Kel-Tec CMR-30 Field Report

Kel-Tec CMR-30 with scope by Oleg Volk

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.

Kel-Tec CMR-30 with scope by Oleg Volk
The Kel-Tec CMR-30 scoped and ready for action.

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.

Kel-Tec CMR-30 Right Side View by Oleg Volk
Kel-Tec CMR-30 Right Side View

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.

Kel-Tec CMR-30 Left Side View by Oleg Volk
Kel-Tec CMR-30 Left Side View

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.

Shooting Steel with the Kel-Tec CMR-30 by Oleg Volk
Shooting Steel with the Kel-Tec CMR-30

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
Action Semiautomatic
Barrel Length 16 inch, .5-inch-28 threaded
Caliber .22 WMR
Overall Length 22.6 inches collapsed, 30 inches extended
Overall Width 1.2 to 2.3 inches
Weight Unloaded 3.8 pounds
Sights Picatinny rail
Stock or Grip Glass-reinforced Zytel nylon
Capacity 30 rounds
Frame 7075 aluminum grip frame


Share your first impressions of the Kel-Tec CMR-30 in the comment section.


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Comments (67)

  1. I have 4 KelTec firearms and enjoy them tremendously. I really enjoy the .22 WMR, it is a fine round. I own a PMR30 and it is a blast ! Can’t wait to be the first on my block to get a CMR30.

  2. The article states that 22 wmr makes 90-95% of the velocity of the 5.7. That is very misleading, as you are comparing 22wmr out of a RIFLE, to 5.7 out of a PISTOL. 5.7 out of the ps90 is going 2100+ fps, for a dramatic difference in power, in an apples-to-apples comparison (plus being the inherently more reliable center fire priming).

    That said, still want one of these!

  3. I have 4 pmr30’s, 2 glock 9mm sub2000’s, a plr22 and a p11. Can’t wait for the cmr30 to come out. My dealer has the first one saved for me. Also looking to get the plr16c.

    1. There is no plr16c….Its an SU-16C Rifle or PLR-16 Pistol…….the ONLY Kel Tec I don’t
      own is the CMR-30…..waiting patiently…..

  4. From their Customer Service…

    We’re hoping to see the CMRs (new name for RMR) start shipping by the end of the year, but no firm date’s been set yet. We want to make sure they’re fully tested first. Yes, they take the same mags as the PMR30 and are only offered in 30rd capacity right now, so check with your state’s regulations for legality. Some dealers are already taking pre-orders, but since we don’t sell firearms directly to the dealers, I couldn’t tell you who those dealers would be.

    NOTE: **We know everything is very hard to find right now due to backorders, but since we don’t sell firearms to dealers or civilians directly, you’ll need to locate your own shop to order from. You can find a dealer locator on if you’re in the US (Canada: All current models are still in production regularly. Hopefully by the end of this year, production will be doubled yet again.

    US only: If you’re in law enforcement only, you can email Janis at for pricing and purchasing info.

    Customer Service
    1-800-515-9983 toll free
    1-321-631-0068 local / Canada
    1505 Cox Rd
    Cocoa, FL 32926

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