*The Kel-Tec Sub2000*
By: Mpblue
15 February 2004


I recently had the opportunity to obtain a Kel-Tec Sub2000 carbine. My decision to buy was based after research and reviews, most notably was a review written by Louis Awerbuck in SWAT magazine, June 2002. The little carbine was praised for what it was: a good shooter that wasnít fancy, save the fact it folded in half.


Kel-Tec, based in Cocoa, Florida, is an American owned company that produces American made handguns and carbines. It maintains a lifetime warranty on itís products and has an active group of owners. The Sub2Ks predecessor was not well received and had flaws that made it look good but have functioning issues. The Sub2K resolved those issues.

Needs Assessment

Several years ago, I realized that as part of my opening my eyes to survival and "make it home alive" issues, I wanted something that would be an easy transportable, easily deployable, carbine sized platform. As things progressed, I realized that since the gap was in between work and home, it might be nice to have something that would support my duty issued pistol (Glock 22) and the caliber we fired (.40 S&W). In the last six months, I settled on the Sub2K, understanding all of the limitations of firing a pistol round through a rifle barrel. Even at 100 yards, a .40 can still hurt you if the shot hits true.

A major selling point for this carbine in my needs assessment was that it would take my duty magazine readily. A second selling point was that it would collapse to a size easily packable, if necessary.

Working Over the Sub2K

I had ordered the parkerized version because it was on sale and Parkerizing is fine for grunt work and storage, something I had planned for the carbine. When it arrived in, came in a compact box not much bigger than a large pizza box.

The Box opened up to revealed a folded carbine, one neutered Glock magazine, manual and special key (more on that later).

The carbine is of a unique design. All you need to do to get the carbine ready to fire is to unlatch the front sight tower from a detent in the top of the stock, fold it 180 degrees, clip the trigger guard in place, insert a magazine and rack the operating handle.

It may seem disconcerting at first but after a few tries, it is quick to do.

How it is Built

The Sub2K is essentially built with steel for the operating parts (bolt, bolt head, etc.) and Zytel for the stock, handguards, front sight tower and butt stock. The front sight is a high visibility pink color, making it very easy to see and shoot. All you need to adjust the front sight is a small coin; there is a slot for the coin to be used to raise or lower the front sight.

The sight tower is adhered with Loctite and sturdy. The handguards have many ventilation holes, making cooling easy. The controls are easy to manipulate but a word of caution on the operating handle: it moves with the bolt. If your hand likes to rest on the butt stock underside, you can expect it to slam your hand. Keep your hands on the pistol grip and handguards and you will be fine.

When disassembling the carbine, it is an easy process that breaks down the carbine into five elements: the carbine itself, buffer assembly, bolt, bolt head and operating handle. Simple! I like that.

A key is included with the rifle. This special key allows for the owner to lock the carbine in a folded position and makes it impossible to open up without damage to the carbine. The Sub2K also has a cross bolt type safety that is easy to reach. The only difference is that it works opposite of normal safeties in that pushing from left to right takes the carbine off safe.

The butt stock is curved slightly and includes a slot for a sling up to 1.5 inches in width. It is comfortable to use for short durations.

So, how did it shoot?

Very well, in fact! Out of the box, I folded it over, inserted a magazine, racked a round, fired, and had my first FTE. Not the fault of the rifle as it would have been smart of me to make sure the chamber was clean as it should have been. After that minor issue, the carbine burned through nearly 60 rounds before itís second FTE. I was shooting dirty ammo so I could tell that things were gumming up. However, it was only at 120 rounds that I was starting to have some FTEs. Time for a cleaning. A quick scrub of the chamber and barrel and away we went again.

The ammunition used was duty practice UMC 180gn. Now, reading the Sub 2K manual, you will find that Kel-Tec strongly discourages the use of aluminum cased ammunition due to malfunctions during feeding. They also identified that premium US made hollowpoints of medium weight worked the best while US generic FMJ and non-european ammunition worked the worst.

Using a NRA D-1 Tombstone target and the prone position at 25 yards, I was able to maintain a nice small fist sized group, although a bit low. It was striking center. After re-reading the user manual, I noted that Kel-Tec stated that the carbines are test fired at 100 yards. Continued firing did not alter the group but I did note that the group spread slightly as the barrel warmed up after several 15 round magazines.

The trigger, while certainly not match grade, works for this carbine. After approximately 25 rounds, I was comfortable with the trigger itself. Some may find it spongy but considering what you have, its still fine for the needs at hand.

Good, Bad and Ugly

Well, nothing is perfect. The good of the carbine is that it is handy and plenty accurate for its needs. It is easy to pack in a small bag or daypack. The bad and ugly can be combined. When I received the carbine, I noted what appeared to be green loctite on the outside edge of the barrel. A call by my salesman to Kel-Tec revealed that it was probably loctite from the installation of the sight tower. It had probably not been wiped off as needed before leaving the production line. I also noted that the parkerizing was thin at the muzzle end of the carbine. Both were problems that could be remedied. After some hemming and hawing, it was sold to me for wholesale by the FFL as they did not want to pay to ship it back for another model. After how it fired, Iím glad it didnít


The Sub 2K is NOT my go to arms rifle. What it is, however, is a very compact platform capable of firing a good pistol cartridge in times where I do not have access to my normal rifles.

Beyond that, it is a fun carbine and for me, very reliable, sturdy and practical for my hike home.


All materials at this site not otherwise credited are Copyright © 1996 - 2004 Trip Williams. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for personal use only. Use of any material contained herein is subject to stated terms or written permission.