Range Report: Kel Tec CMR 30

Kel-Tec CMR 30 rifle right with wood background

A few years ago, Kel-Tec introduced the PMR 30 .22 Magnum pistol. The company is known for affordable innovation and performance, and this pistol was no exception. With good accuracy, light weight, and a 30-round magazine capacity, this handgun became the ultimate rimfire plinker. As an outdoorsman’s pistol for hunting and pest control, the PMR 30 is a great piece. Kel-Tec has now followed up with the carbine version, the CMR 30.

Kel-Tec CMR 30 rifle right with wood background
The Kel-Tec CMR 30 is a neat trick, a great rifle with much to recommend.

One of my friends is well over 70 years old and a long time fan of the .22 Magnum. He keeps a PMR 30 by his bedside as a home defense pistol. As soon as the rifle version was announced, I was excited to test this new firearm. A reliable .22 Magnum self loader was certain to be an interesting rifle.

The CMR 30 gives the impression of being well made of good material. The action is a straight blowback with a fixed barrel. The rifle also gives the impression of being lightweight, which means that it is easy to carry and also that the CMR 30 handles well. The rifle weighs but four pounds. Even with a full gun load of 30 .22 Magnum cartridges, the rifle weighs but four pounds and five ounces.

CCI .22 WMR ammunition
CCI products provided good to excellent performance.

The CMR 30 features a combination of steel, aluminum, and polymer construction. I was reminded of the construction techniques used in the expensive Sphinx pistol. The upper receiver is aluminum. This section also contains the 14-inch sight rail. There is a lower rail about 7 inches long for mounting lights and lasers. I mounted several accessories including the LaserMax Spartan laser with excellent results.

The barrel is a standard 16-inch carbine length and features a threaded muzzle. This is fashionable and suppressor use is popular—adding more flexibility to the design. The rifle is supplied with Magpul folding battle sights. The cocking handle is ambidextrous and does not reciprocate with the bolt on firing.

Looking to the stock, I found a neat retracting unit. The stock features two aluminum support arms that allow good adjustment as they are pinned to the textured butt plate. The stock release is positive and easily manipulated. When the stock is closed the rifle is short of 23 inches. This makes the CMR 30 a neat truck gun and a gun easily stored for handy use. I found I could slip the Kel-Tec rifle just under a standard AR-15 carbine in my Tactical Walls tactical furnishings shelf with room to spare.

cocking handle of the CMR 30 rifle
Every feature of the Kel-Tec rifle is designed with ergonomics in mind. The cocking handle is easily grasped and manipulated.

The stock allows length-of-pull adjustments to make the rifle useable by tall individuals and preteens as well. The CMR 30 is a fun rifle for family shooting and would not be a bad squirrel rifle at all. The rifle features an ambidextrous safety. There is also a separate bolt release. The rifle is setup to accommodate a single point sling, and the trigger action is nice—even crisp—and allows excellent control and accuracy potential. According to the RCBS registering trigger pull gauge the Kel-Tec CMR 30 trigger broke at a nice 3 pounds and 6 ounces. The magazine is the same as the PMR 30 pistol. The magazine release is the heel type that adds to security.

Ammunition choices for the .22 Magnum boiled down to what I could find. .22 Magnum isn’t plentiful in my home town and only one of a dozen stores in my area had the ammunition in stock. I was able to obtain CCI 40-grain hollowpoint ammunition to supplement the four- or five-year-old box I had on hand. I was able to obtain the Hornady 30-grain A Max and also the Hornady 45-grain Critical Defense for testing.

Let’s cut to the chase, the rifle isn’t finicky. All three bullet weights fed, chambered, fired, and ejected normally. I lubricated the rifle well and began with the oldest ammunition, including a half-full magazine that had not been properly stored. I managed to get only 18 rounds into the magazine for the first try, and had a misfeed. I had 10-thumbed the magazines. I learned to load the magazine with the bullet nose completely in the magazine and tap the magazine after loading every five rounds, an old AR-15 trick.

Kel-Tec CMR 30-round magazine
Kel-Tec’s 30-round magazine worked flawlessly during our test program.

After the initial misstep, I was rolling without a problem. The rifle is a joy to fire and use. It wasn’t a problem to sight the iron sights for 25 yards. I then proceeded to fire at dirt clods on the berm, range bric-a-brac such as sticks and old plastic soda bottles. The rifle is very easy to get a hit with and it moves quickly. A rapid follow-up shot is darned easy due to the low recoil and fast trigger reset. The rifle holds open on the last shot and a rapid magazine change would be possible with practice. The stock and grip configuration are comfortable.

As for ammunition performance, this was interesting. CCI’s Maxi Mag is advertised at 1875 fps, probably from a 24-inch sporting rifle. The newest loads clocked just over 1900 fps from the Kel Tec’s 16-inch barrel. The older Maxi Mags clocked 1780 fps. This isn’t an unusual variation between lots.

