Gun Review: Kel-Tec CP33 .22LR Pistol

Kel-Tec CP33

Thirty-three rounds. That’s 33. The Kel-Tec CP33 holds 33 rounds of .22 LR. Unless, of course, you slap on a little magazine extension and load up 50. Fifty rounds in a pistol magazine. A factory magazine. You have my attention.

Boy oh boy is it easy and fun to go through all of that .22 LR, too!

courtesy Oleg Volk

There’s plenty to discuss when it comes to the CP33, but at first glance it’s all about that magazine capacity, right?

Whether it’s the flush-fitting, standard 33-round clear plastic magazines seen above…

Or extended to 50 rounds with the optional extra capacity baseplate. The 50-round extensions we used were 3D-printed prototypes, but they functioned just as well as the 33-round jobs.

Which is to say perfectly fine as long as you don’t rim lock the ammo. You see, .22 LR is a rimmed cartridge and in order to slide forward out of a magazine and feed into the chamber, the rim of the round being fed must be in front of the rim of the round that’s on deck.

Loading the CP33’s magazines is simple, though it takes some time. The feed lip design is such that avoiding rimlock is taken care of by the magazine and there’s little for the person loading the mag to worry about. However, it makes you slide each round in deliberately, one at a time, pushed to the rear, and it’s a process.

The CP33 is so dang fun to shoot (and shoot FAST) and the magazines are slow enough to load that I [jokingly] told Kel-Tec they should start a core exchange program. I’d love to purchase loaded mags, fire them empty, then ship them back for a refund of my core fee. We’ll just send mags back and forth — full from Kel-Tec to me, empty from me to Kel-Tec.

By the way, no, your eyes do not deceive you. The CP33’s magazines really are quadruple-stacked. There’s a clear polymer rib at rear that keeps each double-stack rim side from interfering with the other, and a stainless steel bar that keeps each crossed bullets side from interfering with the other. Somehow the feeding at the top just magically happens.

Good news; should you manage to rimlock a couple rounds — this happened to me two times over the course of about 30 magazines — it’s usually fixable through the skeletonized sides of the magazine. Unloading the fruits of your labor isn’t typically necessary. Or, just ignore a rimlocked round and sometimes it’ll feed anyway or cause a stoppage that you can clear easily enough.

But enough about the magazine capacity. On to the gun . . .

Courtesy Oleg Volk

Holy cow 33 rounds, though, right? That’s wild. Sorry, sorry . . .

But seriously 50 rounds!?! That’s a lot of pew in a pistol. Especially in a standard-format (i.e. not a drum) magazine. In a caliber that’s affordable to shoot in quantity.

Okay so actually over to the pistol and it’s a big ol’ thing, right? It shares a significant amount of frame or “lower receiver” design with Kel-Tec’s CMR-30 carbine (possibly identical), which has lots of shared features with their PMR-30 pistol.

There’s much more rear overhang than a typical pistol. Which is usually a good thing for reliability; plenty of bolt travel provides fudge factor in design and timing.

It also means an extremely long sight radius. I was pinging steel targets past 100 yards with impressive reliability.

Some of that is the extra long sight radius and some of it is the really clear, bright sights. A swappable/removable green fiber optic front sight really pops.

And a fully adjustable orange fiber optic sight is at the rear.

My only real gripe about the feel or impression of quality on the CP33 is also visible in the photo above: I don’t like seeing those injection molding marks in the charging handle, and wasn’t a big fan of how the handle felt in my hand, either.

Excepting Kel-Tec’s standard assembly process of bolting together two clamshell halves to build their firearm frames, this is the only aspect of the CP33’s fit, finish, or overall quality that was below my expectations.

Also helping in the accuracy department is a stellar trigger. I mean truly great. It’s light — I didn’t get to measure it, but I’d guess 3.5 lbs. — extremely smooth, and it breaks crisply and cleanly. Crisp, short reset, too. The Kel-Tec CP33’s trigger is probably better than that of 95% of the sub-$750, .22LR pistols on the market.

