Even if you’re not much of a fan of Kel-Tec, there’s a good chance you’ve seen, or at least heard of their folding pistol caliber carbine, the Sub-2000. With an MSRP of $409, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is an inexpensive alternative to AR-15s and pricier “tactical” rifles for someone on a budget. But if you’ve looked around for one lately, you may have noticed that the Sub-2000 is pretty tough to come by. And if you do happen to find one for sale, the price will most likely be closer to $500 for the .40 S&W version, and 100 bucks more for 9mm.

Before we start trying to figure out why a funny looking rifle from a company with a dubious reputation is in such high demand, here’s a quick overview of the Sub-2000 to get you up to speed:

What’s the Appeal of the Kel-Tec Sub-2000?

Okay, so it’s probably pretty obvious from the video that I’m not the biggest fan of the Sub-2000. To be honest, I don’t actually hate the rifle, and I hold no ill will toward Kel-Tec, even if I think the Sub-2000 has some pretty obvious faults. I actually think some of the modified Sub-2000 rifles out there are pretty cool, especially when paired with the Red Lion Precision rotating forend.

The owner of this Kel-Tec Sub-2000 added accessory rails to the sides and bottom of the foreend. These modifications are common since the stock rifle has no provision for mounting accessories.
The owner of this Kel-Tec Sub-2000 added accessory rails to the sides and bottom of the foreend. These modifications are common since the stock rifle offers few provisions for mounting accessories.

But once you pay for all the extra do-dads to upgrade the Sub-2000 so that it has the same features and usability that most self-defense carbines give you out of the box (accessory rails, usable sights, stock cheekpiece, optics mounting solution, etc), you’ve kind of negated the low price point advantage to some extent. Since people seem so willing to pay well over MSRP for this rifle, it can’t be the low retail price that’s attracting people to the Sub-2000. So I did some poking around to see if I could find out from fans of the Sub-2000 what the mystery is behind this rifle that’s keeping demand so high, and I think it boils down to four main reasons:

1. The Price

Okay, forget all that stuff about the price not being the big selling point. Despite high demand driving up prices on the secondary market, the Sub-2000 still occupies an important niche in the market.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000 folded
When folded, the Sub-2000 is only 7″ tall and 16″ long.

There aren’t a ton of options available for semi-auto pistol caliber carbines, especially if you stick with current production models. The ~$250 Hi-Point 995 Carbine is at the low end of the price spectrum, but it might actually be even uglier than the Sub-2000 and… well, it’s a Hi-Point. On the other end, there are high-dollar offerings like the Kriss Vector and FN PS90 that cost more than a fully equipped top-shelf AR-15, or the Colt AR9651 which basically is an AR-15, with the price tag to match. Somewhere in the middle is the Beretta CX4 in the $700 range. There are a few other obscure options from smaller companies, and some out of production carbines, but that’s just about all there is from the major manufacturers.

This is Not Tactical
The Sub-2000 is light and quick handling at only 4 lbs. Bolting on cheap and bulky accessories kills the best part of this rifle and makes the Sub-2000 cry tactical matte black tears of sadness.

Even with an inflated aftermarket price, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 offers an attractive mid-range option that’s been left vacant ever since Marlin ended production of their Camp Carbine in the late 90s and Ruger stopped making the Police Carbine in the last decade. With a price tag anywhere from $350-600, it’s high enough that buyers feel like they’re out of the sketchy “bargain basement” territory, but low enough to be more affordable than even a budget-level AR-15.

2. Common Magazines

For reasons known only to Gaston Glock himself, there is still no official Glock carbine on the market, despite plenty of demand. In the absence of a Glock-made carbine, Kel-Tec has given Glock pistol owners another use for their scores of affordable magazines with the Sub-2000. And if you’re not a Glock fan, fear not. A second version of the Sub-2000 is available that can be adapted to accept either the plentiful Smith & Wesson 59-series magazines, Beretta 92/96 series, or Sig P226 mags. And if you’re willing to tinker around and experiment, I’m sure there are plenty of other magazine types out there that will fit into the mag well of a Sub-2000.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000 safety
The Sub-2000 features a cross-bolt style safety button.

