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REVIEW: Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm: The Home Defender

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Many choose a pistol-caliber-carbine for the critical role of “home defense gun.” The author thinks this one is an outstanding choice! READ WHY

sub 2000

Wilburn Roberts

I am certain that I will never be accused of failing to make an honest comment when warranted. Some years ago a friend bought an Uzi carbine and thought it was the best thing in the world for home defense. I disagreed completely. The trigger action was too heavy to allow good accuracy and it was difficult to get hits with on the combat range.

The real thing — short-barrel, full-auto Uzi — is another matter. So is the Thompson SMG. They served a real purpose in house-to-house fighting. The semi-auto versions with 16-inch barrels are inferior to the shotgun for home defense and also to the AR-15 carbine. The purpose-built 9mm carbines such as the Beretta Storm and even the High Point carbine are also better choices.

Easy to use well and with decent triggers, these firearms are not collectible, but they serve a real purpose. Many shooters find a handgun a difficult firearm to master. Considerable time and effort, as well as expense, is involved. In the end, you’ll have a firearm that isn’t as accurate or powerful as a shotgun or rifle. The answer for many is a pistol-caliber-carbine.

sub 2000
The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is a neat package and potentially a life saver.

The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 dispenses with virtually all of the problems of the semi-automatic SMG and is a neat trick compared to the best of the current competing 9mm carbines. The SUB 2000 isn’t heavy, has a usable trigger, and it is a feathery-light firearm that handles quickly.

You have to aim it carefully. You cannot use the “figure eight tactic” or the “shoot through” that were developed for fully-automatic shoulder-fired firearms. But it still has a much higher hit probability than a handgun, especially in the hands of the less experienced shooter. On a purely personal defense basis, the 9mm carbine is more effective than any 9mm handgun based on handling and accuracy potential. But there is more to the equation.

sub 2000
A pebble grained grip offers excellent adhesion and abrasion.

The 16-inch barrel carbine also develops greater velocity with a given load than the same chambering in a pistol. The powder burns more completely and the long barrel results in nearly complete combustion. I did not detect muzzle flash with any load tested in evaluating the Kel-Tec Sub 2000.

The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is a great carbine for carry in the vehicle for an emergency and practically an ideal home defense firearm. It isn’t as versatile as an AR-15 .223 carbine. The 9mm carbine isn’t well suited to long range shooting or hunting, and it certainly isn’t a varmint rifle. But what it can do, it does very well.

The SUB 2000 is hinged in front and pivots to fold to a neat 16 inches. Unfolded, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is at 30 inches with just over 16 inches of 9mm barrel. There are rails top and bottom for mounting a red dot or laser, plus adding a combat light on the lower rail.

sub 2000
Compatibility with Glock magazines is a big plus for this 9mm carbine.

The SUB 2000 is a straight blowback action like a .22; it isn’t gas-operated. Common sense would suggest that the heaviest loads would batter the rifle, but it never stuttered with +P loads. The Sub 2000 uses Glock magazines, and there are versions for other magazines. This makes for easy magazine availability and is a big bonus if you already own a Glock 9mm.

The SUB 2000 folds easily by releasing the trigger guard and folding the rifle into the storage position. When the rifle is folded, the front sight is snapped into a catch on the SUB 2000 stock. This catch must be released to return the carbine back to its firing position.

The polymer frame and grip are durable, and the grip is comfortable. The trigger action is spongy and would be difficult to control in a handgun, but presents far less difficulty in a carbine due to leverage. The magazine release is easy to use. The gun features a simple cross-bolt safety.

sub 2000
Firing from a braced vehicle firing position the Kel-Tec featured good accuracy and authoritative power.

The Kel-Tec SUB 2000 uses a peep rear sight and bold protected front post. It takes practice to be able to quickly focus on the sight and align it. Perhaps the rear aperture could be a little wider. However, the sights are adequately precise and are regulated properly for 115- to 124-grain ammunition. The front sight allows windage and elevation adjustment. The rifle is supplied with a Magpul magazine but, as said, accepts standard Glock magazines.

I fired the Kel-Tec SUB 2000 for handling, speed, accuracy, and reliability. I put over 500 cartridges through without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. I used SIG Sauer 115-grain FMJ and also 124- and 147-grain SIG ammo. Personal defense ammunition included the Hornady 115-grain XTP and Hornady 147-grain XTP.

At 20 yards, I fired a magazine full of the 124-grain SIG load into a group that measured less than 4 inches. This group was fired as quickly as I could press the trigger after regaining the sight. In slow fire, firing from a braced position, I was able to fire several 5-shot groups of less than 2 inches. While there are handguns this accurate, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm carbine is much easier to fire with this degree of accuracy. Speed to a good first hit and follow-up shots were excellent; there’s very little recoil and sight movement during firing.

As I’ve been leading up to all along, this is a great choice for a pistol-caliber-carbine. The owner must consider the specific role the firearm will be placed in. For home defense, for those who have difficulty with the handgun or shotgun, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 carbine is an outstanding choice. For area defense on larger properties, the carbine is easily stowed and carried. The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is one of the neatest tricks on the market.

Ammunition Performance
I have tested pistol caliber carbines in the past, and I am familiar with the advantages of a longer barrel when using standard pistol ammunition. However, the performance of the loads tested was exceptional. I tested the Hornady American Gunner 124-grain XTP +P first. A 5-shot group at 20 yards measured two inches. Fired in a Glock 17 pistol on hand, the Hornady load averaged 1,180 fps. In the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 velocity was 1,409 fps. This is excellent velocity putting the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 in a different category than any 9mm pistol.

sub 2000 specs

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