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Kel Tec CP33 Review

One of the most worthless yet enjoyable guns in my collection might just be the Kel Tec CP33. Our CP33 review is going to cover why the Kel Tec CP33 is one of the most fun guns ever made, but still has a lot of downsides. It’s far from perfect, but it fills a niche where there are no other guns to fill.

Kel Tec CP33 Backpack right

What is the appeal?

The Kel Tec CP33 is one of the smallest guns in the market as far as brace .22 pistols go. The gun does not come with a brace, but it’s something you can easily add. It’s also a fairly large-capacity gun with a holding capacity of 33 rounds of .22. This is a feat for a rimfire cartridge.

Kel Tec CP33 right Collasped

The gun accomplishes this by using a quad-stack magazine. It’s a very unique design and the gun is just cool as hell.

I’ve put my gun together and it is the closest I will ever get to an HK MP7 unless I get a SOT. The CP33 is just in a league of its own and there aren’t any other guns like it. It’s the little brother of the PMR series, but at the same time, it’s actually quite different. Being it’s a .22 long rifle, it is an affordable gun to shoot.

As you can see in the pictures, I’ve suppressed mine and added a red dot and brace. When suppressed, this gun is truly in a league of its own and it’s a great gun to teach newer shooters with.

It’s a fun gun to shoot at the range, whether you’re somebody who is an experienced or a brand-new shooter. Everybody loves this gun. Anytime I bring it out and there’s a crowd, everybody wants to shoot it — but there’s one thing nobody wants to do with it, which I’ll go to later.

Ergonomics 

Ergonomics make or break a gun, and the Kel Tec CP33 is no exception. Due to its format, it’s quite a bit different from other guns but still somewhat standard. It’s somewhere between a PCC and something like a traditional .22 pistol. It’s an amalgamation of many different set-ups.

Kel Tec CP33 Safety On Left

Safety

The safety on the Kel Tec CP33 is almost a 1911 thumb safety. It flicks off downward to disengage the safety and you push it back up to re-engage and make the gun safe. I personally really like it and I think it’s well-positioned. I do wish the safety lever itself was somewhat extended. As that would make it a little bit easier to reach.

When it comes time to re-engage the safety, the slide or bolt lock actually can interfere with your thumb re-engaging the safety. So you have to break your grip and move to safety up.

Kel Tec CP33 Safety Right Off

There can always be a few improvements. But considering the price point of the gun itself, I really don’t have any major complaints.

Pistol Grip CP33 Review

The pistol grip on this gun is molded into the gun itself and also carries the magazine. So it’s more of a traditional pistol-style setup. It’s based more like a 1911 and less like a Bergman-style pistol where the magazine sits forward of the trigger.

The grip itself is very large and long; in fact, it’s probably a little bit larger and longer than I would prefer. It’s definitely based on the Celtic CP33 with the .22 mag-style housing. 

Kel Tec CP33 Grip

The magazine itself is very long and could be an issue for some smaller-handed shooters. However, I’ve seen videos of small seven- and eight-year-old children shooting this gun without issue. I do wish the grip was a little bit smaller. Removable back straps to accommodate a larger variety of people would be nice.

Mag Release Kel Tec CP33 Review

The magazine release on this gun is not my favorite feature. It’s a heel-style magazine release, which is not something you see a lot of in 2021. This was a feature more common on handguns at the turn of the century than it is now. (When I say turn of the century, I don’t mean the last time it happened. I mean the time before, back in the early 1900s.)

Kel Tec CP33 Magazine Partially In gun

The magazine release can be a little bit difficult to use. It’s definitely usable and doesn’t require any kind of special strength or oddities to work. But I do wish they had an extended magazine that came out maybe three to four inches. That would make it much more ergonomic and quicker to pull the magazine itself out. 

Kel Tec CP33 Magazine Release

This is certainly not a gun you’ll be doing sub-second quick reloads with. This is something you shoot your 33 rounds off of and then take your time to get the magazine out and back into the gun.