By taking advantage of the magazines that customers already have for their handguns, the Sub-2000 side-steps one of the largest contributors to the overall cost of ownership of a new rifle. Instead of waiting for Glock to put out their own carbine, it makes sense that some people would be willing to pay a few bucks over retail for a Sub-2000 that will use mags from their pistol of choice.

3. The Kel-Tec Sub-2000 Folds!

In last Tuesday’s post, I talked about the usefulness of takedown rifles. The Sub-2000 technically isn’t a takedown, but the ability to fold it in half offers many of the same advantages. It also doesn’t hurt that folding and unfolding the carbine is extremely quick and easy to do.

Sub-2000 unlock
The trigger guard is pulled down and forward in order to unlock and fold the front half of the rifle.

I’ve been aware of the Sub-2000 for years, but I didn’t really “get” the appeal of this feature until I handled one in person. When folded, it’s super compact. It could fit in my laptop bag, even with the laptop already in there. I have no reason to actually do this, but if I had one of these rifles, I’d be trying to find an excuse to, just because I could. Say what you want about the Sub-2000’s looks, or Kel-Tec’s reputation, there’s no other pistol caliber carbine on the market that can do this.

Sub-2000 folding
The round thingy in the heel of the stock fits in the hole thingy on the front sight block, locking the carbine in the folded position until the release lever is activated.

4. Production Lag

The final and most obvious reason for the inflated prices of the Sub-2000 is simple supply and demand. Kel-Tec just isn’t making the Sub-2000 fast enough to keep up with the demand from customers. The same can be said for their PMR-30 pistol or KSG shotgun and several of their other products. This article does a great job of explaining the why behind Kel-Tec’s constant lag in output. It basically comes down to the fact that the folks running Kel-Tec refuse to go into debt in order to increase their production capacity. Because today’s demand for their products could vanish the moment they take out a big loan, they’ve decided to wait until they have the cash on hand before doing any major expansions. They have been building more facilities and hiring more staff, but this policy slows expansion plans dramatically, further contributing to the lack of supply of their more popular products.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000 charging handle
The Sub-2000’s charging handle is on the bottom of the tube portion of the stock. This is the opposite of user-friendly.

So there you have it; there’s no conspiracy or secret plot to artificially drive up the market price on the Sub-2000. It’s just the result of simple economic principles at work. I’m not saying you should buy one… I’m not even saying you should like it, but the Sub-2000 is a truly unique little carbine. After spending some time with one, I definitely understand the appeal, and if I didn’t already own a 9mm carbine (Beretta CX4), I have to admit that I might be tempted to join the scores of buyers paying 25% over retail.

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  • David Monroe

    Have a .40sw version and am a big fan. Accurate and I like the crossover magazines and caliber for pistol and carbine.

  • Gerald Clauson

    I have the Glock 9mm. Once your used to them, the stock sights are fine, and Kel-tec gives excellent customer service. Just as another gun company knocked by the author, Hi-point. I have a hi-point carbine, one of the first, and it has never had a failure due to the weapon. Ever

  • Sean Cronin

    I won the version that takes Beretta mags. Which was great,as I have a CX4. And 92fs. I barely shoot the Keltec. But it does work. I kept it in the trunk of my car for ages.

  • Brad McClain

    Love mine. It’s the .40 and it fits in a backpack.

  • Shawn Sullivan

    I have this rifle and it is a lot of fun! There are a few practical reasons to own one. First, if you need a carbine that is highly compact ( ie bugout bag or storage in a vehicle). Second if you are teaching someone to use a semiauto rifle and they are afraid or recoil adverse this is a great teaching tool.

