Review of the Kel-Tec SU-16C


Jody Lewis reviews the Kel-Tec SU=16C, a compact and lightweight 5.56 polymer rifle equipped with a folding stock and bipod.

As a long time owner of the SU-16CA, I was excited when I had the opportunity to review the Kel-Tec SU-16 “C” model. The SU-16 platform is a compact, lightweight 5.56 platform that takes standard AR-15 magazines. With five models to choose from, it can get a little confusing what features each model has. For those who are not familiar with the nomenclature of the SU-16, I’ve broken it down for you…

  • SU-16A – No threaded barrel, stock and trigger fold together, features an 18.5-inch barrel
  • SU-16B – Similar to the A model with a shorter 16-inch barrel, different front sight and weighs 8-ounces lighter
  • SU-16C – Rapid departure from the other models with many changes including a folding stock that allows the weapon to be fired while folded, and a threaded 16-inch barrel
  • SU-16CA – A combination of the C and A models, cannot be fired from the folded position, but includes a threaded barrel and gas block mounted sight to the A model
  • SU-16D – Essentially the SBR version of the SU-16C with a 9.2-inch or 12-inch barrel

In my opinion, the C model is the best of all the SU models combined into one. It features the shorter 16-inch barrel, can be fired from a folded position and is super light at 4.7 pounds. You won’t find too many gas-operated piston driven AR’s in that weight range.

The SU-16 platform has been around for nearly a decade. It is a proven reliable system that works well. What I love most about the gun is the ability to use it for just about any need that arises, from backpacking to throwing it in the trunk when I’m in a hurry. It is truly a utility weapon.

Except for the barrel and operating components, the gun is made from Kel-Tec’s proprietary high-impact reinforced polymer blend. Many people associate polymer with plastic, but it’s not. At least not in Kel-Tec’s case. Their product is more like a mix between carbon fiber and polymer. I’ve run my Kel-Tec firearms pretty hard and have yet to break one.

In the thousands of rounds I’ve put through my SU-16CA model, I have not experienced any failure to feed or eject issues. The Kel-Tec has been very been reliable. I have yet to shoot more than a few boxes of mixed ammo through the C model I’m reviewing, but considering the platform is the same, I don’t expect any feeding issues.

The foregrip separates to create a makeshift bi-pod on the C and CA models. It is a novelty idea, but I find it to be cumbersome to operate and in my opinion was poorly executed, although the concept is a great one. I would say that is the only drawback to the platform.

Atlanta Arms recently sent me some 5.56 ammo to try out, so I headed to the range to see if I could ring steel at 100 yards with the built in iron sights. It took me a few shots to get there, but I had no problem hitting the target at 100 yards. I am not going to win any 3-gun matches anytime soon with the SU-16, but it was not intended to be a competition rifle. It is truly a throw-it-in-your-backpack with 2-30 round mags and use-it-when-you-need-it kind of gun.

With a street price of around $560, I think this gun is a no-brainer.

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