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!
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 . . .
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.
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.
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
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.