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Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Gunday: the Kel-Tec PMR-30

The Kel-Tec PMR-30 is, without a doubt, the finest anti-zombie pistol ever made.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS (from the Kel-Tec website)

Calibers:.22 Magnum(.22WMR)
Weight unloaded:13.6oz.385.6g
Loaded Magazine:6oz.170.1g
Barrel length:4.3"109.2mm
Sight radius:6.9"175.3mm
Energy (40gr):138ft-lbs187J
Capacity:30 rounds
Trigger pull:4-6 lbs17.8-26.7N

Not that I'd ever want to be within pistol distance of a zombie, mind you; I think they are best eliminated sniper-style, over a range of several hundred yards. But if I had to clear a house in the zombie apocalypse, this is what I'd want to use.

Why? Well, let's start with the big reason: It has a thirty-round magazine.  If zombie movies have taught me anything, it's that you run out of ammunition at a fast rate. With 30 rounds in your gun, you will be changing magazines less often. And carrying extras won't be a problem: the magazine is almost all polymer (I think that the spring is the only metallic component) which makes it very light, and the .22 Magnum round it carries is also very light. Three full magazines would be negligible weight; six would be barely noticed. I imagine (though I cannot prove) that 10 magazines -- 300 rounds -- would constitute a manageable combat load. Bulk would be more of an issue than weight.

Comes with two magazines: one in the pistol, and one spare. 

Actually, I think the real issue would be continued supply of ammunition. On the good side, the .22 WMR is a commonly available (if pricey) cartridge, such that stocking up prior to Z-Day, or scavenging supplies in wrecked Wal-Marts post-Z, is entirely possible. On the bad side, it's a rimfire cartridge, meaning that it can't be reloaded. And the manual specifically says not to use anything but .22 WMR, so no loading it with .22 Long Rifle.

But the best thing about the pistol is that it is screamingly accurate. Bright fiber-optic sights make target acquisition easy, even in dim lighting. The .22 WMR cartridge is essentially flat-shooting, and its already low recoil is further mitigated by a full-size frame.

Sexy fibre-optic sights. 

In short, the pistol handles exactly how you imagined guns worked as a kid: you pull the trigger, there is a flash and a bang, and the muzzle rises a little. There is barely any kick to it, and follow-up shots are fast and easy. 

Some photographic evidence to back up my claim. All shooting was performed at an indoor range under artificial light.

A full magazine at 25 feet (left) and 50 feet (right). The last 5 rounds of each magazine were shot quick-fire, to test how easily I could re-acquire a target.  As you can see, accuracy degrades with distance, but since the last 5 rounds were quick-fire, and there are 5 hits in the 7 ring, the decreased accuracy might be due to speed of shooting. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I'm sure a better-trained shooter could wring far more accuracy from this pistol. 

Headshots at 12.5 feet (left) and 25 feet (right); 30 and 10 rounds, respectively. I leave it as a matter of debate whether or not missing the Shoot-N-C but still hitting the head counts as a hit or a miss.

In no particular order:
  • The pistol is full-sized but extremely light, yet still absorbs recoil. 
  • Integral accessory rail for mounting a laser or flashlight. 
  • Top slide comes already drilled and tapped for mounting a sight. 
  • Controls are ambidextrous and easy to manipulate.
  • Magazines have windows for every 5 rounds. 
  • Magazines insert and remove easily and ambidextrously. 

Grid squares are 1". 

Also in no particular order:

  • The pistol requires a tool (a punch or unspent bullet) to remove a pin before you can field-strip it. 
  • Getting the slide off is a bit of a trick. I discovered that once the pin was removed, racking and releasing the slide was the best way to get it started down the track. 
  • The recoil spring is not the easiest thing in the world to remove. I had to grab the spring, pull it toward the muzzle, and practically wrestle it out of place. Fortunately, putting it back together is much less difficult. 
  • The length of the .22 Magnum round means the grip is surprisingly wide. However,  Kel-Tec can't really do anything about that. 

There is a special way to load the magazines, which is clearly illustrated in the manual. If you try to load the magazine the traditional way, not only will it be a lot harder, the cartridges will seize and bind. Do yourself a favor and Read The Manual.

Absolutely yes. It's a bit of a specialty gun, to be clear, but I would recommend it for the following uses:

  • As a farm, kit, truck or trail gun. Not only can it be used on small game, or against varmints such as foxes or coyotes, the muzzle flash and loud bang of the magnum could serve as further discouragement to larger predators such as wolves and mountain lions. 
  • As a training gun for novice shooters who have progressed past .22LR but are not yet ready for the increased recoil of larger calibers. The combination of flash, loud bang, but low recoil would be excellent in helping them overcome anticipatory flinch. 
  • As a self-defense pistol for those who find regular pistols too heavy, or recoil too severe. The only drawback to this is that its full-size frame could make it difficult to carry concealed.*
  • As a sidearm for a zombie apocalypse. 

Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk

The PMR-30 is a fun pistol, and you owe it to yourself to shoot it at least once in your life. 
It is a specialty pistol, I grant you, and I would not want it in a war zone (zombies excepted). But for what it is -- trail gun, varminter, trainer -- it does its job very well.

*I think that if Kel-Tec were to sell a model with a shorter barrel and 20-round magazine, it would be a dandy concealed-carry pistol for the elderly and the infirm.**
** A version in .22 LR would probably also sell very well, since the leading semi-auto pistol in that caliber is has a magazine capacity of only 10 rounds. 

Yes, I am aware that about 1 in 10 rounds seem to keyhole. Several astute readers pointed this out to me and explained why this is bad. I sincerely thank them for curing my ignorance.

It is my understanding that keyholing was an issue with earlier versions of this gun, and they have since increased the twist rate of the barrel. In addition, the manual makes it plain which ammunition to use.

Per the manual, the following cartridges are also recommended:
* CCI Maxi-Mag JHP+V 30gr
* Federal Game-Shok JHP 50gr
* Winchester Super-X FMJ 40gr
* Remington Premier Magnum 33gr

The following cartridges are NOT recommended, also per manual:
* Armscor 40gr
* Fiocchi 40gr
* Winchester Dynapoint 45gr
* Winchester Supreme 30gr
* Any other Non-U.S. made ammunition

Unfortunately, I was using 40-grain CCI Maxi-Mag, which is specifically recommended by name for "reliable functioning."   Rest assured that I will mention this to Kel-Tec in an email.

SECOND EDIT:  The Mystery of the 10% Key-Hole has been solved. 

Obligatory FTC disclaimer: I received this pistol to test and evaluate for 90 days. No monetary compensation was given for me to write this article. 


Robert S Slaughter said...

I've heard that the PMR30 understabilizes the round, resulting in keyholing (bullet fishtailing or flying sideways). And I think I'm seeing that in some of the closer-ranged shots. What's aggravating is that it isn't all of them. I hate inconsistent errors, as that makes diagnosis and correction difficult.

Erin Palette said...

Yes, there was definitely keyholing at all ranges.  Makes me wonder if a .22 LR version of this pistol might sell as well, or better. 

SiGraybeard said...

Understabilize?  Doesn't that mean they need a higher twist rate in the barrel? 

Do they make talk about ammo in the manual? Maybe it's just fussy and different muzzle velocity would work better.

Otherwise, cool report, and thanks for doing that.  You going to return it or try some more? 

Erin Palette said...

I was using 40-grain CCI Maxi-Mag, which is specifically recommended by name for "reliable functioning."

Per the manual, the following cartridges are also recommended:
* CCI Maxi-Mag JHP+V 30gr
* Federal Game-Shok JHP 50gr
* Winchester Super-X FMJ 40gr
* Remington Premier Magnum 33gr

The following cartridges are NOT recommended, also per manual:
* Armscor 40gr
* Fiocchi 40gr
* Winchester Dynapoint 45gr
* Winchester Supreme 30gr
* Any other Non-U.S. made ammunition

I have it for 90 days, so I'm going to keep it a bit longer. I want my mom to shoot it, and one of the guys at my local gun store wants to give it a whirl. I will of course post the results from any further shooting!

The Jack said...

 You know...  I can see the "how a gun is as a kid" even by the visual styling, as it looks like a chunky raygun

Erin Palette said...

I kinda want to put some fins on it...

Ken O said...

It would be intriguing to see how it handles loads like the accu-tip or glad and the 45 grain critical defense.

Not Clauswitz said...

I like the Doctor sight on that!  You could put bat-wings on it.

Erin Palette said...

Doctor sight?  As the kids say, "Dafuq?"

Critter said...

i note that every single company that has tried to produce a semi-auto .22 mag pistol has gone bankrupt, starting with Grendel. you are watching one of the many reasons why.

greg said...

Thanks for the review...I want one BAD, well...just because!

William H. said...

Doctor mini/micro red dot sight. It's by the red fiber/fibre optic tubes in the picture right below the 4 targets.

Ben C said...

Erin, the brand of mini red dot sight in the picture you posted is "doctor" you can read it on the side of it if you zoom in a little.

Joe in PNG said...

