Kel Tec PMR-30: ‘Wonder Nine’ Of The 2010s

This article appeared in the November issue of Western Shooting Journal. If you enjoyed it, why not SUBSCRIBE? Only $19.95 for 12 issues right now, that’s 66% off the cover price!

pistol1By Michael Burchett

What could be more fun than shooting a space-age looking handgun?  In recent years, Kel Tec has made giant strides to become modern and affordable. Case in point, the PMR-30.  With its slim frame and manageable recoil, if you can afford to feed it, you can keep shooting it.

At first glimpse, I couldn’t wait to get out and shoot it. The lines are different than any other gun I have ever fired. The Zytel grip is comfortable to hold, and control placement has been well thought out. It is almost like reuniting with an old friend. The ambidextrous safety is in the right spot, and there is a fist full of firepower waiting to go down range. The mag release is located at the base of the grip for control with either hand as well. I didn’t like the idea at first, however, when I considered the need for a wider grip to accommodate the mag release – had it been placed behind the trigger, the gun would be much larger to hold.

I can see several purposes to having a weapon such as this. I have to think about caliber and down-range energy every time I consider the purpose for a gun. I can see this gun on my hip, hiking through the Cascades of Washington state every summer. It is light, just 13.6 ounces empty plus 6 ounces more for a loaded magazine. Every ounce counts on an overnight hike. Every step carries each pound, and with a budget of 40 pounds total, I can get more gear in my pack with only a pound on my hip, compared to a .357 Magnum weighing in around 3 pounds loaded. I always tell my kids we don’t have to kill an attacker or wild animal. We need only to convince it to turn around. This gun would surely change minds.
Even though this weapon is chambered for .22 Magnum (.22 WMR), I wouldn’t deny its ability as a defense weapon. Using Winchester PDX1 ammo, expect 1250+ FPS and rapid expansion on target. The jacketed hollow point delivers just 10 percent less energy than a .380.  Also, think about the normal .380 out there only holding 7 or 8 rounds. The PMR-30 holds a staggering 30 rounds per magazine. Through the stress and fear, once training takes hold of the situation, 30 rounds of .22 Magnum should create enough fluid loss to cause problems to an attacker. There is surely a place for this gun in the nightstand next to your bed.

WOULD I CONSIDER the .22 Magnum as the first weapon for defense? No, however I do feel a weaker person should still have options. This gun fills the need for people with less grip strength due to the capability to easily operate the slide. My wife, for one, would be able to operate the controls. She doesn’t have the strength to manipulate the slide of a .45 or even a 9mm. With the addition of a light or laser on the included Picatinny accessory rail under the barrel, confidence could easily be found using this gun.

One of the first things I noticed when I held it was the fiber optic sights that come factory installed. Bright and contrasting, they are easily acquired. Recoil was beyond manageable, and I was able to strike a hit on two bowling pins placed side by side using double taps. Trigger pull was crisp and clean followed by a great reset. There is a definite “click” when you are looking for it.

Did I mention this gun holds 30 rounds of ammunition? Remember the term “Wonder Nine” back in the day. Those 9mms have nothing on this beauty. Keep squeezing and you will keep feeling the recoil. The magazine has a window for every 5 rounds to verify your load out at a glance. Is there anything they didn’t think of?

From coyotes to rabbits to grouse to squirrels, this has a place in the woods. From your hip while hiking or in the lock box next to your bed, have confidence in your choice. Kel Tec has designed this gun for you.

Editor’s note: Mike Burchett was born in Washington and was raised in the shooting/outdoor sports. His favorite activities involve anything his family enjoys. From hiking and camping to surfing and shooting, nothing is too big to try.

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