Before the February invasion of Ukraine, an American gun company known as KelTec received an order for 400 Sub 2000 carbines. As initially reported by the AP, the company lost contact with the initial customer but still had the rifles waiting for export.
After the invasion occurred, Adrian Kellgren, a former Navy pilot and now the director of industrial production at KelTec, felt a need to do something to help the Ukrainian people.
So, KelTec decided to donate the rifles to the Ukrainian cause. They could expedite the export/import paperwork and get the rifles approved to ship in a mere four days. While plenty of outlets have covered this event, today, we plan to dive into the rifle itself and see what makes this little carbine so different.
The KelTec Sub 2000 in real life
Believe it or not, I’m a fan of this platform. I’ve owned some form of this rifle for over a decade now and originally owned the first generation of the system. KelTec currently produces the second generation of this platform, and I have one on hand.
KelTec famously doesn’t produce your typical firearms. They have a good bit of imagination and engineering prowess to make the odd a reality.
The KelTec Sub 2000 is a 9mm carbine that has the unique ability to fold in half. The barrel folds rearward, cutting the gun’s overall length in half. It’s very simple, and while it sounds crazy takes only seconds to fold and unfold. Unfolded, the rifle is between 29.25 to 30.5 inches long, depending on the position of the adjustable stock. Folded, the length shrinks to 16.25 inches. In terms of weight, the little guns weigh 4.25 pounds.
The barrel is 16.25 inches long. That’s long for a 9mm carbine and is a by-product of an American firearms law restricting barrel length to above 16 inches without an ATF-issued tax stamp. The rifles come in both 9mm and 40 S&W, but the variants shipped to Ukraine were the 9mm models.
Simple, light, and effective
The weapon uses a very simple blowback-operated design. The blowback design requires a heavy bolt and stiff spring and imparts a rather hefty amount of recoil for a 9mm cartridge. That being said, it’s really contextual. It’s a lot of recoil for a 9mm, but not a lot of recoil compared to other guns on the market. It’s mild and easily comparable to a 5.56 caliber rifle.
This simplistic design has long been the standard for pistol-caliber rifles and submachine guns, as it’s very simple, reliable, and effective. The Sub 2000 has a magazine placed in the pistol grip, much like a handgun. The platform has numerous different designs which allow it to use popular handgun magazines. Some rifles can take Glock mags, some can take Smith and Wesson mags, and others can take SIG mags and more.
The Gen 2 models feature a railed handguard with M-LOK slots for adding various accessories. Adding optics can be tricky if you wish to retain the folding nature of the gun. You need a fancy, aftermarket folding optics mount like the one you see in my example above. The stock has three positions for different lengths and multiple sling points.
The Sub 2000 rifles ship with a set of iron sights that are simple but effective. It’s a peep-sight setup with a front post very similar to the M4/M16 series of rifles. Gen 2 models also feature a threaded barrel and tend to work exceptionally well for suppressed use.
Perfect for guerilla warfare
The KelTec Sub 2000 seems to be a decently popular platform in Ukraine. I’ve seen a few pictures of the Sub 2000 in the hands of Ukrainian citizens in defensive positions. It’s a simple and affordable rifle, so it’s likely a popular choice. Should Ukraine turn into a full-on guerilla warfare situation, the little rifle could be quite handy.
The rifle’s ability to be stored and easily hidden in a backpack, briefcase, or elsewhere makes it easy to disappear with. In a hit-and-run attack, a Ukrainian can attack with the weapon, engage, then fold the rifle and put it away.
The Sub 2000 is fairly controllable and easy to shoot, even for an amateur. This makes it easy to equip someone without military training, and they can effectively use the rifle – or at least more effectively than an AK or Tavor.
While the weapon might be well suited for specific niche attacks, it’s still not a proper rifle. The use of a pistol cartridge limits its overall performance. Further, its max range of 100 yards makes it tough to engage in anything but close-quarters fighting. Lastly, pistol rounds lack the ability to penetrate armor of any kind and suck against hard cover.
Ultimately, I think the Sub 2000 would work well like an M1 Carbine. It’s light and easy to tote while being more capable than a handgun. Give it to truck drivers, artillerymen, and similar support and second-line personnel.
From Florida to Ukraine, with love
The fact the KelTec Sub 2000 arms Ukrainian fighters is fascinating to me. It’s such a niche weapon with a dedicated American fanbase that it will be interesting to see how it performs.
It’s not a perfect weapon for warfare but could be a great firearm for second-line troops and support personnel. Will the Sub 2000 be the next M1 Carbine? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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