Next Christmas gifts – Kel-Tec SU-16 and SU-22 semi-automatic rifles
PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Some people dismiss Kel-Tec weapons as “utilitarian” (as if there was something wrong with that). By all accounts, this Florida-based manufacturer doesn’t always pay attention to the shiny appearance of the weapon that beckons some shooters. But it’s hard to deny the practicality and originality of the Kel-Tec weapon, which company founder George Kellgren has been hard at work on for years.
For example, in the early 2000s, Kel-Tec’s miniature and innovative P-3AT pistol spearheaded the offensive of subcompact pistols, and was subsequently copied many times by other manufacturers. An even more creative invention was the KSG, a truly unique dual-magazine shotgun of its kind, as well as an unusual-looking but very popular PMR-30 model.
Indeed, Kel-Tec can only be blamed for the fact that the volume of production does not keep up with the popularity of innovative developments of Mr. Kellgren (and such a problem would be desirable for most manufacturers).
Two brothers from the casket
The company entered the survival arms market back in the early 2000s with the SU-16. If you are looking for a strong, reliable and lightweight carabiner for use in all conditions, the SU -16 is still worth considering.
The weapon is designed for .223 and 5.56 calibers, and if you want a training version with more affordable ammunition, the SU-22 model repeats the design of the SU-16, while using an inexpensive .22 LR caliber cartridge for firing. The .22 LR version is also ideal for novice shooters or people who are not quite ready for the “adult” recoil.
When shooting at 45 meters in a closed range, Kel-Tec sounds loud – this weapon is distinguished not by the silence of the shot, but by its effectiveness. It may feel a little more recoil than some AR-style rifles, but it is still convenient to use this weapon even from the point of view of a woman who usually prefers to shoot a pistol.
The carbine has a Picatinny rail for attaching the optics, but the open sights also proved to be great. We fired from two different SU-16s, one brand new and the other with a shot. One had sights like the M16, and the other had a fiber optic insert.
Both were clearly visible, even with our imperfect vision. The sights are adjustable: to adjust the M 16 type, you can press the lock with the bullet nose of the .223 or 5.56 caliber; the fiber optic version requires a Phillips screwdriver.
Don’t forget to look into the trunk
The only real problem I have with the SU-16 is a cautionary tale, not for Kel-Tec users, but for anyone unpacking a new weapon. During the first trip to the training ground, there were three people with me, ready to shoot from a new carbine, only “out of the box”.
Each time, having attached the magazine, we pulled the bolt handle, but the cartridge did not feed. Each of us took turns trying to load the weapon. We inspected the magazines, looked into the chamber, checked the ammunition, and even tried an AR-type magazine [the SU-16 works with standard arch magazines – another bonus]. When this did not help, we put this carbine aside and went over to its “little brother“, the SU-22 model.
But this situation haunted me. I knew these carbines as good and durable, and it was embarrassing for me to contact Kel-Tek again and ask for a “working copy.” A few days later, I borrowed the same carabiner from a friend and studied both carabiners, hoping to find out why one worked and the other didn’t.
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When inspecting the new carbine with a flashlight, the beam illuminated something orange in the barrel about an inch from the breech. I looked again, trying to figure out what I saw … yes, it looked like orange plastic. In the carabiner box, I found part of the safety flag! It broke somehow, probably in transit.
I did not notice the fragment of the flag when assembling, since it went quite deep into the rifling, and I had to try to see it. Fortunately, it was close enough to the breech that it would not allow us to feed the cartridge into the chamber. If we could do that and then tried to shoot, this day at the range might not be the most enjoyable.
I used a ramrod to clean the barrel, and after removing the 5cm fragment of the flag, the carabiner worked as expected.
This is a good reminder to always check the bore before firing, especially with new weapons. Who else but me to know about this – I spent so much time at the gun counter, listening to complaints from newcomers about “it broke” due to improper assembly of weapons. I suppose it was my reward for all those times when I, rolling my eyes, pointed others to the obvious.
At the firing range
With two SU-16 carbines and a spare SU-22 for pleasant plinking, I headed out to the firing line with retired deputy sheriff and former instructor John Falldorf, a fan of the Kel-Tec brand.
