ANOTHER PMR-30 Review
At this point in time any review of the Kel-Tec PMR-30 whether written, photographed, video, accuracy or torture tested is merely a formality. Even taking this into consideration I’ll be throwing my own opinion of the pistol into the pot so my readers/watchers can feel confident to make an informed decision if the PMR-30 has long since been a highlight of their gun wish list. (you do have a gun wish list don’t you?)
Also as a highlight to try and cover a few extra bases I haven’t seen approached in reviews of the PMR-30 is the addition of a couple different holsters first with WhiteHatHolsters.com (pictured below) who added the PMR-30 to their gun list thanks to some coaxing from yours truly. AND finally 2 holsters from ColoradoHolster.com in the OWB kydex pancake persuasion pictured here.
Kel-Tec first PMR-30 a few years back had some ups and downs with the design after the first guns started to ship with a twist rate for the .22 WMR (henceforth .22 Magnum or Mag) not fitting for the shorter 5″ barrel. It was recalled, remedied and reshipped quickly and the gun has been a hot seller ever since. So hot in fact that unless you’ve got the luck of a leprechaun riding a unicorn you’re guaranteed to never find one for sale in the wild. That is of course if you are unwilling to pay about double (or more) fair retail value on auction sites and private party classified ads.
Upon opening the box the user will find a small yellow card containing a list of the recommended ammunition for use in this pistol. Fortunately for me (sarcasm alert) most the ammo LuckyGunner.com sent me (big thanks for continued support of HausofGuns.com and stepping up with 600 rounds expediently. 300 rounds Fiocchi, 150 CCI and 150 Hornady) for the handgun review was on the list of ammo NOT to run through this pistol. Ahem… FIOCCHI. When asked Kel-Tec pointed to the fact that they weren’t necessarily saying these brands of ammo were unreliable in their pistol, but they recommended shooting primarily AMERICAN made ammunition through their guns. I can respect that.
The PMR-30 is a little bit funny looking. Kind of like a greyhound with its thick/deep but lean chest (the grip) and long skinny snout (barrel/slide/frame). The picatinny rail located on the underside of the frame in front of the trigger guard is long and will accommodate any light or accessory you choose to throw in its direction.
The simple blue finish of the slide and barrel give the impression that this gun is intended to be used rather than just looked at. The PMR-30 isn’t ugly, but it’s not pretty. The appearance lends itself to a piece of chocolate cream pie that wasn’t sliced well. It doesn’t look as delicious as it did in the store window, but you’re still pretty sure the taste is there.
Front and rear fluorescent fiber optic sights are bright and secure with no appearance of wobble or loose fitting. The gun overall feels solid and sturdy in hand despite it’s extremely light weight presence.
Because of this Kel-Tec’s first impression the shooter might think it won’t feel good in the hand or the balance will be off. But that was both far from true and what I expected. The grip falls in at under 1″ in thickness but over 2″ deep from front strap to back. This means even if you’re a larger handed shooter you won’t be hung out to dry with the grip on this rimfire. With the magazine release located on the butt end of the grip on the bottom corner of the backstrap I had some concerns about accidental release but that never happened to me in approximately 600 rounds of use.
However despite the size friendly features of the grip (also in height), the trigger guard is a bit less desirable in terms of open space for you gunmen toting around fingers thicker than a Jimmy Dean sausage. Gloved shooting was a no-go for me due to difficulty inserting my trigger finger into the guard without deploying the firing mechanism.
It’s light. The light polymer construction, small skinny profile of the top half of the frame and slide along with the pencil thin barrel makes for a svelte package. Side-by-side comparison shows it to be similar in footprint to my Glock 22, but its weight and handling feel much more nimble and skinny.
Recoil is not just manageable, but almost laughable. Cycling feels more like a gentle flex than a snap or pop or jump you will typically expect to feel from your handguns. Not only does the lack of muzzle jump and recoil taking the overall weight of the pistol into consideration surprise me, but the low profile and fly weight slide give us a clue as to why the PMR-30’s “kick” is so tame.
Yep. For the most part anyway and beyond what I expected. The biggest struggle I had with reliability during testing had more to do with placement of the ambidextrous safety than it did the handgun’s performance and function.
