Rifles > Semi-Auto

The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9 mm Carbine

This handy, folding pistol-caliber carbine is unlike any other rifle on the market.


Kel-Tec is not a typical firearm manufacturer. Although it's a relatively small company in regard to its production volume, Kel-Tec has a catalog of products demonstrating innovative gun design and creative problem solving. For example, Kel-Tec recently garnered all kinds of attention with its unusual dual-magazine bullpup KSG shotgun. In 2001, it released an update to its blow-back operated folding pistol-caliber carbine, the SUB 9, and called it the SUB 2000. Available in 9 mm or .40 S&W, this rifle is unlike anything else on the market.

The most remarkable feature of the SUB 2000 is its ability to fold in half. This is done by pulling down on the trigger guard while swinging the barrel assembly up and over onto the receiver. When fully folded, the barrel is locked into place by a spring-loaded stud set into the shoulder stock's buttplate. This same barrel retention device can be locked to prevent the barrel from swinging back down into place using a proprietary brass security key. When unloaded and folded, the SUB 2000 weighs 4 pounds and will comfortably fit into a 16-inch long, 7-inch wide storage space.

Designing a carbine to fold required the designers to re-think just about every feature of the rifle. The blued barrel is 16-inches long and encased in a flat-sided polymer handguard. The front sight is a hooded fluorescent-orange fiber optic that is adjustable for windage and height. The rear sight is a pop-up aperture that folds out of the way when the gun is collapsed.

The receiver is constructed of black polymer with a textured pistol grip. The primary external safety, a large crossbolt safety button, is located just above the grip. When engaged, it blocks the hammer and disconnects the trigger. The magazine release is an oblong button located on the left side of the grip. The trigger is also polymer.

The components of the Sub-2000's action are housed in a blued steel pipe attached to the receiver, which also serves as the rifle's shoulder stock. The ambidextrous steel charging handle is located below the stock between the grip and the buttplate.  The bolt can be locked in the open position by pulling the charging handle all the way to the rear and tipping it to the right, however the bolt does not lock open when the last shot is fired.

The SUB 2000 is designed to use common pistol magazines instead of a proprietary magazine. For this review, the 9 mm GLK17 model of the rifle was used, which accepts Glock 17 pistol magazines. Kel-Tec also makes versions of this gun that accept Beretta 92 and 96, Glock 19, SIG 226 and Smith & Wesson Model 59 type magazines. The Glock version is popular because even if you don't own the pistol, the magazines are usually affordable, reliable and easy to find.

Taking the SUB 2000 to the shooting range was an enjoyable event. No other rifle on the range looks, or handles, like this one. Although it sacrifices some creature comforts for utility, the SUB 2000 is definitely fun to shoot. Let's get a few nits out of the way first. The magazine release felt stiff and a bit clunky. It functioned properly, but not prettily. You may find it takes some time to get used to the sight system. I had to move my cheek back and forth on the steel stock pipe until I found the right view. Speaking of that pipe, it's not the most comfortable cheek rest available. But none of these issues were game changers, especially when compared to the positives.

The level of felt recoil produced by the SUB 2000 qualifies it as a low-recoil shooting option. There were a few failures to eject during the first 50 rounds fired, which happened to be light practice rounds. The recoil spring and bolt for this gun are heavier than those found on a pistol, so don’t be surprised if some varieties of weak-powered, low-quality rounds don’t run well. After the first box of practice rounds, the gun worked reliably with all of the ammunition it was fed using 10, 17 and 33-round Glock factory magazines. The trigger on this particular rifle required 7 pounds of pull to cycle, but it was smooth with a crisp break like a quality double-action revolver.

In addition to the mild recoil, this rifle feels feathery light when pressed to the shoulder. With most of its 4 pounds of weight located at or behind the grip, this is an ideal gun choice for training new rifle shooters or for those who are not used to supporting a heavy rifle for extended practice or plinking sessions.

