Kel-Tec PLR-22 Semi-Auto .22 Long Rifle Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 2nd, 2009




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Kel-Tec CNC of Cocoa, Florida keeps coming out with the coolest, most innovative firearms. Manufacturing some pretty good guns before, Kel-Tec became a household name among shooters ten years ago with the introduction of their super-lightweight .32 auto pistol. The first gun review that I ever did was on the Kel-Tec .32 Auto, written back in the year 2000. Smaller than many .25 auto pistols and half the weight of the most popular .32 at the time, the little Kel-Tec became one of the most popular pocket pistols ever built. Following this up with the .380 caliber P3AT and the very slim PF-9, Kel-Tec has dominated the ultra-light pocket auto market for several years. Their unique semi-auto carbines have also gained a cult following. Not content to just build “me too” copies of existing designs, Kel-Tec always introduces innovative and interesting weapons. Their lightweight 5.56mm carbines are a good alternative to an AR-15, and I have been waiting impatiently for almost two years to get my hands on one of their new bull-pup .308 rifles. If it is as good as I think it will be, it should be another winner for Kel-Tec.

Back in 2006, I got the chance to review the Kel-Tec PLR-16, a gas-operated 5.56mm pistol that was a lightweight, reliable, and accurate pistol that could fill the role well for a compact close-quarters weapon. The subject of this piece is the understudy of the PLR-16, called the PLR-22. Sharing the same profile and several of the same components, the PLR-22 is a close copy of the PLR-16, but fires the cheap and abundant .22 Long Rifle cartridge, which could well be the most versatile cartridge ever invented. It is certainly the most popular. With good 5.56mm ammunition now costing about forty cents and up per pop, a 550-round box of good .22 LR ammo can still be had for around thirteen bucks, which is barely over two cents per round. The PLR-22 is a natural for those who already own a PLR-16, but is also a very good pistol in its own right, being an extremely fun little plinker, and the sample gun proved to be exceedingly accurate and one hundred percent reliable.

The PLR-22 is a blowback-operated pistol, and feeds from a box magazine. The pistol uses a clear polymer twenty-six round magazine, which fed flawlessly with every type of .22 LR ammo that I tried, and I tried several, from bulk hollowpoint Federal to Aguila SSS sub-sonic to Wolf Match roundnose. Everything fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The bolt rides inside the polymer receiver on steel rails, and runs very smoothly. The operating handle is attached to the bolt on the right side, and reciprocates with the bolt upon firing. The bolt remains open on an empty magazine, and the red mag follower readily shows the condition of the weapon. The recoil spring is located above the barrel, in the same position as the gas tube on the PLR-16. The rear sight is an easy-to-see square notch blade, and is adjustable for windage correction. The front post is adjustable for elevation correction. For plinking, I mainly used a Trijicon Reflex dot sight atop the Kel-Tec’s Picatinny rail, but switched to a scope for accuracy testing. The accuracy exhibited by the PLR-22 was amazing. I was genuinely surprised by the accuracy of this weapon, as I was having a hard time trying to hold it steady across a bench rest, while pulling the relatively heavy trigger on the Kel-Tec. While the trigger works well, and is about par for a weapon of this type; it is no match trigger, and is not the easiest for me to use while trying to see how accurate a pistol will shoot. The trigger pull measured just under seven pounds on my sample gun, which ain’t bad for plinking, but again, a little heavy for bench work. However, the PLR-22 is not meant to be an Olympic free-style pistol, but it certainly exhibits competitive accuracy. As can be seen in the pictures, the Kel-Tec can hold its own against the accuracy of target guns costing several hundred dollars. Wolf Match turned in the best performance, grouping ten shots into just three-eighths of an inch, and the cheap Federal bulk ammo from Wal Mart that turned in the worst performance of the day was still match-accurate, grouping into one inch. Everything else that I tried grouped in between these two. Any pistol that will group its favorite ammo into an inch is plenty accurate to please me, but the PLR-22 did that well with its worst, and again, reliability was perfect.

The PLR-22 accepts many of the PLR-16 accessories, and I attached a set of the Kel-Tec handguards. I consider these a “must have” accessory for the PLRs 16 and 22. They make it much more convenient and comfortable to shoot the pistols, and add very little weight. I also was happy to see that the PLR-22 has a threaded muzzle, and my Tactical Solutions suppressor worked very well on the Kel-Tec, greatly reducing the noise signature from the ten inch barrel, and just adding to the overall fun. Weighing just 45 ounces empty, and just about 13 ounces more with the handguards and an empty magazine, the PLR-22 is a handy little weapon, built for fun, but possessing the reliability and accuracy to fill other roles as well, such as hunting or defending the homestead from predators such as foxes and wild dogs. With packs of wild dogs becoming more of a problem each year in wilderness and camping areas, the PLR-22 would prove to be very handy and effective against such threats. While a .22 LR is not the best choice against criminal attacks, the PLR-22 could fill that role as well, unleashing a barrage of lead hollowpoints at one or more attackers, with speed and precision. Whatever the use, the PLR-22 is a dandy little weapon, possessing top-notch accuracy, and providing loads of inexpensive shooting fun. I highly recommend it.

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To order the PLR-22 online, go to

Jeff Quinn


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Open sights.



Picatinny rail atop receiver allows for mounting a wide variety of optics.



Optional handguard has an additional Picatinny rail on the bottom.





The PLR-22 proved to be surprisingly accurate, and 100% reliable.



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Click pictures for a larger version.


Kel-Tec PLR-22 Semi-Auto .22 Long Rifle pistol.



Muzzle is threaded for a suppressor, flash hider etc., and is protected by a knurled cap.



Tactical Solutions' suppressor is small, well-designed, very effective, and lots of fun.



Magazine release.



Bolt locks open on an empty magazine.



Charging handle.





Crossbolt safety.



26-round magazine.