The Sub 9 – A Prequel to the SUB 2000

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The KelTec SUB 200 series has reached its third generation of firearms only recently. Suppose you count the integrally suppressed model that makes four distinct weapons. Well, that’s the four most people know of. There is a fifth, and it’s known as the Sub 9. I’m a KelTec Sub 2000 fan. I think it’s just a neat, fun rifle, and I’m fully aware of its flaws and downsides. 

Call it nostalgia. When I was 16, I was given a Gen 1 Sub 2000 as a birthday gift, and I loved that rifle very much. It’s likely why I still love PCCs and digest 1,000 rounds of 9mm a month. Even as a fan of the KelTec Sub 2000 series, I had never heard of the Sub 9. One of my hobbies is reading old gun magazines. I was scrolling through a 1998 issue of Soldier of Fortune and saw an ad for the Sub 9. 

The Sub 9 – The Forgotten KelTec 

Many of Kellgren’s designs from Grendel are forgotten but revived by KelTec. Grendel developed the P30M, a .22 Magnum pistol that held 30 rounds. That sounds a lot like the PMR-30 to me. The Sub 9 seemingly got the same treatment, but the turnaround time was much shorter. 

If you start searching for the Sub 9, it doesn’t generate many results. The Wikipedia pages for the Sub 2000 lack any mention of the Sub 9, and the KelTec Wikipedia page mentions it once. If we assume production started in 1998, it was only another three years until the first gen of the Sub 2000 was produced. 

KelTec doesn’t rush production, and until recently, it was often tough to get your hands on most KelTec weapons. It’s unlikely KelTec produced many of them. Using the Wayback machine, I can go to KelTec’s earliest website incarnation, which was in 1998. They had an AOL email address, which might not resonate with some of our Zoomer readers but seriously dates the website. 

The website only lists two guns, the P-11 and the Sub 9. The information is scarce, and the photos are tiny. I hit fast forward and went to KelTec’s website in 2000 for more information. KelTec still maintains a manual for the gun on its website, which was also helpful. 

All About the Sub 9

To no one’s surprise, the KelTec Sub 9 was a simple blowback-operated pistol caliber carbine available in 9mm and .40 S&W. The rifle folded in half, just like the Sub 2000 series, and could use magazines from Beretta, Glock, and S&W third-generation handguns. The grip assemblies could even be exchanged to swap magazine types. 

The big difference came down to the gun’s materials. While we all know the Sub 2000 uses polymer wherever it can, the Sub 9 used aircraft-grade aluminum. The majority of the weapon was made from metal and CNC machined. Additionally, the edges are slightly rounder, and the gun looks a bit bulkier. The bolt housing lacked a hold-open slot. KelTec also states the handguard stores batteries and other devices, but it’s unclear how. The gun weighed half a pound more than the first-gen Sub 2000 series. 

The price was the most significant difference the user would note between the two guns. In 1998, the Sub 9 had an MSRP of $700, which, when adjusted for inflation, equals almost $1,400. Imagine spying $1,400 for a blowback-operated 9mm PCC. Who did these people think they were? Christensen Arms? 

Fast forward to 2001, and the Sub 2000 was in production, and the MSRP was a mere $383. Talk about the power of polymer! The Sub 9’s big problem was that high price point. That’s a tough sell, and even these days, you have to do something fancy to get that kind of money for a pistol-caliber carbine. 

The KelTec Sub 9 was too expensive to succeed, but it paved the way for an affordable, easy-handling PCC that helped jump-start an entire genre of firearms. 

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