Folding guns have always been relatively scarce, so when I recently discovered the Kel Tec Sub-2000 carbine rifles, this prickled my interest. I immediately started reading up on the gun but soon started having second thoughts when reading the complaints. I like the concept, so I decided to sift through the drama and find the facts.
The Kel Tec Sub-2000 PCCs are great guns. Over time, problems have arisen, such as poor quality barrels in 2017. Kel Tec resolved this issue admirably. Aftermarket parts are readily available to fix the problems like the hard, spongy trigger challenge. Hinged optical mounts are now also available.
The Kel Tec Sub 2000 is currently onto the Gen 2 version of the weapon. The Gen 2 started with some bad press due to sub-standard barrel materials and a few other snags. Let’s look at these problems and see if they persist.
About The Kel Tec Sub-2000
The Kel Tec Sub 2000 is a compact, foldable, semi-automatic rifle or a carbine chambered for the 9mm and .40 S&W caliber pistol cartridges. The gun is unique in that the barrel is hinged at the chamber mouth, allowing the barrel to fold back against the stock for compact carry and storage.
Besides the folding action, the Kel Tec is unique in that it is available in the following magazine configurations meaning your favorite pistols 9mm or .40 magazine is interchangeable with your rifle. Magazines from the following models are available; In 9mm, Glock 17 and 19, S&W Model 59, Beretta 92, CZ75B, and Sig Sauer P226. In .40 S&W Caliber, the following magazine options are available, Glock 22 and 23, S&W Model 4006, Sig Sauer P226, and the Beretta 96.
The action-type is a simple blowback design without a bolt stop to hold the bolt open after the final shot, and the magazine is empty. The cocking lever and mainspring are integrated into the stock and are manually cocked. The stock, which is tube-shaped, is slotted to accept the cocking lever to hold the bolt in the open, rearmost position when needed.
The buttstock has three adjustable length options. The fore-end doubles as a barrel shroud made of a polymer material. A Picatinny rail is attached above and below the barrel for accessories.
The sights fitted to the Sub-2000 are an aperture sight at the rear, made from plastic, while the front sight is a standard pin. The sights are adjustable for windage and elevation using a sight adjustment tool.
The barrel is sixteen and a quarter inches long and is threaded to accept a muzzle brake, silencer, or solvent trap. When the rifle is folded, overall dimensions are sixteen and a quarter by seven inches. Fully extended, the gun is only twenty-nine and a half inches long.
Problems With The Kel Tec Sub-2000
The Kel Tec Sub-2000 has been available since 2001 as the Gen 1 and was a hit from the outset. In 2015 the Gen 2 was launched with some modifications to improve the design. The changes included the piston design in the Gen 2.
The rest of the changes were primarily aesthetic and included a redesigned stock and smoothing off the finish on the polymer side plates. Over time five problems were reported; some were more of an irritation. Let’s have a look at these individually.
2017 Barrel Recall
Kel Tec outsources most of its component manufacturing, including barrels. During 2017 a number of incidents were reported relating to barrels rupturing when the gun was fired. Kel Tec immediately issued a recall once a pattern emerged.
As bad as this may be, the problem was isolated and narrowed down to a specific batch or barrels that were not correctly tempered, which resulted in the failures. Kel Tec accepted responsibility and replaced all the barrels free of charge for weapons returned through the recall process.
Should you have a Sub-2000 made around 2017, check out the Kel Tec site, which will tell you if you have a problem gun or not. Thousands of Sub-2000s have been made over the past two decades.
Trigger Mechanism Design
The long and spongy trigger pull is a bugbear of many Kel Tec Sub-2000 owners. The factory set trigger pull is nine and a half pounds. The heavy trigger pull and lack of sensitivity are easily fixed by replacing the factory trigger springs with readily available aftermarket options.
The replacement springs reduce the trigger pull to under five pounds which is a significant improvement. Having a lighter and clean breaking trigger is imperative to achieve good accuracy. The Kel Tec Sub-2000 is designed for reasonably close-range shooting but should you need to stretch those shots out to longer distances, you’ll appreciate a good trigger.
