Compact, lightweight guns like the Kel-Tec CMR-30 hold a special place in my heart. They’re just so damn handy. The combination of the CMR-30’s centrally balanced design, lightweight construction, and extremely light felt recoil just feels right.
But guns are more than just subjective measurements of ergonomics or feelings they invoke. So let’s take a closer look at the CMR-30 and find out if it lives up to the hype.
Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine
The Kel-Tec CMR-30 is deceptively different from the Kel-Tec PMR-30. While it does share the same magazine, it actually operates via direct blowback instead of a locked breech. This is presumably because the added weight of the longer barrel would make it impossible for the low recoil .22 Magnum round to cycle properly. Especially since the muzzle of the CMR-30 is threaded to 1/2×28 for muzzle devices, including sound suppressors.
Thankfully, the engineers at Kel-Tec are no fools, and they arrived at the simplest solution possible: direct blowback.
And you know what? It works. The KelTec CMR30 runs fantastically with nearly all ammo tested – just stay clear of longer polymer-tipped rounds. Everything else had the carbine running like a sewing machine.
And just like the PMR-30 it shares magazines with, the CMR-30 takes full advantage of the .22 Magnum’s lightweight and low recoil. Meaning the CMR is built from the same lightweight polymer with steel reinforcements and additional aluminum components. But there’s more to this gun than just its method of operation.
Kel-Tec CMR-30 Carbine Ergonomics
Despite being a carbine, the Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine handles more like a pistol than a long gun. This is because the magazine well is integrated into the pistol grip. The advantages of this include knowing instinctively where the magazine well is and having nearly all the important controls in close proximity to the shooting hand. This means weapon manipulation and reloads are fairly easy to manipulate even in poor lighting conditions. This also translates into easy mastery of these controls with training.
Another great aspect of the controls is the ambidextrous charging handle. Although somewhat unconventional in design, both handles offer plenty of purchase to charging the action and are easily accessible for shooters of all sizes.
Speaking of which, the CMR-30 features a collapsible stock that when collapsed greatly reduces the weapon’s overall length. In addition to the fully-collapsed position, it also features a short and long open position that in testing accommodated shooters comfortably whether they were around five feet tall or over six feet.
The safety is also easy to reach for all shooters, being located in a similar location to that of a 1911 pistol. So shooters can rest their shooting hand’s thumb on it, and toggle it on and off as needed without shifting the firing hand. Hell, even the stock release is located in a great spot just forward of the trigger guard and is ambidextrous. The same is true of the bolt release, though it’s not ahead of the trigger guard, but, above and behind it.
Still, very easy to actuate with the firing hand without shifting your grip.
Kel-Tec CMR-30 Performance & Verdict
The accuracy and reliability of the CMR-30 were excellent. Depending on the round, the CMR-30 could produce two-inch groups at 100 yards with a holographic sight. And with a magnified optic, I could squeeze even better groups from the gun. So much so, that old 12 gauge hulls were no match for the CMR-30, with first-shot hits being the norm, not the exception.
Low recoil, great capacity, solid reliability, and accuracy – what’s not to love? Indeed, I found the Kel-Tec CMR-30 to be an excellent little gun that would make a world-class backpacking carbine, survival rifle, or bugout weapon. Yes, it’s not as effective as say a .223 rifle, but it’s lighter, smaller, and can use a stock without a tax stamp. Plus, it’s not terribly expensive with an MSRP of $629.99.