Lovin’ the PMR-30

By Woody published on in Ammunition, Chronicle, Firearms, Handgun Ammunition, Handguns

The call came late on a Saturday afternoon. I’d asked an FFL friend to be on the lookout for a Kel-Tec PMR-30 at a reasonable price, and after three months of no-news-is-bad-news, this was it: “I’ve found two PMRs at a local shop,” he said. “If you can call them with a credit card in the next five minutes, you can have one for $600.”

So I explained the deal to the CFO, got her thumbs-up, made the call, and took delivery the next day.

The sale was the culmination of shooting the PMR-30 side by side with an FN FiveseveN months earlier. All in all, the PMR-30 is slightly lighter than the 5.7, and it has a 30-round magazine, 10 more than the FN’s 20-rounder. They both fire 40-grain projectiles of nearly the same diameter, but at different velocities. As previous posts on these guns and cartridges have showed, each has its adherents.

For me, ammunition availability and costs played a big part in the decision. The differences in load availability, load choice, and pricing weren’t a close call. To wit:

CheaperThanDirt.com currently offers 139 different .22 WMR packages from BVAC, Armscor, Fiocchi, Winchester, Federal, Remington, CCI, and Hornady, in bullet or shotcharge weights of 25, 28, 30, 33, 34, 40, 45, 50, and 52 grains. Bullet styles include lead hollow point (HP), jacketed hollow point (JHP), Flex Tip eXpanding (Hornady FTX), polymer-tip V-Max (Hornady) and AccuTip (Remington), total metal jacket and full metal jacket, jacketed spire point, plated lead hollow point, and jacketed soft point. Of that count, 35 are currently out of stock, bringing the total loads available to 104. Least expensive are the BVAC 40-grain JHPs at $69.49/500 (AMM-056), or 14 cents a shot. Most expensive are Remington’s 40-grain JHPs (56108) at $11.61/50, or 23 cents a shot.

Conversely, Cheaper Than Dirt lists only 27- and 40-grain 5.7×28mm loads, both FN brands. The list price for the FN SS197SR 5.7×28mm 40-grain Hornady V-Max is $20.63/50, making the cost per cartridge 41 cents. For the 27-grain choice, Cheaper Than Dirt’s list cost is $22.37/50, or 45 cents per shot. So, the cost of operation was around two to three times higher for the FN.

I made my decision, and others will choose the FN, as previous Shooter’s Log posts on the topic show. But for those who might consider the Kel-Tec, what is the PMR-30 like at the range?

Friends and I have poured about 1000 rounds through mine, and everyone who shot it has loved it. First reaction: “It is so light, it feels like a toy.” The gun and an unloaded magazine together weighs only a pound, and with a full complement of 30+1 rounds of 40-grain cartridges, it comes in at 20.2 ounces.

The PMR-30 uses a double-stack magazine, and loading 30 rounds into it takes time, and holding pressure on the cartridges to put 30 in can tire your hands. To make this process easier, I plan to test a loading tool like the one made by Turtle Creek Products I saw it on GunAuction.com.

Some friends I’ve loaned the PMR to mention two instances where the 30th round stuck in the magazine and didn’t feed. It’s only happened with Winchester Dynapoints in both of the polymer factory mags, so it may be an ammunition-specific issue. Under a loupe, I saw tiny moulding edges on the mouths of both mags, so I dressed both with fine-grit sandpaper to see if that resolves the last-round issue, but haven’t checked the feed yet to see if that solved the problem.

More likely, it’s that they did not follow the recommended loading sequence religiously. Failure to load the magazine properly can result in rim-lock, which will lead to a failure to feed. Probably, after they got 15 to 20 rounds in they didn’t tap the magazine on the bench to seat the rounds.

Also, I’m planning to add three steel magazines to the two polymer-bodied mags I currently own. That would give me a loaded-round count of 150, or the tidy equivalent of three 50-round boxes of ammo.

The trigger is a crisp single action with an over-travel stop. The PMR-30 I shot last year had a trigger that broke at 3.3 pounds, with no creep and a clean reset. Mine is heavier — 3.9 pounds, but the action is just as clean and repeatable.

Another favorite feature on the PMR-30 is its fiber-optic orange rear-sight dots and green fiber-optic front sight dot. Even newbies understand and can see how to align the three dots, and they’re very visible on almost every target color. In fact, the color scheme is superior in low-light conditions.

The sights and good trigger translate to pretty good accuracy. With Winchester Dynapoint .22 Win. Mag. 45-grain JHPs at 15 yards, I can shoot some 2-inch groups off sandbags, but the average group size is closer to 2.5 inches. This particular gun also likes Remington Magnum Rimfire 40-grain PSPs, which come in around 2.7 inches as a group average.

The magazine release on the PMR-30 is on the heel, European-style. I’m not overly fond of that location, but it’s nothing more than an irritation. Some owners have said their mags don’t always drop free, but I haven’t had that problem.

One area in which FN has an indisputable advantage over Kel-Tec is pairing the respective sidearms with carbines. Practical accuracy with the FiveseveN pistol is excellent, and man-sized targets are easy to hit with the 5.7x28mm round. Moreover, the round’s availability in FN’s pistol/P90 PDW tandem or a carbine/pistol duo like Masterpiece Arms’s offer nearby (MPA5700sst 5.7x28mm Carbine, $796; and MPA57sst 5.7x28mm Pistol, $600) can be attractive when you’re trying to cut the number of cartridges you have to keep track of.