As you’d expect, it’s a fixed barrel in the CP33. This, too, contributes to solid accuracy.

Courtesy Oleg Volk

But the accuracy of the semi-auto CP33 exceeded expectations. We shot many examples of the gun and they were all incredible tack drivers. They made every shooter look far better than usual, as we unrelentingly drilled distant targets at a much faster rate than anyone was used to.

Between the great trigger, great sights, and shockingly high mechanical accuracy plus the size, grip, and rimfire chambering that result in a most incredibly flat- and soft-shooting gun, the CP33 hits the mark. Fast.

Though who relies on iron sights? Thanks to the full-length top rail, the CP33 is ready for a red dot.

Thanks to threaded holes in its aluminum upper receiver, it’s also ready for other bolt-ons like thumb rests.

With a threaded barrel, the CP33 is ready to accept muzzle devices like compensators and suppressors. It suppressed extremely nicely — quiet, with no gas blockback or functional issues.

Cut into the CP33’s dust cover is a single M-LOK slot. Judging by the bolt at front and rear of this aluminum section, it looks like Kel-Tec has kept its options open for different dust cover designs, too.

An M-LOK slot provides plenty of options in and of itself, of course. Like a section of Picatinny rail or any number of direct-to-M-LOK accessories.

At rear, Kel-Tec included a steel tab on either side below the charging handle. These could be used for a sling or possibly bolting on some sort of pistol brace in the future.

In the meantime, Kel-Tec will be offering a QD sling socket attachment. Nice.

But the accessory you really want is a suppressor. It’s the best muzzle device possible, right? Hit up Silencer Shop and they’ll walk you through the process. It ain’t that hard!

And a suppressor fits so very nicely on the CP33, too. That barrel shoulder is just the teeniest hair proud of the front of the upper receiver, so there’s no gap. It looks great with a can on it.

Functionally, the CP33 runs as you’d expect. Ambidextrous manual thumb safeties in the normal location — they snick cleanly on and off — and a bolt stop where it should be.

Only one control is located outside the norm — at least for us ‘Muricans — and that’s the heel magazine release. I happen to like this quite a bit, as it’s perfect for grabbing with your thumb as you strip the magazine out of the grip. It’s very natural when done that way, and I appreciated it on the CP33 just as I did on my PMR-30 and just as I always have on my HK P7.

Though I didn’t see this occur with any shooters and have never experienced it myself, shooters with large, meaty hands could accidentally depress the magazine release with their strong hand palm. At least according to the interwebs.

So it was extremely cold in Gillette, Wyoming, in mid-November when I shot the CP33 from Florida-based Kel-Tec CNC, Inc.

The guns were cold.

I was cold.

But things ran pretty well. Not perfectly, but pretty well.

Some of the lubrication was gummy in the single-digit temps. There were a few instances where the first two or three rounds didn’t want to feed from the magazine because the bolt was slow — just sticky in the thick lube.

There were a few mid-magazine feeding issues caused by a rimlocked round. Those may or may not have resulted in a stoppage if bolt speeds were higher along with the temperatures.

And by “a few,” I do mean just a few. Maybe 10 total stoppages out of a couple thousand rounds. Overall the CP33 pistol ran pretty freakin’ well. At least as well as most rimfires might in these conditions. Unquestionably better than any .22LR handgun I’ve ever shot with a capacity over 30 rounds.

And it’s fun. Oh man, is it fun. Throw a suppressor on and the CP33 is a hearing-safe, high-capacity, rapid-fire little laser beam of a smile generator. It’s the kind of gun that reminds me how much fun target shooting is.

Kel-Tec’s CP33 pistol was so fun I needed a smoke. Plus it was cold in freaking Wyoming in freaking mid-November.

