Alright folks, be honest, when was the last time you got excited about any rimfire pistol? Once we've graduated to full-bore, centerfire pistols and self-loading black rifles, .22 rimfire pistols don't exactly blow our skirts up. I'm with you on that one. Or at least I was until recently. So why talk about a .22 rimfire? It's simple; the gun we're going to talk about is one of the most coveted rimfires in existence.
George Kelgren, the founder and engineering brains behind Kel-Tec CNC of Cocoa, Florida, has never been one to replicate others. From the get go Kel-Tec has put out many unique firearms designs. Add to that list the new PMR-30. You don't need to be a CIA code cracker to decipher "PMR": Pistol-Magnum-Rimfire. The number 30 indicates the round count for the magazine. Yes, the PMR-30 holds a full thirty rounds of .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire ammunition.
Like the majority of all Kel-Tec firearms, the PMR-30 uses a great deal of high-impact polymer in its construction. This makes the gun very light and less expensive to manufacture. As for specifics, the PMR-30 is a semi-automatic, single-action pistol with an internal hammer/striker. A 4.3 inch barrel guides the projectile to their target. Overall length is 7.9 inches and the height is 5.8 inches. The empty weight is only 13.6 ounces. A loaded magazine weighs a mere six ounces. This means that fully topped off the PMR-30 is still less that a pound and a half.
Kel-Tec has installed fiber optic front and rear fixed sights onto the pistol. The front color is yellow/green and the rear is orange/red. As for controls, there are few; the trigger, ambidextrous safety and slide lock lever. The magazine release is a European style heel release at the base of the grip. The slide and barrel are constructed of 4140 steel. Also, a 7075 aluminum internal frame supports the polymer grip frame. Each pistols ships in a padded hard case with the obligatory trigger lock and two magazines. The magazines are constructed of high-strength polymer.
As you would expect, an accessory rail is located underneath the dust cover area of the frame. Atop the slide you will note a four screw heads, this area is designed for a mini red-dot optic such as the Docter™ or similarly threaded units. This mount can be purchased separately from the Kel-Tec on line store.
When it comes to rimfire ammunition I learned many years ago that not all brands and loads are created equal. For decades my default rimfire ammunition provider has been CCI. I can't remember ever being disappointed by a rimfire load from CCI. Not that there aren't other good loads out there. For this review I would follow Kel-Tec's printed advice and feed the pistol CCI "Maxi-Mag" TNT hollow-point ammunition.
From the 4.3 inch barrel the jacketed hollow-point bullets were averaging 1287 feet per second over my Shooting Chrony F1. From a distance of ten yards five shot groups held in the one inch range. Out at twenty-five yards they did open up a good bit to around 2.5 to 3 inches.
Shooting paper is not exactly what the .22 Win. Mag. is all about so I decided to have some fun. Filling up 16 ounce water bottles from the tap I placed them around the range. The results were spectacular. The trigger rated a "very good" on the "feel scale". It broke crisply in the 4 to 5 pound range.
During my testing sessions my range partners and I put somewhere in the area of 150 to 200 rounds of ammo through the pistol. During that time I can remember two times that a piece of spent brass didn't quite make it out and got stuck in the action. A quick "tap-rack" cleared it each time. Both of the included magazines fed the pistol from capacity without issue.
What's so special about a .22 Win. Mag. pistol? First of all, the number such designs can be counted on one hand without using the thumb. The AMT Automag II was the last one to make any waves.
Besides whacking water bottles, what good is the .22 Win. Mag. cartridge? Well, many moons ago it was the go to round for varmints and pest animals. From a duty standpoint it seems to be an ideal varmint/pest gun. The pistol is relatively inexpensive and made with corrosion resistant materials. Think trunk storage.
The .22 Win Mag load, when represented by such quality ammunition as the CCI Maxi-Mag poses a minimal over-penetration hazard but has the potential to put down varmints from coyote size on down if the bullets are placed in the right area.
Finally, when I used the term coveted earlier, I wasn't overstating the issue. As is all too common with Kel-Tec's new firearms, demand has outpaced production at least at this writing. If you run across a PMR-30 at your local shop or at a gun show you'd do well to pick it up, it won't last long. Until the next go 'round, keep shooting straight and shooting safe.
Paul Markel © 2013
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