Hornady’s varmint popping 30-grain A Max load delivered 2120 fps. The Hornady 45-grain Critical Defense load, intended for use in personal defense revolvers, broke 1690 fps. All grouped well in rapid fire and exhibited minute of eyebrow accuracy at 25 yards. Hostage rescue hits in the cranium and center of mass groups were delivered with real speed and accuracy. I had but a single magazine and it takes more time to load a 30-round magazine than to fire it. I was able to fire 180 rounds without a single malfunction. There was a normal amount of unburned powder ash.

Cranial region of paper target
Fast hits to the cranial-ocular region were no problem with the PMR 30.

When handling the rifle for speed, the controls were positive and easily manipulated. The stock’s release is just in front of the trigger guard. The stock locks tight with no rebound. It is quite rigid once locked. It may be adjusted for use by a teen or shorter person if desired.

The bolt stop and safety were easily manipulated. I did find myself moving to push as magazine release that wasn’t there due to long familiarity with the Browning-type magazine release, however, the heel type magazine release is fine once you become accustomed to its manual of arms. It is secure and the magazine isn’t going to be dropped or lost.

Absolute accuracy proved to be excellent. The rifle is well balanced. I sometimes gripped the forend and sometimes the pistol grip in a two hand hold. Firing off of a solid benchrest at 25 yards several groups were less than an inch for five shots. However, I was able to fire the rifle at the 50 yard range as well. I was able to mount and use the Tru Glo Tactical scope to test the rifle at 50 yards. This scope is best suited to the .223 rifle, but it was what I had on hand and worked well for this application. At the 50-yard range, I fired several groups firing three shots for each group. The results are as follows:

Load Group Size
CCI 40-grain Maxi Mag 1.2 inches
Hornady 45-grain Critical Defense 1.25 inches
Hornady 30-grain A Max 1.0-inch

This is fine accuracy for a light rifle, but the action is rigid and the glass was good. The Kel-Tec rifle is easily as accurate as the average bolt-action .22 Magnum rifle. This rifle makes the most of the .22 Magnum cartridge. The rifle is light, reliable, handy, and able to fill quite a few roles in the scheme of things. For hiking or as a just in case rifle the whole family could use well, the rifle is a winner. An advantage of this rifle over the .22 Long Rifle is that the .22 Magnum uses a jacketed bullet. This makes for cleaner shooting and greater effect on game.


Manufacturer: Kel-Tec
Model: CMR-30 Rifle
Action: Blow-back Operated Semi-Auto
Caliber: .22 Magnum
Barrel Length: 16.10″
Barrel Thread: 1/2″-28 TPI
Length, Stock Collapsed: 22.70″
Length, Stock Extended: 30.60″
Length of Pull (LOP): 10.30″ – 14.20″
Height: 6.60″
Weight: 4 lbs with empty magazine
Capacity: 30+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
MSRP: $630

Are you a fan of Kel-Tec’s PMR 30? How do you think the carbine version will be received? Weigh in with your opinion in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
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 (8)

  1. My CMR-30 is brand new and I’ve had nothing but issues I won’t ever buy one again. I’ve done everything to clean and correct the issue but it continues to disappoint.

  2. I have both the CMR and PMR 30s. Both have been excellent, accurate weapons. I love the fact that they share 30 round magazines. I know some of the early models had problems with jams, but I haven’t experienced that with mine. In fact it jams less than a more traditional 9mm that I use for concealed carry. It’s also more accurate, probably because of the lack of recoil. Every time I take them on a camping trip all my friends end up shooting them.

  3. Caliber, capacity and weight caused me to buy my first PMR-30 as an ideal trail pistol. A trip to the range with my wife diverted the pistol’s purpose: to her nightstand. I got another. Now we have four (yes, people like us may well be the reason you can’t find your PMR-30). When Kel-Tec came out with their CMR-30, I ordered one through two different gun stores that carry Kel-Tec weapons. I’m still waiting. Haven’t been able to whine effectively enough to get MechTech Systems to make a carbine conversion unit for my PMR-30s, but a gun-show dealer made me an offer on a Tanfoglio “Appeal” Bull-pup .22WMR that I couldn’t refuse. He told me that most of his 10-round Bull-pups were sold to people looking for Kel-Tec CMR-30s. Haven’t found anyone in the South-West who’s ever seen a CMR-30. Must be an addiction, but ain’t it fun?

    1. Depends on Manufacturer and Dealer. But Armscor .22wmr, 40-grain JHP ~34 cents/round compared to Same Size .22tcm, ~35 cents/round…

  4. Kel-Tec does make very innovative and interesting firearms. I own 5 Kel-Tec firearms and my sons own many more.
    I was excited to get my PM-30 pistol and my son got one too. BUT both pistols keyholed at only 10 yards. The groups were simply huge and most were off of the paper. I have several revolvers that I can shoot under an inch groups at 25 yards with.
    I called the factory and they would not send me another barrel. They said they would send me a slip for me to send the pistol back to them. That was over a year ago and I have still not got the slip. I am very disappointed in Kel-Tec.

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