Kel-Tec’s new gun, the CP33, was so fun I changed my religion. Or it was just really, really cold for this now-Texan.

Kel-Tec’s CP33 was so fun I made reliable hits at 800 yards with a Kel-Tec RFB looking through a 6x Vortex scope with an off-kilter reticle shooting plain ol’ American Eagle ammo. In hindsight this may not be related to the CP33, but I was already in a good mood and determined to keep that going, so missing wasn’t an option.

Why a Florida gun in Wyoming? That I can’t answer. But I’m glad the question was asked, because shooting the CP33 made the cold and snow all worth it. It’s a 10 out of 10 on the fun scale. And did I mention it holds 33 rounds? Or 50!?

Specifications: Kel-Tec CP33 .22 LR Pistol

Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: 33 rounds. 50 rounds with extension (!).
Weight: 24 ounces
Length: 10.6 inches
Height: 6 inches
Barrel Length: 5.55 inches
Sight Radius: 8.64 inches
MSRP: $475

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * *
I experienced a few hitches, but overall these early production models ran pretty darn well with a few brands of ammo. Feeding issues were primarily due to the cold temperatures and thick lube, but there were a couple stoppages due to rimlock.

Accuracy * * * * *
Shockingly accurate. Not only mechanically accurate, but incredibly easy to shoot to its potential.

Ergonomics * * *
The grip feels good in my hands, but there’s room for ergonomic improvement. I’m not a big fan of the Steyr-style rear charging handle, but it’s perfectly functional. The CP33 is a large thing, but once you’re shooting it all clicks.

Customize This * * * * *
Suppressor-friendly threaded barrel, rear accessory attachment point, M-LOK section under the barrel, full Picatinny optics rail, threaded attachment points on either side of the aluminum receiver, and fully-adjustable sights. This is a heck of a lot of customization potential right out of the box.

On The Range * * * * *
Fun in a gun. Have some gun fun with a fun gun. The CP33 is a rapid-fire smile machine.

Overall * * * *
As much as I love the CP33 — and I do! And I’ll be buying one — it isn’t quite a five-star gun. Maybe when Kel-Tec ramps up that loaded magazine core exchange program. Or if the rear charging handle sees some design tweaks or the aftermarket steps in. But if they make enough that they’re widely available and they can be found for the MSRP price or less, I’m all-in and this thing earns a rock solid four stars all day long.

comments

  1. avatar Mike Crognale says:

    OK, that was incredibly interesting but I gotta ask, what the heck was the point of all the shotgun shells?

    1. avatar Big Sky says:

      No. Space gun.

    2. avatar JOHN B THAYER says:

      I think there was a test of the new Kel-Tec KS7 shotgun as well.

    3. avatar ahil925 says:

      IIRC Kel-Tec’s new shotgun was played with at the same time.

  2. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    Does look fun, but thanks for that two clam shells bolted together comment, that is one of my biggest gripes with kel-tec, they just look cheap, especially in light colors… Lots of guns are polymer these days but thankfully they don’t have screws and bolts all over the place. That is one thing I like about guns is the engineering design, it is cool how you can dismantle most pistols pressing a couple levers or buttons, and maybe fully by punching a couple pins. Personal preference.

  3. avatar Pmac says:

    Got to be one of the ugliest pistols I’ve ever seen. Reminds me of the Borchardt. Who’s going to build a holster for that thing? I wouldn’t. Magazine capacity? Ok. If I were charged by a herd of rabid squirrels. Yawn. No thanks.

    1. avatar Steve Eisenberg says:

      It could happen. Secret Special Forces hit squads have been suppressing the most violent squirrel gangs for years.

      https://2.bp.blogspot.com/_do_OliQSQTE/SZnayWNVUFI/AAAAAAAABE0/W2PN4yemSoM/s400/gi+joe+squirrel.jpg

      1. avatar Fully Involved says:

        Bahahaha!

