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KelTec CP33 Rimfire Pistol Review

KelTec CP33 Rimfire Pistol Review
Photo by Yamil Sued

The “33” in CP33 is how many rounds the gun holds in its quadstack magazine. For someone used to shooting 10-round .22LR magazines, the capacity and fun seems endless.

I was at the unveiling of the new pistol at the High Bar Homestead Ranch in northeastern Wyoming, a shooting complex that has several shooting ranges, a stunning lodge and more than 1,000 steel targets spread throughout the canyons and timber of the property. It was a magnificent setting to put a new gun to the test.

The event started with a briefing about the CP33’s features by the gun’s designers.

KelTec CP33
Photo by Olivia Hickman

The Long Rail

The first thing you’ll notice is the Picatinny top rail that runs from the front sight to the back of the bolt housing. It creates a full 9 inches of sight radius on a 5.5-inch-barreled pistol, which makes for accurate shooting. The full-length rail means that the optic-mounting options are endless. Also, the dust cover on the bottom of the barrel thoughtfully sports a section of M-LOK, giving one the option to mount lights or lasers. 

KelTec CP33
The charging handle is large and easy to grip. (Photo by Yamil Sued)

The “CP” in the CP33 name stands for “Competition Pistol,” and the gun sports an ambidextrous safety that is easily manipulated. Shooters will also love its crisp 3.5-pound trigger. The gun’s fiber-optic sights glow brightly in any light and are easy to acquire when running through steel or paper courses. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation to fine-tune the pistol to its preferred load.

The KelTec engineers recommend running full-power CCI 40-grain round-nose Mini-Mags in the gun for best function, and they brought a whole pallet of them for us to use over the three-day course. It was no surprise that the CP33 ran them perfectly.

Special Stacking

KelTec CP33
To avoid feeding issues, the cartridges need to be specially aligned in the magazines. (Photo by Yamil Sued)

At the range, we learned how to load the magazine, which is not difficult, but must be done with care. The bullets need to be stacked in such a way that the rims are all lined up in front of each other. If done incorrectly with a rim overriding the cartridge below, it will lock the magazine up. Interestingly, the magazine incorporates a patented metal rod that aligns and sorts the 33 bullets into four (yes, four) stacks. It didn’t take long to get the hang of it.

Weighing 1.5 pounds, the gun is balanced well with its protected bolt housing. Changing magazines requires locating the release button at the grip’s heel. Don’t expect the magazines to fall out. They’re engineered to be pulled out once the button is depressed.

KelTec CP33
Photo by Yamil Sued

The narrowness of the CP33’s grip was a pleasant surprise. When I first heard there was a 33-round magazine in there, I imagined that the grip would be obese.

We drove up the mountain to a steel range that consisted of 15 gongs (size 8 to 10 inches) scattered about in the ponderosa pine. The drill was for the shooter to run up the draw, step onto the shooting pads, then find and engage the targets.

The fiber-optic sights stood out, even against the targets in the deep shadows under the pine boughs. With such little recoil, the smooth-operating CP33 excelled when shooting the targets twice. The long sight radius meant that there were few of the fliers I occasionally have when shooting shorter-­barreled guns. Such a crisp trigger meant that when the sights were on the target, the bullet hit the target.

KelTec CP33
Photo by Yamil Sued

It's a Zinger

The gun that was sent to me for accuracy testing and further evaluation did not disappoint. Its five-shot groups are some of the best I have ever achieved with a pistol, and both loads I tested hovered around an inch. Just to see if I could do it, I shot a small metal spinner 33 times in a row, off-hand, at 15 yards. 

The CP33 comes with two magazines in its box. It breaks down for cleaning with the removal of a single pin located just above the trigger. Once the slide is off, there is easy access to the barrel and other internals for cleaning and maintenance. 

KelTec CP33
Photo by Olivia Hickman

Holsters are available from several quality manufacturers like Alien Gear. FarrowTech makes bolt-on adapters for adding pistol braces to the back of the gun. A friend that put together a braced CP33 with a red dot and a suppressor has stretched it to 100-yard plates with success.

I own a .22LR pistol or two from most of the major manufacturers and often shoot with friends. Of them, the CP33 has the most visible sights, the longest sight radius, the best trigger and the highest capacity times three. If I had to make one precise rimfire pistol shot to win a $100 bet, I would pick the CP33.

The word “innovative” is overused in the industry, but in the case of the CP33, it’s spot on. The combination of good ergonomics, solid features and smart engineering all come together to create a unique and shootable package. Be careful, though, at 33 rounds per magazine, it doesn’t take long to empty a box of shells.

KelTec CP33

  • Type: Blowback-operated semiautomatic
  • Cartridge: .22LR
  • Capacity: 33+1 rds.
  • Barrel: 5.5 in.
  • Overall Length: 10.6 in.
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs.
  • Trigger: 3.5 lbs.
  • Sights: Adjustable fiber optic
  • MSRP: $475
  • Manufacturer: KelTec,


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