PLR-16 Upgrades


Steve Coulston takes the PLR-16 to the next level with a care package from Kel-Tec.

I recently wrote a review on the Kel-Tec PLR-16 that highlighted its features and capabilities. The gun I received was stock. No bells. No whistles. This, in my mind, limited the capability of the pistol. Kel-Tec took notice and was kind enough to respond with a care package a week later. They sent me their PLR Compact Forend, PLR Muzzle Brake Kit, Rear sling bar and basic sling. Early Christmas! Installation of the upgrade parts was super quick and easy. Once I had everything installed I grabbed a few extra goodies, some ammo and headed out to the range.

Once at the range I topped off the PLR with the outstanding Vortex Razor 6MOA red dot in an American Defense Manufacturing Picatinny QD mount. I also added a QD vertical grip and the new green Crimson Trace CMR-203 Rail Master to the underside of the PLR forend. (Note: You must have your firearm registered as an Any Other Weapon “AOW” to legally install the vertical foregrip).

The first thing I did was adjust the sling. Personally, I like my slings fairly snug. I shortened the sling to the point where the slack was taken all the way out of it when my firing arm was fully extended. This allowed me to present the pistol with some sling resistance and helped stabilize the pistol to make aiming easier. It also enabled me to keep the gun fairly tight to my body which would allow for better concealability when using an appropriate cover garment.

For testing I used the same 30 and 40 round Gen III PMAGs I used in my initial test fire of the PLR. If you recall, the first time I shot it, the gun had a double feed with the 40 round PMAG. During my second session the 30 round PMAG fed without a hiccup. Dropping the 30 and inserting the 40 I fired off about 5 rapid rounds which immediately resulted in the same double feed malfunction as the first time. This confirmed to me that the PLR doesn’t like 40 round PMAGs, or at least it doesn’t like mine. I don’t think the magazines are faulty as they function fine in other guns. Regardless, this didn’t bother me too much. I just know not to use the 40 rounders in the PLR. There were no other malfunctions after I stopped using the 40 round magazine.

Shooting the PLR with the upgrades was a much better experience than previously before. The sling tension made a big difference stabilizing the gun. The addition of the forend allowed me to get my support hand further forward on the gun which also added in shooter comfort and controllability. At the range I was shooting at (10 yards) the Vortex Razor made target acquisition simple and quick. The Crimson Trace green laser was supper bright and made shooting from the hip very easy. Place the laser on the target, fire and repeat. Nothing to it.

The muzzle brake seemed to work well. It isn’t very large and if you aren’t careful it is easy to install upside down. What it lacks in size it makes up in bark. This little guy is LOUD! Being an observer and standing just off of the shooters left or right shoulders was a tooth jarring experience to say the least. The short barrel, the rifle round and the brake all culminated in an impressive concussion blast. Just for kicks, I would love to shoot this at an indoor range and just observe the reaction.

One funny moment came when I was shooting it and the concussion really became an issue. I stopped firing, cleared and safed the gun then inspected the muzzle device. The device is held tight by a lock nut and not a traditional crush washer or shim. Well, in my haste I must not have attached it tight enough because the device had rotated 90 degrees. The brake vents which are supposed to be at approximately 3 and 9 o’clock had now moved to the 12 and 6 o’clock position! I was getting the full brunt of the blast right in my face! Lesson learned; make sure that bad boy is nice and tight.

I still stand by my initial observations of the gun; however, my second PLR experience was much better than the first. The Kel-Tec upgrades really took it to the next level and I wouldn’t suggest buying the PLR-16 without them. They are fairly economical and can be ordered directly from Kel-Tec here:

I would also like to get some time with the PLR-16 rail from Midwest Industries. It looks very promising and adds a quad Picatinny rail handguard to the gun for additional flexibility and light/laser mounting. If I can get my hands on one, I will let you all know how it performs.

The PLR-16 makes for a nice little truck gun or back pack blaster and can be concealed on your person if that’s how you roll. As a bonus, you can also buy the PLR-22 which is a .22 LR version of the PLR-16. It accepts the same accessories and allows you to shoot on a more economical budget.


  1. I LOVE my PLR-16. I ordered a second lower with a car buttstock, did a 3lbs. trigger job, Eotech+ 3× magnifier, slip on pistol grip, gripod, Lazerlyte mini lazer, and a custom 9″ barrel/flash hider. That gets me out to 16″ so I’m legal with the folding buttstock.

  2. Am I misunderstanding the BATFE ruling or not. The way I read it, the Batfe says putting a forward grip on a pistol (PLR16) makes it a two handed weapon that must be registered and that costs $200.00. Is there something I missed? Just do not want to get in deep kimmchee. Thanks, Jay

  3. It is legal to install the Magpul angled foregrip AFG per ATF on any pistol and this works well on the PLR-16. They do not consider it a verticle device. I use the AFG2 on my PLR-16 since it is a bit smaller and it works well. I am thinking about legally turning it into a SBR but need to find a stock that I can use. Anyone know of one besides the Keltec stocks?

  4. The point Jay was trying to make is unless your PLR-16 was a registered AOW (NFA) you committed a felony by putting the vertical grip on it, and posted photographs of the crime on the web for all to see. The ATF does not make exceptions for ignorance.

    “ATF has long held that by installing a vertical fore grip on a handgun, the handgun is no longer designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand. Therefore, if individuals install a vertical fore grip on a handgun, they are “making” a firearm requiring registration with ATF’s NFA Branch. Making an unregistered “AOW” is punishable by a fine and 10 years’ imprisonment. Additionally, possession of an unregistered “AOW” is also punishable by fine and 10 years’ imprisonment.”

    • Lacey, we have all of the proper paper work and do not advocate anyone do anything to violate the NFA. Thank you for your concern. For the future try not to assume the worst.

  5. I think most people misunderstand these handguns and miss-apply them. You always see photos of them with 30 round magazines and being fired standing up with two hands. This is a most uncomfortable and unstable use of the PLR-16. The PLR-16 (and other handguns like t) should be thought of as a semi auto Thompson Center Contender. This handgun should be fired from a rest, or a bipod from a prone position. A sand bag or your off hand should be used to support the pistol grip. In this fashion a 10″ barreled TC Contender in 223 will shoot sub minute of angle groups. Hitting soda cans at 200 to 300 yards is the norm. It’s a pocket sniper rifle-ish handgun. The PLR-16 may not have the accuracy of the Contender, but it will make up for it in firepower. Even if the PLR-16 is a 2 MOA handgun at best, that makes hits on an IPSC target possible out to 600 plus yards. Believe it or not, people shoot Contenders at that range and at smaller targets. In this role 10 and maybe 20 round magazines would be the right capacity. I have every reason to believe that a PLR-16 with a 2-6x pistol scope and a bipod would be a formidable long range weapon.

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