    2. avatar Desert Dave says:

      Reminds me of the ugly sister that had a better personality and other benefits compared to her much prettier sister.

  4. This will definitely be a future collectible when the ban hammer comes down.

  5. avatar kevin says:

    CA: 10 round magazine limit. No suppressors allowed. It’s not and wont be on the Safe Handgun Roster.

    For fuck’s sake.

  6. avatar LarryinTX says:

    Really looks like it was designed to be select fire. I suspect that if rules were changed there would be a version 2.0 within weeks.

    1. avatar No_Ones_Home says:

      Kel-Tec did make a full-auto version of their PMR-30. There was a video of it floating around on the inter-webz a few years ago. You’re probably correct in guessing if they did the same for this.

  7. avatar MouseGun says:

    Damn, that was fast!

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    Eh it’s got that cheap KelTec torture grip. PF9 style…but I’m not getting a 22 so what do I know. This is the most enthusiasm for a KelTec in quite awhile😄

  9. avatar GS650G says:

    Will this gun be always out of stock everywhere like the pmr-30?
    That seems to be a feature of keltec

  10. avatar TommyJay says:

    What were the .22WMR rounds doing there? It doesn’t shoot both (LR & WMR) does it?

    Does it like Standard Velocity as well as High Velocity?

  11. avatar BobS says:

    Maybe the market will step in with a bulk loader like they did for the 10/22: Champion, Butler Creek, Uncle Mike’s, EABco, Speed Beez, …

  12. avatar joel says:

    I’ve shot a pmr 30. That thing was MAX fun! this would be even better since it doesn’t double as a flame throwing firecraker…

  13. avatar D_B_X says:

    Smells like a kel-Tec sponsored review/promotion ….

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Yeah every positive review sounds like that. WTF do you want? It’s a fun gun that has the issues I mentioned and is otherwise a freaking blast to shoot and is stupid silly accurate.

      1. avatar D_B_X says:

        “WTF do I want?” “WTF”? Do you have any class? Can’t take anything not positive? Did I even say “sponsored review is wrong”? Did I get on your nerve?

        No, not every positive review is sponsored. And sponsored review isn’t wrong either. Just a mere fact stating (or more like speculation) makes you swear?! You still take you Kel-Tec money and STFU. You have no right to write anything objective.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          There’s no such thing as a sponsored review. That’s called an advertisement.

          This is a review. I was not paid. Never am paid by a manufacturer. We do not take money from manufacturers for reviews. Full stop. We’re happy to borrow a product, write an objective review, and return it. End of story. The ONLY reason TTAG has readers in the first place is because of our honest, objective, truthful reviews. The second we lie or omit, we lose our readership.

          My goal in any review I write is “no surprises.” If you read one of my reviews and you go shoot or buy that gun or piece of gear, I expect you to encounter zero surprises, meaning everything worthy of being mentioned was mentioned. If something functions in the totally normal fashion I may not bother to write about it in a review, but if anything is better or worse than it should be it’s going in there to help you make an educated purchasing decision. Anything noteworthy. So there are no surprises. I challenge you to shoot this gun or literally anything I have ever reviewed and tell me if you find that I have EVER said anything untrue or omitted anything negative. I think you’ll find that this is a completely objective review, as always.

          And, yeah, I reserve the right to swear at you when my character is directly impugned by you. GTFO with your attitude that I’m not allowed to be angered by your accusations that I’ve been bribed by a company to lie in a review. Yes, that pisses me off. Like I haven’t been writing perfectly objective reviews on TTAG for 6.5 years or anything. So somehow now I’m the one who has no right to write a review while you haven’t even shot the damn gun but you’re a-okay just throwing baseless, personal accusations around like it’s no big deal and then act all entitled like I’m just supposed to reply to you with “thanks for the feedback?” FOAD. And, for real, thank you for reading.

          …and I’ve run out of swear acronyms so, as triggered as you were by WTF, please sit down before reading any further comments cuz I’m afraid they might contain actual curse words.

