Monday, April 4, 2011
Personal Critical Review of Firearms - Kel Tec SU 16 CA
Personal - There are several versions of this rifle, I purchased the rifle for my youngest boy, I had a previous version, but chose the CA incarnation because of the threaded heaver barrel, shorter length, and improved front sight (back aperture sight is crap). I like it... I am not a fan of .223 but the rifle is handy, capable of reasonable accuracy and is based more on the AK than the AR platforms. Very light weight, and it has a neat folding stock making it very small an easy to pack. I found I liked the folding stock that folds out into a traditional stock, it looks a bit queer but it feels good in the hand for shooting, very comfortable.
Function - Excellent reliable function, an earlier version also was excellent in reliability, this version has been 100% with every magazine I have tried, it likes both 20 and 30 round Thermold (LE marked) 20 and 30 round Tapco, and two old 30 round Adventureline magazines someone gave me years ago.
Design flaws - The front folding hand-guard will fold out into a "bipod" if you want to call that spindly insect like abomination a "bipod" I used it for a few magazines worth and never bothered again my first thought was "tits on a boar-hog" and that did not change after I gave it a chance, have not bothered to unfold it again except to clean under it.
Light weight also translates to lightly constructed, you would not want to hit someone with it like you could a Mosin-Nagant, but the construction is not THAT bad, that is as bad as some input I have seen from who think that every gun has to help fight you out of some muddy foxhole.
There is a trick to getting the bolt in and out, follow the directions it is not "user intuitive.” Take great care not to launch parts into low earth orbit (or into your body) in disassembly, spring loaded parts could be easy to loose. Rear sight aperture is crappy cheap and the safety is a funky shotgun-style cross bolt. The full stock of the CA model will not allow the rifle to fire folded, that could be a problem if you needed a quick "get to” while folded, but the weirdo version of the pistol grip folder is just too funky, when I ordered my "california" version the dealer also ordered one of the funky pistol grip versions for the shop - Blech! even he said he hated that version and liked the CA better.
Quality - Molded polymers - and you can tell there are some "corner cutting" parts here and there - you can tell this was intended as a light duty carbine. I would choose the SU16CA rifle over the Mini 14 (problems and all) any day...
Caliber/Ammunition - .223 small, inexpensive (well, as inexpensive as surplus or new center-fire is going to get nowadays), light recoil, accurate, not all that exciting but it is a carbine, what did you expect?
Use - Accuracy is reasonable, better grouping when hot (or cold) than any Mini-14 I have ever seen but NOT on par with the AR15, about halfway from Mini-14 to AR, and less expensive than both. Uses standard AR15 magazines and has two little 10 rounders that press fit into the stock and can stay (well they are supposed to stay in, just don't hit it too hard when open) there when folded - as the Russians would say "is very nice, yes?” - of course, and inexpensive also.
Current production - Waiting at the Kel tec factory fresh off the molding machine, this entire series of rifle is one of their most popular products, and is not always in great supply.
I consider this rifle a secondary choice carbine or a nice light weight, light duty carbine for small users. The SU16 series is in a mid range price level and is less expensive than either the AR or Mini 14. Currently in production, using popular easy to find magazines, and small limited parts interchangeability with the AR make this an attractive choice. I use this rifle myself for hunting where a light carbine is required, but was intended for the smallest child, he loves it. (Update: I have acquired a second SU16CA and both are now regulated to the two women in the family. We use them for small game and varmint hunting quite regularly and both have received a solid diet of reloaded brass and steel cased ammo with no function problems.)