Kel-Tec PMR-30 Pistol
Lewis Creek Shooting School 10.25.13
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.