Kel-Tec PLR-16 5.56/.223 Pistol – Range Report
(www.gunsamerica.com) -It seems that the never ending demand for Kel-Tec guns isn’t ever actually going to end. The Cocoa, Florida company that was once known only for affordable, plain Jane pocket pistols has completely come of age. We were able to get our hands on one of the early Kel-Tec breakout products, the 5.56/.223 PLR-16 pistol, MSRP $665, and from a couple afternoons at the range it is clear why everyone seems to want a Kel-Tec. Never short on genius and guts the innovative line of quality Kel-Tec products are so different from everything else that they are beyond “game changers. ” They exist in their own world.
At first this uniqueness was a challenge I’m sure. In the early days of the PLR-16 and it’s rifle version, the SU-16, I walked past them in gunshops and gunshows for many years with nary a second glance. They look funny, and they are, after all, plastic. But as an ever increasing army of Kel-Tec shooters will tell you, there are few flaws in any of these guns. Unfortunately, like most Kel-Tec guns right now, the PLR-16 is difficult to find for sale. But if you can find one, or if you can get yourself on the list to order, this is yet another superior product from Kel-Tec that simply has no equal.
The PLR-16 is a fairly simple gun. The bolt works like an AR-15, and there is a short gas tube running from the front of the barrel to the rotating bolt. The difference is that there is no rear buffer tube, so it is also kind of half AK-47. With all of the back and forth controversy of the “piston” AR-15 versus the traditional impingement design, you have to wonder, hey, why not just do it like Kel-Tec? We have now shot the PLR-16 with 55-79 grain 5.56 ammo from several manufacturers, and it has yet to fail. The gun weighs three and a half pounds empty, and the twist is 1 turn in 9 inches, so it can handle just about any 5.56/.223 ammo on the market. The magazine that comes with the PLR-16 is a 10 rounder, but it also is compatible with all AR-15 magazines for high capacity applications. The gun comes with serviceable rear notch and AR-15 style front open sights, and the integral molded plastic Picatinny rail along the top will hold any optic or red dot electronic sight.
Kel-Tec sells a front handguard assembly for the PLR-16, and it has a bottom rail, but keep in mind that this is a pistol, and you are not legally allowed to add a front grip to a pistol without registering it as an SBR, or Short Barreled Rifle. The point of balance is just behind the front of the magazine well on the PLR-16, so bracing it with your other hand at the front of well is comfortable and natural. Recoil is extremely light, with virtually no muzzle flip at all, but because of the short barrel, the gun is loud. The standard rifle velocity for a 5.56/.223 round is 3240 fps. with a 55 grain bullet. The PLR-16, with its 9.2 inch barrel is listed as having to settle for 2600 fps., and we measured Fiocchi range rounds on the chronograph at about 2400 fps. A lot of powder burns outside of the barrel, and that makes a big boom.