Kel-Tec SU-16CA Carbine 5.56mm

With AR and AK rifles in short supply, what choices…

With AR and AK rifles in short supply, what choices are there for concerned civilians or law enforcement officers seeking a personal rifle for defense or patrol? Most individuals and departments usually begin with a 5.56mm (.223) carbine and many adopt AR-type carbines from one of the major manufacturers, but there are more than a few departments and officers who prefer not to equip themselves with AR-type carbines due to the negative image associated with military-style rifles and the aforementioned unavailability.


Almost all manufacturers are back-ordered, most are looking at one year or more before they fill all orders already in-house now. Once one begins to look beyond an AR-type rifle as a possibility, the choices quickly narrow to only a few long guns. One often overlooked patrol or defensive carbine candidate is the “Sport Utility” SU-16CA from Kel-Tec.

Kel-Tec products have a reputation for significant value and quality of manufacture, and the SU-16 series of rifles are no different. All are gas-operated with a system similar to that of the Stoner 63 or Beretta AR-70 with an operating rod/piston attached to a bolt carrier fitted with a Stoner-type multi lugged bolt. The drive spring, like that of the Stoner 63, rides inside the operating rod tube. The rod rides inside a gas tube over the barrel. This system is reliable and eliminates the receiver fouling associated with AR-15 type direct impingement gas systems.

The receiver, stock and forend are constructed of fiberglass reinforced Zytel polymer, which can be molded in different colors. All current SU-16 rifles are black, but variations such as SU-16s in coyote tan, OD green or other finishes would be great compliments to the line. The action of our test rifle was particularly smooth right from the box, almost certainly attributable to the receiver’s Zytel construction.

Load Comments
  • alan

    i have had the su-16a for just over a year and besides an occasional light hit it has only jammed once when a steel case round got stuck. but overall a great rifle, super light and reliable. i would recomend this rifle to anyone the only thing i would change would be the aftermarket fore end and an extended top rail. but the customer service at kel tec was top notch and extremely helpful

  • Harry

    harry Looking for or to price Price a SU-16 / 308 CAL for hunter. Flexible
    Hunter/ DSefinder

  • steve G

    the knife is probably a tops make.

  • Enrico del barrio

    Very fine weapon. I had the opportunity to shoot a friend’s rifle. very nice. I am sold on this rifle and will get one as a christmas present for myself.

  • Linas

    The Knife is actually Remington’s Premier Tactical Tango Series I. It is offered with as fixed or folding with blade options of Clip, Drop or Tanto.

  • sferrin

    The knife doesn’t remotely resemble the one on the Kel-Tec site.

  • sferrin

    X2 Very interesting looking.

  • James McEwen

    The knife appears to be by Kel-Tec. Check their site. IIRC they make two versions, one is a bayonet design and the other a folder.

  • Joel

    Does anyone know the make/model of the knife Pictured with the kel-tec