Plus, for a lot less money you get what is basically a semi-auto H&K MP7.

McThag said...

Until they be fixin' the keyholin' thar's no reason to be buyin' one.

Chas said...

I agree with everything except discouraging mountain lions. Mountain lions are not easily discouraged. I have seen them sit and just blink, showing mild curiosity, as .44 Magnum rounds were fired over their heads! Comes of being a top predator, I suppose.

I have no personal experience with wolves, however.

Erin Palette said...

Well, I was operating under the assumption that the bullets would actually be hitting them, not passing harmlessly over their heads. (Never ever fire a warning shot, because you don't know where it may end up.) I figured the noise and pain would equal "This isn't prey, I have a sudden need to be elsewhere."

Erin Palette said...

I acknowledge that the PMR-30is a specialty gun. However, an H&K MP7 also makes for a bulky trail gun.

I think that the PMR-30's light weight and large magazine capacity, coupled with the ability of the .22WMR to make most woodland targets go away (either by running or by death) makes it a handy piece of equipment to have in the wilderness. 

Minimum Wage Historian said...

Coupled with the PS-90, you got yourself a great anti-zombie kit! PS-90 holds 50 rounds and has slightly more punch than a .22.  But don't forget about the living threats during a ZA.  Of course, with 30 rounds on tap, you should be able to take care of most things...except a Terminator but that's a different story.  Excellent write-up and review.  I compromise and go 15 rounds of 9mm.

Critter said...

this is quite true. it also needs to group a lot tighter before i get my wallet out. the downfall of all .22 mag platforms has always been extraction as .22 mag is very long and skinny and high-pressured for its size. feeding this cartridge, with its attendant large rim is also a reason every other attempt has met with tears.

Glen McAdams said...

Ms. Erin, thank you for the review and personal comments. The keyholing has been a charactristic of the PMR30 from early on. However, as the bullet tumbles through the target leaving a LARGER than normal hole I
don' t have a problem with that. Again, thanks for the review. (Pssst....30 rounds!)

Erin Palette said...

Don't judge the groupings by my efforts! I am somewhere between average and mediocre in skill.  I hope to get a skilled shooter to test the PMR as well, and then you can truly judge its accuracy. 

Erin Palette said...

PS:  Didn't have a single failure to feed, fire, or extract/eject. 

Erin Palette said...

That was pretty much my take on it, but then I'm not an expert. Some folks think it's a deal-breaker, and that's their right. 

greg said...

Not saying they don't get bigger, but most cats out here in Washington are around 100 pounds.  I think somewhere between 4-30 rounds of 22 mag would have be a serious deterant to a cougar...but like you said, put in them, not over them. 

Stephen Carville said...

What was the muzzle blast like?  Back in my college days a Fluke impulse sound lever meter follow me from the school lab to the desert one weekend. There is obligingly made measurements of the maximum SPL foe several handguns. I was somewhat surprised when the 22 magnums were slightly higher than the 357 magnum.

Erin Palette said...

Louder than my Glock 26 (and with an impressive flash of burning powder), but, if I recall properly, not as loud as a .38 Special. 

Ted N said...

Great write up!

Joe in PNG said...

I find it kind of funny that H&K is getting all sorts of grief for not marketing what would be a heavier and bulkier version of this pistol chambered in a much more expensive and hard to find caliber that would cost 4 (or more) times as much money.

Erin Palette said...

Oh! I misunderstood your earlier comment! I thought you were saying that it would be *better* to have the H&K. 

I plead a severe case of derp. 

Erin Palette said...

The mystery of the 10% key-hole rate has been solved. It's endemic to one specific brand and grain of ammunition. Sadly, it's the most common type. 

Target Brony said...

check out if you haven't...  the PMR-30 gold mine.

there's a pretty good under over rail you can put on the PMR (or glocks, or ...) that provide for using a variety of other optics at MUCH less cost than a doctor optic...

oh, and maybe it's me, but i find that i can usually remove the take down pin with my fingers - pushing it in as far as i can and then some with a finger pad, and then using the finger nails to extract.  could be my super power :)

Erin Palette said...

Oooh, thank you very much for that link!

And yeah, while it's possible to take it down without a tool, it's not convenient. When I compare it to my Glock 26 that requires no tools and is quite easy to field-strip, the PMR-30 falls short. 

geodkyt said...

So, apparantly the 40gr CCI Maxi-Mag is a good choice for reliable functioning, as KelTec said.   (They didn't say boo about its accuracy, did they?  Probably just did  a couple of mag dumps with it to establish reliability, and any accuracy testing lots were probably some cheaper ammo.)

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