Kel-Tec PMR-30: One of 2019's Most-Popular Semi-Auto Handguns

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posted on June 20, 2020
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Kel-Tec introduced the .22 WMR. chambered PMR-30 in 2010 and it was an instant hit with enthusiasts. The futuristic-looking semi-auto pistol features a flush-fitting 30-round magazine, Hi-ViZ fiber-optic sights—fore and aft—and an accessory rail for mounting lights and lasers.

It claimed third-place honors in semi-automatic handgun sales category last year in GunBroker's Gun Genius rankings, despite being nearly a decade old and chambered in a rimfire caliber some consider less than optimal for self- or home-defense purposes. Its popularity barely wavers, and it’s stayed in the top-10 for the past five years, even second in 2018.

The PMR-30 has a 4.3-inch barrel and measures 7.9 inches long, 5.8 inches tall and 1.3 inches wide. Those dimensions make it possible to be carried concealed, but it’s something of a challenge. That’s not where it shines brightest, anyway. Empty, the gun weighs only 14 ounces, which lets it lighten the load for hiking, backpacking and survival chores. Its capacity is a bonus for each of those duties.

The PMR-30’s steel slide is tapped for optics and is coupled with an aluminum grip frame to reinforce the primarily polymer construction. The barrel has a 1:11-inch rate of twist, although early versions were not as tight.

The magazine release is located at the heel of the grip, but instead of pulling back to release, it’s pushed forward. That’s a big difference from the traditional European style, and in testing for American Rifleman B. Gil Horman wrote, “I found that by pressing the heel of my non-shooting hand into the release tab, while hooking the front of the magazine base with my fingertips, it’s easy to quickly strip out a spent magazine and insert a new one.”

The manual safety is ambidextrous. A hybrid system of blowback and locked breech operate the semi-auto. MSRP is $478, and if there’s any question in your mind as to the popularity, it's disappeared from the list of available in-stock handguns from many major retailers during the current gun-buying frenzy.

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