        2. avatar Iron Cat Beast says:

          @ D_B_X …Are you always this much of an asshole, or only when you’re jumping to conclusions and then overreacting?

          The gun looks fun and I’d love to murder some empty cans with it.

        3. avatar D_B_X says:

          @ Jeremy S: Yes, keep the swearing coming. Use more profanity and more swear acronyms. You are a writer and you know them all, don’t you? Did I ever accuse you of lying or being bribed? Go read what I wrote — “Smells like …” that was all I said. It refers more to your writing style and your (almost uncontrollable) enthusiasm about the gun. A bigger person may easily take it as a jab and a little sarcasm (which was my original purpose, but that is irrelevant at this point.).

          Even if you didn’t get the jab, and you don’t even now, can you just write “@D_B_X, FYI, this review is not sponsored and we did not get paid.”? (To which I may just reply “Good to know.” But that too, is irrelevant at this point.)

          But you had to swear, didn’t you? Started with “WTF” and now every swear acronyms in your dictionary.

          True class. Well done. @Jeremy S

        4. avatar Edward R. Franklin says:

          ‘Intended to be sarcasm’
          If that was your intent you failed horribly, you come off as someone with a stick up their nether regions because someone had fun with a new production firearm. Hell the guy even admitted there were some issues with the CP-33 so it’s not like those glowing R51 reviews that popped up in magazines a few years back. Prehaps you could remove that stick and ditch the holier than thou attitude because someone sweared on the internet and attempt to act like a normal person.
          As for the CP-33, I hope it and the KS7 see a more rapid introduction onto the market than their predecessors and they don’t suffer the same ridiculous markups retailers were so fond of years back. The CP-33 looks like a hell of a fun plinker and the KS7 could easily push into the M500 and M870s market.

        5. avatar JD says:

          DBX= Douche Bag Xcrossdresser. Crawl back to your little hole because you were just spanked by an adult. You triggered bruh? Loser.

        6. avatar LarryinTX says:

          And yes, you did accuse him of all that, do you think you are just so *sly* that you can deny it when called on it? You’re full of shit. (I’m too dumb to acronym).

        7. avatar burley says:

          Maybe he meant: “We’re Tired of Firing” due to the humongous mag?

    2. avatar DFW Shooter says:

      Shut up already.

  14. avatar Don says:

    Take the bands off the cigar… and it appears to be canoeing in the on pic .

  15. avatar Phil LA says:

    I had interest in the PMR/CMR due to 22WMR cost. But 22LR…

    I’ll take a CP33 and a CR33(?)!!

    1. avatar Phil LA says:

      Edit: I had NO interest in the CMR/PMR.

  16. avatar 22winmag says:

    Handle?

    I don’t see a handle in any of the photos.

    What in the world is the author talking about?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      The very AR-like, Steyr TMP-like charging handle.

      1. avatar B320 says:

        Any pics with the handle pulled to the rear?

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          Nah, I failed you there, sorry. If you watch the video you’ll see it in action though. There are two thin steel bars that the rear charging handle is molded onto and when you pull it back those steel bars extend out of the receiver. Just let it go slingshot style and it zips back in just like an AR charging handle. It’s non-reciprocating.

  17. avatar Rocketman says:

    Figure out how to mount a wrist brace on it, and incorporate a built into the gun itself suppressor and you’ve got yourself a real winner.

  18. avatar Erotic Vulture says:

    Looks like a lot of fun. 2 hours on Hickok’s range with this would be better than an amusement park for me.

  19. avatar Squiggy81 says:

    After a good experience so far with my sub 2k (after a lemon of a P11), I’m willing to try another kel tec. Msrp actually seems reasonable for what it is. The big questions will be regarding availability and the price of extra mags.

