Lovin’ the PMR-30

By Woody published on in Ammunition, Firearms

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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