Folding rifles in pistol calibers

Florida-based Kel-Tec manufactures a variety of unique firearms that have garnered popularity with many in the shooting culture. While many people know Kel-Tec for the small pistols they make, the company also produces a number of long guns including .223 rifles, a 12 gauge shotgun and the folding SUB-2000.

The SUB-2000 is a pistol caliber carbine, meaning that it looks like a rifle but shoots handgun rounds. The SUB-2000 can be chambered for either the 9mm or the .40 S&W. I had a chance to test the .40 S&W version.

Probably the most interesting feature of the carbine, is that it can fold in half.  I do not mean that the stock folds, I mean the whole gun folds in half. When you pull down on the trigger guard, you can rotate the front half of the carbine back onto itself, so that the front sight rests on top of the buttstock. This makes it darn handy for carrying around.

Another nice feature to the SUB-2000 is that the guns are set up to accept common pistol magazines. Depending on your preferences, you order the carbine set up to take Glock, SIG P226, Smith & Wesson (third generation pistols only) or Beretta magazines.

For so many reasons, magazine compatibility can be very handy. My frugal side likes the idea of only having to source one kind of magazine for several guns. My tactical side appreciates the fact that I can keep a long gun tucked in a backpack that will use the same ammo and magazines that my concealed carry pistol uses. A long gun with the ability to swap mags with my handgun makes for a very nice hiking/camping gun, or as something to keep tucked out of the way at work on the remote chance a spree killer enters your office.

This Kel-Tec carbine is blowback operated, which means it is simple and inexpensive to manufacture. Generally, blowback guns are reliable, but kept to smaller pistol calibers due to the increase in felt recoil as compared to recoil-operated or gas-operated guns.

Range Time

As always, a gun’s worth is measured on the range. For this gun, I put a mix of Winchester white box, Winchester PDX1 and Speer Gold Dot through the gun. I lost track on the exact number of rounds fired, but it was more than 300.

Pressing the trigger was not bad, though more comparable to a decent pistol instead of a nice rifle. It was not terribly heavy, but neither was it exceptionally smooth. Essentially, it will get the job done without you complaining too much.  I did not notice any difference between the first shot fired and the 300th.

The gun had remarkably sharp recoil. Sure, the .40 S&W is a high-pressure pistol cartridge, but it is still just a pistol cartridge.  Increased recoil is the price you pay for the inexpensive blowback design, I suppose. While less jarring that a 12 gauge pump shotgun, the Kel-Tec’s recoil was sharper. I suspect a decent slip-on recoil pad would make a significant improvement.

The small rear aperture and front post were easy enough to use.  I did find that the front, fiber optic sight was not very bright, but I was still able to put together nice groups.  Generally a little low left out-of-the-box, I was able to keep five-shot groups within about 2” at 25 yards.

The SUB-2000 was very reliable. I suffered no malfunctions in the 300 rounds I fired. When I pressed the trigger, it went bang.


One thing I found some difficulty with was obtaining a decent cheek weld. To align my eye with the sight and get the gun anchored into my shoulder was tough, but then trying to get a good cheek weld on the stock was nearly impossible. Eventually, I got into a adequate position, but mounting this carbine was never natural for me.

Bottom Line

The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 carbine is an interesting firearm that offers a number of features that make it popular with many shooters. It folds up for easy carry and my gun proved to be very reliable. At less than $400 at many gun dealers, one can understand why these guns are in such high demand.

While there are some ergonomic drawbacks, I cannot find fault in anyone’s decision to buy a SUB-2000. If you have been thinking about buying one, grab it if you see it on your dealer’s shelf.