The ideal firearm has incredible stopping power, excellent accuracy, little recoil, and remarkable magazine capacity like the Kel-Tec PMR-30.
Sure, we’re all guilty of loving incredibly powerful guns like .45-70 Gov lever-action rifles, or that massive Taurus Raging Hunter I recently reviewed, but those guns and the phrase, “quick, accurate follow-up shots” are never spoken in the same sentence unless ironically!?
So while a firearm chambered in the low-recoil .22 Winmag will never have the fight-stopping ballistic efficacy of a big bore caliber like .308, the capacity of the rimfire round shouldn’t be discounted either. That’s why Kel-Tec’s introduction of both PMR-30 and CMR-30 is so revolutionary.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Review
The PMR-30 is a locked breach, semi-automatic pistol chambered in .22WMR AKA Winchester Magnum Rimfire. Which admittedly sounds like an oxymoron – but make no mistake, .22 Magnum has a lot more ‘oomph‘ behind it than standard .22lr. Despite this, and despite the PMR-30’s lightweight construction, the gun doesn’t have much felt recoil at all. Though you wouldn’t think that based on how loud the pistol is.
Speaking of which, the PMR-30 ships with a set of fiber-optic post and notch sights, and a 4.3-inch barrel. The design is unmistakable Kel-Tec. It looks and feels like a Kel-Tec pistol. For those of you not familiar with them, this means the gun is light, feels inexpensive, and has visible bolts/screws holding the frame together. But don’t let that appearance fool you, the PMR-30 is still a very capable little gun.
Full disclosure, the ergonomics of the PMR are a little funky and feel somewhat awkward at first. The grip is very narrow but long to accommodate the lengthy .22 Magnum cartridges contained within. The frame safety is very good and borrows much of its design from the 1911. Allowing the shooter to carry the weapon in condition zero if they choose. But keep in mind that this safety is only a safety since the PMR is single-action only. So there is no way to decock the gun at all.
This isn’t a deal-breaker in terms of ergonomics for me, but it’s also not the only user-friendly issue with the gun – the PMR-30 also uses a European-style heal release for the magazine. Not the end of the world, but it’s by no means the most ergonomic location for the release. This release is very positive on the bright side, but also slower than a standard push-button release on the grip itself.
Lastly, the rear of the PMR-30’s slide features a mounting location that permits the installation of a reflex sight, but requires a special mount sold by Kel-Tec. Neat feature, but in my opinion, the gun should just come with a mounting shoe from the factory.
But just like the CMP-33, the real star of the show is the PMR-30’s magazine. The double-stack magazine holds a staggering 30 rounds of ammo! So while it doesn’t necessarily pack the same wallop as a big bore pistol, you’ve got 30+1 rounds to stop a threat. If you can’t do it in 30 shots, you’re trying to stop a PLA human wave attack, or you’re the worst shot in human history.
PMR-30 Range Performance
I fired 350 rounds of various types through the PMR-30, and I can with some authority that it is very ammunition sensitive; at least when it comes to the round’s overall length. So while FMJ, and even hollow point rounds were fed and fired without any issues whatsoever, lengthier ballistic-tipped rounds from Winchester gave me multiple failures to feed. This seemed to steam from the fact that the slightly longer rounds were dragging on the inside of the magazine’s body.
The takeaway? Don’t buy a ton of one type of ammo for this gun without making sure it feeds properly.
As far as accuracy, the PMR-30 was a tac-driver. Anything a shooter could see within 100 yards, was as good as dead. I personally sniped spent .410 shells at 50 yards off hand all day and even smoked a fat squirrel off my birdfeeder at 35 yards with devastating effect.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Summary
So is the PMR-30 worth its $569 MSRP? (less $ online) Depending on a shooter’s needs, yes. It makes short work of any varmints within range and is a great pistol for teaching new shooters that isn’t terribly expensive to shoot and has very soft felt recoil. As far as defensive purposes, I’m on the fence.
Yes, a good hit on vitals can absolutely take an attacker out of the fight. But I personally don’t trust a .22 pistol cartridge for serious use. Yes, I know this isn’t the same as a .22lr, and yes, I know, .223 ARs are 22-caliber as well. But the difference in kinetic energy is tremendous.
That said, if a recoil-shy shooter is looking for a good first pistol, this is leagues better than a .22lr of any variety for self-defense.
Check Kel-Tec PMR-30 Pistol prices online here:
- KEL-TEC PMR-30 22 Magnum 4.3″ 30rd Blued/Black
- Kel-Tec PMR-30, Semi-automatic, .22 Magnum, 4.3″ Barrel, Camo Cerakote, 30+1 Rounds
- Magazines: Kel-Tec POLYMER PMR-30 Magazine .22 Mag 30-Rounds
- Ammunition : .22 Magnum Cartridges
About Jim Grant
Jim is one of the elite editors for AmmoLand.com, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.
When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.
I had to send the magazines back to the factory. They sent me new ones. I like the gun, overall. I think it’s way too large for CCP.
Love the PMR except for the magazine release location. My larger hands hit the mag release at exactly the wrong time. I could not trust it for self defense for that reason. Fidgety hands will leave you with a mag on the floor and a one shot weapon.
Incredible stopping power. This guy must be on Kel Tecs Payroll.
He said the ideal firearm would have that, not that the PMR-30 does.
A quick visit to “Ballistics by the Inch”: https://ballisticsbytheinch.com/ and then looking up their velocity data on 22 mag: https://ballisticsbytheinch.com/22mag.html shows me that the “ideal barrel length” for achieving maximum velocity seems to be right around 16″ – 17″, at least for most commonly available types and brands of .22WMR. (As always, there are exceptions.) Look at the serious difference in velocities (measured in feet per second) from 4″ and 5″ barrels (the PMR-30 has a 4.2″ barrel), compared to velocities measured from 16″ – 17″ barrels. Quite a big step UP with those longer barrels, which I assume the… Read more »
Pa – not defending Grant (although he does need a proof reader) nor agreeing with your ‘assumption’ but I know that the PMR came out first, the CMR a couple of years later. Neither was readily available as they both were being grabbed up as fast as the factory could crank them out. Full disclosure – it is possible they were developed at the same time and the pistol was released first as a marketing strategy. BTW – as I reminded one of my minions (long story) while we were comparing some firearms and their relative effectiveness. I had a… Read more »