The KelTec CP33: A Review

Michael Crites


Disclosure: Products are selected by our editors. We may earn a commission on purchases from a link. How we select gear.

KelTec CP33 Review - Cover

The KelTec CP33: A Review

The .22 target pistol market is an exciting segment of the firearms world. Often costing thousands of dollars, many of the designs meant for competition are custom-fit .22LR pistols that look like something out of a science-fiction show set in the not-too-distant future.

Given that it’s a specialized segment of the market, it is no surprise that KelTec — one of the more risk-taking companies in the firearms world — has taken it on. If you’re not familiar with them, that’s okay: we’ll detail them and some of their more exciting designs later in this article.

Strangely enough, the .22LR can be an overlooked cartridge for gun collectors. Typically (if you can find ammo), it’s pretty cheap and can be great fun to shoot. How many of us learned how to shoot — and developed good marksmanship — on an old .22 rifle?

Taking that kind of thinking, Keltec has decided to help fill a hole in your collection with a fantastic pistol that will make short work of bullseyes and paper bad guys. This piece will give you an overview of the KelTec CP33 and provide a rich history of the trendsetting company.


Keltec CP33 Review
The CP33 and its unique -- dare we say "quad-stack? -- 33-round magazines.

The KelTec CP33 is a handgun chambered in .22 Long Rifle. It boasts a staggering 33 round magazine, a nine-inch sight radius, and a threaded barrel, as well as some other noteworthy features.

This makes it not only look but function differently than most firearms you’ve seen in this format.

Features like an AR

A few of those features will be familiar to those of us used to an AR platform. Namely, the unique charging handle located on the back of the gun. The safety lever is on the piece’s right side. In both look and feel, it’s a lot like the controls on an AR.

Keltec CP33 Review
A bone-stock CP33

The other unique feature of the stock gun is the heel catch magazine release, which will be more familiar to people who like old European pistols.

While getting a grip on a heel catch on both sides of the grip might seem a little clumsy at first, it doesn’t take long to master. And you might find that your reloads are just as fast with a heel release as with a button release.

KelTec to the core

Aesthetics-wise, it’s KelTec to the core: the gun comes in any color you like (so long as it’s black), is comprised of angled polymer pieces and a solid, steel receiver.

There’s also a lot of top rail for any optics and accessories you may want to put on it. Speaking of accessories, some manufacturers are starting to make pistol braces for this firearm, which would make it an almost Personal Defense Weapon (PDW) format that would be great fun at the range and extend its utility even further.

Who is KelTec?

The KelTec KSG 25 has enough firepower on board to clear an apartment building.
The KSG shotgun is one of the more innovative shotguns on the market today.

Florida-based KelTec has been making firearms in the US for thirty years. They focus on innovative designs — using polymers to keep their guns light and durable while maintaining an aesthetic for which the company has become well known.

The KSG Shotgun

For our tastes, a few of their more popular design of recent years are worth mentioning in addition to the CP33. The first is the KSG 12, which is a pump-action shotgun. It’s interesting for two primary reasons. First is that it’s a bullpup shotgun, which is relatively unusual in and of itself. 

Secondly, it feeds from two distinct magazine tubes that the user can switch on the fly, allowing you to make use of any combination of rounds you might want.

KelTec SUB2K Unfolded
The Sub2000 is a fantastic folding PCC that makes for a remarkable backpacking rifle.

They also make the Sub 2000, a folding PCC (pistol caliber carbine) that is ideal for backpacking and comes in variations that take the most popular handgun magazines. 

A final one, the RDB, (Rifle Downward-ejecting Bullpup) looks like something you might find in several video game franchises. The 5.56mm bullpup ejects spent shell casings downward making it more ambidextrous than traditional bullpups. it’s a great-looking rifle as well, and will likely get bullpups into the hands of a lot more people.

KelTec does what very few firearms companies have managed to do: they have found an aesthetic that works for them and have spent decades riffing on that aesthetic to create a line of firearms that take advantage of what the company does best.

KelTec RDB
The RDB (Rifle Downward-ejecting Bullpup) looks like it could be found on maps in a first-person shooter game.

What is this CP33 thing?

keltec-cp33-review -- customized
The CP is a competition pistol, which means it's designed to be customized for optimal performance.

The CP stands for competition, and the CP33 is a competition pistol. Like a lot of other competition pistols, it’s in 22LR, making it easy to control. It has been steadily growing in popularity since its release, and we think there are a few reasons for this.

For those who want to build a performer

The CP33 — thanks to its rail system, ability to use a brace, and threaded barrel — is a platform for those who want to build an exciting gun can perform the way you need it to.

If you’re going to shoot in competitions, such as those from the USPSA, even bone stock the CP33 will perform. On the other hand, you could mount a suppressor, brace, and red-dot sight for something more akin to a PDW or SMG.

That flexibility is a significant selling point.

Oh, and 33-round magazines

Additionally, the CP33 magazine holds 33 rounds, and plinking with a full 33 rounds at a time of ammunition is fun. Setting up a fire course with a ton of targets at various ranges, then being able to engage all of them without reloading sounds like a blast (pun intended).

This adaptability coupled with how fun it is to shoot, gives the CP33 real staying popular — and should win KelTec new fans and customers alike.

Ringing steel with the CP33, 33-rounds at a time.

Why consider a CP33

KelTec CP33 Review - Customized

One big draw to this firearm is its uniqueness. There are few guns quite like this on the market: it charges like an AR, shoots .22 LR with 30-round magazines, and can be set up to suit any number of preferences.

In some ways, it’s a platform upon which you — the end-user — can craft any gun you’d like.

Cheap to shoot

Another important consideration is monetary: the .22LR is one of the most affordable rounds to shoot. Therefore, if you are training for competition or just love to get to the range, one of these can be an excellent choice to keep your hobby from putting an outsized dent in your wallet.

Make it your own without the paperwork

Finally, this is one of the most adaptable firearms in recent memory. Add a suppressor, pistol brace, and a mini red dot sight and use it to scratch the SMG itch without having to fill out a ton of ATF paperwork. It looks like it’s from the future, and as attractive as it is, it might well be the future of firearms.

Parting Shots

There’s a lot to revere about the Keltec CP33: it’s certainly an unusual pistol, but one that is both fascinating and truly functional. Pick one up if you want a competition pistol or a platform to build a PDW, and you won’t look back.


  1. Keltic Website,  About Us Section
  2. USPSA,  Information Page

The Latest handgun Reviews:

Bersa SA

The Best Bersa S. A. Handguns

The history of Bersa S.A. Founded in the mid-1950s by a trio of mechanical engineers – one of them formerly from Beretta – Bersa initially


The Best Home Defense Pistols in 2022

Perhaps the most common and effective means of home protection, given purpose-driven selection and the proper training in use, is a good defensive handgun. With

Ruger 9mm - cover

The Best Ruger 9mm Pistols

In a world filled with imported 9mm pistol designs, Ruger has risen to the top of the American handgun market over the past four decades to produce some of the most rugged, reliable firearms available.

Ruger GP-100 in 357 Magnum

A Guide to the .357 Magnum

The .357 Magnum is an American classic and has been a popular round since its introduction nearly 90 years ago. It’s a powerful round that

4.4/5 - (9 votes)

Checking our work.

We use years of experience, deep research, and hands-on testing to scrutinize our product recommendations and provide you with as close to objectively accurate results we humans can muster. If you’ve found different results in your own testing, think we missed something important, or otherwise need to adjust our work, please let us know. If it’s noteworthy we’ll consider integrating your feedback into our article. After all, it takes a village. 

Email the editor

Read more gun & gear reviews: