With Kel-Tec‘s announcement about shipping the first small batch of CMR-30 carbines, speculations about its future availability, performance and reliability abound. Having used CMR-30 and its predecessor RMR-30 prototypes extensively over the last three years, I feel qualified to address several points.
The first point is availability. CMR-30 is not a very complicated weapon. It’s a blowback rimfire carbine with most parts stamped or made by simple machining. Once the design and production are debugged—and they should be pretty well figured out after four years of gradual refinement—producing the firearm in useful quantities shouldn’t be a problem. Kel-Tec is on track to deliver 500 to 1,000 units by the end of 2014.
In the discussions I’ve seen, almost every aspect of it has been questioned, so I will address those in turn. Caliber is the first one to be criticized. .22 Magnum isn’t the most powerful of the possible chamberings, but it is compatible with PMR-30 pistol, so the same ammunition and magazines may be used. .22 WMR is about half the cost of .22 TCM and 5.7x28mm. It is also far more available in stores, and from more manufacturers. From a rifle-length barrel, it delivers 90 to 95% of 5.7’s velocity with 30 and 40 grain ammunition. It also offers the option of 50-grain Federal Game-shok ammunition for deeper penetration. From a rifle, it reaches 1,650 fps. At this time, .22 WMR ammunition is more available than .22 LR in many areas.
Besides the compatibility with PMR-30, other reasons for the caliber choice are weight and magazine capacity. Both 5.7 and .22 TCM require larger bolt faces and take up more room in magazines, so capacity would have been cut from 30 to about 20 rounds. Also, .22 TCM was not available when CMR-30 development began, and even now it is available only from Armscor. More importantly, .22 TCM from a rifle reaches 2,800 fps—it’s not a small game cartridge and cannot be used in a blowback firearm that weighs under 4 pounds. Even the much weaker 5.7 requires either a heavy bolt (as in the Masterpiece Arms pistols) or combination of bolt and recoil buffer (as in AR-57) or short recoil with moving barrel (PS90 carbine) or delayed blowback (FN57 pistol)—all of which are more either complicated and therefore more expensive or much heavier or both.
The long straight walled .22 WMR case has more friction than bottlenecked cases, and can be harder to extract. However, that also permits slightly less bolt weight and actually works just fine in practice. My PMR-30 prototype was quite reliable from the start. Reducing the bolt weight allows stronger return spring, in turn leading to more reliable feeding from the double-stack magazine.
Unlike the submachine gun version of PMR-30, it uses a simple telescoping stock. It feels a bit flimsy. Fortunately, replacing a damaged stock would take all of a minute, and the gun functions just fine without it. I have not seen one damaged yet, but it is definitely not suitable for bashing skulls. The advantages of this design are quite obvious: it collapses for storage, and the four open positions allow adjusting both to shooter arm length and to different shooting positions. I use the shorted setting for firing standing and the longest for shooting sitting. For colt-weather use, a strip of insulating felt or foam may be added to the outside of the stock strut for a more comfortable cheekweld.
The non-reciprocating charging handles are on both sides of the receiver. Based on my experience with the prototypes, the handles have been enlarged and given a slight inward curve to keep fingers from slipping off. Safety selector is also ambidextrous. Ejection is right side only, but empties go at a sufficiently forward angle to clear left-handed shooters.
The carbine runs sound-suppressed very well with minimal blowback and ejection port pop. The cycling is fairly slow for a blowback design, even with the added back pressure of a suppressor. 45 grain Dynapoint or 50 grain Game-Shok are the most efficient loads for suppressed use. The weight of a 22 Magnum-rated suppressor, such as Gemtech WMR, is negligible and doesn’t affect the balance much. If you do not have a sound suppressor, I would suggest using the muzzle threads to install either a flash hider (an AR-15 model will do), or a linear compensator to channel the report away from the shooter. Even with the bare muzzle, the long barrel gives
Accuracy is impressive for a lightweight autoloading firearm. I test-fired it with the rifle not rested, just supported by my elbows off the bench. With Bitterroot Valley 40-grain JHP and 40-grain CCI Gamepoint ammunition, it gave .5-inch 5-shot groups at 25 yards. With 30-grain CCI Maxi Mag TNT, the groups were 0.4 inches. All that with a 1-6x Primary Arms scope and no sandbags or machine rest. The groups didn’t grown much when I shot an entire magazine into the same target.
The top rail is long enough for a scope or a red dot and mechanical Magpul MBUS sights (included with the gun). The bottom rail is long enough for a bipod or a vertical grip, and a light/laser like Viridian C5L. The same rail may be used for adding larger sling loops than those molded into the receiver.
Overall, CMR-30 is a lightweight, nearly recoilless carbine with a large magazine, excellent accuracy and good reliability. It was well liked by every model who shot it, and everyone who handled it plans to buy one or two. And Kel-Tec seems to be on track to producing enough of them to make a difference in the market.
|Kel-Tec RMR-30 (Renamed CMR-30) / MSRP TBD|
|Barrel Length||16 inch, .5-inch-28 threaded|
|Overall Length||22.6 inches collapsed, 30 inches extended|
|Overall Width||1.2 to 2.3 inches|
|Weight Unloaded||3.8 pounds|
|Stock or Grip||Glass-reinforced Zytel nylon|
|Frame||7075 aluminum grip frame|
Share your first impressions of the Kel-Tec CMR-30 in the comment section.
Oleg Volk is a long-time advocate of personal liberty, including the right to keep and bear arms. He works with numerous firearm and accessory companies as a creative director, advertising photographer and writer. He is based in Nashville, TN.
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