Formal accuracy testing consisted of firing five consecutive, five-shot groups from a bench rest into 25-yard targets. Group sizes hovered right around the 1.5-inch mark, with none of them exceeding 1.75 inches in size, with some as tight as 1.25 inches. For informal testing, a Grizzly Targets IPSC Torso Target in a 2-in-1 combo stand was set at 50 yards. The tough AR500 steel plate rang with the regularity of a church bell. So the reliability and accuracy of the SUB 2000 are right where they need to be.

But one question in particular tends to show up when evaluating a pistol-caliber rifle like this one. Does a 9 mm carbine really offer a sufficient level of stopping power to be useful for home or personal defense? Logic dictates that if a 9 mm pistol loaded with quality hollow points can get the job done, then the increased accuracy and bullet velocity provided by a 16-inch rifle barrel would be even better. But hard data is always more useful than conjecture.

Using a CED M2 chronograph, 10-round strings of the two defense-grade loads tested for accuracy were clocked for velocity. The Hornady Custom 147-grain XTP, designed to operate at the sub-sonic velocity of 975 feet-per-second (fps) from a pistol, averaged 1,171 fps from the SUB 2000. DoubleTap's 124-grain +P brass-jacketed hollow points, which travel at 1,300 fps from a 4.5-inch barrel pistol, jumped to 1,655 fps from the SUB 2000. This increase in velocity boosts the level of energy for a 9 mm cartridge significantly. The Hornady load went from an estimated 310 ft.-lbs. of energy to 447 ft.-lbs., with the DoubleTap round increasing its energy from 465 ft.-lbs. to 754 ft.-lbs. As a point of reference, DoubleTap offers 125-grain .357 Mag. hollow points that strike with 710 ft.-lbs. of energy. That means this low-recoil rifle, when loaded properly with an extended magazine and fired at home defense distances, hits like a .357 Mag. over 30 times before it needs to be reloaded. Yep, that should do the trick.

The SUB 2000 is a handy little rifle that arrives from the factory ready to work. It has more than a decade on the market to attest to its reliability and usefulness. Like other pistol-caliber carbines, it fills an important shooting niche that floats between the high-power rifles and semi-auto handguns. It stretches the range and power of the 9 mm cartridge beyond what a pistol can provide. At the same time, owners will appreciate the cost-savings of ammunition and magazine compatibility with the pistols they already own.

But unlike other light carbines, the SUB-2000's compact folded size makes it exceptionally flexible in its possible applications. It can fit in a bug-out bag, laptop case or a small day pack for carry in the field. This rifle could be conveniently tucked into various nooks and crannies inside a car, truck or RV. It can be used for casual plinking, close-range small-game hunting or as a camp gun. It would be a top-notch second gun to match up with a personal-defense pistol, at home or while on the road.

Some folks need a piece of polished walnut attached to their rifle in order to think it’s a good looking gun. But Kel-Tec knows that handsome is as handsome does. The polymer-framed SUB 2000 is fun, functional and available at a very reasonable price. What more do you want from a folding pistol-caliber carbine?

Manufacturer: Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc.; www.keltecweapons.com
Model: SUB 2000 GLK17
Action: Blow-back operated semi-auto
Caliber: 9 mm
Finish: Matte black
Grip & Forend: Black polymer
Rear Sight: Folding aperture, 
Sights: Adjustable fluorescent blade with circular hood
Barrel Length: 16.1”
Overall Length Open: 29.5”
Overall Length Folded: 16”
Weight Unloaded: 4 lbs.
Magazine Type: Glock G17
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: One 10-round magazine, brass security key, sight adjustment tool, manual, lock
Suggested Retail Price: $409

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30 Responses to The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9 mm Carbine

Roy L. Bourns wrote:
November 30, 2014

Does anyone know how the sub 2000 shoots for left handed firers?

xpo117 wrote:
November 08, 2013

Just picked up a used one (300 rounds), and these have been a PAIN to find. I wanted one with the Sig mag catch, but settled on the S&W mag catch. Which I'll replace as soon as Kel-Tec makes more parts... Lucky me though, it came with a Red Lion fore-end and sight! Definitely must-have options if you use something other than the sights, as long as you don't mind the weight increase.

