Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc, of Florida introduced its slick little SUB-2000 self-loading carbine in 2001. Chambered for the 9x19mm cartridge, the SUB-2000 was both lightweight at four pounds, and small. I suppose one could describe the gun as small and smaller, as it essentially folds in half from an overall length of 29.5 inches down to just 16 inches. The SUB-2000’s glass-filled polymer receiver, handguard, and other components shaved off some weight, but the mainspring housing, bolt, barrel, and small parts remained steel.One of the SUB-2000’s salient features is being able to use 9mm ammunition magazines from Glock, Beretta, Smith & Wesson, or SIG 9mm pistols, even the high-capacity versions. Another is that the barrel can instantly be unlocked by the trigger guard to fold up and back over the receiver with the front sight held by a detent in the butt, allowing the SUB-2000 to remain “safe” even with a loaded magazine inserted.
As a police officer, I liked to keep the SUB-2000 in its case with the bolt locked open, a loaded magazine inserted, and the push-button safety ON. To make the gun ready, I merely had to swing the barrel back into the battery position, “hit” the bolt hold-open handle position (MP5 style), and it was ready to deploy, complete with its open sights.
A number of accessories were mounted onto the SUB-2000 carbine over the years, including handguards with rails to make such additions easier. Now these accessories have taken the SUB-2000 to another level, thanks to RAS Engineering, Inc (RASE), of Melbourne, Florida, not far from Kel-Tec. Called the SU2000-SS, the last two letters denote “short” and “suppressed.”With co-operation from Kel-Tec, the SU2000-SS is a conversion of the factory version consisting of three main modifications. First, after both sights are removed, the factory handguard is replaced with a tubular aircraft alloy handguard from Red Lion Precision LLC, of Red Lion, Pennsylvania. This handguard measures 9 3/8 inches with 5¼-inch rails, as made especially for RASE. The barrel is cut to 6.5 inches and threaded to 1/2×28. The barrel will then accept the 9mm Evolution Suppressor made by Advanced Armament Corp of Lawrenceville, Georgia.
The Red Lion tube handguard comes with three rails that can be mounted on the right, left, or top of the handguard.
Before the barrel is folded back, a handguard nut must be unscrewed about three rotations to allow the handguard to be rotated 180 degrees that the top rail is at six o’clock. The barrel can then be unlocked by pulling down on the trigger guard and folded back over the gun for storage. The nut is rotated back only enough to keep the handguard from rotating.
To deploy the SU2000-SS, the handguard and barrel are folded back over just enough to loosen the nut, rotate the handguard back with the top rail on top, tighten the nut, and snap the barrel back into battery position. This may sound complicated, but it can be accomplished in about six seconds with any sights or other accessories already in place.
The AAC suppressor remains mounted on the barrel with about half its 7.7-inch length inside the handguard. As such, the shortened barrel and the Evolution suppressor give the SU2000-SS an overall length of just 14 inches folded and 26 inches extended! The 9mm AAC Evolution Suppressor, however, is not just for the SU2000-SS.
Offered in several calibers, the Evolution Suppressor comes with a Nielsen Device, or booster, so that it can be used on semiautomatic pistols, in this case 9mm.
In a Nielsen Device, when a pistol is fired, expanding gases enter an initial chamber containing a large coil spring. Being semi-independent of the suppressor body, the chamber is the first to receive the gases, and this causes the entire chamber to move rearward. Since it is the booster that is screwed onto the muzzle, it moves to the rear, giving extra recoil to the barrel and thus to the slide.
The Evolution Suppressor comes with a disassembly tool, a booster spring and a block that replaces the spring to prevent the booster action when used with a fixed barrel. In either case, the Evolution Suppressor produces a dB reduction of -34 dry and -41dBs when used with water.
Since the SU2000-SS comes without sights, we need to select what kind would maintain the gun’s light weight while allowing fast, accurate shots. A logical answer seemed to be a tiny Vortex Razor Red Dot Sight and LaserMax Micro Laser—one for use in good light and the other for low light. With the placement of sights so limited, the LaserMax Micro Laser was mounted on the front of the top rail and the Vortex Razor immediately behind it.The Vortex Razor proved to be very fast to get on target, especially movers, moving quickly from one to the next. I prefer to look over my laser sights with my head held just above even if I also have a standard sight, which was not the case here. With eyes above, I can see everything going on peripherally while concentrating on the laser dot. Put the dot on target and press.
But lasers and red dots can’t identify a target. I wanted a rugged light, with sufficient lumens yet very lightweight. Coming to the rescue was a light I had been shown in preproduction form by Manta Rail at the 2016 SHOT Show. Manta had subsequently teamed with LaserMax for this light, and I received one of the first samples to use on the SU2000-SS.
Called the LaserMax Manta-Ray, this 1.8-ounce rechargeable light provides 140 lumens and uses the Manta Rail instant mounting system with an ergonomic built-in pressure pad, making it just about perfect to be activated by the support thumb on a side rail. It has both momentary and constant-on functions.
The gun proved itself in conjunction with the Manta-Ray, Micro Laser, and Vortex out to more than 25 yards in the dark. Plus, with all the above accessories, it weighs just five pounds! If targets were too far to be identified by the Manta-Ray, they were deemed to be beyond the effective range of the gun.
A more powerful light would extend the gun’s useful range, but also add weight.
The SU2000-SS was fired with a selection of 9x19mm ammunition in various makes and with muzzle velocities running from 900 to 1,250 fps with Black Hills 115-grain to Federal 150-grain HST loads. In all cases, the Evolution Suppressor eliminated or greatly dampened muzzle blast with only slight transonic noise with the faster bullets.Only factory loads were used, and malfunctions with any brands were few. Recoil was mild in my view, and the Evolution’s slight extra weight probably helped that, but the gun was not fired with the can off for comparison.
Generally, cutting a 9mm barrel from 16 to 6½ inches results in a muzzle velocity loss of from 150 to 200 fps. Adding a suppressor reduces that loss by perhaps 10 to 15% depending on elevation, temperature, and other environmental factors. Of course a suppressor increases the muzzle velocity, but I would not want to have to use the SU2000-SS much beyond 75 yards. Not because it is not accurate at that distance, but because the 9x19mm’s effective range begins to diminish.
For accuracy testing, we used a Leupold 2X Extended Eye Relief (Scout Scope), and from the bench at 50 yards, five-shot groups of 3.5 inches were possible, but the red dot opened them up to about five inches. Even with its five-plus-pound two-stage trigger, we could make off-hand hits on steel silhouettes at 100 yards. Shooting smaller targets that far with this gun is tough unless it can be supported.
Most important in any firearm is reliability, and that includes ammunition selection and practice, while praying that you never have to use it for real! Our ammo selection worked fine.
Designed with stealth in mind, the SU2000-SS would be especially useful for plainclothes officers or motorcycle officers, where it could remain protected and out of sight in saddle bags unless needed in response to a crime in progress. For such roles, it could prove more effective than many options.
KEL-TEC CNC INDUSTRIES, INC.