Kel-Tec SUB-2000 9mm Carbine


Kel Tec SUB-2000 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Whenever TTAG publishes a review of a firearm that costs more than a thousand dollars, commentators remind readers that there are cheaper guns that do the exact same thing — for less money! That’s like saying a Seiko chronograph does the same job as a Rolex Daytona. Which is both true and irrelevant. (If you don’t agree, save money, be happy.) But there are times when a less expensive firearm is a better choice than a high-end equivalent. Case in point: the next gen Kel-Tec SUB-2000 in 9mm . . .

Receiver, Kel-Tec SUB-2000 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Kel-Tec fashions the SUB-2000 from Zytel, a fiberglass-infused resin famed for its light weight, strength, resistance to abrasion and corrosion, and high melting point. A SUB-2000 may cost slightly less than a GLOCK — made from a Gaston’s own Polymer 2 recipe — but it’s a hardy beast. You don’t have to baby, mollycoddle or protect the SUB-2000 from the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune. I dropped mine on cement while taking a picture; the Sub-2000 took a licking and kept on ticking.


Kel Tec SUB-2000 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Folded, the 29.25″ long SUB-2000 is all edges and angles, punctuated by Kel-Tec’s signature raised squares. In hibernation mode, the redesigned riflehas an H.R. Geiger feel to it. You can imagine a squishy alien life form emerging from the gun’s business end (depending on how much acid you drop). Wait. Which is the business end? Shoulder a folded SUB-2000 and you’re pointing the barrel straight at your clavicle. A practice sure to give the antis a laugh or two.

Kee Tec SUB-2000 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Unfolded, the 30.5″ long SUB-2000 makes perfect sense. Unlike the first iteration, SUB 2.0 is svelte as a Swedish swimmer. The picatinny rails adorning the top and underside of the barrel run counter to the rifle’s philosophy of use (a.k.a., ta-da!), but they suit the gun like a Tubi exhaust on a Ferrari. The SUB-2000’s tapered hand guard and M-LOK cut-outs make the rifle look all of a piece — a neat trick for a gun that’s made of two pieces hinged together.

The newish SUB-2000 is better at achieving operational readiness than its predecessor. Position the folded rifle against your stomach with the barrel facing the left. Hold it with your left hand’s fingers on the curved and ridged barrel release. Position your right hand on the grip, pulling the gun towards your body. (Lefties: switch instrux and note that the mag release is port side only.)

Push the release switch out, pull the barrel sideways, pivot your hand around the grip, lock-in the barrel and shoulder the weapon. Take your hand off the grip, slam the slide release to the side (the rifle’s origami precludes leaving one in the pipe). Return your hand to the grip and disengage the cross-bolt safety with your thumb (or index finger if you’re a lefty). Look through the sight. Squeeze trigger as needed.

With a bit of practice, you can be good to go — or stow — in about a second.

And I do mean go. The SUB-2000 tested fed from any 17-round or better GLOCK magazine — or the cheaper, factory-supplied Magpul equivalent. Pop a 32-rounder in Kel Tec’s ballistic bad boy, cycle the action with the metal toilet plunger-like thingie on the buffer tube and you’re ready to drill a single hole in your target at 15 yards or better — depending on your target’s willingness to stay put, your eyesight and marksmanship.

The SUB-2000’s accuracy is a strong selling point; the plastic fantastic carbine makes an equivalently chambered pistol look like a blunderbuss. This despite a trigger with about a quarter inch of no-feel slack, a bit of graunchiness in the final take-up, a fake breaking point and no real indication of exactly when it’s finally going to let loose the dogs of war. Just goes to show what a rifle barrel — any rifle barrel — can do.

More than that, the muzzle energy generated by the SUB-2000’s 16″ barrel isn’t to be trifled with (even if you’re comfortable with English deserts). American Rifleman fired a Hornady 147-grain XTP pill from a GLOCK 19 and generated 310 ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy. The same round sent downrange by the SUB-2000 generated 447 ft.-lbs. of oomph. American Rifleman called the SUB-2000 a 9mm that hits like a .357 (at short distances).

Works for me — especially as the 9mm SUB-2000 is about as punishing as a Tempurpedic pillow fight with a Xanax-addled opponent. I’ve read reports of first gen SUB-2000’s suffering reliability problems. This one, purchased at a local gun store, ate a mixed ammo diet — including low-powered targetammo and chi-chi high-grain Golden Sabre hollow-points — without complaint. Unlike Ben Vereen storing his shoes, there’s no need for a tap rack.

Kel Tec SUB-2000 (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

The SUB-2000’s front sights are ideal for the job; the rear sight folds away as you compact the gun. But they aren’t ideal. Peer through the tiny ghost ring and aim the SUB’s black front sight at a black object. The front sight disappears and you’re reduced point shooting. Really accurate point shooting. Even so, the SUB’s sub-standard sights are to a red dot what a butter knife is to a Shun chef’s knife. On the upside, the SUB-2000’s front sight adjusts AR-15-style for both windage and elevation.

