by Kate Krueger
Thanks to some great folks at Kel-Tec I received a Kornucopia of Kel-Tec’s to do some shooting with a little while ago. The first is the Kel-Tec PMR-30. This is one of those unicorn type firearms that everyone wants but are very hard to get. Now over the short time they’ve been available to the public I’ve only managed to get half a dozen for customers of mine and absolutely none to test fire. So I was really looking forward to this test.
About the PMR-30
Let’s start with a little background information. The PMR-30 is a semi-auto pistol with a 30 round capacity of .22 Magnum (.22 WMR) and it comes with two 30 round double stack magazines in the box. When you get your first glimpse it almost looks like a funky water pistol or something built with black legos. It’s slim and lightweight with a great set of fiber-optic sites. It has its own hybrid blowback/locked-breech system that lets you utilize a wide variety of ammunition as it adjusts based on the pressure of the cartridge between locked breach and blowback operation and a single action trigger.
The slide locks back aft er the last shot and a manual slide lock lever is also provided. Slide and barrel are 4140 steel, frame is 7075 aluminum. Grip, slide cover, trigger, mag release, and safety levers are glass reinforced Nylon (Zytel). Other features include: dual opposing extractors for reliability, heel magazine release to aid in magazine retention, dovetailed aluminum front sight, Picatinny accessory rail under the barrel, Urethane recoil buffer, captive coaxial recoil springs.
We wanted to test as many new shooters do and that’s excitedly taking the gun right down to the range with little inspection and no cleaning or lubricating and shooting it straight from the box. Some guns can handle this but some cannot.
Load that magazine:
So we started by loading up the magazine. Easier said than done in my case as I first tried to load it like a traditional handgun magazine when in fact (had I read the manual) it loads slightly more like a rifle magazine. If you look down at the top of magazine you will notice notches on each side of the feed lips about ½” away from the back of the magazine allowing for the 22 magnum cartridge to be pressed straight down and seated back. They refer to the notched area as the rim window. You want to tap the back of the magazine every few rounds on a flat service to seat the rounds properly. Once you read the manual it’s pretty amazing how easy the magazine is to load. Having read about folks not being able to get more than 26 rounds in the magazine I did not expect to get the full 30 rounds in the first time but I did.
Let the shooting begin:
The first round of testing was done with just my husband and me at Phoenix Rod and Gun Club. Now remember no cleaning and no lubricating was done on this pistol out of the box. Having tried this with other firearms before my expectations were not high but I must say aft er a couple of “Failure to feeds” during the first magazine t
hings went pretty smoothly. We put over 100 rounds through the gun and had a great time. We were not testing for accuracy as we were paying more attention to the function but I have to say there was not much left to the center of our IPSC cardboard target.
I’ve been asked about recoil on this gun and all I can say is its minimal (not much more than 22LR). But I will say someone watching our shooting session was shocked at how loud it was and the big orange muzzle flash. But that is really the bark being worse than the bite. This was proven out as we had a couple of new shooter’s out with us during the next test session and once we put them into the right grip and stance they just wanted to keep on shooting.
Let’s talk about that trigger… It’s great! It is a pretty crisp 4-6lb and being a trigger junky I can be pretty critical. It’s got some take up, which I expected, but it breaks very clean and if you are a Glock shooter resets beautifully. I was quite impressed with it.
As for the heel magazine release it was interesting and based on my experiences with the old European heel releases I thought I would absolutely hate it. Surprisingly based on its location and function it grew on me. It was not at all like the old style releases as it functioned so easily. No fumbling around trying to manipulate a small, stiff magazine release at the base of the magazine. In this case the magazine’s dropped freely and it really suited the pistol.
As I mentioned earlier, even without working too hard at it the gun was pretty accurate. For those enquiring minds we were shooting at 10 and 15 yards away. At 10 yards the X ring was pretty much cleared out and at 15 yards our group opened slightly to include the 8 and 9 rings. We actually moved back to 25 yards and because of how easy it was to control we were able to hold everything in that 8 and 9 ring and were able to pick off some head shots in a pretty snug group and it didn’t really seem to it out to when we were testing some rifles at 200 yards on steel and a young friend of ours managed to put a few “dings” on steel from that distance with some of our “junk” rounds.
We, personally, have put over 300 rounds through the PMR-30 and would have put more if the ammunition had been more readily available. Add to that other testers for another 300-400 of the same types of rounds for a total round count of 600 plus.
We were able to test this with CCI 40gr Win Mag in both Total Metal Jacket (TMJ) and Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP); Armscor 40gr JHP, Federal 50gr JHP and 40gr Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) and one box of Winchester 40gr, Super-X FMJ (and let’s not forget the unknown mixed rounds from our other testers). To me there was very little diff erence in recoil and shooting experience. And overall accuracy was similar. Also with 22 magnum becoming popular in defensive revolvers ammunition manufacturers are starting to off er higher velocity, defensive rounds which makes this gun just about perfect. Overall impression … Outstanding!
But in the end the PMR 30 loves to be clean. As good as the experience was the first time on the range with this gun it only got better once we used our favorite CLP (Cleaner/ Lubricant /Protectant) Froglube to clean and lube it. The action was so much smoother and there were no failure to feeds at all. It has been through at least a dozen or more shooters and has risen to the occasion with each and every one. The comments that I heard most: “What a blast” and “When can I get mine?” Bottom line it’s just plain fun to shoot and makes a great go to gun. All our testers agreed that this odd little gun is a keeper!
Kate has a strong firearms and martial arts background. She is an NRA Instructor and a certified Arizona Concealed Carry instructor as well. Her thirst for knowledge has led her to training facilities around the country, Smith & Wesson, Lethal Force Institute (now Massad Ayoob Group), Chapman Academy, Gunsite to name a few. Kate is very passionate about the United States of America and all it stands for particularly the 2nd Amendment and our Constitution. Today she brings all that passion and skill together for you with Talking Guns. You can listen to Kate, Sundays from 12-2pm on 1100KFNX Radio www.katekruegertalkingguns.com