scott r wrote:
November 01, 2013

Trying to find one. Seems to be a nice carbine. I checked out some videos on YouTube and everyone seem to love their sub2000. Youtube.com Keltec sub2000 9mm Glock 33rd hard chrome redlion

nexu2010 wrote:
October 22, 2013

I love mine. With some minor mods its a fun carbine to shoot. Check out my youtub vid- (Keltec sub2000 9mm Glock 33rd Redlion)

William W. wrote:
October 01, 2013

Picked up the 9mm Glock version at a gun show a couple of weeks ago in the Peoples Republic of Maryland. Have fired about 200 rounds through it and have found it to be reliable and extremely accurate at 25 and 50 yards. The front sight looks flimsy, but it works. Can't ask for more.

John Potter wrote:
September 10, 2013

Often over looked in the examination of this or other P. C. Rifles is the fact that they are squarely in the PDW classification. If you want to have guns in your battery for arming responsible adults in an emergency you will do better with a gun of this class. The M-1 Carbine was developed as a light gun for minimally trained personnel replacing the 1911 for those needing effective but occasional defense.

W.R.Buchanan wrote:
September 09, 2013

I have one in .40 Glock, I waited for a whole two weeks right before Xmas 2012 to get it from B&H Gunrack in FL. paid $300. This was during the big flurry after O got re-elected so there was no worse time to get one. If you really want one go there! More fun than a barrel o monkeys.

Hutehund wrote:
August 30, 2013

Great review of a light, tight little package. I love my Glock 17 9mm version. It shucks every cheap round of bulk range ammo I feed it without complaint with fantastic offhand accuracy. This gun is a winner.

Beastly wrote:
August 28, 2013

Check out TheKTOG.org for Sub2000 forum, FAQ, good people. I've had a .40 Glock S2K for a couple years. Very reliable out of the box and at this point heavily modified. I love it and always bring it on road trips where I want more than my CCW Glock(s) and don't feel like packing an AR. Fits in any ubiquitous laptop bag or backpack and turns standard pistol rounds and magazines from 25 yard useful range to 100 yard plus.

Brent Harney wrote:
August 22, 2013

Great little carbine that fits in my small backpack or computer bag to compliment my Glock 17 9mm and still have plenty of range. Length of barrel adds plenty of extra power to 9mm. I use the regular 17 round mags but keep the 33 rounders in the bag with it.

Don Zinn wrote:
July 01, 2013

Been trying to get a PMR-30 for years. Now when I see KelTec in the title, I just go on to the next article. Kel Tec needs to work on meeting the demands for guns they make instead of wasting everyones time with new models that you cant get.

Kev wrote:
June 28, 2013

Sub-9 since '99. run 9 JHP 115Gr +p like the manual SAID !!!! Perfect !! 3" Dia. at 100yrds. a little spray Remington Teflon on the ramp, never had jam, anything!!!

Norm wrote:
June 28, 2013

Have had one in 40 s&w since they first came out. It loves Speer 165 Gold Dots and gives them 1346 fps average.

Tricky Dicky wrote:
June 28, 2013

I have had a green parked 9mm 2000 for about 12 years. It is a fun rifle to shoot. I have the S&W model and a S&W 5906 for a grab and go pair. I always take my 2000 with me when I travel tucked by my console. Shooting the 33 round mags give you lots of accurate firepaower. Sometimes I wonder if they will ever empty the mag. My 2000 likes the 124/125 rounds. They can be FMJ, HP, or hard cast lead. You can't go wrong with this "grab 'n go" rifle.

railhead wrote:
June 28, 2013

I've had my Glock 19 model for 8 or 9 years. It took about 100 rounds to break it in. Since then it has been flawless. I've used it as my truck gun, packed it for a couple of extended hikes in the mountains and spent some good afternoons just plinking at the range. It's a handy little rifle that you can carry anywhere and it shares mags with my pistol. I keep a 15 round mag in the rifle and two extended G18 mags in the bag. That's 81 rounds and a rifle that fit in a 17 x 9 case or in a day pack with a water bladder and trail food and a first aid kit. It's pretty handy if you ask me.

