The Kel-Tec PMR-30 chambered in .22 Winchester Magnum is the most non-traditional pistol I have ever reviewed, and possibly ever shot. While it is truly non-traditional, it is highly sought-after. I recently saw one sell on Gun Runner Auctions for $900, about three times the retail price.

I suppose the concept of the “kit pistol” was first approached by Smith & Wesson. I had a square-butt Model 34 Kit Gun once and it was truly an interesting little gun with a specific purpose. Designated as a broad-based utility gun to be kept handy by an outdoorsman, the Kit Gun was a J-Frame, the smallest of the S&W revolver frames, in .22 Long Rifle or .22 Winchester Magnum. It was a six-shot gun with adjustable sights and a two- or four-inch barrel. Lightweight and accurate, it could be relied on to dispatch snakes, take small game, or serve as a survival gun. It was an unusual concept gun based on a time-tested traditional design. Though the idea behind the PMR-30 is the same, the design of the gun is far from that of a revolver.

The PMR-30 is a semiautomatic pistol fed by a 30-shot detachable magazine and weighs just 13 ounces empty. I can think of no other pistol that has a similar capacity even at twice the weight. While the .22 Magnum round isn’t in the same league as the 9x19mm, it produces roughly 130 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle with a 40-grain bullet.

The PMR-30 is reasonably accurate, producing groups under two inches at 10 yards. It’s hardly a match gun and as a survival gun I’d like more, but for defense, it’s certainly adequate.

The frame construction is of two polymer halves that fit around the slide assembly and bolt together with hollow head screws and nuts that are contained in hex recesses in the polymer frame. The slide and barrel are steel, but the top gripping area and rear sight housing are polymer and screwed to the frame with hollow head screws. It features a 4.3-inch barrel. There are twin extractors to remove a case and a thin ejector to toss it clear of the slide. Other than the slide release, it’s completely ambidextrous, the safety is located in a similar fashion to a 1911 and the magazine release is at the bottom rear of the grip. The trigger is also polymer and is a decent enough trigger, not competition-grade, but better than some popular striker-fired pistols. The sights are a fixed fiber optic rear and a dovetailed green fiber optic front.

When I saw the $900 bid on the gun on Gun Runner, my immediate question was “Why?” Having fired and tested a PMR-30, I can certainly understand why they would sell at their suggested retail price of $415, though I can’t imagine plunking down $900 for one. I suppose the most revealing thing I can say about this gun is that it works for what I think it was originally intended for. The intended use is as a utility gun. For a fishing guide, a coastal commercial fisherman, a surveyor, or anyone else who spends lots of time outdoors and needs a defensive or utility firearm that is lightweight, it’s a perfect gun. I have a friend who is a rancher and he wants one to carry as hog medicine. Maybe you can’t drive staples with the handle, but it would serve a cowboy or rancher much better than the iconic 1873 Colt that made its name as the cowboy’s perfect sidearm.

Image by Dick Jones

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6 thoughts on “Kel-Tec PMR-30 Pistol

  1. The inflation of value for this gun tells me that I have no intention of buying one for sometime. Persons that snap up early production runs and then overcharge by more than double MSRP certainly do not lend themselves for trust or the type of person that I would do business with or want near my property. Eventually I’ll get my hands on one but all Kel -Tec’s seem hard to get when they first come out. We had a local gun listing for one in our newspaper that was asking more than $1,100.00 for. Greed will eventually do more harm to the firearms business and the shooters than the Democrats. BTW the one I shot was reliable even with a fully loaded minus one mag. and was fairly accurate for the small and light pistol it is.

    1. So are you saying that something should only ever be worth what it costs to produce it? I was always taught that supply and demand determine value. Demand is directly related to quality, useability, and popularity, so if these things are high, and supply is low, price goes up. Would you be more comfortable if Kel Tec raised their MSRP to reflect current market value? I agree, $1100 is too much for one of these, but that’s easy for me to deal with, I just won’t buy it. Therefore, demand has decreased by at least you and me, so the price will need to come down to meet our demand. For me, that’s about $350 though, so I’ll be waiting a while…

  2. Excellent short review. One important note is that muzzle velocity of .22 Winchester Magnum out of this short 4.5 inch barrel renders the typical advantage of the cartridge to almost nil over top .22 rimfire choices (CCI Stinger, etc.)

  3. I’ve been waiting for 17 months for mine. My opinion of Kel-Tec goes down daily. Their responce is that they are waiting on parts from their supplier. My answer…get a new supplier.

  4. Jollyrogerf14, probably being Navy,has a minor point. I’ve witnessed Greed destroy Southern towns and it’s about to do the same thing to gun lovers. When our aniciedents can not afford a gun due to supply and demand we will cease to be a major force in American politics. Thank God I won’t be around to witness such an event. That being said: I’d have loved to be a back seater on an F-14D. I’ve been told those glory hound Navy boys got to sleep on clean white sheets and ate real food.

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