To compete, if Kel-Tec chambered its 5.56mm-chambered SU-16D9 or SU-16D12 in .22 WMR and made the mags interchangeable with the PMR-30, the pairing would be hard to beat out to 100 yards.

(Cheaper Than Dirt currently doesn’t have the PMR-30 in stock, but our partner GunAuction.com has a listing for a factory new gun here. The auction closes on September 9, 2012 @ 17:11:00 PT.)

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The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (17)

  • Aaron Paden

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    Truely an awsome gun. It is tedious when you load it but it’s well worth it. If you luck up and get one buy Remington gold box bullets. They feed awsome. I bought one 6 months ago for 320$ tax and all. No way would I pay 600$ for it. But 19 oz fully loaded is sweet. It’s like walking around with an assault rifle in your pants.

    Reply

  • T foerster

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    The 22WMR is to often overlooked for close combat encounters, 1950fps. It will punch thru body armour at close range , Hard points, My 45, and 9mmcant do that very light, very accurate. I carry a North America Arms PUG, 22WMR great close up, lightweight round, easily penetrates through 2 barrels next to each other.As for a rifle i use a lever action Henry, also light, very few moving parts, low maint. $600 seems steep as i paid around $700 for both

    Reply

  • Roy McGinnis

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    I own a Grendel P-30 and it is an awesome if slightly large pistol. The full 30 rounds never fail to fire but the parts available are few and far in between. I have seen the keltec in magazines, videos and gun shows and think the PMR 30 just looks like an updated Grendel. They are both utilitarian designed and except for the size and the orange ring on the front, they do look like toys. It was the same thing I said in the Army when we updated from the M-14 to the M-16. What they appear to be and what they are is two well designed firearms that that were game changers. I think spending $250 to $300 more than what the list price is, makes no sense at all. The greed of the price gougers and the poor sense of Kec-Tec to produce to demand. Kel-tec must feel like the Rock Star who charges $100 for concert tickets while the scalpers are getting $400.

    Reply

  • Scott Wolf

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    Comparing that thing to a FiveseveN is like comparing a Colt to a Davis.

    Reply

  • Aaron Paden

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    Fiveseven is the better gun, but I don’t care about velocity differences and muzzle force that much. Round placement is the key. When you ear hole somebody it’s a one hitter quiter. Regardless whether it’s a .17 or a 50 caliber bullet I prefer to get shot with neither. I’m pro-1911 and the only kel Tec I own is a pmr-30 and for the money it’s a great gun (300$). It’s not a flawless weapon, the pmr does have round sensitivity issues and you need to take it to the range and break it in before you consider conceal carry. You need to take your time loading the weapon as well and make sure you do it exactly how the manual states. In my opinion the ideal round for this gun is the remington premier 33 gr. with the accutip-v. The biggest flaw is the 22 mag cartridge, you really need a long barrel to take advantage of the slow burning round. Me personally im waiting for the 22 long conversion kit. I’m not sure on the progress of the kit, but I hope to see it in the near future.

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  • Dan

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    I waited five weeks for my PMR30. The local Sports Shop in Luxemburg WI. found a new one for me $335.00. I found it likes Winchester Dyna Points, $8.47 at Walmart. This pistol is the MOST accurate pistol that I own.

    Reply

  • Roy T Bynum, Jr.

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    I must warn you I am probably one of the biggest fans of the .22WMR/magnum. I have been building up an inventory of various forms including a rare Ithaca single shot lever action in great shape.
    I have owned two of the PMR 30 pistols and I have but one thing to say…all the complaints… always jams…bullets tumble due to bad rifling , and so on are simply exaggerations of a particular incident or two… My first jammed after two rounds…I cleared it and fired two more then another jam. So my plinking was done for the day and I stood still and examined the gun and the ammo… the magazine spring is too stout it would seem and that may cause an issue I found. several of the rounds and all that jammed had the bullet casings distorted in one way or another, the most common being a rippling of the brass, which would obviously cause a jam. I have changed ammo and used only Hornady and only less than 40 grains or more, as the 40 grain was the round that jammed in several other brands. The new polymer tips seem to make the gun smoother to fire and to do so rapidly.I highly recommend the heavier polymer loads which carry a massive whallop. Later in the day when I had found out how to better load the magazine and changed to a heavier brass bullet, I shot 10 quick rounds into a sand bank roughly 50 yards away. Being as the gun handles so well, there were ten head sized holes in a line along the bank just above the water line. I stopped and took observations as the results were fairly amazing.the bullets were almost even spaced along a clear line of ten shots. The gun performed extremely well, very quick and dead smooth on…

    So the top of the line for me is the PMR 30 followed closely by the AMT Automag II. I’ve not shot the Kimber or the Grendel but I undersatand, after considerable reading, that both are comparable to the AutoMag II .

    On the line of a companion carbine they have had plans in a holding pattern for the RMR 30. or the PMR with an attitude and stock.I have only seen it online and still not sure any ever escaped Kel-Tec-a- traz…

    As to getting one, you must go to the online auctions and if you are lucky you might get a good”buy it now”… although you will definitely pay over $400 and most like over $500. But they are out there.

    As to the 5.7 that comparison is not valid…the 5.7 is a different beast. Just buy the .22 mag guns for what they do and that is a lot of fun for not that much money. Wish I had one but my working capital went the way of all good intentions…vulnerable.

    Reply

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