Our first night out with it I was having a heckuva time making it through a single magazine without hangups. I don’t mean a round hanging up, feed and ejection was perfect. But a few rounds into every mag the gun would fail to fire. In fact the trigger would fail to engage. It would hit a wall 1/8″ in, almost as if the safety was on. Which was exactly the thought process I had while clearing what I thought was an insubordinate round and it dawned on me to check the safety. Sure enough thanks to my enormous bottom thumb knuckle the safety lever had creeped up just enough to prevent fire. This happened three or four more times before I finally gave in to changing my grip with the strong hand thumb laid outward across my weak hand. Uncomfortable at first, but the problem ceased.
More accurate than I am with handguns I’m afraid. Give a fair helping of credit to the glorious 3+ pound trigger lurking within the guts of PMR-30. SERIOUSLY? Yep, give Kel-Tec some real credit here. The trigger in this pistol is among the lightest, smoothest and most crisp breaks I’ve felt in any of my modern handguns. After my 600 rounds with this little polymer pea shooter it has definitely become my favorite feature of the package. The weight is nice. The grip is simple but comfortable. The recoil is disturbingly mild and easy to navigate. The 2 dot red rear and single green front fiber optic sights draw tired eyes in like a dog to a cat turd.
Prairie dog plinking was fun and effective at 50 yards. If you’re a poor sap that doesn’t have towns with hoards of the little pests living in closing driving proximity to you I am truly sorry. At close range the .22 WMR makes speedy work of the little plague-carrying buggers. Thankfully too the PMR-30 comes zeroed pretty close to home with different types of ammo at 10-25 yards. Shooting beyond 25 yards generally required a couple initial shots to figure out hold over then it was lights out.
If I’m being completely honest (which I always am) I never got more than 25 rounds in either of the double stack 30 round magazines the pistol came with and primarily never tried to load past 25 rounds anyway. Could I have? Probably. But I got tired of denting and dinging the thin straight wall cases of the cartridges and opted for a lower round count. After all, it’s still 25 FREAKING ROUNDS!
Double stack capabilities are also occasionally suspect as the deeper you go as the round count increases, the more tension manifests through difficulty of loading. The thin polymer magazines give the impression as being cheap and weak but the feed lips and bodies held up with no problem despite the fact that I took no interest in attempting to torture them in any way.
If you want, go for it. I’d rather not trust my life to a .22 Magnum round, well thirty of them anyway. But just to see if it could be done I carried the bad boy for a week both in a White Hat Max Tuck holster and a custom IWB rig from ColoradoHolster.com.
This PMR-30 really carried inside the waistband (IWB) pretty easily thanks to the flamingo beak style upper. The size and depth of the grip was the most difficult part to keep from printing but it wasn’t impossible. My dress catered to the fact I was carrying a .22 WMR flamethrower, but thanks to the mass and weight distribution of the White Hat and the ultra sleek outline of the Colorado Holster I did it. Granted I promptly went back to my Glock 26. But I did it.
The “issue” I had with my thumb knuckle interfering with the safety was a deal breaker for me. But the gun itself proved reliable enough in my opinion to carry. It’s extremely accurate and 30 rounds (if you can get the magazine that full) of .22 Magnum is nothing to sneeze at. Check out the Four Guys Guns ballistic gel test with .22 Mag if you don’t believe me.
I am actually a fan of Kel-Tec. Why? Well it feels like they seek to innovate beyond what’s commonly been done or others are doing. Take the KSG or RFB for example. They look a little weird, don’t display custom shop craftsmanship, but I honestly feel Kel-Tec is often seeking to sell a concept more often than fine craftsmanship.
Their innovation is one reason their guns seem impossible to find and people have been willing to put up with growing pains. To this day the Kel-Tec PF9 is one of my favorite 9mm carry rigs ever. It was super light, pretty accurate, more reliable than my Ruger LC9 and best of all… I DIDN’T MIND BEATING THE SNOT OUT OF IT!
Kel-Tec’s PMR-30 feels a bit more delicate alongside its brothers and sisters, but if it’s something you’ve been considering as an addition to your gun collection, hiking pack, or even for an out of the box varmint hunting option I say go for it.
The PMR-30 is what it is. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s not glamorous, doesn’t have a shine to it, is a little funny looking and has a querky magazine release and a tricky safety when it meets big hands. But it’s über lightweight, accurate, has an exquisite trigger and is an absolute blast to shoot. Plus it’s just a flat cool idea.
And that’s good enough for me. I think it will be for you too.