CP33 Review Magazine Well

Kel Tec CP33 Magwell

The magazine well on this gun is about as quick as the heel-style magazine release. There is a slight bevel on the inside, but there’s really not an actual bevel at all. You’re relying on the angle of the magazine to get it in. The reality is that you have to hit this perfectly each time to get it in. If not, you’ll miss it or it’ll jam up a little bit before you can press it in.

Bolt Release/Hold Open

The bolt release on this gun is placed similarly to the bolt release on a Glock pistol or almost any other standard handgun. It sits right in front of the thumb safety. Unlike the thumb safety, the bolt release is not ambidextrous, which is kind of disappointing.

Kel Tec CP33 Safety On Left

I would have liked to have seen the design perhaps stay a little bit farther forward. It would have had less interference with the safety as we mentioned earlier. I also wish it was also just a little bit bigger. It’s actually very easy to activate with your thumb and people with smaller hands will find this design much easier to use.

Charging Handle Kel Tec CP33 Review

It’s set up like an AR15-style charging handle. It sits at the rear of the receiver and is easy to operate but feels cheap. This is the cheapest-feeling part of the gun.

Kel Tec CP33 charging Handle Back

Handguard

Kel Tec CP33 Accessories Angle

The handguard on this gun is very slim. It’s definitely a pencil-profile handguard. There’s one M-lock slot in the bottom of it and no provisions to mount anything on the sides. It’s very small and you are able to get your hand completely around it probably two times over. This is a very small grip, but it’s also very easy to hold and really helps you stabilize the gun.

Trigger

Kel Tec CP33 Trigger

This is a 22, so I don’t like to dry-harp, but the trigger on the .22 has a very light take-up and then the trigger breaks. The reset on the trigger itself is fairly long and not very authoritative, so you’re going to have to make sure you manually press your finger out before the trigger resets.

The trigger does not have enough spring tension to easily press your trigger finger forward. It’s a super fun gun to shoot through, and the trigger matches the gun. I don’t think many people are going to be super disappointed with the trigger, but they’re not going to be crazy-impressed either.

Kel Tec CP33 Brace

Kel Tec CP33 Brace

The brace on the Kel Tec CP33 is going to depend on what you go with on the aftermarket as the company does not ship with any kind of brace. I personally went with a Farrowtech sliding brace.

This brace isn’t perfect, but in my opinion, it is the best-looking brace. It is a sliding brace that slides up close into the back of the receiver. It uses two carbon fiber rods hooked into a system.

There’s a notch in the rods that engages with a lever that is fairly easy to use to push the stock back in. But when you’re deploying the stock or pulling it to the outward position, you need to make sure to go slow or you’ll override those notches and tear the stock right out. This is a stock that’s mostly for looks and not for complete function.

Kel Tec CP33 Brace Hook

If you want something that’s more functional, you’re going to want to get a Kel Tec CP33 brace that attaches via the Picatinny rail section on the rear. They make mounts that mount similar to the Farrowtech brace but mount a Picatinny rail. From there, you can attach an SB tactical brace or any other brace that works with a 1913 mount.

I personally prefer the Farrowtech. Just because it looks cool and this isn’t exactly a gun I’m using for serious purposes. The most this gun would be used for is squirrel hunting if I lived in a state that would allow me to hunt squirrels with a 33-round magazine.

Accessories

Accessories can make or break a gun and the CP33 is no exception. You’re going to want to make sure you have the right accessories to really get the most out of the gun. Now, this is a double-edged sword, but the Kel Tec CP33 normally costs between $400 to $500.

Prices are a bit inflated at the time I write this, but when you can pick up the gun in that price range, it’s a great value.

