By Will Dabbs MD, Personal Defense World
What gun would you carry if you could only have one? It’s a tough question to answer, just like trying to figure out who would win in a fight between Terminator versus Batman.
Think about two grown men arguing about that on a road trip, for example. It would take two hours just to lay down the fight circumstances. (With utility belt and Batarang, but without the Batmobile, the Terminator would win without question. Thanks for asking.) Now get two or more gun guys together and ask them what the ideal utility handgun might be, and the conversation will go on for hours on end. I hope you don’t need to eat or pee—it could get intense.
You obviously need a Walther P22 as a compact .22 LR pistol and suppressor host. Then there’s the S&W Bodyguard .380 as a front-pocket CCW for everyday carry. A Glock needs to sit on the nightstand for when things go bump in the night. The Desert Eagle thickens your chest hair every time you shoot it. But don’t get off-topic—what if you could only have one?
I would propose that there really is one clear answer to that philosophical imponderable. The Kel-Tec PMR30 is just unique enough to be a compromise that can actually be a little bit of everything for everybody.
Florida-based Kel-Tec is not your typical gun company. Its engineers are artists, and their medium is plastic. Nothing in Kel-Tec’s catalog is typical, mundane or normal. Its battle rifle looks like a Star Wars blaster. Its shotgun is turned around backwards. The company’s .223 remington SU-16 rifles break in half and fold to about nothing for transport. The .22 Magnum PMR-30 pistol is practically weightless and carries 30 rounds in the magazine. The only problem I have found with Kel-Tec’s guns is that everybody wants them. I think they will still be back-ordered in a zillion years when the sun finally burns out.
What Is It?
The PMR-30 is really unlike anything else on the market. The gun weighs 13.6 ounces unloaded and 19 ounces with a full magazine. While the general envelope is that of a full-sized handgun, the pistol is still quite svelte. The thin grip and frame dimensions make it easy to conceal. The barrel is 4.3 inches long. The trigger on mine has a nice and crisp 5-pound pull. And, as I mentioned, it has a 30+1 capacity.
The magazines are impregnated with molybdenum disulfide grease for smooth operation. The magazine release is heel-mounted in the European fashion, but magazines come free cleanly. The slide release is not a slide release, but rather a last-round-hold-open device. To drop the slide on a fresh magazine, you pull the slide back slightly and release it.
The sights feature fiber-optic inserts that glow splendidly in decent light, and the dust cover features an accessory rail. The safety is fully ambidextrous and rides under either thumb. Push it down to fire. If you’ve ever fired a 1911, using it won’t require thought. The barrel is steel and the frame insert is 7075 aluminum. The workmanship on my PMR-30 is flawless.
To facilitate reliable extraction, the PMR-30 incorporates dual opposed extractors. There is also the most fascinating floating chamber incorporated into the design to reliably manage those long .22 Magnum (.22 WMR) cases. The gun also comes in several colors, and mine is desert tan.
The gun is so lightweight it seems like it will float away. Drop the PMR-30 in a decent holster and you can forget it’s there. Stow it in your bug-out bag and your security concerns are over.
In theory, you could hunt with it. My gun is accurate enough for squirrels at modest ranges. I saw a guy kill a six-point buck with a .22 LR one time. Trust me, it was a weird set of circumstances. That same bullet at 1.5 times the velocity out of a PMR-30 would do the deed with the right shot placement.
Going To Work
Concerned that the .22 Magnum is insufficient for serious social work? Shoot your assailant 31 times with it and see how much vitriol he has left! Pack a spare magazine and you’ll have 61 rounds on hand for a crisis. Also, reloading is crazy fast once you get used to the gun. Small, fast rounds can be quite effective when there are two and a half dozen of them on tap.
I can’t count the number of handguns I have trained on and used over the decades, but the PMR-30 is the most fun pistol I think I have ever hefted. It is just a blast to shoot, and it will detonate a milk jug like a hand grenade. The thing carries so many rounds that emptying an entire magazine can get tedious.
The .22 Magnum is a remarkably versatile cartridge. Loads run the spectrum from solids to jacketed hollow points (JHPs) to personal-defense rounds. The Kel-Tec manual specifies certain loads for best reliability, but my PMR-30 has been reliable with everything I have fed it.
In a perfect world, you could keep your revolvers, pocket pistols, competition target guns and Desert Eagle hand cannon. You would have a Glock in the glove box of your car, one in your night stand, another sitting on the mantle behind that hideous clock you got as a wedding present from your great aunt, and at least one nestled in a rubberized holster hanging in the shower for when the situation gets truly real. However, if you really could only have one handgun, there is an obvious solution.
The Kel-Tec PMR-30 carries well, shoots straight, functions reliably and carries enough onboard ammo to stop most anything that breathes. You can hunt with it in a pinch, defend your family under most any imaginable circumstance and, while away on a delightful Saturday afternoon, turn ammunition into noise. Is it really any wonder they can be hard to find?
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