The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 is a thoroughly modern rifle, but it shares an important characteristic with guns from more than a century ago.
Many cowboys in the Old West embraced the concept of having their handguns and their rifles chambered for the same cartridge. That way they only had to carry one kind of ammunition. Many of them reloaded their own ammo, so they only needed one set of tools in their saddlebags. If in a gunfight, they didn’t have to worry about segregating ammunition.
Some owners of modern-day pistol-caliber carbines embrace the same concept. The rifles are fun and effective as stand-alone guns, and they can also match the owner’s handgun. Smart shooters match the two so that they can both use the same magazines. That way they only need to buy and carry one set of magazines.
There are a lot of different pistol-caliber carbines on the market, including several AR-15 variants, but the one I find the most interesting lately is the Kel-Tec SUB-2000.
This unique little carbine can be chambered in one of two calibers, and accepts several different types of pistol magazines for each. The 9mm SUB-2000 can be ordered to use Glock G17 and G19, S&W 59, Beretta 92, or Sig 226 magazines. The .40 S&W SUB-2000 can use Glock G22 and G23, Beretta 96, S&W 4006, or Sig 226 magazines. An option for S&W M&P magazines will be introduced in 2016.
I ordered my SUB-2000 to use Glock 9mm magazines. I have several Glock handguns in both cartridges and have collected a lot of magazines over the years. Glock magazines are not expensive, and there are a lot of aftermarket magazines that cost even less than those made by Glock.
The coolest thing about this gun is that it folds in half, reducing its length to that of the barrel: 16.25 inches. That means you can put it in a messenger bag like the Blackhawk Diversion Wax Canvas Messenger Bag. The folded carbine, several magazines, and even a pistol all fit in the bag.
The gun is made with Zytel polymer, keeping the weight down. It has two integrated Picatinny rails on the five mounting slots per side, for M-LOK accessories. When folded, it locks in place at the front of the forend. To unlock it, you pull forward on the finger tabs and unfold. To unlock the gun when it is assembled, you simply pull down on the trigger guard.
With the carbine folded and inside a messenger bag or a backpack, it’s completely hidden but ready very quickly. The downside is that mounting an optic will prevent the gun from folding all the way. You can mount an optic on the top rail, but then the gun will no longer fold up completely.
You may not need or want an optic anyway. A peep rear and a protected front sight work fine. I also added a rail- mounted laser sight from Laserlyte on the bottom rail. All I have to do is slide my hand down the rail to hit the activation switch. Another option would be to mount a small red dot on an angle on the side of the forend using an M-LOK mount. Then the gun can be turned sideways to use the optic. This is a common technique in 3-gun shooting for Open Class rifles and is very effective for self-defense as well.
The stock can be adjusted to three different positions. Each position adds 5/8 of an inch to the overall length, with a total extension of 1.25 inches. The stock includes a single-point sling loop attachment, a slot for adding a nylon sling loop, and a Picatinny rail on the bottom for adding small accessories.
The safety is a push-bolt located behind the trigger on the grip. The bolt can be locked in the rear position with the operating handle, which is located under the tube that serves as a rear stock. Simply pull it back and rotate it right, into the slot. To close it, push it to the left. The thread protector on the muzzle covers 1/2-28 threads on the 9mm and 9/16-24 threads on the .40 S&W, so you can add muzzle accessories if you wish. The trigger is a bit stiff; it broke at seven pounds on my gun, which is two to three pounds lighter than advertised.
This little gun only weighs 4.25 pounds, so it is comfortable to carry. I have shot about 300 rounds through it and so far has been very reliable. I have used a bunch of different ammo and the gun has digested everything I have tried without any problems.
This carbine is fun to shoot and remarkably effective. I can run the six targets on my MGM plate rack with it very quickly. I have also shot it quite a bit in defensive drills, and it’s fast to shoot and very manageable for quick transitions from target to target. I have smacked around my steel targets with it out to 100 yards.
The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 is an interesting and versatile little gun. It’s a lot of fun to shoot and can be a serious defensive gun. It looks cool and will draw a crowd at any shooting range, and it works well as a stand-alone or a companion to your handgun. And, it’s not expensive–MSRP is $500.
Kel-Tec Sub2000 Gen 2 Specifications
Operating System: Blowback
Caliber: 9mm Luger or .40 S&W
Capacity: Varies by magazine
Barrel Length: 16.25 in.
Barrel Twist Rate: 9mm: 1:10; 40 S&W: 1:16
Trigger Pull: 9-10 lbs.
Accessory Mount: Picatinny Rail, M-LOK
Folded Length: 16.25 in.
Unfolded Length: Stock collapsed, 29.25 in.; stock extended, 30.5 in.
Length of Pull: Stock collapsed, 13.25 in.; stock extended, 14.5 in.
Grip Width: 1.25 in.
Maximum Height: 7 in.
Weight: 4.25 lbs.