The problem really comes in with the accessories. The problem with accessories is they get expensive quickly. As this gun is pictured, you’re probably looking at almost $2,000 between the can stamp, gun, light, and the brace and optic. It’s a very expensive pistol. I bought all these items independently not meaning to put them together, and if I had not done so there is no way I would have this amount of money in this .22.

That being said, this .22 is definitely the most fun gun I have and it is worth every penny of that two grand. The good news is that the gun and the brace are the only items specific to the gun itself. You can easily move the light, suppressor, or optic to another gun.

We’ll talk more about these accessories later on, but below is a list of all the different accessories you can get for your CP33.

KelTec CP33 Accessories Review

Mounting accessories are a different story. Some of them are easy, but there are some issues with the majority of them which we will get to below.

Optics CP33 Review

Kel Tec CP33 Lynx Defense Bureau Right

Mounting an optic to the KelTec CP33 is quite easy. It sits far enough back and there are no charging handles or anything that you have to worry about getting in your way. You can mount pretty much any optic you want on this gun (at least of the red-dot variety) without having issues.

If you were to mount some sort of fixed or variable power optic, I could see there being issues with both eye relief and getting it far enough forward. It would also just look odd. But if you’re going to mount on a red-dot, it’s easy to mount to the 12 o’clock rail.

Kel Tec CP33 Review Irons

Kel Tec CP33 Top Rail

Iron sights are where things get a little bit more difficult. The gun itself comes with fiber optic iron sights that have a red fiber rear and a green fiber front. These sit right on top of the rail itself. Personally, I don’t like these sights.

They are definitely bright, and in my opinion, the rear sight should be blacked out, but they’re really not that great. I would rather see more Picatinny rails towards the front and rear of the gun so I could get a set of regular folding AR-15 sights farther forward and a longer sight radius. That would be my personal preference, but your mileage may vary.

Lights

Mounting a light to this gun is not easy. The only real option you have is to mount to the bottom rail via some sort of in-lock adapter, which is going to be pretty good if you’re using this with some techniques. But if you’re using your support hand to grip the front of the firearm, then you’re not going to want to do that.

You’re likely going to want to mount something to the 12 o’clock rail as I have instead. I have a mod light attached to a mod button sitting off the top of the rail.

Kel Tec CP33 Accessories Angle

It works great for a right-handed user using their left-hand thumb to activate the gun. If you’re left-handed, though, you’re going to have to grip the gun around the light and use your thumb. It’s definitely doable, but I would be a little bit concerned about the .22 shells hitting my hand or arm in some situations. It might even cause liability issues if one of those shells were to object or to fall back into the chamber while it’s trying to feed a fresh round.

Control Devices CP33 Review

Kel Tec CP33 Bottom MLok

This gun is very short and I really wanted to add a hand stop to it. I have ordered a UTG hand stop for this gun. The reason I chose a UTG stop is that it is the only hand stop that works with one M-lock slot.

I’ve ordered multiple hands-offs that have not worked because they use two or three M-lock slots. The handguard looks decently long and like it might fit most of the hand stops on the market, but it really doesn’t. You’re going to have to search high and low to get a hand stop. UTG is probably going to be the easiest one to find and it’s the only one I’ve found thus far that fits well with this gun. This is a gripe in my Kel Tec CP33 Review.

Sling

Mounting a sling to the CP33 is definitely not easy. If you had a brace like the Farrowtech, you can easily mount a QD amount to the tail hook. That’s what I’ve done. I have also added an offset QD Mount to the top 1913 rail. It works pretty well for my Edger Sherman design sling and I really enjoy the setup. I haven’t had any issues with the gun itself or the sling and it just works.

I do wish there was a little bit better way to get the sling further forward, but I can’t do that without interfering with my grip or ability to access the pressure pad for the light. If I was not going to run light on this gun, I might move the forward sling mount as far forward as possible. This, again, is a place where it would be nice if there were more Picatinny slots closer to the front of the muzzle. Another gripe in the Kel Tec CP33 Review.

Shooting Experience

When you take this gun out and the first load the magazine, that’s where the trouble really starts. These 33-round magazines are not fun to load. The gun comes with two magazines and once you load those two, you’re not going to want to load anymore. I’m the type of guy who normally buys 10 or 20 magazines for every gun I own, and I still only own two of these. 

Kel Tec CP33 Quadstack Magazine

One of the reasons is they are quite expensive, but the main reason is that I had a hard time loading more than the two magazines before I go to the range the next day. Once I get to the range, I really don’t feel like spending half my range day loading up two more 33-round magazines. It’s a great and fantastic gun to shoot, but the magazine loading is a pain.

Now, when you go to insert the magazine itself, it goes in fairly smoothly. There’s definitely some abrasion or friction when you press the magazine in, but you don’t really worry about it going anywhere. It’s held in place very well.

You go back and go to pull the charging handle and it just feels somewhat flimsy. I’m not a huge fan of the charging handle on this gun. That said, it works fine and I haven’t had any issues with it. Once you drop that charging handle home, it feeds a round, you go and get your sight picture, flip off that safety, and from there on, it’s just a blast.

Kel Tec CP33 Suppressed Review

With the Q Erector .22 suppressor, this gun is super quiet. The great thing about Q suppressors is it has the ability to add as many baffles as you want. I have all the baffles that came with the suppressor mounted on it, so this is an exceptionally quiet setup, especially for a semi-auto that sits this close to your face. Anytime I hand this to anybody, they absolutely love to shoot this gun. 

Kel Tec CP33 Lynx Defense Bureau Left

As long as you’re using subsonic ammo, it’s hearing-safe. It’s just an incredibly fun gun to shoot. If you’ve got small kids, I can’t think of a better way to get them into semi-automatic shooting than this gun with this specific suppressor.

Large enough that you can get the gun up against them and allow for a good sight picture and still maintain control of the firearm while they shoot. It’s just a really great setup.

Again, as I mentioned earlier, I have way more money in this gun than I would like to admit, and I would have never started this build from scratch. But if this is something you’re interested in and you have a spare red-dot or .22 can lying around, spending the $600 for the gun and the brace is definitely going to pay off and you will enjoy this for many years to come. This is my favorite part about this Kel Tec CP33 Review.

CP33 Reliability

I’ve shot a decent number of rounds through this. I don’t have thousands and thousands of rounds through it yet, but I’ve been impressed with the quality and the reliability. The only issue I’ve had with this .22 is when I left it outside one night in a locked area that was not climate-controlled and the lubricant in the gun got a little gummy and froze up. 

The next day, it was still under freezing when we went out to shoot and the first round fired fine, but the second round had trouble feeding into the barrel. After that, the gun warmed up fairly quickly and didn’t have any issues.

Kel Tec CP33 Lynx Defense Byte Left

This is a .22. It doesn’t have a lot of pressure or anything to operate, so keep that in mind. I really don’t put any negative points on the gun for that. That was somewhat of an extreme situation. As long as you keep the gun well-lubed, it runs well. I haven’t had any complaints out of liability, even though it’s KelTec.

Final Conclusion

Overall, this is an incredibly fun gun. If you’re looking at a gun for a gun that is just a blast on the range, I’d definitely check this out. If you’re looking for a gun that’s incredibly practical, this may not be your cup of tea. Even though it’s a KelTec, the build quality doesn’t seem bad.

There are definitely some features on it that seem cheaper, but considering the price point factor of 22s, I think everything on it is acceptable. The charging handle is the cheapest-feeling component on the entire firearm and that’s the only thing I’m really not happy with.

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Ergonomics
  • Great suppressor host
  • Poor man’s MP7 clone
  • One of the most fun guns to shoot
  • Great for smaller adults and kids to shoot

Cons

  • Brace options are large or fragile
  • Not easy to mount a light
  • Rear-sight profile
  • Magazines are hard to load
  • Feels flimsy

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