KelTec CP33

KelTec CP33: .22 Target Pistol Review

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“Business in the front, party in the back.” It’s the mantra of this  CP33 pistol. 

Well, I might say that when I first look at it – man, it’s rocking! Knowing that the gun will fire 33 .22 LR rounds before reloading is what makes me extremely excited.

KelTec did explore new ideas with this model, which was ideal for competition and plinking. The KelTec CP33 is without a doubt another great target pistol and one of the hottest in the market. The pistol is simple-to-use. However, does it live up to the expectations?

Pros
  • Ergonomics: The KelTec CP33 has a futuristic and innovative design compared to compact and modern guns that are found normally on the market.
  • High capacity magazine: The pistol comes standard with a 33-round magazine, which means you’ll be able to shoot longer between reloads.
  • Controls: It has an ambidextrous safety, which makes it simple to use.
  • Trigger: It has a crisp and smooth trigger pull.
  • Sight: An adjustable fiber optic sight with a 9-inch sight radius for windage and elevation comes standard with this gun.
  • Aftermarket: The possibilities for upgrades are endless, and the best part is that you can add a stabilizing device like a brace to bring out its full potential.
  • Price: The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is only $475, which is a good deal.
Cons
  • Quad stack magazine issues: Magazines are difficult to load and could jam if not properly loaded.
  • Bolt release: This isn’t ambidextrous.

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Quick History

George Kellgren founded KelTec in Cocoa, Florida, in 1991. KelTec isn’t recognized for high-end firearms, and many of their grips and other components are made of polymeric materials. Despite this, KelTec produces distinct handguns, rifles, and shotguns and continues to be a market success.

KelTec has a long history of developing bizarre firearms, some of which are fantastic and some of which are not. But it has created innovative firearms like the KSG-55 and KS7 while the CP33 pistol is an entirely different matter altogether.

The KelTec CP33 debuted in the 2019 SHOT Show, a few years after the enormously popular KelTec PMR-30. The two pistols share many aesthetic similarities.

KelTec PMR30
KelTec PMR30; Image by Rezz Guns

KelTec responded to the need for innovation in the .22 target pistol market with the CP33. If you’re not aware, the CP in CP33 stands for competition pistol. The CP33 pistol is a powerful handgun with better handling than it appears. The pistol is balanced perfectly.

Why Go With KelTec CP33?

I’ve seen many interesting gun designs, but this one caught my eye. I enjoy how KelTec, like other well-known gun makers, departs from the norm in terms of design. To be honest, KelTec performed a fantastic job. There’s always a reason behind the design.

The advantage of this extended form is that it absorbs recoil and has a much larger sight radius. Thus, it will allow you to get the most out of your fiber optic sights. With sights that are adjustable for elevation and windage, the CP33 is a total package. 

Moreover, the KelTec CP33 magazine uses Quad Stack design to hold 33 rounds. The magazine of the CP33 is an incredible achievement of rimfire technology. Knowing that KelTec engineers had to create this clever system to fit all 33 rounds into the mag, not to mention a 50-round extension possibility, there’s no reason not to give this new creation a shot. Why not? Everyone adores new ideas.

Overall, the CP33 is a futuristic weapon with lots of potentials. Furthermore, the gun is designed to fire at high-speed ammunition in 22LR caliber. This model was also meant for competition and plinking. You can do anything with it and it’s inexpensive.

Market for the Gun

KelTec marketed the gun as a multipurpose pistol. I can see why. The CP33 is ideal for target shooting, competition, and plinking. There are numerous upgrade options, and you can use this gun in any way you want. If you’re looking for a fun gun to shoot at the range, the CP33 must be on your list. The gun is also suitable for new shooters who don’t want to keep stopping to reload magazines.

KelTec CP33 Specifications

The appeal of this handgun does not end with the impressive magazine. Let’s look at the specifications:

TypePistol
ActionSemi-auto
Caliber.22 LR
Capacity33 rounds
Barrel Length5.5 inches
Barrel Threads1/2-28 TPI
Overall Length10.6 inches
Height6 inches
Weight (Unloaded)1.5 pounds
Trigger Pull4 pounds
Twist Rate1 in 14 inches
Accessory RailPicatinny-style rail
SightsFiber optic
Firing MechanismHammer-fired

KelTec CP33 Hands-on Review

Unboxing

KelTec CP33 in a case, unboxing
KelTec CP33 in a case; Image by bjblackmamba

The gun comes in a stylish black hard case. Inside the box, you’ll get the KelTec CP33 with two 33-round magazines. Included in the box is the instruction manual which goes over how the gun operates. It talks about how everything works from loading the magazine to gun disassembly. Following that, you’ll get stickers, locking mechanism, paper cloth, and magwell flare.

Look and Feel

KelTec CP33 Look and Feel
KelTec CP33; Image by Olivia Hickman of Guns & Ammo

At first look, the KelTec CP33 appears to be unlike any other gun. It falls somewhere between a pistol caliber carbine and a standard .22 pistol. It’s like a mashup of different setups. When you grab it, the gun is extremely light and comfortable to hold. It’s no surprise that it only weighs 1.5 pounds. However, with an overall length of 10.6 inches, the gun feels a little long, but that design serves a purpose.

Build Quality

This gun has an excellent build quality. The KelTec CP33 has an ambidextrous magazine release and safety lever. Thus, it is suitable for shooters with both left and right hands. Its safety works in the same way that a 1911 thumb safety does. CP33’s safety is also well-placed.

Furthermore, as with Glocks and other standard pistols, the bolt release on this gun is located directly in front of the thumb safety. Yet, it is not ambidextrous, which could be a significant improvement in the long run. 

Besides that, the CP33 has a metal upper and polymer lower. The gun’s charging handle is also made of polymer, which makes it look cheap. But it is like an AR15-style charging handle, sits at the back of the receiver, and is simple to use.

KelTec CP33 Image left view
KelTec CP33

The KelTec CP33 has a strong 45-degree grip, the angle of the grip is comparable to that of most handguns. Its polymer grip and metal top frame are an excellent match. Overall, the build quality of this gun is solid.

The Gun’s Features

Let’s now talk about one of the gun’s best qualities – the magazine. While it’s an advantage, it is also one of the CP33’s biggest drawbacks. 

The magazine holds 33 rounds, making it an excellent range gun because you just have to load it not very often. However, it is difficult to load and you might experience some issues after firing 20 rounds or so. KelTec also advised to not use low power ammo and lightweight bullets for it may cause feeding issues. KelTec devotes two pages in their manual explaining to users how to load the magazine. That is something not to be ignored.

CP33 Sights and top rail
Sights and rail; Image by Rainier Arms

You can mount your favorite optics and accessories to the gun. Thanks to its Picatinny-style top rail and a Magpul M-LOK slot built into the dust cover. It will give you limitless optic possibilities.

cp33 fiber optic sights
Fiber optic sights; Image by Rainier Arms

The adjustable fiber optic sights with a 9-inch sight radius that come standard with the gun make this a fantastic weapon right out of the box. A threaded barrel is also included making a solid job of bull’s-eyes.

The CP33 also has a relatively short trigger pull. It’s a clean breaking trigger that will catch you off guard.

Ease of Use and Operation

Given the gun’s appearance, you’d think it’d be difficult to use. But it’s rather simple to operate. A recoil-spring rod directs each load, which moves the ammo stacks in a continuous sequence. The bolt advances past the feeding point, improving shot consistency for high-speed rounds. Other users report that loading the magazine can be difficult at first. I agree, but it becomes easier with practice.

Indeed, one of the best features of this handgun is how simple it is to set up. The KelTec CP33 has a great base that allows you to hop from shop to range and enjoy it right away. As a result, it is an excellent pistol for beginners. Recoil appeared to be nonexistent due to the gun’s perfect balance and effectiveness.

Taking the CP33 Apart

For disassembly, make sure the gun is empty. Remove all live ammo from the area and the CP33 safety lever should also be set to safe.

First, remove the grip assembly. Push the assembly pin to take it out. Then, remove the grip assembly by sliding it straight back at least 1 inch and pull it away from the barrel assembly. Next, remove the bolt assembly. The bolt assembly should come out if you pull the operating handle away from the barrel. Pull the bolt away from the operating handle with your hands. You can now proceed with the cleaning.

For demonstration and step-by-step guide, see KelTec CP33 disassembly guide found in the user’s manual. 

You may also see this helpful video for fieldstripping and cleaning the gun.

Shooting KelTec CP33 at the Range 

Accuracy

Because of its high ammunition capacity and overall accuracy and performance, the CP33 could excel as a multipurpose firearm. It is also designed to deliver consistent results in a competition setting, which is why it is referred to as a competition pistol. 

I’ve fired a good number of .22 LR CCI Mini-Mag rounds through the KelTec CP33, and I’m impressed with the accuracy. You could definitely use the weapon for target shooting or just plain fun at the range. Plus, pulling the trigger is incredibly satisfying and crisp. The CP33 has a single-action internal hammer fire mechanism, which allows you to pull the trigger light and smooth.

If you want to improve your long-range accuracy or hit your targets in low-light situations, we strongly advise you to invest in a good pistol optic. 

Reliability

The gun is a lot of fun to shoot. It’s incredibly adaptable in that you can shoot it on almost any target and have a great time. Recoil was virtually nonexistent due to the neutral balance grip and overall efficiency of the gun and, because it’s a.22, there’s almost no recoil. 

