September 16, 2020
By J. Scott Rupp
Sometimes it takes hands-on experience to wake you up to how cool a rifle is. When I first got the KelTec CMR30, which we were planning to use on this season’s Handguns & Defensive Weapons on Sportsman Channel, I wasn’t all that impressed. I opened the box to find a small, squat black rifle. Big deal.
When I began really looking at it, though, I was surprised to learn the .22 Mag. semiautomatic had a 16-inch barrel, which certainly doesn’t look like it could be that long. It took me a minute to figure out how to operate the telescoping stock (why cheat and read the manual?) But then I found the latch in front of the trigger guard that releases skeleton-type stock, which can lock in several different positions.
A catch in the heel drops a 30-round magazine from the pistol grip. The ambidextrous non-reciprocating charging handle is located on sides of the fore-end. It offers plenty of surface area to grab.
The safety is ambidextrous as well. A small lever on the left side, similar to the slide lock on a semiauto pistol, locks back the bolt but doesn’t function as a release.
Like I said, looking at the rifle, you’d think there’s no way the barrel is 16 inches long, but it is. It’s threaded 1/2x28 for a muzzle device or suppressor and comes with a thread cap.
A 14-inch Picatinny rail runs the length of the CMR30’s upper receiver, and at the front and back you find Magpul’s excellent MBUS flip-up open sights. KelTec is known as a manufacturer of inexpensive firearms, so I was a little surprised to see such high-quality sights on a gun that costs only $630. Underneath the fore-end is a seven-inch Pic rail section for lights or lasers.
I mounted an Aimpoint Micro H-2 on the top rail, complete with the riser block designed for use on an AR-15. I tried mounting it without the block, but that placed the sight too low.
The pleasant surprises continued at the range as the CMR30 proved to be quite capable at 50 yards. The trigger was much better than I expected. There is a bit of take-up and creep, but the break is only two pounds, nine ounces on average.
This is probably not the gun you’re going to be using to head-shoot small game or varmints at long distances, but the rifle proved able to shoot several sub-inch groups with the red dot—including a 0.41-inch five-shot group with CCI. A small, low-power scope would also be a good companion for this rifle and would increase accuracy.
I came away thinking this would be an excellent “head for the hills” rifle, truck gun or camp gun. One, with its telescoping stock it’s incredibly portable or stash-able. Two, it’s super-light at just 3.8 pounds.
Three, you’re getting full power out of the .22 Mag. round, and aside from dispatching pests or getting meat for the pot, it’s no accident both Hornady and Winchester make .22 Mag. defense loads. While hardly a “man-stopper,” it can handle defensive duties—especially with 30 of them at your immediate disposal and 30 more in the second mag supplied with the rifle.
I hung a Birchwood-Casey pistol training silhouette target at 30 yards and tore into it with the CMR30. Even when shooting as fast as I could pull the trigger, it wasn’t hard to keep all hits on target, although, of course, I had to slow down in order to make more precise shots.
While I cleaned the bore several times with a snake, I didn’t clean or lube the action at all. The gun ran fine during my morning-long test, probably 150 rounds in all, but when we broke it out on the set of the TV show, it started to malfunction. A blast of Hoppe’s Gun Medic set it right, but I should’ve cleaned it prior to filming. Rimfire ammo runs dirty, and that usually means a little extra attention is required for semiautos.
While not as easy to take apart as, say, an AR-15, disassembly of the CMR30 isn’t complicated, and the owner’s manual covers it pretty well. Ensure the gun is unloaded, close the bolt and place the rifle on Safe. With the stock fully extended, drive out a pin above the trigger guard and remove the grip. This permits access to the bolt assembly and spring tube, which slide to the rear.
The bolt, spring and tube are removed from the stock assembly by giving them a twist to free the components from the stock rods. You can also remove the stock assembly at this point, but I didn’t. Clean, lube and reassemble.
The only other negative thing I can say about the rifle is it would not function with Winchester’s subsonic load. That’s not surprising because of the round’s low power, but it is a shame because this gun cries out for a suppressor. Of course, you would still get noise reduction even with supersonic ammo—just not as much.
Overall, I think this an incredibly handy rifle. Like I said, it could serve numerous roles quite well, plus it’s a ton of fun to shoot.
KelTec CMR30 Specs
- Type: Direct-blowback semiauto rimfire
- Caliber: .22 Mag.
- Capacity: 2 30-round mags supplied
- Barrel: 16 in., 1:14 twist, threaded
- Weight: 3.8 lb.
- Overall Length: 22.5–29.9 in.
- Stock: Collapsible aluminum skeleton
- Sights: Magpul MBUS front and rear; full-length optics rail
- Trigger: 2 lb., 9 oz. (measured)
- Safety: Ambidextrous thumb
- Price: $630
- Manufacturer: KelTec, KelTecWeapons.com
KelTec CMR30 Accuracy Results