    • John Barton

      In general, Kel-Tec gear is all-around good. They’ve a variety of carbines and some nice .223’s.

    • Aaron Frank

      John Barton I’ve seen their shotguns break within 12 shots…more than once

  • David Van Gessel

    Where can I get one?

  • Nathaniel Thoburn Fitch

    How can you stand the CX4 when you have a beard? I found it to be a total beard-eater.

    • LG Chris

      It is indeed a beard eater. I have a DeSantis buttstock mag pouch on mine that covers all the beard eating parts. Unfortunately, I think that item has been discontinued.

  • Evan Macdonald

    I also have a glock 17 version. Paid 200 bux I think or 250 for it from a buddy and I’m very happy with it. Never had a single issue, added some rails, a light and a battle blade and it never leaves my trunk.

  • Matthew Redmill

    A fun gun,I have beretta config,adds 200 fps to you’re 9mm

  • Chuck Eskenazi

    I have the 9mm version with all the bells and whistle and love it, fun to shoot and a great bug out gun.

  • Michael Armstrong

    I paid 350 for it in glock 9mm.

    • Dan Myers

      I’ll give you 400 for it.

    • Michael Armstrong

      I’ve got 250 in mods on it 550 600 is what I’d have to take for it. Send me a FR if interested I’ll send pics

    • Cos Massimino

      Where did you get it for 350

    • Cos Massimino

      Michael Armstrong Also could you send me pictures of yours that is for sale. And also point out all the options you added.

    • Moyo Mitchell

      I paid $400 for mine when I bought it. Took a year to get from the manufacturer.

    • Kenny Stone

      Cos Massimino Whittaker Guns has the 9mm & 40cal for $339

  • John Krzos


    I have the one that takes .40 Glock mags, great compliment to my Glock 22’s. It is presently in my BOB. I love it. A friend has one in 9MM and regularly puts them in the black at 100 yards.

  • Thomas P. Salley

    I have had mine for 13 years. It goes places nothing else will while giving me an accurate 125 + yard reach. Mine stays in a laptop bag as a trunk gun and can easily be toted around town incognito. My 9mm Glock magazine collection works well with it and when loaded with the 31 rounders makes a great bullet hose. Its just the ticket to use at most indoor ranges that prohibit rifle calibers and makes a fine three gun carbine for those matches with limited ranges. At about 2000 rounds my carbine did need a pin repaired. The factory took care of it as my early model did not have an updated heat treated hammer pin. Since then a real pleasure to own and shoot.

  • Bart Katz

    I have one of the original SUB 9’s. I take it with me on trips as it is discreetly carried in as standard attache case. Never had a problem with any Kel-tec products.

  • Jason Evans

    I paid $500 for my sub 2000 9mm. I did get 2 15 and 2 30 round clips with a case and 3 boxes of ammo. Its the first firearm I’ve ever owned. I’m very pleased with it.

  • Kent Keller II

    I love my Sub2k 9mm Glock. Best bang for the buck. Just hard to find. Get on Gun Broker if you have to. They are under $500 right now. Last year during the craze they were $900+

  • Melody M. Everett-Neddo

    ooohhh I want one!!

    • Melody M. Everett-Neddo

      my birthday is this week if anyone wants to put this on their gift list?? LOL JK

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  • Curtis Johnson

    I have one in the 40 cal version. Perfect saddlebag carbine! Love it. Made a mount under the barrel for a laser so I can run and gun if needed. Plus I carved out the bottom of the stock so I can transport an additional15 round Glock magazine in the front stock. This means I can carry 30 rounds in one package with the carbine folded. Kel Tec also makes a butt stock mag holder but I think it’s ugly. Plus I have a Sten Gun pouch with 3 – 30 round magazines for backup if the two 15 round mags aren’t enough in a SHTF situation. Be happy to post some pictures of the spare mag if anyone is interested.

