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Kel-Tec Sub-2000 Review

by David Fortier   |  September 23rd, 2013 15

There are times it pays to be discreet, and it’s usually more often than some may realize. This is especially true when it comes to transporting a long gun. While a long gun is generally to be preferred for self-protection, it invariably takes a backseat to the handgun—simply because handguns are easier to carry and conceal when going about our daily lives. They are also much quicker into action than a stealthily cased long gun.

However, that doesn’t mean long guns should be discounted altogether. After all, rifles offer greater range, terminal performance and are generally easier to hit with. For certain scenarios a long gun would be a better option.

The problem is trying to find the right balance between size and performance. A number of solutions have been developed through the years. Among these are the stocked pistol, short-barreled carbine and various types of takedown guns.

Simply adding a shoulder stock to a service pistol does indeed make it easier to hit with. For decades designs such as Mauser’s famous C-96 pistol with detachable shoulder stock were popular. While generally looked down upon today as neither fish nor fowl, a stocked pistol does offer certain advantages over a standard piece. A very short barreled carbine, especially one fitted with a folding stock, can also be a useful tool.

The problem with both of these options today is simply the required tax stamp and lengthy National Firearms Act registration paperwork and approval process. If you want to add a stock to your Glock 17 or 10.5-inch upper to your AR-15, then you have to jump through the legal hoops.

It seems the vast majority of shooters would prefer to steer clear of NFA registration paperwork. Luckily another possible solution is available in Kel-Tec’s SUB-2000 folding carbine. This takedown design seems purpose-built to solve the problem of discreetly carrying a long gun. Better still it accomplishes this in a compact 16×7-inch package that requires no NFA paperwork or tax stamp. Since it was first introduced in 2001, this handy little carbine has achieved a cult following.

The SUB-2000 itself is fairly simple and straight forward. It utilizes the well-proven blowback method of operation and fires from the closed bolt position. It’s built on a pistol-shaped glass-reinforced Zytel receiver. Attached to the rear of this is a tubular steel receiver extension that doubles as a stock. This extension houses the two-piece bolt assembly, captive recoil-spring, buffer and charging handle.

This model is available chambered for either 9mm Luger or .40 S&W. The 9mm models are available in configurations that can handle Glock 17/19, S&W 59, Beretta 92 or SIG P226 magazines. Models in .40 S&W can be configured to accept Glock 22/23, S&W 4006, Beretta 96 or SIG P226 mags. So you can match a SUB-2000 to feed from the same magazines as your favorite carry pistol.

The magazine well is located in the receiver’s pistol grip to reduce length. Housed inside the receiver is a single-action trigger mechanism with a positive disconnector. The safety is a cross-bolt type that interlocks the sear and hammer while disengaging the trigger bar. The magazine release is where you’d find it on a pistol; it’s slightly extended to allow sure operation.

Fitted to the front is a 16.1-inch steel barrel. This is held securely by a hinge-block at the front of the receiver. The non-adjustable aperture rear sight is also mounted to this block, and it automatically rotates into position when the barrel is locked into place. Mounted to the end of the barrel is a fully adjustable, protected front sight.

Weight is a light and handy four pounds. A slot for a sling is incorporated in the butt, and while the bolt does not lock to the rear on the last shot it can be manually locked open. Finish on the metal parts is a simple but attractive bluing.

What makes the SUB-2000 so desirable, though, is its unusual ability to fold neatly in half. Overall length of the carbine, ready to fire, is just 29.5 inches, but this can be reduced to just 16 inches—without tools or removing any parts or pieces—in a matter of a couple seconds. This allows it to be easily stowed for discreet carry. It can then be put into action in a matter of seconds by merely unfolding it and chambering a round.

If the owner so chooses, the design incorporates a locking mechanism that will secure the SUB-2000 in the folded position. A special key is provided to engage the lock located on top of the buttplate. This allows the owner to fold the carbine so it is inoperable and lock it in this position.

I bought a SUB-2000 in 9mm that takes Glock 17 magazines. I’ve found the controls easy to reach and operate. The sights, while simple, provide a usable sight picture, and the trigger is quite acceptable for this carbine’s intended function.

Recoil and report are mild. The design, with its long bolt travel, allows for reliable operation using loads varying greatly in pressure. Just keep in mind the bolt does not lock on the last shot. Original OEM Glock magazines ejected cleanly, but aftermarket Korean 33 round magazines needed to be pulled free.

Accuracy-wise, my SUB-2000 proved a bit picky. With loads it likes it averages two to three inches at 50 yards and four to five inches at 100 yards. This is acceptable for a four-pound pistol caliber carbine with iron sights. Reliability is flawless with zero issues.