“These carabiners are durable and suitable for use in a variety of conditions and situations,” he explained. “Damaging these weapons is not easy, but even if you do, one of my favorite things about Kel-Tec weapons is maintaining and repairing them. Some manufacturers make you wait 6-8 months before solving your problem. Well, Kel-Tec always wants to help.”
He praised the performance and performance of the SU-16, noting that with a weight of only about 2.3 kg, the carbine is ideal for running hunting. “When folded, this carabiner is just over 66 cm long, which allows it to fit comfortably in a backpack or on the back, and the weight is very light,” he explained.
Both of the rifles we shot with were Model A with 46cm barrels, but the SU model comes in several versions, such as the CA model, with a 41cm barrel with a muzzle thread; model C, also with a muzzle thread and a folding stock that allows you to shoot from a folded position; and the Model E, which has a more AR-like appearance, including a telescopic stock and polymer fore-end with an additional bar. Since 2012, Kel-Tec has replaced the previously chrome-plated SU barrels with nitride coated barrels (SBN), which provides a higher level of corrosion resistance.
For two tried-and-true SU-16 carbines, we encountered only one case of failure to feed a cartridge [in the new mode], when shooting a target with a “hostage”. To my joy, the “hostage” survived … and not the head and body of the “criminal” remained neat groups of about 1 inch.
Like most weapons, the SU-16 generally has a run-in period. Comrade shooters informed me of possible misses before firing about 150 rounds, after which all parts are rubbed, and this weapon, as one amateur shooter said, becomes one of the most reliable carbines he has ever had.
John Falldorf pointed to the original forend, which turns into a bipod and makes it possible to shoot while prone at targets at a greater distance.
It took several tries to learn how to use the bipod, but once you master them, you understand the ingenuity of such a decision. Two clips are attached to a ring that is worn on the barrel. Pull gently down with two fingers and the bipod spreads its wings. When aligning the bipod, simply press both sides lightly against the barrel until you hear a click.
The recoil of the SU-16 pleasantly surprised me. The jolt is palpable, but clearly does not threaten a bruise on the shoulder, and does not affect the control of the subsequent shot. I have small hands, and I felt myself reaching a little to put the pad of my finger directly on the trigger, but I could still pull the trigger (trigger pull 2.3 – 3.2 kg) and keep my finger on it when reset.
The magazine release button is easy to use, although polymer / plastic magazines sometimes need to assist in leaving the magazine shaft or butt attachment point; I take it as a minor inconvenience, nothing more. The bolt handle is movable, located on the right and beats off the flying out sleeves well.
On the back of the magazine shaft, we found a release button for the slide stop. This weapon turned out to be very simple and straightforward to use, even for a short-barreled fan.
“The great thing is that the SU-16 is consistent with any other AR-15 platform I have fired with,” said Falldorf. “And what’s especially good is that for the price this rifle is much more affordable than many AR carbines, and yet it has the same functionality, plus the ability to fold weapons and complete bipods. It’s also great that you can carry two full 10-round magazines in the stock. “
It should also be noted that the SU-16 uses a gas piston system, which is more common on more expensive AR platforms. Unlike di-ah (DI) versions, piston systems are considered cooler and cleaner to operate. An extra point to the Kel-Tec engineers!
Once we were done with the SU-16, we moved on to the “economy” SU-22. The feel was very similar, and of course the .22 LR had almost no recoil. While I think the “arched carabiners” are more suitable for beginners or children, John Falldorf sees fit to have such a rifle on hand regardless of the skill level of the shooter.
“If you already have an SU-16, then it makes sense to have an SU-22. In terms of ergonomics, they are almost the same, so you can improve your gun handling, trigger handling and aiming skills and spend less on ammo,” he said. The SU-22 has no bipod.
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In general, during the time that I fired with the SU-16 carbine and its “little brother” everything I read and heard about this durable weapon, and what I knew about Kel-Tek’s innovative approach to firearms, was confirmed. Best of all, now I have something to add to my gift list for next Christmas.
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