The PMR-30, by Kel-Tec, was made available around 2010, and it is a pretty unique little firearm. It is a full size, semi-automatic pistol, with a 30-round magazine capacity, and it is chambered in .22 WMR (Winchester Magnum Rifle, aka .22 Magnum or .22 Mag). Now, Kel-Tec has a history of making unique firearms, and it is precisely this kind of innovative thinking and design that truly sets them apart from other gun manufacturers. After a few years of cutting weapons for other companies, Kel-Tec’s owner and chief engineer, George Kellgren (Sweden), decided to produce firearms independently. The Cocoa, Florida-based Kel-Tec company began making its own guns in 1995, starting with the 9mm semi-automatic P-11. By the time they got around to introducing this full-sized handgun, they already had a following of their own, and rightly so.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Overview
The PMR-30 is single-action only, and is primarily polymer and steel-based. It is a special kind of gun, even among the already-special Kel-Tec line of firearms. It comes standard with fixed fiber optic sights , and employs a blowback/locked breech system of cycling, which produces almost no recoil whatsoever, and allows for different kinds of ammo to be shot. It comes with a pre-drilled slide, for easy mounting of optics and accessories. There are pros and cons to this gun, like any other firearm, but there is no denying that it is a reliable and very decent piece of modern weaponry. .22 cartridges are pretty interesting on their own, and pairing them with a full size handgun guarantees a second-to-none shooting experience. The .22 cartridge itself was made available in 1960, and I suppose the most famous of the .22 series of cartridges is the Long Rifle. There is also the .22 Short and .22 Hornet, who have helped gain that cartridge quite a reputation over the years.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Specifications
- The PMR-30, by Kel-Tec
- Caliber – .224
- Action – blowback operated, semi-automatic, single-action only
- Weight – 0.85 lb. unloaded, 1.22 lb. loaded
- Length – 7.9 inches
- Barrel length – 4.3 inches (a 5-inch threaded factory barrel is also available)
- Magazine – 30 rounds (comes with 2 mags)
- Width – 1.3 inches
- Height – 5.8 inches
- Introduced – 2010
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Price
The manufacturer suggested retail price for this gun is around $450, and in my humble opinion the PMR-30 is worth every penny. It is extremely light – probably the lightest full size handgun on the market today (though I have not done all the research on that, so don’t hold me to it). Many people pay a lot more to own this weapon, since it is in very high demand, and the price sometimes reaches over $650. However, if you shop around you will still be able to find this gun for a more moderate price. I don’t know if this gun is worth $650+, but that is a judgement call. Randomly searching, I found it for sale on various websites, and at times the costs were closer to the MSRP.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Pistol Review
The slide and barrel are made of 4140 steel, the internal frame is made of 7075 aluminum, and the rest is made of high-strength glass-reinforced polymer (Zytel). You also get 2 Zytel 30-round magazines. Kel-Tec knew what they were doing when they designed this gun, and the result is outstanding. You don’t even feel it, not even when you are firing. It makes a loud – and I mean loud – noise, and it is perfect for those who cannot be bothered with management of recoil, but are looking for a full sized weapon. I’ll admit, when you first get it in your hands, the PMR-30 doesn’t really look like anything special (fiber-optic sights aside – those are cool and useful). It looks like a glorified toy, when in fact it is anything but that. It is a seriously misleading kind of gun, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. This is all just me talking about first impressions, nothing more. As we all know, looks are all well and good, but a gun is not really judged by its looks, but mainly by performance. And when it comes to slinging rounds down the range, the PMR-30 delivers. Its single action operation makes for rapid fire which shoots out like the blazes of hell from that 4.3 inch barrel.
The grip takes some getting used to. I honestly didn’t go gaga over its grip, but I can totally see how it gets a lot better after a few boxes of ammo have been spent. Again, first impressions. I will bet good money that after some practicing, it is just as good as any other full-sized contender. With some guns (and shotguns, and rifles, too!), you need to get some range time in there before passing final judgement. The 30-round magazines are very useful, and they provide firepower more befitting an assault rifle. Loading the magazines is a pain in the neck sometimes. Kel-Tel recommend banging the magazine against a flat surface after the first 15 or so rounds have been loaded, which facilitates hassle-free loading. Having 30 rounds is great, and it can be a lot of fun to shoot, but if it gets in the way of your training, perhaps don’t bother loading it to full capacity every time. Alternatively, you can get a speed loader. Just a thought.