While a bit homely, this handy piece tucks neatly away until needed and at just $409 is blue-collar affordable. Just understand that due to their popularity they can be difficult to find.

  • Rob

    The problem is actually find one in stock ‘ANYWHERE’ that the price has not be doubled. Seriously, finding one locally for Glock mags is like searching for unicorns. Gold-plated unicorns at that.

    • Bbart

      Post what you’re looking for on local gun sale sites. I did this and just picked up a NIB that takes the Glock mags

    • Navspecwargru

      Try the Chantilly Virginia Gun Show near the Dulles airport the weekend of 14-16 February 2014. Thats how I got one last summer. I went the first day of the 3 day show and lucked across one.

  • USPatriotOne

    I like Kel-Tec and have a P11, and I have fire the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 and it’s okay, but the Hi-Point 995 TS 9mm Carbine is a much better Handgun caliber Carbine. The 995 is more accurate at 50, 100, and 150 yards, and the Hi-Point is durable! I have put over 2,000 rounds through mine with NO problems at. For and inexpensive 9mm Carbine you can’t beat it.

    • gregg

      Hi point sucks

      • Bbart

        So, how many Hi Points do you own? Or are you just an idiot who spouts off about stuff you have no personal knowledge about?

        • Wolfsbane

          I vote idiot.

    • Wesley Vesterby

      I also like the hi-point carbine. I have the newer 4595 chambered in .45. Reliable, well built and shoots accurate up to 200 meters. And is very affordable.

      • willyj8749

        I have found that the Hi Point reviews are either roses or onions with no in-betweens. I (emphasis) have three Hi Points and find them to be quite decent, accurate and durable.

  • Fieldkorn

    More toys for boys. Meanwhile, when shooters grow up and no longer possess the so-called “cool factor,” firearms that are practical, don’t burn up expensive ammo faster than the national debt rises and truly have solid good looks wind up becoming an investment worth owning instead of an embarrassment that gets carried around a gun show in search of a new owner.

    • TheBob_1

      Yup, most of us “grow up” and get more stodgy and practical with age, but there’s not a thing wrong with wanting a Camaro or Mustang when you are young (or young at heart), just like having a silly-cool gun. And look how many folks wait till they are older to go out and buy a Corvette, having been practical and boring most of their professional lives (personal experience speaking here).

      Hell, I am 55 and still somewhat new to all this, and I enjoy both the fun factor of gimmicky guns AND the classic looks and collectibility of a fine firearm. As for this forum, isn’t ANY pistol-caliber carbine mostly for the former and not so much the latter?

      Just look at ‘Rooster Chief’ here. All those years as a LEO and now he’s looking to get one of these “impractical embarrassments” to enjoy in his retirement!

      Loosen up! We’re all in it for different reasons :-)

      • William Ingram

        My first (NEW) Sports car came as a result of Hazardous Pay. (Along with 3 concussions and various cuts and minor wounds.)

  • Rooster Chief

    I carried one in .40 for years when I was a chief of police and always felt quite comfortable with it on the range. I will get around to purchasing one now that I am retired.

  • Marlinlever

    I and a friend have the sub2000 that takes Beretta 92 mags and have nothing but good things to say about them. I paid $340 total off of gunbroker he got his at a local shop for about the same, pre-Newtown. Our wives and my daughter love it. My daughter is on me to get one for her own. My wife took mine over along with the 92fs. I shot a hi-point years ago in 9mm and its front sight kept leaning over. Shot well enough when it didnt move. BUT, the hi-point uses their own magazines, big negative to me, just like the new Taurus carbine. Also the Kel-tec folds in half, perfect for a camping trip!

  • JTG

    Finally got my hands on new sub 2000 S&W 59 9mm. Unboxed cleaned and lubed with beretta oil then shot 130 round Federal 115gr FMJ to break in. Had 1-2 malfunctions per mag FFF and FFE (most commonly). Took home and cleaned again and extra CLP oil to extractor and bolt assembly. Left it for 2 night with bolt locked open. Felt this might compress recoil spring a little bit. Took to the range again 3 days later and shot 20 Federal Hydrashock 124gr and 50 Remington 115gr FMJ without one malfunction. Hope it’s broken in. Didn’t need to do a fluff and buff to bolt like some sites suggested. Very accurate at 25 yards from factory with no sight adjustments. 2 inch group on 12 yards with Federal Hydrashock 124 grain freehand. 115 gr opened up to 4 inches

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