Annabelle wrote:
June 28, 2013

I bought mine new from a local shop about 5 years ago..approx $280.00 OTD. During the first year I put about 10k rounds through it..NEVER had any problems! Using only Glock 10 round single stacks that have been modified to 5 rounds for hunting, G17 and Glock 33 round magazines. I love it!! nice and compact to tnrow in a backpack. couldn't and wouldn't sell it..even during with 'panic prices'..just can't!

Zeke wrote:
June 27, 2013

My experience is that it is finicky about ammo. It's only reliable with Federal or Blazer, that said it is a great little addition to the handgun when things go south. Same ammo, same magazine, now you've extended your accurate range! Red Lion Precision makes a rotating forend and AR front sight replacement, mount an optic to overcome the factory sight deficiency and still maintain the folding ability. Pricey, but all good equipment is.

Gordon Gaines wrote:
June 27, 2013

I love mine also, I bought a cover for the tube and a recoil buffer, and installed both of them myself, it was that easy to do. The recoil buffer helps a lot with recoil and to control the gun.

mastercrasher wrote:
June 27, 2013

3 years of fun so far. Added a few mods. The only one that was a must was replacing the front sight with a Red Lion. A bit spendy but well worth it. It eats anything I feed it. It's on a diet now due to lack of ammo to feed it, Accurate and fun.

John k wrote:
June 27, 2013

Just be patient they are shipping and there are plenty available.

1S-1K larry wrote:
June 27, 2013

I've got one of both 9MM and 40. and they are both fun to fire. Never had a miss-fire or any other problem. I also have a Glock 33 round mag for the 9- works fine. Ps. Sorry Ed. Not for sale.

John wrote:
June 27, 2013

Kel-Tec. Long on promise, short on delivery. Anyone remember the PMR30? Stop innovating long enough to actually produce something.

Motorhedda Gabler wrote:
June 26, 2013

I have had a 9mm for about 3 years, and I love it. The only problem I have had is with the first magazine I bought, and that's Glock's fault, not Kel-tec. For what it's worth, I love my P-3AT, also.

Sam M wrote:
June 26, 2013

Owners of this should look into the compact, round handguard for it available from Kel-Tec. Much more comfortable than the shoebox that comes installed from the factory.

Kevin wrote:
June 26, 2013

I have a sub 2k Not reliable. Even using factory glock mags. I Keep calling to get repairs on it (the barrel has become loose from the receiver) But no one answers my calls.

JIm wrote:
June 26, 2013

I've had a Sub200 in .40 Glock for two years. It has done everything I have asked and more. I've never had a misfeed, and my big mags (22 round) are cheap Korean ones. I tell people the recoil is liken to a staple gun, nothing more. I've fired this out to 100 yards and grouped within 3" groups. Overall, it's a nice plinking, home defense, bug out weapon.

Ed D wrote:
June 26, 2013

I have heard that this is a great rifle. I have been trying to find one in a gun store for almost a year, with no luck. I would have better luck finding a unicorn. Sub2000's on the used market are selling for twice the MSRP. I would like to see Kel tec get their act together and resolve their significant production/supply issues before this rifle gets any more publicity or hype. It is like rubbing salt in the wound. Review...it's a great rifle, but sorry you can't have one!

Sean wrote:
June 26, 2013

Bought one from a friend and had nothing but trouble with it. Varied ammo and always jammed. Short of going into custom modifications I couldn't stand it. Rumor had it that only single stack mags would run through it after perusing the forums for Kel-Tec. Their latest version may have solved all the 1st run problems? It was quite accurate when it did shoot though. Sold it.

Bart B wrote:
June 25, 2013

To bad you cant get a-hold of new ones, used ones have been selling as high as $1600

Ron W wrote:
June 24, 2013

Have owned 1 of these for about 1 year. A blast to shot,reliable so far,unique. Have several types of Kel-Tec's with few problems. Got my Sub 2000 for $340 NIB.If you want a reliable attention getting carbine buy 1.