The magazine release is European style, which is not my favorite. I like a one-handed thumb release. Always have. I don’t know why someone would design a Euro style mag release, but this gun has it. I am sure there is something I am missing here, but it is one of its disadvantages, in my opinion. Also, once you train with it enough, I am sure you will be able to time it perfectly, and get that second magazine in quickly. Also, consider that with 30 rounds at your disposal, you won’t be reaching for that second mag so quickly. You have enough bullets to go around. Like I said – first impressions. 30 rounds will be more than enough in most encounters. Another PMR-30 oddity – unlike most other Kel-Tel handguns, this one has a safety switch. Do you see what I mean when I say that this is a special gun, even within the already-unique lineup of Kel-Tec firearms? It is full of surprises and anomalies. Not a bad thing, just another thing to get used to.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Holsters
Holsters are your friend. They are the number one handgun accessory, and they are an inseparable part of carrying and training, whether it is for concealed or open carry. Your gun isn’t always in your hand, obviously, and that means that you are in need of a proper holster. I say “proper”, because that is exactly what you need. Don’t settle for less. The holster you are most comfortable with is the one you should be wearing. With a full size handgun, the option of concealment is not as popular, but there are some very good inside the waistband (IWB) or shoulder holsters out there which can facilitate concealed carry. As for concealment, I have never carried anything less than a compact, so I can’t speak of the positives or negatives of carrying a full sized handgun in concealment. I suppose that if the holster is good enough, and if it is strategically placed, anything can be a good enough fit. I know from experience, that weapons are primarily situation-based. So, I don’t knock full-sized concealment, I simply don’t do it. To me, it makes no sense, but as The Dude said in The Big Lebowski: “yeah, well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”
Where was I…. ah yes, holsters. Here are a few popular choices for PMR-30 holsters:
- Pro-Tech – A high-strength nylon holster, fit for the standard 4.3 inch barrel. It is an ambidextrous holster, and it comes with a single mag pouch. Has an adjustable spring-action thumb break, and is double stitched at pressure points. Vinyl interior keeps moisture away from your gun.
- Ace Case – Another heavy-duty nylon option, also ambidextrous, and designed for the 4.3 inch barrel. Comes with a 2-inch clip (metal) which can be moved to either side. Has belt loops on both sides. Attached magazine pouch which fits a single double stack, or two single stack mags.
- Outlaw Holsters – A carbon fiber kydex option, which goes over the waistband. There is a slight cant to it, and it is sturdy. The holster is designed specifically for the PMR-30, and it has very good retention.
- King Holster – This one isn’t designed specifically for the PMR-30, and is more of a universal shoulder holster, which will fit many other models. Putting it in here as a reference. Features an adjustable fit option, and a reversible draw option.
Pro-Tech and Ace Case make other types of holsters for the PMR-30, and these are only examples of the more popular ones they produce. Also, there are holster manufacturers who design holsters for the 5-inch threaded barrel.
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Accessories
Accessories can be tricky things. Some are essential, some are not. It really does depend on your intended use, and this is true of any firearm and any accessory. Items like a rifle sling or gun holster simply make perfect accessories, and there is no need to explain why they are set apart from the rest. Some accessories do need to justify their existence in the market, however. So, what is essential in terms of accessories? Off the top of my head, I would say optics and grip-aids. Two things which maximize your shooting potential, and help you to hit the target .Here are a few accessories which can be very useful. Remember that the PMR-30 is very light, but even so, there is no need to overburden it with unnecessary toys.
- Optics – The PMR-30 comes with excellent fiber optic open sights, but a laser, light, or red dot can really be a big help. If you are in a situation with low visibility, the fiber optic sights will zero you in, and the laser/light/red dot will guide you even further. It is a matter personal taste and opinion. I have always loved laser sights. I feel they are a welcomed addition to pretty much any handgun.
- Threaded 5-Inch Barrel – Kel-Tec’s factory barrel replacement. It comes with a flash suppressor, and it sticks out a little further than the stock barrel. The suppressor really does get a lot of the flash out of the way, and if you are looking to add some barrel length to your handgun, Kel-Tec has got you covered.
- Grip Sleeve – Improves control of the pistol and the feel. Like I said, I was not crazy about the factory grip of this thing. Adding a sleeve will cut down on the time necessary to get a good feel for this gun. As with other accessories, it can also be a question of aesthetics. Your call.
— ANR Design LLC (@ANRDesignLLC) April 11, 2016
Kel-Tec PMR-30 Recall?
The original first-generation PMR-30 had a fluted barrel which caused some trouble. Kel-Tec never did issue a full-scale recall, but the company did publish a press release, asking customers with problematic barrels to contact Kel-Tec’s customer service department. A new barrel was sent to those who had barrels with troublesome serial numbers. The new barrel had an updated rifling twist, and Kel-Tec eliminated the fluting in favor of a straight barrel.
Any PMR-30s which are on the market now are probably ones with new barrels. But, it is worth knowing that the first generation was the cause of some trouble. It is also worth noting that while Kel-Tec could have dismissed the issue by recommending the use of specific ammunition and the avoidance of other ammunition – they went the extra mile and replaced the actual barrels of those who sent in their weapon. I believe it was a smart move on their part, business-wise, and I am sure it helped them retain their loyal PMR-30-loving crowd. Of course, a smarter move would have been to identify the problem from the beginning, but we will not hold it against them. Some ballistics issues are difficult to detect, even when a gun is put through the different factory tests and trials.
Bottom line – when you buy a PMR-30, make sure it is a post-recall model. The PMR-30 is still a very coveted firearm. If you manage to get your hands on it for a decent price, you will have gained an excellent weapon. It is fun to shoot, easy to handle, and it can provide with the confidence and safety you need, whether it is for competitions or for home defense purposes.