Ergonomically Unfriendly Design
The Kel Tec Sub-2000 is designed to fold into a compact package, ideal for a vehicle, backpack, or even horseback carry. As such, some ergonomic compromises had to be made.
The main problem is the straight stock design, making it challenging to get your cheek low on the stock to align the sights comfortably. The sights have been made really tall to alleviate this problem but this hasn’t solved the problem.
The logical solution is to fit a raised optical sight, but this brings its challenge in terms of compromising the folding function of the carbine.
Some users also highlight the position of the safety catch as being in an awkward position. Being located relatively high up on the frame takes some getting used to.
During my research, I also discovered two other problems which really irked one gun owner. The first was the rubber lip which forms part of the pistol grips coating, getting drawn into the magazine well when sliding a magazine into position. The rubber caused the magazine to jam before locking into place. Trimming the rubber would probably resolve the issue; this was on a Gen 1 carbine.
The second hassle also highlighted by the same shooter was that his facial hairs, which weren’t excessively long, were being painfully plucked from his face when lowering the gun from time to time. The seam created between the polymer material of the buttstock and the recoil spring tube was the cause.
Excessively Heavy Recoil Spring
Another common complaint relates to the hefty recoil spring used in the Sub-2000. The stiff spring makes the process of cocking the weapon using the oddly positioned charging handle challenging to operate and takes some getting used to.
Some gun owners place a piece of rubber tubing over the charging handle to increase the diameter. The tubing doesn’t reduce the force required to cock the weapon but reduces the felt pressure on the finger doing the cocking.
Aftermarket charging handles called an “Extended bolt handle” are available from leading gun part suppliers. The longer handle allows a better grip on the handle, making operating the lever less strenuous.
One clever shooter suggested not shooting out your entire magazine before changing mags. The remaining chambered round will avoid having to re-cock the action between magazines.
Some Sub-2000 owners believe in storing their weapons with the action locked in the open position in the hope of compressing the mainspring a little and making it easier to cock. Compressing the spring should make no difference, but some folks say it helps lighten the spring tension.
Kel Tec advises against replacing the standard spring with a lighter one as the reliability of the design will be compromised. Besides, the spring is the only thing keeping the chamber closed when the gun is fired. I reckon it’s a good idea not to fiddle with the spring.
Optical Sight Mounting Challenges
One downside of the Kel Tec Sub-2000’s design is that the folding action, which makes the gun unique, causes a problem for the attachment of optics. The carbine comes standard with fixed sights; the rear sight folds down when the gun is folded. The front sight clips into the stock in its folded position to keep the barrel in place.
The barrel section folds pretty much flush onto the top of the action and stock section, therefore not permitting the attachment of any additional sights. Well, that is up until now. Our aftermarket specialists have devised an ingenious mounting system that attaches to the side of the action utilizing existing screws. A hinged Picatinny rail swings onto the top of the action and locks firmly into place.
The Picatinny rail allows the attachment of many different optics, which dramatically improves the carbines sighting system. When folding the gun, the optic swings out to the side of the weapon, allowing the gun to fold as usual.
Excessive Felt Recoil
One wouldn’t expect recoil to become a problem with pistol cartridge chambered carbines. Shoot a couple of shots, and the felt recoil and stock design aren’t a problem. Shoot a couple of hundred rounds in a session, and the Sub-2000’s buttstock lets you know that it’s there, painfully!
Fortunately, if you like to shoot your Sub-2000 a lot, aftermarket shoulder-friendly buttstocks are readily available, which will make your shooting experience a whole lot more enjoyable!
The Kel Tec Sub-2000 is an excellent Pistol Cartridge Carbine with a significant following. Thousands of the carbines have been sold since 2001. Problems with the guns have arisen over time, with the most serious being the inferior barrels that were fitted to a batch of firearms in 2017. The remaining ergonomic issues are more of an inconvenience than a problem. All told, these are great guns and worth buying if you can find one!