Gun Of The Week: KelTec SUB2000 GEN3

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posted on July 5, 2024

Welcome to another American Rifleman Gun Of The Week video, and here on the range, we’re with the latest version of KelTec’s SUB2000 pistol-caliber carbine. Watch the video above to see this latest folding carbine in use on the range.

Founded in 1991 by George Kellgren, and based out of Cocoa, Fla., KelTec has proven itself as a firearm innovator. Its operation staff is comprised of outside-the-box thinkers that design and manufacture unique products. One such offering is the SUB2000 pistol-caliber carbine.

KelTec SUB2000 GEN3 folded with an optic and weaponlight attached.

KelTec’s concept for a folding carbine came with the release of the SUB9 in the mid-to-late ‘90s. The design caught attention, and then, a few short years later after the turn of the millennium, the SUB2000 was born. That brainchild has now spawned three generations of models. And the GEN3 SUB2000 you see here on the range is just the latest cutting-edge design from KelTec.

Not only does this GEN3 9 mm carbine fold in half to just over 16”, company engineers sought to solve a serious problem users found with their red-dot-equipped GEN2 carbines—an attached optic would prevent the folding of the gun, keeping it from going fully compact. The solution came with a mechanism that not only allows the barrel to fold like GEN1 and GEN2 carbines, but this new action also pivots to either side, preventing the optic from interrupting the gun’s takedown.

Left side of the KelTec SUB2000 GEN3 pistol-caliber carbine.

With the semi-automatic SUB2000 GEN3, you get many of the same great features that made the originals so desirable. The GEN3 guns are currently chambered for 9 mm Luger only and employ Glock-style magazines of the G17/19 pattern. You’ll get a 16.25” blued steel barrel that is threaded for suppressor use and comes with a knurled protector. KelTec maintained much of the aesthetics of its SUB2000 here, too, so you’ll get that similar ergonomic layout the previous versions had with M-Lok slots up front along with a Picatinny rail at the top and bottom. That KelTec grenade-pattern texturing is alive and well here, too.

For controls on the SUB2000, there is a crossbolt-style safety found high on the grip and a left-side magazine release button just behind the trigger. The gun’s charging handle protrudes from the buffer tube’s bottom side. It is important to note that this handle does reciprocate, and for this latest generation SUB2000, it can be locked back to the right or left, depending on user preference, and requires a mild HK-style “slap” to send the bolt forward. To fold the gun, simply pull the trigger guard down and hinge and rotate the barrel to its most compact position.

Handguard of the black KelTec SUB2000 GEN3 pistol-caliber carbine, showing M-Lok slots and Picatinny rails.

This latest development of KelTec’s wildly popular folding carbine gives the market a more refined platform with increased capability—gone are the days of unbolting an optic to store the gun. On the flip side, KelTec removed the factory iron sights found on previous versions, so if you want them, you’ll need to add a set before relegating the GEN3 to bugout duty. On the range, the SUB2000 GEN3 was a lot of fun to shoot. Our testers found it to be a cost-effective solution and worthwhile option for those looking to incorporate a 9 mm carbine into their defensive strategy.

KelTec SUB2000 GEN3 Specifications
Manufacturer: KelTec
Action Type: blowback-operated, centerfire carbine
Chambering: 9 mm Luger
Barrel: 16.15” carbon steel, round profile, black oxide finish; 1/2x28 TPI threaded muzzle
Receiver: black polymer
Magazine: 15-round Glock-pattern detachable box
Sights: none; Picatinny rail
Trigger: two-stage; 4-lbs. 7-oz. pull
Overall Length: 29.25”
Overall Length Folded: 16.15”
MSRP: $499

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