    • Johnny k

      I want to see

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  • Seth Leighton

    i have 2 and the su9 its heavier but it rocks never had ftf maybe 5 in 1000 rd on both the 40 glocks i live maine in wood s alot spec spring up north bear and more dangerous mother mosse

  • Brian Earle

    Many don’t know that Kel Tec fell behind on orders a couple years ago as well because they were being sabotaged from within by an anti gunner who was messing up paper work and destroying orders and files. This had to add to their back log and have a domino effect lasting a long time. I asked why they didn’t prosecute the “women” who did this. They felt it would be in their best interest to take the high road and just fire her! Anything pertaining to fire arms is federally controlled and I think feel I wouldn’t have been so nice! As of a few weeks ago they are back ordered 55k units.

  • David Sanders

    The reasons I have one 1) it fits in a briefcase or a backpack, 2) it fits in a briefcase or a backpack… and did I mention it fits in a briefcase or a backpack???

    • Lee Fobes

      my pistol fits in my pocket.

      • Brandon

        And when you pull your pistol out of your pocket can you unfold it and fire it from the shoulder? Comparing a compact rifle to a pocket pistol is a tad ridiculous.

    • Roy Adamson

      It fits nicely in the saddle bags of a motorcycle.

  • Seth Leighton

    these things are msrp for 300 that S WHATS JOKE PAY 500 FOR THEM

    • Timothy Curtis

      msrp is $409

  • Stephen Bozich

    A company doesn’t have to go into debt to increase their production capabilities, so I don’t even know why you’d include that here.

    • Kyler Burton

      “A company” might not. But Kel-Tec might. Explain to everyone how Kel-tec should run their business, please.

  • Aaron Frank

    saw one of these for sale at my local range yesterday…$450 new with a lifetime warranty from the range.

  • Cos Massimino

    I picked up a sub 2000 and would like to see a pic. of how you carved ? out stock for added mag. if you can.

  • Richard Durivage

    Aside from the folding feature and the Glock magazine to me it looks more like a warmed over British Sten gun of WWll

  • Vinny Badagliacca

    Coolest little backpack for shtf your bug out or exploring and hunting. This thing is no toy. If you put a 33 Rd mag in it, a mini pro light and later combo, you have major firepower for home protection. Downside is all the mods you need. If the made picatinny rails on this little gun, it would sell milllions

  • John Comeau

    ordered a 9mm in Jan.2014 from a dealer in N.H.. it will be one year soon does anyone know the actual wait time???

  • George Vilardi

    If you are a LEO it retired LEO. Kel Tec will build one for you. May take up to 8 months or so. Re sale may be a violation.

    • Alfonso

      How can I get them to make me one?

  • Bill Steinhagen

    I have one I want to sell.

    • Phil Cotham Sr.

      I want it 325 203 3895

  • Andrew Vanskiver

    I got the hard chrome s & w 9 mm for 330 at a gun sale at a legion. Love the thing

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  • wooohoooo

    Gen two being made and apparently they will double the production speed. Gonna sell my gen 1 for a gen 2.

    • spurstraps

      can I buy your gen 1?

  • http://www.fbi.gov/ Right Direction

    Where can I purchase a Sub 2000 Gen-2 ?

    • fartsandwich

      Not on a discussion chain, for an article almost a year old…

  • gunguy

    Keltec has been around the block – anybody heard of intratec they made the kg99 ab10 same as Keltec but they get a bad rap for being affordable but there also some of the best firearms if you know about guns

    Ab10,kg99 – got bad raps for school shootings and and other shootouts the company shut down in 94 after a lot of lawsuits

    PF9 – Trayvon Martin was shot with this gun, the gun owners Fault doesn’t even deserve to get a mention.

    They make very nice guns it’s just guys don’t read manuals ao they jam and or kids get a hold of these guns because there cheap and there parents bought them and didn’t know how to lock there guns up or hide them, or just dumb owners who don’t know how to keep there guns up at the right time

    Keltec’s are great guns I’d trust my life with same one