Kel-Tek has a history of making innovative, inexpensive firearms, and the SUB2000 is no exception. Other than firing out of an 18.5″ barrel to meet Canadian requirements for unrestricted long arms, this rifle is exactly the same as the American version. **December 2017 Update: Check out my new review on the Sub-2000 Gen 2. Better photos, better review. **
The most innovative feature most will notice first is the way the rifle folds right in the middle to store or transport more easily. The barrel, chamber, and fore end rotate IP and over the back end of the rifle to essentially cut the overall length in half. While folded, the rifle is inoperable, and locks at the front sight by means of a special key supplied by Kel-Tek. Once unlocked, a small button can be moved to the side to release the front sight and enable the user to rotate the rifle back to normal working order. The trigger guard can be pulled forward to unlock the rifle to be folded and stowed away again. That trigger guard can snap shut on your fingers as you unfold the rifle, so be careful.
Operations ergonomics on the SUB2000 can be hit or miss. Because of concessions to the folding capability and cost, some ergonomics have been clearly overlooked. The charging handle, the way it locks, the way the bolt doesn’t stay open after the last round, the contortionist safety, sharp plastic, short pistol grip and prior mentioned snapping trigger guard make some operations less than second nature. Other operations on the rifle are brilliant, pragmatic solutions. The aperture sight in particular looks kinda dumpy, but feels fantastic in use. The medium size of the aperture opening directly matches the front sight hood, making quick shots easy. It felt really natural shooting and I’d be hard pressed to come up with as good a firing solution than what they have used here.
Not really what you’d expect from a synthetic stock rifle these days. There are plenty of sharp plastic edges, the plastic used is very hard, and the front sight locking solution is a bit hokey. The front sight is a marvel of low cost engineering, offering wind age and yardage adjustment for what must be $1 worth of parts. While it’s not exactly confidence inspiring, the front sight system will probably handle the light recoil that this rifle generates.
The 9mm pistol round in the long barrel gave very little recoil and a snap barely louder than a 22LR. I took this rifle out to shoot rabbits, and it was an absolute pleasure. The light weight meant that almost any carrying grip would be fine while the peep sight came up and on target quickly for multiple, accurate follow up shots. This rifle is brilliant for short range, quick action bush hunting like the kind you’d find with hunting rabbits. When you add the inexpensive 9mm round, which I reload for pennies per round, you can plink away at targets for hours without feeling like you’re shooting hundreds of dollars into a backstop.
I was a little incredulous when I first saw this rifle. I saw the design concessions, the hard cheap plastic, and the folding plastic peep, and thought that the combination would keep it from any use. I was wrong. The $500 it costs for this lightweight pistol caliber carbine like is unmatchable here in Canada, and in a very select group of firearms in the US. If it were more expensive, I’d have to give this carbine 3 stars, but considering the price, it’s a solid 4 out of 5.