New Year, New Gun: KelTec Sub2000 Gen3

The first new gun for 2024 is the third generation of the KelTec Sub2000.

Announced the morning of Jan 1, the new folding carbine offers a range of upgrades from prior generations while still maintaining the bulk of the features that have made it so popular.

What Is the SUB2000?

In simple terms, the SUB2000 is a pistol caliber carbine designed to fold for compact storage and carry.

author shooting keltex sub2000 gen2 rifle
The author testing a second generation KelTec SUB2000 carbine chambered in 9mm.

The rifles have been in production for more than two decades, and they have proved to be quite popular with American shooters.

I’ve had a chance to shoot both the original and second generation guns, and I found both to be reliable long arms that have an interesting place as survival rifles. For a pilot packing a survival bag or a mom wanting some additional protection in her trunk’s emergency gear, the gun makes a lot of sense.

However, the guns were not perfect. While each gun I shot was reliable and accurate, they did suffer from the inability to easily add a red dot or other optic.

The second generation KelTec PCC was an improvement over the original gun, but it still had shortcomings.

Also, adding a suppressor or muzzle brake was somewhat limited due to the front sight assembly’s proximity to the threading.

While aftermarket manufacturers have jumped in to assist shooters with rifle customizations, none of the solutions ever “felt right” to me. All of them, even the best of them, felt like workarounds. And I guess they were.

Third Generation SUB2000

KelTec is not designing guns in a bubble. I’m sure they have received countless letters and emails regarding making changes to the rifles. It seems they listened and looks to have delivered a real winner.

The most prominent new feature is the way the gun folds. In the past, the rifle simply hinged backward, folding on itself. While this worked well, it precluded the use of any optic.

keltec sub2000 gen3 folded with optic.jpg
The new KelTec rifle features an easier to use charging handle knob and a twisting motion that takes the optic to the side when folded.

To fold the gun now, you use a twist-and-fold motion that rotates the upper assembly while folding the gun. The rotation ensures the top Picatinny rail – where the optic would be mounted – faces to the side instead of toward the gun’s stock. That allows for a red dot or scope to remain attached to the gun without any modification.

KelTec also updated the gun’s action. The SUB2000 Gen3 has a lighter action which allows for easier operation of the bolt. You can “rack” the gun or lock the bolt open with less force now. This, I suspect, will be appreciated by a lot of people as the old system had a recoil spring that was quite stout.

The third generation PCC is quickly identifiable without the deprecated front sight post.

Speaking of the operating handle, it has been redesigned to provide a better, more comfortable grip. Also, the hold open notches are ambidextrous to allow for more efficient use by folks who are left-handed.

KelTec also upgraded the trigger assembly. The trigger itself is a new aluminum model with improved mechanics. According to the company, the pull weight is lighter that previous models. It is supposed to come in at about 5 pounds. This puts it into the same range as a striker-fired defensive pistol like the Springfield Echelon or Glock 17.

The company also states the trigger has a smoother pull with “more precise feedback.” KelTec suggests practical accuracy should be improved because of this.

A smaller new feature is a loaded chamber indicator. While this is largely a useless feature, it doesn’t impact reliability in any meaningful way. It does, however, suggest the company may be looking at getting this rifle into the state of California? We will see.

Guns will initially be offered only in 9mm and will accept Glock 19 and Glock 17 magazines. Prior KelTec SUB2000 guns were available in .40 S&W and compatibility with other pistol magazines. I suspect the company will not offer those options on this rifle, but I hope I am proved wrong.

The MSRP of the KelTec SUB2000 GEN3 is $499, which is pretty darn reasonable in this economy. I suspect demand will outpace production for the coming months.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.