With the the price of ammunition, with not being allowed to shoot traditional rifles indoors, and with not having the time to do a two hour plus round trip to my outdoor range all limiting my rifle practice time I thought a pistol-caliber carbine might be a suitable option for getting in some long gun shooting at my indoor range. That thought in mind, the pistol-caliber carbine being reviewed here is the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 chambered in 9X19 and using Glock 17 magazines. Kel-Tec offers this carbine in two calibers: 9X19, and .40 S&W; it's also offered in several different magazine formats to take Glock, Smith & Wesson, SIG, and Beretta Magazines in each caliber. I chose the Glock 17 variant for the magazine commonality with my Glocks and for the fact that this carbine will take the deliciously addictive Glock 18 thirty-one round magazines. Capacity can be increased to 33 rounds with the Pearce +2 magazine extension.
While this is not a gun I'd want as a main rifle in a zombie invasion or Hurricane Katrina scenario I feel it's a good supplemental gun for someone else in a party, or a good secondary weapon that can be deployed with a minimum of fuss. I feel it's also an excellent "Trunk Gun" due to its compactness. It's also useful at ranges where rifle rounds are prohibited, as alluded to in my first sentence above.
One thing I found while training my wife to shoot a rifle was that this an excellent alternative for someone who is recoil sensitive, or has had trouble adjusting to a handgun, but can shoot a rifle just fine. The low recoil combined with the rifle's inherent controllability have made this something of a favorite of my spouse. This was an unintended benefit and I recommend having one of these just for that purpose.
I've shot mine out to 150 yards. At that distance, the 9mm round is most likely sucking wind and has lost a lot of its energy and velocity which will cause it to drop like a rock. Therefore I think this carbine is probably best effective at ranges up to 50 yards, where it is far superior than the handgun chambered in the same ammunition at those distances. (A typical 115gr 9mm is still doing about 950fps at 100 yards--editor) I feel that anything more is just pushing the limits of the carbine and the 9X19 cartridge. I'd even go as far as to say that the .40 S&W cartridge is good out to 75 yards or so in this carbine since it's a more powerful round. The only real issues I have with this carbine are the short stock, which forces one to really have to lean into the gun and the front sight which is a plastic orange blade.
I have my Kel-Tec SUB 2000 in a gym bag in my safe with 2 Glock 17 Magazines, and two Glock 18 Magazines along with my Glock 19 with a loaded magazine. If I had to, I could just grab the bag and take it wherever I needed to go with a minimal worry about ammo, or magazine compatibility and I'd have a serviceable rifle. I also have 2 reloads for the Glock 19 if needed--what I really like about about this rifle is it's portability. There's really no other firearm out there on the market in this price range that can fold in half and be a compact little package measuring 16 inches long by 7 inches high. This enables the rifle to be packed away in a backpack while hiking, or in a briefcase, or a gym bag like mine.
Here are the technical stats for it from Kel-Tec's website:
This is an excellent little carbine and where it really shines. Recoil is negligible due to the weight of the rifle, and the pistol caliber cartridge. I have had groups of three inches at 50 yards with this carbine. The standard magazine capacity is whatever Glock magazine is in the carbine at the time: either 17 (19 with the extensions), or 31 (33 with the extensions) . The short stock gave me kinks in my neck the first time until I learned to hold the rifle really close. The cocking handle is also inside the stock of the rifle. It takes some practice, but I found it easy to use with the off-hand to get the gun into battery.
The trigger could use some work, but then it's a Kel-Tec, which is not a company known for its quality triggers. The trigger on this is best described as a light Kel-Tec P3AT Double Action trigger, which puts the trigger pull at roughly 6.5 pounds or so. Again, I don't have a trigger scale, so please take this description as it is, something subjective from someone who has shot a lot of Kel-Tec products in his day. It still takes a bit of shooting to get used to it.
I have not disassembled this carbine as I have discovered the joys of Gun Scrubber (an aerosol degreaser, not really a cleaner on its own--ed.). I have found it works nicely for cleaning out most any part on the carbine. I use the typical bore brush and Boresnake for cleaning the barrel.
The SUB-2000 is a good rifle for what it is. Compare it to the competition and you soon see that Kel-Tec has a pretty good product. The only one I would say that comes close is the Beretta Storm and that is purely from an ergonomics and sights viewpoint, but the price puts it out of reach for many people. The Hi-Point is okay but the limitation imposed by the ten round magazine and the fact that the charging handle kept coming unscrewed on my Hi-Point 995 Carbine caused me to sell mine off. The Marlin Camp Carbine is okay, if you can find one (the Marlin is a major hassle to disassemble to clean and it must be disassembled to clean. It has lousy plastic sights as well; I used to own one of these--ed.) while the Ruger PC 9 and 40 are are also okay but examples are hard to find and magazines are expensive.
What makes the Kel-Tec superior to these other pistol carbines is the fact that it can fold up, the fact that it can share pistol magazines (depending on the model selected), and its price. (July 2009)
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