Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm
When it comes to personal defense, competition, and recreational shooting, the most popular rifle in America is likely the AR-15 chambered for .223 Remington. But there are still plenty of shooters who prefer the light recoil and low expense of 9mm Luger ammunition. Whereas caliber .223 is strictly the staple of rifle shooters, 9mm carbines are often used by pistol shooters who sometimes use a long gun. There are three basic types of 9mm carbine. They are the 9mm AR-15, semi-automatic versions of submachineguns such as the UZI, and purpose-built 9mm carbines that more or less follow their own rules of design. In a recent test, Gun Tests magazine fired the $409 Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm.
Heres what they said:
Our choice of test ammunition was Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ rounds and two loads from Black Hills Ammunition topped with 124-grain bullets. One featured a full-metal-jacketed slug and the other a jacketed hollowpoint driven by a +P charge. Each carbine was tested for accuracy from the 50-yard bench using only their supplied open sights.
Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm, $409
The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 represents a purpose-built 9mm carbine for civilian defense. There is no fully automatic equivalent military or otherwise. The Sub 2000 offered a modern appearance with the most efficient use of CNC machinery. It was not only compact in full-ready posture, but the carbine folded into a neat carry package. The folding joint was located just ahead of the trigger guard. To fold the Sub 2000, the trigger guard was pulled forward to release the hinged frame. The gun could then be locked into the folded position. In this condition the Sub 2000 measured just over 16 inches long and could be easily carried in a briefcase, range bag, or inside a vehicle. For example, one of our raters drives a Toyota pickup truck of modest interior dimensions. Once folded, the Kel-Tec stowed easily behind the drivers seat and could be made ready for action instantly when the seat was pulled up. The other carbines needed to be carried with the muzzle toward the passenger, offering only more conventional access.
According to the manufacturers website, KelTecWeapons.com, the Sub 2000 can be configured to accommodate 9mm magazines from other pistols such as the Beretta 92, Sig Sauers P226, and the Smith & Wesson Model 59. But all of the 9mm Kel-Tec carbines we have seen have been suited to Glock 17 magazines. (You may shorten the grip with a bit of filing to convince the rifle to take Glock 19 magazines, and there is also a factory-available Glock 19 grip variant.) The Kel-Tec may also be used with Glocks 33-round 9mm magazines for a superior reserve of firepower or just more fun. The magazines fit into the grip frame in proven UZI fashion. The idea is that two hands meet easily even in total darkness and that reloading was simple and practically automatic.
The bolt was made ready by pressing on the cocking handle and driving it to the rear. The bolt handle was located in the stock. Locating it beneath the carrying handle seemed to make the Kel-Tec carbine more compact. But when firing the Kel-Tec Sub 2000, its best to keep your hands out of the way of the reciprocating bolt handle.
The trigger was average for a commercial self loader but smooth without noticeable creep and only modest backlash. We spent considerable time getting used to manipulating the crossbolt safety. But once it became familiar, we thought it was as good as most commercial designs in terms of speed. The Sub 2000 didnt offer the facility on which to mount an optical sight, which would be a big plus in todays market. Nevertheless, the supplied sights, including a front post that was bright red and protected by a round cover, proved to be excellent for close-quarters combat. Combined with the Kel-Tecs light weight, the sights enabled us to move the Sub 2000 quickly on target.
The proof was in the firing. Whereas the 115-grain 9mm is perhaps the most typical weight for inexpensive loads, we think 124-grain FMJ ammunition may be the ideal shooting weight for a 9mm carbine, as it offers greater momentum for function. Especially when it is used in a carbine with heavy springs or with a dirty firearm. But there were no malfunctions with either type of ammunition. Recoil was light overall, but still more than was experienced when firing other carbines, probably due to the Kel-Tecs lighter weight.
In terms of accuracy, it was easy to bring the Kel-Tec to the target and eat the center out of the X ring at 15 yards while keeping the front sight on target. However, this carbine required considerable practice in manipulating the bolt to quickly make it ready. This is important because most experts agree that it is advisable to keep a long guns chamber empty while it stands ready for home defense.
When moving to the potent Black Hills 124-grain JHP +P, we felt a difference in recoil that wasnt as noticeable with the other carbines. Felt recoil was not offensive by any means, but when you are using a load that generates over 600 foot-pounds of energy, there must be some type of push. If you deploy a good 9mm carbine, you want to maximize the caliber and these +P rounds do just that. Seasoned shooters will not be affected, but less experienced shooters purchasing this carbine for home defense may find the increase in recoil more noticeable.
Settling down to 50-yard accuracy testing, the Kel-Tec proved accurate enough for pest control and even small game hunting. Handling was rated quick at short range but not quite as stable as the other carbines. While we limited the most extensive testing to the aforementioned ammo types, we also tested a number of competing 9mm loads. The Kel-Tec demonstrated a high level of reliability throughout.
Our Team Said: The Kel-Tec always worked. It was reliable, and while it was the least accurate overall of several carbines tested, this must be kept in perspective. All of the carbines practically cut one hole at 15 yards. Are you really more formidable with one of these carbines than another in all scenarios? Tactically they are quite similar as well. If the motivation for purchase is home defense, the Kel-Tec has the advantages of affordability and light weight plus the availability and interchangeability of magazines with the Glock pistol. Running a tactical course that simulates the home at room-size distances shows that the Kel-Tec is a first choice for home defense. It is simply fast handling. As a car gun, it is far more formidable than a pistol but relatively light and fast into action. The Kel-Tec is a Best Buy, based upon credible performance, affordability, and easy-to-find accessories.