I started shooting competitions back in the late ’80s and have been in the pursuit of podium finishes ever since. That means my range time is dominated by the “P” word, practice! Not just plinking, but real deal work that puts me in a better position to Win, Place or Show. Given that, it was SO nice to be able to go out to the range just for fun with some cool ballistic tools from Kel-Tec!
Now I am unabashedly a fan of Kel-Tec guns. Innovative and interesting are two descriptive terms that immediately come to mind. Broad in their range of offerings from flyweight subcompacts like the P32 and 3AT (32acp and 380acp respectively) to brawny bullpups like the RFB in 308Win. Kel-Tec has some crazy 12 gauge home defense tools that I press into clay crushing service in the KSG and their newest offering the KS7. Need a 22LR that is compact, very lightweight and holds 17 rounds? Kel-Tec has it in the brandy-new P17. How ‘bout a 22LR that is equally at home in helping you to “smoke show” a speed steel match or to punch the center out of the “X-Ring” at a bullseye match? Yup that too is something Kel-Tec has in the CP33 and it looks wicked cool too!
Please let me take a moment to get you up to speed on “who” Kel-Tec is. George Kellgren is the man that started the company some 25 years ago, but he didn’t start with Kel-Tec. George’s first gun company was Grendel and one of the first guns produced by Grendel was P10 in 380acp. It was the P10 (that I still have and use) that started me down the path to more and more Kellgren designed guns. Not only was it reliable (damn sure better be for my application) but it was the most perfect pocket gun for me as it only has two controls; a slide lock and a very manageable double-action (double strike capable) trigger. The gun sports fixed sight that is part of the slide and feeds from a 10 round blind magazine fed by AR (M-16) stripper clips complete with a “charger guide” milled into the slide.
Mr. George Kellgren was born in Sweden in 1943 and is a proud citizen of the USA and at his core is a firearms designer. With over 75 years on this planet, George still loves the process of thinking through and bringing new gun designs to market. The prevailing attitude at Kel-Tec is; “George designs guns he wants to have in his gun safe and we all get the benefit of those designs”. Known to be “on the job” daily at his Coco Florida facility from open to close working on some cool new project that he would like to see and enjoy. In fact, most of the 300+ employees know that if they see George hurriedly moving through the shop with a gun case “hidden” from view, he is on his way to range test a new idea or prototype that most often only he and his right-hand man and fellow machinist even know about. I want to be that excited to be doing something so worthwhile at 70+!!!
At my local range I breakout my personal collection of Kel-Tec ballistic tools of which I own many but not enough! I am a sucker for cool, interesting, and innovative gun designs and only a few gun companies work to that end.
Let’s start small and work our way around. The gun that pushed so many other gun makers to follow Kel-Tec’s lead was the diminutive P-32 in 32acp. How did it push??? Well at the time of introduction one of the most sought after “pocket guns” in 32acp was the expensive and heavy-for-size delayed blow-back L.W. Secamp. George’s creative mastery of lightweight building materials and engineering gave us a fly-weight pocket pistol with a real tilting barrel locked breech and a very good trigger at less than a third of the Secamp’s price! Lead, follow or get out of the way!
The ever so slightly bigger brother the P3AT in 380acp is very much the same gun in every area except it does not have a slide lock. Because 380 is bigger than 32 and the gun itself not, it gets pocket carried a lot!
In my collection, the PF-9 is the best balance of size, weight, caliber, capacity and safety as a “pocket” or IWB carry gun in 9×19. I have shot this gun in speed steel matches and more than held my own without any “handicap”. The trigger, accuracy, handling, and reliability are just that good! Oh, and the PF-9 is (as are many Kel-Tec products ) priced right too!
One of the handguns that has everybody who shoots it wanting one (go buy your own please!) is the PMR30 in 22 Mag. I love this great shooting 30 round, sweet triggered, accuracy inspiring, great handling, field, and range ready good time gun! It is not a blowback in the traditional sense. George and crew built in a short delay in “unlocking” via a sliding barrel/slide. At firing the case swells and grips the chamber walls (like every cartridge does) and that keeps the case “bonded” to the barrel for just long enough for the slide and barrel to move rearward as one for about .200”. At that point, the bullet is gone and pressures drop and while the barrel is mechanically stopped, the slide continues rearward completing extraction. Simple, neat and effective.
Kel-Tec’s 22 Mag Carbine (and a great companion piece to the PMR30) is the CMR30. Not only because they share calibers they also share magazines and feature the same great trigger feel and superior accuracy! The CMR30 is a lightweight, compact, easy to shoot, fun, farm and field gun that fits in your truck or a ruck with 30 rounds on board! With weight being a lesser concern in this “long gun” application the CMR30 is of a conventional blowback action.
The RFB (Rifle, Forward ejecting, Bullpup) is another “I had to have gun” that honestly I don’t shoot very much, but I just dig the design and engineering! My first Bullpup and what a good first one! Holds pretty close to MOA, runs great, low recoil for a 9.5# 308 and is wonderfully compact for a 308 self-loading rifle with an 18” barrel! The RFB is a great suppressor host for a “truck gun” where you might really want what you shoot to stay shot!
The last one in my collection (not the last one I’ll own) is the CP33. How far out of the box can a guy think? Looking like some SciFi movie prop gun the CP33 is anything but a prop! It is the real deal dishing out 34 rounds of 22 Long Rifle as fast as you can run the sub-3-pound crispy trigger. If you are a good trigger puller, you WILL be rewarded with outstanding accuracy! I just popped a Burris Fast Fire 3 on mine and if I decide to take up bullseye matches again (and I might) this crazy cool looking pistol will be in my Pachmyer bullseye gun box!
In closing, I must thank my friend Chad at Kel-Tec for giving me some background on Mr. Kellgren, some insight into the company and a slight hint of what might be the offing from Kel-Tec (oh man it is going to be good!) Additionally, a BIG thank you to my editor for the assignment and Kel-Tec guns for the much needed break from my “range work” pursuits. Thanks for reading.