Kel-Tec PLR16: The Pistol-Size SU16

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posted on September 11, 2021
PLR16 Right DSC3050

The 5.56 NATO-chambered PLR16 handgun was introduced by Kel-Tec in 2005. It brought with it many of the elements that made the company’s SU16 Sport Utility Rifle predecessor so popular, but ditched the folding stock. Its look is unusual, as are some of the features. An American Rifleman review notes, “It’s a handgun, but it has a 9.2" barrel. It uses a gas piston system, but the same breech-locking mechanism found on ARs. It’s not an AR, but it can take AR magazines. What is this...this thing?”

The semi-auto remains a popular member of the company’s lineup, as does the SU16. The longevity and sales speak volumes about the performance and reliability, facts backed up by our testing.  As if that’s not enough, it bucks the inflationary trend as well: MSRP is currently $600. Price in 2009 came in at $665.

Measuring 18.5" in overall length, the pistol tips the scales at 3.4 lbs. (unloaded). The barrel and high-stress components are constructed from 4140 steel, and impact-resistant Zytel is used elsewhere for weight shavings.

The barrel is threaded 1/2x28 TPI to accept muzzle devices, although the company does not recommend the use of suppressors. It ships with iron sights, but the receiver’s Picatinny rail begs for mo8unting of those red dots or other optics.

A 10-round polymer magazine ships with the gun, although AR-15 owners will likely already have a healthy supply of 30 rounders for range sessions. The magazine release is located in front of the triggerguard (aft of the mag well) and the bolt locks open with the last shot.

The pistol grip is angled similar to that of an AR, with texturing to ensure positive purchase with sweaty palms or when wearing gloves. Kel-Tec also offers a line of accessories for the handgun, including muzzle brake, single-point sling adapter, compact fore-end and more.

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