Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine – Lightweight Lead-Slinger

Ammoland News’, Jim Grant, shoots & reviews the Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine.

Kel-Tec’s CMR-30 carbine with Holosun optic and LaRue Tactical grip. IMG Jim Grant

U.S.A. -( 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 found 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.

The CMR-30 ships with a 1/2×28 threaded barrel ideal for sound suppressors. IMG Jim Grant

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 CMR-30 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.

Just like the PMR-30 it shares magazines with, the CMR feeds from 30-round mags. IMG Jim Grant

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.

Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine
The Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine features an ambidextrous charging handle. IMG Jim Grant

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.

Kel-Tec CMR-30 Stock Extended
The Kel-Tec CMR-30’s stock can extend to accommodate shooters of all sizes. IMG Jim Grant

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 was capable of producing two-inch groups at 100 yards with a holographic sight. And with a magnified optic, I was able to 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.

Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine
Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine: European heel-release on a carbine? Sure, why not. IMG Jim Grant

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.

Products Seen in this review:

  • Kel-Tec CMR-30 .22 Magnum Carbine
  • LaRue Tactical Forward Grip
  • Holosun HE512T Enclosed Reflex Optical Sight

About Jim Grant

Jim is one of the elite editors for, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.

When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

Jim Grant