Kel-Tec Sub Rifle 2000 9mm Carbine


A gun that breaks in half? Well, this shouldn’t really be much of a manufacturing problem. After all, shotguns have been hinged for years with precision. What about the polymer and steel construction, and the orange plastic front sight blade? The skepticism that polymer once rang up should be well faded by now and besides, the Sub Rifle 2000 feeds from Glock magazines, synonymous with reliability.

The Kel-Tec Sub Rifle 2000 arrived in a flat rectangular “cake box” wherein it was stored folded. In this condition the rifle measured 16.1 by 7.3 inches. At the front edge was the trigger guard, with the mouth of the chamber exposed above it. In this condition care must be taken to shield the exposed bore and firing pin hole from dirt. At the rear was the muzzle and front sight assembly overlapping the butt-pad area. The folded position was latched by a spring-loaded sliding bolt that is located atop the buttstock. The folded position can be locked by a special key, which is provided.

The recommended way to unfold the Sub Rifle is to hold the barrel or fore end, which is on top when folded and then reach around the front sight with the thumb and forefinger to slide the latch forward. The butt will fall away as the barrel moves forward 180 degrees to snap into place. We found it hard to pick out the latch visually at first but it was easily indexed without actually needing to see it.

You’ll know when the rifle is fully closed and ready to activate when the bottom of the trigger guard is tightly in place against the grip. The release to return this rifle to its folded state is the trigger guard itself. Small tabs are molded into the rear of the trigger guard to help you index as you push down and forward to release the barrel and allow it to fold. We folded and unfolded the Kel-Tec countless times to see if we could upset the alignment. We could detect no shaving at the chamber or other symptom of defect throughout our test.

Construction is of polymer and steel. The barrel and stock are steel. The stock contains the bolt, recoil spring and operating handle. The operating handle (some might call it a charge bar) faces straight down so it is out of the way. To lock the gun back, the operating handle is pulled all the way back and slid to the right into a locking groove. The firing mechanism is fed by a standard Glock 9mm magazine with 10-round capacity. With many pre-ban magazines that feed up to 30 rounds still available, we think choosing to go outside Kel-Tec for mags is a bonus for the consumer. The trigger also has the feel of a Glock. It has a long pull that requires its own technique. But common mistakes, such as dipping the muzzle, are minimized by the extra support of shouldering the weapon.

For anyone who shoots double action regularly, this characteristic will not be a problem. The trigger safety is a crossbolt design, and it is found above the web of the hand below the rear edge of the ejection port. Pushed through to the right, the weapon is ready to fire. We had difficulty working the safety with the strong hand (the firing hand). We feel that a more effective technique might be to reach across the top of the weapon without releasing the pistol grip, allowing the weak hand to operate the safety with the thumb and forefinger.

The sights are adjustable for windage and elevation, but this is done at the front rather than rear assembly. The rear peep is static, but the orange front blade can be moved left and right via reciprocating screws (loosen one, tighten the other). A dime will work just as well as a screwdriver. According to the owner’s manual, a 1/8th-turn equals 1 inch at 100 yards (1 M.O.A). Before tightening the windage adjustment, the blade can also be moved up and down to alter elevation. However, we left sight adjustment as it arrived from the factory.

The owner’s manual also included test results that charge the Sub Rifle 2000 as working best with “premium U.S. manufacture hollowpoints of medium weight.” Their best results included 10-shot groups of 2.5 M.O.A. Our best five-shot groups at 50 yards came from shooting the Winchester USA (white box) 147-grain TCMC (truncated cone, metal case) ammunition. Not only did this produce the best single group of the test (1.2 inches), but an average of 1.5 inches. This is better accuracy than we experienced with the carbines in our February 2002 test. The remaining test cartridges, Winchester’s USA 115-grain hollowpoints and Federal’s 124-grain expanding metal jackets, each shot groups averaging 2.5 inches. With a high of 1315 fps and muzzle energy of 442 foot-pounds, we think we’d opt for the power of the 115s. At 50 yards, 2.5-inch groups are plenty good for a weapon of this type. Certainly, there is a variety of 9mm ammunition available, so matching power and accuracy should be easy for the Kel-Tec Sub Rifle 2000. This handy little folding rifle was a most pleasant surprise.


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