The CP33 is a semiautomatic rimfire pistol with a straight, blowback action. Because the gun’s body moves back instead of using a slide system, it’s satisfying to shoot and very controllable.

It fires flawlessly, but it most likely depends on the type of ammo you’ll be using. Therefore, the KelTec CP33 is a reliable firearm especially when loaded correctly with the right ammunition.

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Gun Competition

KelTec CP33 vs KelTec PMR30

KelTec PMR30 ready to fire
KelTec PMR30; Image by eslamhitman86

When it comes to design, I can’t think of anything that closely looks like the CP33, except for the PMR30. PMR30 debuted first and became the inspiration of the CP33. Though the PMR30 looks similar to the CP33, the more stabilizing changes on the design are noticeable. The CP33 has a full-length rail on the top, which suggests that it could be a good short-barreled rifle (SBR) host.

Furthermore, the CP33 uses the same operating mechanism as the PMR30. Its upper-unit assembly now extends about 2.5 inches behind the rear grip strap, which is a significant improvement. But if you’re looking to step up from the .22 LR, the PMR30 is an excellent option. Because the PMR30 is chambered in 22 Magnum, these two guns obviously fired different rounds, but they’re both rimfire pistols. Overall, both pistols are an absolute blast and a fun gun to shoot at the range.

PistolsKelTec CP33KelTec PMR30
Caliber22 LR22 WMR
Capacity33+130+1
Trigger SAODAO
Barrel5.5 inches4.3 inches
Height5.85 inches5.8 inches
Weight24 ounces14 ounces
MSRP$475$545

KelTec CP33 vs. Taurus TX22

tx22 taurus pistol

CP33 and Taurus TX22 are both 22 LR pistols. Both guns debuted at the 2019 SHOT Show and have been on the market for some time. Distinctions on both guns are very noticeable. The design and barrel size is self-evident. The TX22 has a 4.1-inch barrel whereas the CP33 has a 5.5-inch barrel. The capacity is also apparent. The CP33 can fire more rounds, but the Taurus TX22 is less expensive. 

Because of the Picatinny-type rail and loops at the back of the gun for adding a mounting brace, the CP33 has a greater number of mounting attachment options when it comes to modification.

If you want a competition pistol with a longer sight radius, the CP33 is the way to go. Choose the TX22 if you want a gun that is almost as easy to obtain for anyone who wants a shorter-sight radius.

PistolsKelTec CP33Taurus TX22
Caliber22 LR22 LR
Capacity33+116+1
TriggerSAOSAO
Barrel5.5 inches4.10 inches
Height5.85 inches5.44 inches
Weight24 ounces17.3 ounces
MSRP$475$350

Enhancement

To get the most out of the gun, you’ll want to make sure you have all of the necessary accessories. The CP33 isn’t hard to customize. It offers numerous upgrade options. It’s simple to attach an optic to the KelTec CP33. You can mount almost any optic you want on this gun with no problems. With the addition of a brace, the pistol can be converted to a .22LR H&K MP7 cone. That is, by far, one of its greatest modifications. 

If you’re serious about improving your KelTec CP33, see our separate guide for the Best KelTec CP33 Accessories.

Below are some of the best.

Farrowtech CP33 Telescoping Brace

CP33 is the smallest brace .22 pistol. The gun doesn’t come with a brace, but you can add one easily. Farrowtech CP33 Brace is one of the highly recommended braces for the pistol. It comes in handy and gives you more control over your firearm, resulting in smaller group sizes downrange. The Farrowtech brace adapter is lightweight and has a telescoping design for firing a pistol accurately.

TANDEMKROSS Game Changer Compensator

To reduce muzzle rise and recoil, you can either add a compensator or a suppressor to the gun, but I prefer this one from Tandemkross. This compensator was constructed of tough materials and hard coat anodized. It only weighs 1.23 ounces and adds 1.75 inches to the gun’s overall length. The Tandemkross Game Changer Compensator reduces recoil, improves targeting, and allows for faster follow-up shots.

TALON Grips for KelTec PMR-30, CMR-30, CP33

Do you prefer a rubberized and more comfortable grip? Try these Talon Grips, which have a unique design that ensures extra coverage. Talon Grips, with their high-quality fit and finish that upholds ergonomics, will undoubtedly improve the control and accuracy of your CP33.

Wrap Up

Overall, the CP33 is an interesting weapon. You can certainly see why the CP33 has been flying off the shelves since its launch. The gun can be enhanced in a variety of ways. For example, add a brace, and it becomes the size of a carbine. You can also attach an optic to it to make it a good plinking gun. This is a fun gun to use for whatever purpose you have in mind. The price of the pistol adds to its allure and ensures that you get good value for your money.

Therefore, don’t overlook the KelTec CP33 if you’re looking for a weapon that ain’t that pricey but you’ll enjoy shooting for days.

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Feature image by keltecweapons.com

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