Kel Tec Sub-2000 barrel (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Bonus! Peering straight down a folded SUB-2000’s barrel to check for obstructions or grime couldn’t be safer or easier. You can add length to the gun’s stock by 5/8″, twice, if needed. The process is a lot harder than cleaning the barrel, but what isn’t? With a little hex wrench work and a six month wait for an ATF tax stamp, you can screw a silencer onto the SUB-2000’s nose, increasing the cool factor by 50.

If that’s even possible. With its innovative design and perfectly judged makeover, the SUB-2000 is the Steve McQueen of ready rifles. Who can’t appreciate a good-looking, soft-shooting, accurate and reliable riflethat stows in a small backpack or a large hamster cage? Yes but —

Kel Tec SUB-2000 vs. SBR AR-15 in .458 SOCOM (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

Nine mil is hardly an ideal rifle round. I reckon an SBR AR-15 with a folding stock — or an AR pistol with a SB Tactical brace — is a better trunk gun. If nothing else, they’ve got superior ready-to-go optics and longer range. Then again, the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 is a sub-$400 gun that doesn’t require much care or feeding. It’s almost as discreet and at least as tough as Indiana Jones’ whip, and a lot more useful (depending on what kind of romantic partner you prefer).


In fact, the SUB-2000 is like a Seiko and a Rolex Daytona. The first because it’s perfectly practical. The second because you can’t find a new SUB-2000 for love nor money. Despite years of universal huzzahs, Kel-Tec is unwilling to increase manufacturing capacity to satisfy demand. Something about corporate debt, apparently.

The elusive Kel-Tec SUB-2000 is an engineering marvel that’s well worth the wait. In this era of affordable mass production, where designers worthy of JMB’s legacy can take advantage of modern materials and machinery, everyone should have one. And now, finally, I do. The time has come.

Kel Tec SUB-2000 9mm (GLOCK magazine compatible model)


Operating System: Blowback
Caliber: 9mm Luger or 40 cal. S&W
Capacity: Varies by magazine (GLOCK-compatible version, 17 rounds mags and up)
Barrel Length: 16.25″
Barrel Twist Rate: 1:10
Trigger Pull: 9 – 10lbs
Accessory Mount: Picatinny rail, M-Lok
Length: (stock collapsed / extended) 16″ / 29.5 in
Length of Pull 13.25″ / 14.5″
Grip Width: 1.25″
Max Height: 7″
Weight (unloaded, no mag): 4.25lbs
Barrel Threads: 1/2″-28
MSRP: $500 (available — in theory — for under $400)

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * * *
The second generation SUB-2000 remains a clever, coherent design, now featuring Kel Tec’s characteristic raised squares.

Fit and Finish: * * * * 
The SUB-2000’s built like a proverbial brick sh*t house. One star removed for a sharp edge on the end of the trigger. How hard would it have been to file that down?

Accuracy * * * * *
For a gun with a nine-pound trigger pull, excellent. One hole at 10 yards, easy. Minute of bad guy well beyond.

Ergonomics * * * *
Everything is right where it should be, including the jumbo-sized slide release. The SUB-2000’s hard, angular butt plate is about as comfortable as you’d imagine, but we’re talking about 9mm recoil. The more ergonomic barrel release switch is welcome, but unfolding the rifle quickly still takes practice.

Reliability * * * * *
No failures of any kind.

Customize This: * * *
You can hang a bunch of toys on the SUB snout’s Picatinny rails and M-LOK slots, but why would you? The whole point of this gun is its foldability. I’d like a fiberoptic front sight, but then I’d like a Rolex Daytona, too.

Overall * * * * *
Compact, discrete, tough, reliable, accurate, powerful and ready-to-rock-and-roll. Brilliant concept made better by a design refresh.



47 thoughts on “Kel-Tec SUB-2000 9mm Carbine

      1. Gunbroker … maybe. As an FFL, I had 5 Glock Mag Sub2Ks on order (backorder) from 4 different vendors for 4 years or so … I finally got =3=. I’ve never seen another. I had to buy =MINE= on GunBroker.

      2. Have you tried Will they ship there? You can get it for $399 plus $10 shipping plus whatever your local ffl charges for transfer. Not a bad deal for a hard to find firearm.

    1. Any gun gun shop or straight of keltec web site, also you can now get Mcarbo upgrades done in house for $40 an hour plus parts cost, trigger upgrade goes from 10 pounds to a high 3 to low 4 pounds

  1. I love mine. The 10 pound trigger pull was horrible so I installed a aftermarket 5 pound trigger and that made this rifle fantastic. Highly recommended.

  2. LGS is big on these and sells a ton. One of these and couple of 30 rd mags would make a fantastic truck or trunk gun. I think I might get one.

  3. I have had mine for several months and enjoy it thoroughly. It has yet to present any issue what so ever and digests 115 thru 147 P and +P, put a 3 MOA dot on for more fun and remain pleased with the constant accuracy. It’s very easy to take down and keep clean. If your thinking of a 9mm that’s durable, inexpensive, fun to shoot and kinda cool give it a try.

