Gun Review: Kel-Tec SU16

Alex C.
by Alex C.

The Kel-Tec SU series of rifles have been on the market for a long time, but it is quite rare that you actually see one at the range, or even hanging on the walls of your local gun store. Kel-Tec is a very innovative company that makes some very interesting, if not obscure products but they do not seem to be able to produce them in sufficient numbers. I have known about the SU rifles for quite a while but I have never so much as seen one until one of my good customers mentioned he had one and suggested that I try it out. Of course I took full advantage of the opportunity and was anxious to see how the rifle performed.

Perhaps the greatest feature of the SU-16 is its ability to fold into a compact and capable centerfire rifle and stow it away in your pack. This is done by pushing out a single pin:

I have had this backpack for five years, and it has been on four continents.

This fold and stow feature alone makes me want to purchase one for my adventures into the wilderness.

My customer threw a red dot sight on it to aid in shooting, but I am an Iron sight guy:

Two ten round mags or one 30 round mag stow away in the stock:

And the rifle looks pretty mean with a standard capacity magazine:

I took 5 magazines out for a quick 150 round test and could not resist pulling the trigger a bit quickly to get a feel for her:

The gun is rather easy to keep on target and has a very unique feel to it. Recoil is snappy but it is very controllable:

Of course the unique forend that doubles as a bipod is very neat as well. I tested this out and managed to pull off a “minute of hog” 10 shot group from 40-50 yards:

My friend Patrick also enjoyed shooting the rifle and I managed to catch a spectacular muzzle flash on film. Sometimes I forget how effective even the most basic flash hiders are:

When we were killing off the remaining ammo we did have a malfunction, which was just a typical stovepipe that was easy to clear:

Patrick also took the time to get a quick accuracy test:

Wish just a few rounds remaining he did pretty well:

The gun's front sight post was loose and began to shift.

As for my list:

The Good:

  • Very unique folding feature
  • Integral bipod
  • Accepts AR15 mags
  • I am confident that I could pull off 2 MOA with this gun with a good optic and good ammo
  • Trigger feels better or at least on par with an AR15 standard trigger
  • Storage space for magazines
  • Affordable and can be seen for under $500

The Bad:

  • Difficult to find locally
  • Crude iron sights
  • Disassembly and reassembly are a bit tricky
  • I expect most guns to be able to go through 150 rounds jam-free

The Ugly:

  • It isn’t the prettiest rifle, but form follows function
  • Lack of a threaded barrel
  • Reciprocating charging handle

All in all, I am pleased with this rifle and I will be on the lookout for one in the sub-$500 range. While there are a few things lacking, the good outweighs the bad.

Alex C.
Alex C.

Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.

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2 of 58 comments
  • Zebra Dun Zebra Dun on Sep 09, 2014

    With the shortage of .22 lr this would make a fine canoe gun.
    Now just make it float!

  • Scaatylobo Scaatylobo on Sep 09, 2014

    I own the more colapsable version that can fire with stock folded and mag in place.
    it needed a bit of TLC on the gas bolt face and that made it smoother AND more reliable.
    Its not a M-4,but for what it was designed for [ a few K ] rounds ] its perfect.