The Kel-Tec CMR-30 review —
If you like compact and maneuverable carbines in the hot 22 WMR rimfire cartridge then the Kel-Tec CMR-30 is for you. Kel-Tec introduced the CMR in .22 WMR on the market in early 2015 adding another player to their lineup of lightweight, compact rifles. There’s a lot to love about this little gun, and if you combine it with the Kel-Tec PMR-30 pistol (same caliber) you would have a dynamite package for hunting, survival and target shooting.
This carbine barrel is 16.1 inches with a 1 in 16-inch twist. With stock fully extended, the overall length is 30.6 inches. Thanks to mostly aluminum construction, it’s very light at 3.8 pounds unloaded.
Lots of features
The CMR is loaded with a wide range of usable features right out of the box. Examining this little carbine overall you will find:
- Metal sling loops on either side of the buttstock. Admittedly, they’re small but that’s a trait that can be compensated for by using a bit of paracord to accommodate larger sling hardware connecting points.
- Adjustable stock. Kel-Tec calls it a four-position stock, but that doesn’t include the fully collapsed position, which shortens the gun to a very portable 22.7 inches. The ambidextrous adjustment lever is located just under the top front of the trigger guard. Operation in my experience has been silent and very smooth.
- Ambidextrous safety. Several folks that shot in testing the CMR are southpaws and all found the thumb-operated lever convenient.
- The magazine release, like most other things on this rifle, is ambi-friendly. Its location at the rear lower edge of the mag well takes a little getting used to however.
- A textured pistol grip that compliments this gun’s pack-ability with its narrow, flat profile. The signature Kel-Tec texture makes keeping a solid grip and shoulder mount easy.
- A very roomy trigger guard allows for safe operation even with gloved hands.
- Flip-up Magpul rear sight, with aperture that’s adjustable for windage. This (along with its mate up front) is a surprisingly high-end attachment. Regardless of the reason for putting better sights on the CMR-30 than on other Kel-Tec carbines they did right by the consumer with this choice.
- To match the rear sight, the front is a flip-up, Magpul adjustable post. This setup is great for keeping the gun compact as optics can clear the sights without being mounted extra-high. The sights can thus co-witness with many optic setups.
- More Pictatinny rail than you’ll ever use runs the length of the stock, top and bottom. You can add more stuff than you probably need!
- Ambidextrous bolt operation, with a charging handle big enough to grab onto and operate quickly to clear a malfunction while keeping the gun shouldered. It’s also there to simply lock the bolt back, though doing that without breaking the firing position would take more work than I’ve put into this gun so far. The lock-back lever isn’t ambi; it’s on the left side only. At first glance it appears the charging handles may reciprocate during firing, endangering fingers. They don’t—they’re only for manually pulling the bolt rearward.
- Threaded muzzle, with a good checkered steel cap, allows for quick installation of a suppressor or flash hider. The cap keeps the threads clean and the barrel streamlined without an accessory.
The CMR trigger has a bit of take-up but isn’t heavy or grainy, and the reset is palpable without being match-grade sensitive. Kel-Tec says the weight range is three to five pounds and it’s not adjustable.
Accuracy and ammo
Shooting the CMR with a variety of setups from prone, kneeling and standing positions, with and without a bipod, with and without a Gemtech Outback 2 model suppressor; with the stock sights and with a red dot optic accuracy was found to be more than acceptable. Especially considering a magnified optic was NOT utilized for a detailed accuracy test.
Ammo types during the trial include CCI TNT Green (lead-free) 30 grain, CCI Maxi-Mag 40 grain, and Hornady Critical Defense 45 grain. All achieved one to one-and-a-half-inch groups at 25 yards, with the TNT Green forming the tightest group of less than an inch. This is not to pass negative judgement on the other loads, as improvised rests used in the prone position, wind and shooter error surely had some effect, as they usually do.
Keep in mind that just a year or so ago 22WMR ammo was quite challenging to find due to supplies having been bought up over the previous six to eight years because of concerns over gun and ammunition availability. Moral to this story, keep a very good supply of the calibers of ammo you enjoy shooting and intend to use for all purposes.
The owner’s manual provides rather sternly-worded instructions about loading the magazines, and they’re not kidding. Loading the 30-round mag is the only thing inconvenient about operating this gun. Ammo must be loaded from the front of the magazine while sliding the round towards the rear wall of the magazine. The manual recommends tapping the flat back side of the mag on a flat wooden surface every 5-10 rounds.
The spring is quite tight and much pressure is required to load the last ten rounds. The rounds also tend, at any stage of loading, to get a little off kilter in their double-stack configuration. The four misfeeds experienced during the 125-round test (a three percent failure rate) can probably be attributed to a slightly displaced round near the top of a full magazine. Once you become accustomed to the magazine loading procedure it’s not that big a deal.
The magazine drops easily from the mag well upon release. This allows one to run speed or tactical reloads without hassle.
Disassembling the CMR-30 is a straightforward process, if unusual in comparison to most common semi-autos. A small pin located on the frame and above the trigger must be pushed through with an improvised pointy object. The grip/trigger assembly separate as one unit, along with the stock, and barrel/bolt assembly which can be separated for cleaning. It’s not intuitive, but once done, it’s easy to repeat.
Fitted with a magnifying optic, zeroed for the shooter’s ammo of choice, the Kel-Tec CMR-30 is a highly portable, dependable and accurate tool for a variety of applications out to at least 100 yards and probably beyond. For shooters whose visual acuity is good, the same is true for using the rifle with its stock sights.
What’s even more appealing is that the CMR-30 companion gun, the Kel-Tec PMR-30, a full-size pistol of the same caliber and the magazines are the same for both. Finally, Kel-Tec provides a full-color, highly detailed owner’s manual. It’s a nice gesture in an age when most manufacturers are issuing dull, generic manuals that drive us to YouTube when it’s time to clean the firearm.
Both the Kel Tec CMR and the PMR seem to enjoy a continued high demand. Current retail pricing for the CMR-30 ranges from $450 to $550. Check out Kel-Tec’s website, here.