
The biggest problem in conducting this evaluation was the near impossibility of finding .22 Magnum ammunition. I had a small amount of Speer Gold Dot 40 grain Hollowpoint ammo on hand and I used them up getting to know the pistol. By the second and third week two shops nearby had received shipments of Winchester Dynapoint 45 grain Jacketed Hollowpoint ammo and I bought as much as they would allow. Here are my results (all rounds fired from a two hand hold, no rests were used):
|10 rounds of Speer GDHP||7 yards||1.22”|
|24 rounds of Winchester Dynapoint||7 yards||1.78”|
|24 rounds of Winchester Dynapoint||40 feet||2.68”|
|30 rounds of Winchester Dynapoint||50 feet||6.0”|
|30 rounds of Winchester Dynapoint||75 feet||7.25”|
The Kel-Tec PMR-30 is perfect for setting up informal shooting contests with friends. An outdoor shooting range would be an ideal spot to set up a “Top Shot” type shooting gallery with a variety of targets such as aluminum cans, plastic bottles and jugs filled with different colors of water, etc. Put them at varying distances and let the fun begin. If you’re restricted to indoor ranges there are a number of fun targets available with zombies, golf courses, playing cards, etc that can make for an afternoon of fun with friends and family members.
The .22 Magnum cartridge is also very good for small game hunting and ridding your property of unwanted varmints. If you live in a rural area where raccoons, weasels, possums, skunks or other pests are getting into things they shouldn’t the .22 Magnum has the power to cleanly put them down and the Kel-Tec PMR 30 has the accuracy to deliver them on target.
Would the PMR-30 be a good choice for self-defense? It would not be my first choice or even my second but if this is the pistol I have with me when the moment of truth arrives I would not feel defenseless. The premier .22 Magnum ammunition available today should provide the necessary level of penetration and the 30 +1 rounds held in the PMR would certainly provide me with enough ammunition for any necessary follow-up shots.
There is little to find wrong with the PMR 30 other than their scarcity and the effect that demand has on pricing. I would like to see an adjustable rear sight and I would like to see if Kel-Tec would produce one with a 3.3 inch barrel and a magazine capacity of 15 to 20 rounds. Once they fill their 3 year log of back orders maybe they can work on that for me.
Kel-Tec PMR 30 Specifications
|Capacity||30 + 1 Rounds|
|Sights||Fixed with Red Fiber Optic Front and Green Fiber Optic Rear|
|Frame||7075 Aluminum and Glass Reinforced Nylon (Zytel)|
|Grips||Different Cerakote Color Options are Available to be Ordered|
|Options||None at this time|
|Suggested Retail||$415.00 However the current demand has surpassed the supply greatly inflating the selling price.|
By Randy Ferris