Key point: Every gun does not need to be an expert killer.
The PMR-30 is one of Kel-Tec’s newer guns. A 30-round single action only pistol chambered in .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, the pistol is meant to shoot fast and flat. It’s an eye-catching design, with Kel-Tec’s signature molded plastic externals, high-visibility sights, and a fairly steep grip. But it begs the question…what exactly is the point of the PMR-30?
Kel-Tec’s site lists “firepower” as a key selling point of the PMR-30, calling it perfect for “backpacking, camping, and range day plinking” While the PMR-30 could definitely be used to take small game during backpacking and camping, generally one wants to carry more heavy firepower than a .22 WMR when a gun is necessary for backpacking or camping to fend off larger predators. Shotguns, rifles, or magnum revolvers are generally the order of the day when it comes to defending against wildlife that could harm a person.
The PMR-30 can definitely be seen as a fun choice for plinking if one feels the need to step up from .22 LR. The .22 WMR is significantly more powerful, yet the PMR-30 by all accounts keeps the recoil low and the slide tracking fast for quick and easy shots on target. But the downside here is cost. The .22 WMR costs around the same as regular 9x19mm rounds. While 9x19mm rounds recoil more, training and plinking with them is far more practical as those skills can be easily transferred to defensive pistol usage. Well tuned 9mms also can run nearly as flat as the PMR-30, though they usually are more expensive.
However, after that Kel-Tec states that “the PMR30 can also play a role in home defense for the recoil shy among us.” This is a fairly disingenuous statement. While it’s true that a PMR-30 is better than nothing, there is a reason why practically no military or police department issues a pistol in .22 WMR. The closest analog to it in military or police service is the FN Five-seveN, but this pistol is specifically optimized to penetrate armor with the 5.7mm armor-piercing round. Even then, reports of the 5.7’s effectiveness against softer targets are mixed at best. The .22WMR wouldn’t fare much better.
While the PMR-30 is probably an accurate plinker and perhaps even a good choice for taking light game, it is not a gun that one should rely on to defend themselves in any situation. Kel-Tec is doing their customers a disservice by marketing it as such. If one is too recoil-shy to use a more effective handgun, then one should fix that by training more and becoming confident in more recoil-heavy guns, rather than buying a souped-up .22. When a good 9x19 pistol costs around the same amount to train with and buy, it’s hard to make a compelling argument for the PMR-30 as a home defense weapon.
However, if one wants a flat and fast shooting range toy that holds an insane amount of rounds in a flush fit package, the PMR-30 is a great pick. Not all guns have to be practical, some exist just to be fun to shoot and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national-security issues.
Image: Creative Commons.