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Kel-Tec Sub2K Gen 2 November 2018
Dan Martinez  

The Kel-Tec Sub-2000 is a unique and relatively inexpensive pistol caliber carbine. What makes it unique is its ability to fold in half at the midpoint into a package just 16¼” long. At around 5 pounds of weight, it fits and carries easily in just about any back pack. There is an asterisk to that statement which we will get to in a few minutes.

It’s uses a simple blowback semi-automatic design. The Sub-2000, aka, Sub2K, has been around for a number of years. It was redesigned and re-introduced in a 2nd generation version in 2015.

My readers know that I had a dalliance with another pistol caliber carbine recently, a TNW Aero Survival Rifle. The TNW ASR was also packable, but through an easily removable barrel. Anyway, though it was a cool carbine, I had a lot of trouble with jams. It was difficult to get through a single magazine without having to stop to clear a jam. I finally decided that there was nothing I could do to make it run reliably, so it was time to let it go. I replaced it in my armory with a Kel-Tec Sub2K Gen 2.

I picked it up at the gun show just after they started production ramp up for Gen 2. If you know anything about Kel-Tec, you know that they are a financially prudent company. They don’t like to take on debt, so their products can sometimes be difficult to find in the marketplace. They run their production ramp-ups conservatively, slowly. This is not only so that they don’t have to take on debt, but also so that they can verify early production quality.

So I was quite pleased to find mine at the gun show, knowing that locating one can be difficult. The dealer had both 9mm and .40 S&W versions available. But since there was higher demand for the 9mm, it was priced $80 to $100 more than the .40! Sure, I would have preferred the 9, but not for that cost premium! I shoot, love, and reload for the .40, it is a more powerful round (javelina hunting?), so that’s the one that came home with me.

What is the biggest improvement of the Gen 2 over the first generation? It is a redesigned handguard with Picatinny rails both top and bottom. There was no good way to hang accessories on the Gen 1 unless the user replaced his handguard with an aftermarket one.

The handguard also sports Magpul M-Lok slots on either side. I tried using those M-Lok slots to mount a flashlight, but I don’t think plastic M-Lok slots work very well. The trouble I had was that the metal M-Lok nuts dig into the back side of the plastic when they are tightened. This makes removing the accessory later problematic, as the plastic does not want to let go of the nut when loosened. I ended up going a different route with a flashlight that mounts on the Pic-rail below. This is a much cleaner installation versus having it mounted on the side.

So now, let’s talk about that asterisk, concerning the Sub2K’s ability to fold in half. To fold it, you pull down on the back of the trigger guard. The trigger guard pivots down, and this unlatches the barrel from the receiver, allowing the barrel to pivot at the base of the rear sight. The rear sight folds as the barrel is pivoted over.

To the right is a photo of my Sub2K when I had a laser under the chin and a side-mounted flashlight. Look carefully, and you will notice something wrong … The optic is mounted on the underside of the barrel!

With an optic mounted on the topside, you lose the ability to fold the gun. As here, one solution is to use a quick-detach mount, remove the optic when you want to fold it, and temporarily mount it underneath for folded transport. This works mechanically, but I have not yet done any testing to see if the optic maintains zero when swapped like this. I’m leary, so after sighting it in, I have not touched the optic and mount since. I’ve just been pretending it is not a folding gun. I know that I should do that test one day ...

Also let me mention that I consider mounting an optic on this gun mandatory. To use the provided iron sights (plastic rear peep sight), to be able to get my eye to align, I have to push my face down on the buffer tube way too hard. When you have a blowback bolt heavy enough to be able to handle the power of the .40 S&W, it recoils relatively stoutly. When your cheek bone is smashed against that buffer tube, it is not a comfortable shooting experience whatsoever. An optic sight on a riser makes the gun shootable for me.

As for my choice of optics, I am using a Monstrum Tactical quick-detach riser and a Primary Arms red dot sight. They are mounted as far back on the handguard rail as possible, which still yields a forward “Scout Rifle” type of mounting position.

When I sighted in the RDS, I had a totally unexpected observation. Since I reload for the .40 S&W, I don’t remember why I started my sighting session using Remington 165 gr. factory ammo. Using a benchrest, after a few shots and some tweaking of the sight’s adjustment turrets, I had a pretty good zero and a satisfyingly tight group at about 35 yards. Should be good enough for ringing steel at our club shoots. Then I taped the target and switched over to my handloads using Berry’s 165 gr. plated bullets. Because they are inexpensive, I have been using plated bullets in my handloads for many years, but I’ve got to admit that I had never put them on paper until now. Were my eyes opened! After three shots, I put down the gun and walked down to the target to find only one hole! Not because they were that accurate, but rather that in-accurate! Apparently, they were spraying all over the place.

Remington Factory 165 gr. FMJ

Handloads with Berry's plated bullets

I had always loaded them as if they were FMJs, but Berry’s will tell you to load them light, as if they were lead-heads. The plated bullets were simply not taking the rifling. Since then, I’ve only shot factory FMJ through this gun.

As far as reliability goes, my experience with the Sub2K has probably been something like 98%. I’ve had a couple of jams, but I can get through most of our competitions without issues. When I’m doing my part, the gun just rocks. However, in the last two of our shoots that I’ve run it, I’ve ended up in the cellar of the Pistol Caliber Carbine class – dead last. Don’t blame the gun though.

For example, in the last Midweek Evening shoot we had, I actually had the best time of the field in two out of the five stages.

All it took was screwing up one stage. It was a reload stage, and I grabbed one of my 9mm mags for my pistol and slammed it in. I realized what I had done before dropping the bolt. I removed the 9-mag, and found my .40 mag in another pocket. But all that extra time killed me for that stage, and for the match.

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