By Bob Campbell,
I have recently been able to handle and fire one of the newest firearms from Kel Tec, the CMR 30. I have been impressed with the performance and handling of this .22 Magnum caliber self-loading rifle. This rifle is arguably the fun gun of the year, but also features formidable performance and will serve well for taking game as well as in the personal defense role.
The CMR 30 action is a straight blowback with a fixed barrel. The rifle is lightweight at only four pounds. It is easy to handle and carry. With a full gun load of 30 .22 Magnum cartridges the rifle weighs four pounds and five ounces.
The CMR 30 features a combination of steel, aluminum and polymer construction. The upper receiver is aluminum. This section contains the 14-inch sight rail. There is a lower rail about 7 inches long. I mounted several accessories including the LaserMax Spartan laser with excellent results. The barrel is a standard 16-inch carbine length with a threaded muzzle. Suppressor use is popular and
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 PMR 30 a neat truck gun and a gun easily stored for handy use. The stock allows length of pull adjustments to make the rifle useable by tall individuals and pre-teens as well.
The rifle slips easily into the Tactical Walls tactical safe. The PMR 30 is a fun rifle for family shooting and would not be a bad squirrel and rabbit rifle at all. The rifle features an ambidextrous safety. There is a separate bolt release. The rifle is set up to accommodate a single point sling. 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 PMR 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 choice for the .22 Magnum boiled down to what I could find, since .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 hollow point 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 bullet weights fed, chambered, fired and ejected normally. I lubricated the rifle well and began with the oldest ammunition.
I managed to get only 18 rounds into the magazine for the first try and had a misfeed. I had ten-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. 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 proceeded to fire at dirt clods on the berm, range bric-a-brac, such as sticks and old plastic soda bottles. The rifle is easy to get a hit with and it moves quickly. A rapid follow-up shot is 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.
Ammunition performance is 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 thirty 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.
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. The bolt stop and safety are easily manipulated. I found 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. The rifle is well balanced. I sometimes gripped the forend and sometimes the pistol grip in a two hand hold.
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. The rifle is light, reliable, handy, and is able to fill quite a few roles in the scheme of things. For hiking and as a just in case rifle that the whole family could use well the rifle is a winner.
Firing off of a solid benchrest at 25 yards several groups were less than an inch for five shots. I was able to fire the rifle at the 50 yard range as well. I mounted a 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:
CCI 40 grain Maxi Mag 1.2″
Hornady 45-grain Critical Defense 1.25″
Hornady 30-grain A Max 1.0″
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. Some rate the .22 Magnum as an effective cartridge up to the mountain lion class. I prefer the cartridge for bobacat and raccoon. As a personal defense cartridge for those that cannot handle heavier recoil the .22 Magnum is in a class by itself. Shoot straight and the cartridge has adequate penetration to get to the job done.