  4. A Glock 17 and the Sub 2000 makes a Good combination. just because of the same
    bullets fit both. The Sub 2000 makes a 100 yard shot very possible if needed. This does make this packable little Carbine a more that decent survival tool.

  5. Hello, gun reviews and gun review readers. I’ve owned my kel-tech sub 2000 for about three years now, and I absolutely love this rifle it has never given me any issues. Everything that I have fired through it cycles flawlessly I really enjoy shooting it. It likes to eat remington ammunition…guys to be truthful I wouldn’t take nothing for it simply, because it can be made compact for concealment. This gun can put food on the table or simply save you or your family’s in a real life defense situation.

  6. This rifle is about my favorite of my long guns and hand guns, because of it’s compact ability and power to get it done, if the need arises.

    1. i believe if you get the GLOCK 17 9mm version KEL TEC SUB 2000 GEN 2, it will accept the 33 round stick and the 50 round drum. i have seen mostly 40 cal versions at the GUN SHOWS.

  7. Highly recommend upgrades from Mcarbo, trigger upgrades, stainless steel feed ramp, too many upgrades to list check em out

  8. Kel-t 2000 is a fun weapon to have around like the guy above said get a 9 mm glock and rock on. Looking a the ruger p c 9mm carbine next

  9. I like compatibility between a handgun and a carbine. Therefore, thusly, verily I say unto thee, I have two.
    One in 9mm and the other in .40 S&W. The 9mm uses S&W series 5900 mags to complement my old, but reliable, S&W Model 59. The .40 takes Glock mags and complements my Glock 23. What’s NOT to love about that? Plus, not only are they practical (can fold a “rifle” up and put it in a briefcase when traveling), they’re lightweight and handy for woods tromping, and they’re just fun to shoot.

  10. Excellent weapon, very compact and easy to use. Fits great in my Bob and with few up grades such as red dot scope and laser (which with mount folds out of way) becomes even more accurate at 50 to 100 yards. Very low recoil and just fun to shoot at the range.
    Replaced my Henry survival rifle as bug out weapon. Self defense or small game great weapon. Rifle light weight and can carry more ammo than bigger bulkier weapons.

  11. I’ve had a Sub 2K gen 2 for 8 months now. With the M-Carbo upgrades, this weapon rocks! I’ve shot 2 IDPA matches with it, in PCC, and get double taps in the same 0 down hole at the farthest targets with a simple red dot. No malfunctions at all even with my match 9mm related ammo. Cleans up easily and stores away even easier. Mine uses S&W mags which works with my M&P 9.

    In 9mm or 40, either gun would be a fun addition to your stock.

  12. I’ve had two. Gun, reliable with both glock and ets mags. No fun for lefties as you get powder in the face! Very versatile!

  13. Been on my radar for a while and at some point will probably get one, but think I’ll pick up a 995TS (or maybe the 4595) first….they cost less and are easier to find locally, the big thing the Sub 2000 has over them are the ability to take Glock mags (I don’t own any glocks, but the mags are everywhere) and the folding aspect (which is nice but not really necessary for me).

  14. 9mm and even 40S&W are good rounds for personal protection against a person.
    But, if you’re backpacking in the mountains, and you need something to protect yourself against a wild animal, I would not trust a 9mm or 40S&W.
    Now, a 10mm, fired from a rifle barrel, would give you a tremendous amount of firepower, even against most larger animals.

  15. I finally got one of these about a year ago. My only issue is that my Sub-2000 did not have enough front sight adjustment to make it shoot point of aim. I added a red dot sight. This means I can no longer fold the gun up but that really doesn’t matter to me anyway. I have had no trouble hitting a 2/3 sized silhouette target at 100 yds. At closer range it is fast on target and plenty accurate. With a light mouinted it’s my “bump in the night” go to gun.

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  17. I have a Gen 1 that uses the same Beretta magazines as my and my wife’s Model 92, and it’s great. I will get a Gen 2 as soon as I have some extra cash lying around. But even in Gen 1 it shoots like a champ. No malfunctions, accurate, easy to carry in your vehicle., and easy to shoot.

  18. I have the 40 and my wife has the 9 I just wanna say the Sub 2000 is by far one of the most accurate rifles I have ever pulled out of a box and shot dead on target they really did an awesome job when putting this together my compliments to Kel-tec

  19. Trunk or backpack gun no doubt, i go a step further, fits perfectly in the saddlebags of my harley! Have had mine for a couple years, got it at a local gun show, they had a pile of 40s and 1 glock 9 on the bottom. Attach a red dot on a 1 inch riser and you’re ready for anything. Seems to stay zeroed every time. Love it and quite the conversation piece when you unfold it.

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  21. Re minescule peep sight..that’s what a drill bit and some “whiteout” are for.Did that on an AR-7.
    Now if I wasn’t in NY and the Keltec was in 45ACP+P[and taking either Glock or 1911 mags],that would be interesting.

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