A few years ago, one of our Midsouth staffers asked an FFL friend to find him a Kel-Tec PMR-30, which were in short supply at the time. He purchased one for $600. Now, at a vastly better price, “The Shot Report” e-letter readers have a chance to win one in our giveaway.
Besides just the sheer joy of getting something cool for free, there’s a lot to like about the PMR-30 pistol. So, to fill you in on some of the best aspects of this handgun, we compiled a top-ten list of great things to like about Kel-Tec’s PMR-30, and we wish you luck when it comes time to draw for it.
Ammunition for the PMR-30 is affordable, if sporadically available recently. A lot of shooters love the similarly sized FiveseveN handgun, but just the 5.7 ammo that runs that handgun will turn a big wad o’ cash in your pocket into a small wad o’ cash PDQ. The PMR-30, on the other hand, chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, offers a lot of load availability and pricing. We currently list 14 different .22 WMR packages from CCI, Hornady, and Federal in bullet or shotcharge weights of 30, 40, 45, 50, and 52 grains. You can shoot this surprisingly powerful round for as low as 20 cents a round (actually, 19.88 cents/round for the Federal FMJ 40-grain load #129-737).
First reaction of most shooters who handle the PMR-30: “It is so light, it feels like a toy.” The gun and magazine together, unloaded, weigh only a pound, and with a full complement of 40-grain cartridges, it comes in at 20.2 ounces.
You can shoot the heck out it. Our staff has poured about 1000 rounds through one PMR-30, and everyone who shot it has loved it. But note that Kel-Tec says, “The PMR-30 pistol functions best with high-power ammo, often with bullet weights of 40-grains and up. This includes, but is not limited to, the following: CCI Maxi Mag 40gr, Winchester Super-X 40gr, Remington Premier Magnum 33gr.” Also, Kel-Tec notes, “Low-power ammo and/or lightweight bullets may cause failure to feed problems due to the lack of energy to cycle the slide all the way back. The following are currently low power, and may not function reliably in the PMR-30 pistol, especially if the grip is not held firmly: Winchester Dynapoint 45gr, Winchester Supreme 30gr.”
Capacity. The “full complement” mentioned above is 30+1 rounds. Start shooting the first of the month, keep shooting all month. If you like to do math and not have loose rounds in your range bag, then cipher this:
We added three steel magazines to the two polymer mags purchased with the handgun, which gives a loaded-round count of 150 rounds in magazines, or the tidy equivalent of three 50-round boxes of ammo.
The PMR-30 uses a double-stack magazine, and loading 30 rounds into it takes time, and holding pressure on the cartridges to put 30 in can tire your hands. To make this process easier, loading tools are available and recommended. Just do an online search for “PMR-30 loading tools” and several sources will pop up.
The trigger is a crisp single action with an over-travel stop. Our staff PMR-30’s trigger breaks at 3.9 pounds, with no creep and a clean reset.
Another favorite feature on the PMR-30 is the fiber-optic orange rear-sight dots and green fiber-optic front-sight dot. Even newbies understand and can see how to align the three dots, and they’re very visible on almost every target color. In fact, the color scheme is superior in low-light conditions.
The sights and good trigger translate to pretty good accuracy. With Winchester Dynapoint 45-grain JHPs at 15 yards, we can shoot some 2-inch groups off sandbags, but the average group size is closer to 2.5 inches. Our older version also likes Remington Magnum Rimfire 40-gr. PSPs, which come in around 2.7 inches as a group average.
The PMR-30 produces surprising power and penetration. Super-X 22 WMRs are rated at a muzzle velocity/muzzle energy of 1910 fps/324 ft.-lbs. out of a rifle barrel, and in the PMR-30 itself, we got 1339 fps/159 ft.-lbs., only a 30% decrease. In Ballistic Technology’s wax-like, easy-to-use Handgun Bullet Test Tubes, we were able to accurately measure penetration and wound-cavity size. We fired a round into two 11-inch-long, 3.5-inch-wide Handgun Test Tubes set end to end. The Remington PSP had enough energy to punch a quarter-inch-wide hole 4 inches deep into the second tube (15 inches overall penetration).
We have tested ten .22 WMR samples in the Kel-Tec for function and reliability. We encountered no function problems with any of the 10 brands. Some of our friends have mentioned two instances where the 30th round stuck in the magazine and didn’t feed. It only happened with Winchester Dynapoints in both of the polymer factory mags, so it may be an ammunition-specific issue. More likely, it’s that they did not follow the recommended loading sequence religiously. Failure to load the magazine properly can result in rim-lock, which will lead to a failure to feed. Most likely, after they got 15 to 20 rounds in the magazine, they didn’t tap the magazine on the bench to seat rounds.
All in, the lucky winner of the PMR-30 we’re offering will likely have himself or herself a ball with this handgun — with a red-dot or laser, it would be a wicked squirrel gun out to… as good as you are. Most of us are happy when the gun is better than we are.
A heads-up: You’ll notice we’re currently out of stock on all .22 WMR. Unfortunately, right now, ammunition manufacturers just can’t keep up with demand, and they won’t give us any expected dates of delivery, so we’re leery of letting folks backorder, when it may be a while before it can be fulfilled. If some looks to be coming in, we’ll try to let you know as soon as it hits the receiving dock.