  20. avatar Optimus says:

    I would be impressed with a 9mm or larger round with 30 plus rounds, butvrealiztically ehat is the use. Cool, Great, Fantastic, I’ll buy something more rejevantvsnd useful. Why not make the 9mm carbine more readily available on the market?

    1. avatar TheUnspoken says:

      That would be called the uzi or tp9 or p26 or mp5, stribog…

      For kel-tec that would be the sub 2000.

      But I get it, kel-tec’s sub 2000 is their only pistol caliber option, which for a while was one of the only decently available and cheaper options beside the hi point, at least once all the imported options were banned. But it is an odd gun. The folding is nice, but I like the sub gun form factor.

      If they adapted the piston su16 guns to 9mm they would essentially have an MPX in cheap polymer. Or cmr style with the mag in the grip, but that wouldl likely be blowback.

    2. avatar Marty says:

      Was called the Sites Spectre and had a quad stack magazine…. very cool gun.. that got hit hard by the AWB

  21. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    There was no extreme cold in northeast Wyoming in November. It was a fairly normal autumn. After all, “winter” doesn’t begin until the 21st of December if we’re looking merely at a calendar, and usually not until the 1st week of December if we’re talking of actual weather conditions. I think there was one night where it got down to about 10F, but most days were above freezing in November.

    Now, if you want actual “winter” weather in Wyoming, there were sub-zero temps on New Year’s Day in northeast Wyoming.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      🙂

      It was winter enough for me after living in TX for 2 years haha. Temps varied from 6 to 30 degrees. The day I was outside for the longest I think the high was 13 or 15 or something in the low-mid teens where we were.

  22. avatar jwm says:

    Is that hoodie robe wool?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Yes, a big shin-length cloak made of INSANELY dense wool. Practically (or perhaps actually) felted. It weighed 15 to 20 lbs. Literally the warmest thing on the planet.

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        It appears felted or boiled from here.

        Felted wool is some of the warmest stuff around. Felted alpaca wool is even warmer, but it is extremely expensive in a garment of that size.

        BTW, it is easy to felt wool. You just have to make the garment (or whatever) oversized (by weaving, knitting or crochet methods), then put it into a top-load washing machine, set it for a hot wash/cold rinse, and you’ll have felted wool when it is all done. It will shrink, but that’s part of why felted wool is so warm: it is much denser than a woven/knit fabric, and it will resist the wind pretty well.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          Thank you, gentlemen. I love me some wool.

  23. avatar JRoss says:

    so it had a QD attachment doohickey, what about something to attach a stock to it?

  24. avatar Larry Mcdowell says:

    Love to own one i have the 22mag plm 30 very accurate pistal

  25. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    Outfitted with a light this could be a frog hunting machine.

  26. avatar raptor jesus says:

    * Not available in certain parts of the country that hate freedom.

  27. avatar rosignol says:

    I was pinging steel targets past 100 yards with impressive reliability.

    Reliably pinging steel past 100 yards with a 22LR handgun using bulk ammo?

    I gotta ask… how big was the steel target?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Standard pepper poppers. The ammo was CCI choot em bulk, which is still quite nice, and Stingers and one other load. With the red dot it was pretty easy once the hold was established. And the hold was mostly due to the zero being a bit off and less so to compensate for distance and wind.

  28. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

    “Shockingly accurate.”

    Like a good High Standard accurate?

  29. avatar Enuf says:

    Sounds like fun. Would love to borrow one.

  30. avatar Shane says:

    Sold. Or would be if I had $$$.

  31. avatar Jamie in North Dakota says:

    Great review, love the pics too.

  32. avatar Woody Pride says:

    Any idea when this thing will “theoretically” be found on shelves?

  33. avatar willie says:

    i’d like one (love my P32s and s2k 9mm)… but alas, i already know that these won’t be available anywhere in any quantity this year…

  34. avatar Internet Guy says:

    Any info on where/when this can be pre-ordered?

  35. avatar Scott says:

    I liked your review. Thank you for doing it.

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