Kel-Tec SU-16

Infobox Weapon

caption=SU-16A in stock configuration
origin=flagcountry|United States
type=Semi-automatic rifle
manufacturer=Kel Tec
weight=2.50 kg
cartridge=5.56x45mm NATO
feed=Various STANAG magazines
sights=Iron sights

SU-16 refers to a series of semi-automatic rifles and carbines manufactured by Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc. of Cocoa, Florida, referred to in Kel-Tec's marketing as "Sport Utility rifles". The SU-16 series is notable for its compact, lightweight and simple design; and for being able to be broken down and folded into a compact configuration for transportation and storage. While the barrel, bolt-carrier and mechanism are steel, the SU-16's stock, receiver, and forend are manufactured of high-strength polymer plastic.

Design and Features

All variants of the SU-16 are chambered in 5.56 x 45 mm, the same caliber used by the M-16 and many other modern rifles, and are capable of using standard M-16 STANAG compatible magazines. The SU-16 features a 1:9" twist. The SU-16 incorporates design features derived from several different weapons. It uses the locking bolt design of the M-16, and an operating system similar to that of the AK-47, in which a gas piston drives an operating rod, which is part of the bolt carrier and which rides on a spring contained in a gas tube mounted above the barrel. This design incorporates the operating rod and gas tube into the bolt carrier, allowing them to be removed easily for maintenance and cleaning. As with the AK-47, Armalite AR-18 and AR-180, and compared to the M-16, this design allows for the folding feature of the SU-16 and reduces the amount of propellant residue fouling that accumulates in the chamber and on the bolt carrier. The charging and bolt release handle is located on the right side and reciprocates with the weapon's bolt, allowing it to be used as a forward assist. All versions of the SU-16 incorporate a top-mounted Picatinny rail. In all versions except the short-barreled "D" model, the fore-end opens up to serve as an integrated folding bipod. The SU-16 breaks down into its collapsed configuration with the removal of a single pin, which can be pushed out with a round, and can be broken down for maintenance and cleaning without the use of tools. The bolt-carrier group and receiver constitute the only two assemblies of the weapon.

Despite this simplicity, one significant shortcoming in the design is that the chamber and breech of the barrel are not easily accessible from the rear, being blocked by the back of the upper receiver. This makes cleaning the chamber and the bore somewhat slower and more difficult compared to the AR-15, and prevents the bore from being easily inspected without the use of a small penlight or similar light source. A flexible bore-snake is a recommended cleaning accessory. When cleaning, particular care should be paid to the gas piston and operating spring, bolt face, chamber and barrel.Fact|date=May 2008

A further recommendation from some users is to replace the cotter-type pin used to secure the weapon in its open configuration; which is small, could be easily dropped or lost, and may be difficult to insert or remove under certain circumstances; with a larger hitch-type pin. Care must be used, however, as the OEM pin is a slightly smaller diameter than hitch-type pins commonly found in hardware stores.Fact|date=May 2008


There are 5 variants of the SU-16.

The SU-16A has an 18.4" barrel and comes with a windage-adjustable hooded light-gathering blade front sight mounted near the muzzle. A Picatinny rail is equipped on the top of the receiver. The stock and trigger mechanism fold down below the upper receiver and clamp to the barrel when the weapon is broken down. The weapon is non-operative when in this configuration. The fore-arm of the rifle opens out into an integrated collapsible bipod. The stock has a hollow recess with spring detents capable of holding two 10-round or one 20 or 30 round magazines. The SU-16A weighs 5 lb (2.3 kg) unloaded, is 37.4" (95 cm) long when open and 26.4" (67 cm) folded.

The SU-16B has the same features of the A model, but has a lighter 16" barrel, an M-16-type adjustable-post front sight, and a windage adjustable rear sight. The B model has been criticized by some users for the light construction of its barrel, which is said to be too light for sustained firing. The SU-16B weighs 4.5 lb (2 kg) unloaded, is 36" (91 cm) long when open, and 25" (63 cm) long when folded.The SU-16C has a true folding stock, and can be fired with the stock folded, rather than the folding stock and trigger group design of the other weapons. The C has a medium-weight 16" long barrel, presumably in response to the criticism against the lighter barrel of the B model. The barrel is threaded at the muzzle, and can be mounted with accessories, such as a flash-hider. The front sight, which is an M-16 adjustable-post type, is incorporated over the gas block and is not removable. The C also includes a reciprocating dust cover over the ejection port and a case-deflecting charging handle. The SU-16C weighs 4.7 lb (2.1 kg) unloaded, is 35.5" (90 cm) long when open, and 25.5" (65 cm) long when folded.

The SU-16CA model incorporates all the features of the C model, but retains the collapsible stock and trigger group design of the A model, which prevents the weapon from being fired when broken-down, rather than the true folding stock design of the C model. This feature makes it legal for sale in jurisdictions with an "assault weapons ban", which the C would not be, such as California, a fact that the model designation "CA" suggests. The SU-16CA weigh's 4.7 lb (2.1 kg) unloaded, is 36" (91 cm) long open, and 25" (63 cm) when folded.

The SU-16D model is a short-barreled version with either a 9" or 12" barrel. This makes these models NFA-regulated as short barreled rifles, subject to ownership restrictions and transfer taxes. Owing to the short barrels, the D does not include the folding bipod, but otherwise contains the same features as the C model, including the folding buttstock. The D models also include a second bottom-mounted Picatinny rail, and the 12" variant can mount a bayonet as well.

Intended Market and Comparison to Similar Weapons

The SU-16 competes with other 5.56 mm semiautomatic rifles, such as the AR-15 and Mini-14, in the civilian market. Its most significant selling point is its innovative folding design, which makes all variants of the weapon rather compact when stored or transported. The B, C, and CA variants have a 16" barrel, the minimum legal limit on a rifle barrel for Title I sales under the NFA. The SU-16 is compatible with M-16 type STANAG magazines, allowing a broader buyer's market for magazines, particularly for higher capacity magazines, as well as compatibility across weapons.

The fact that the weapon in stock configuration lacks a pistol grip makes most variants of the SU-16 legal in jurisdictions that maintain "assault weapons bans" based on cosmetic features (the designation of the CA model, despite Kel-Tec's allusion to mixing features of the C and A models, strongly suggests that the design was tailored to California's restrictive laws). All SU-16 variants come standard with a Picatinny rail, making them able to accept a wide variety of aftermarket sights and scopes. Due to the extensive use of polymers in its construction, the SU-16 is lighter than any variant of the Mini-14 or AR-15 with equivalent barrel lengths, though would probably not prove as rugged under adverse conditions as the AR-15 or the Mini-14. The weapon is simple, comprising only two major assemblies, the bolt-carrier group and the receiver, and a total of only 14 separate components when completely field-stripped. Finally, as compared to its competitors, the SU-16 is inexpensive, selling in many markets for between $450 and $600 versus a common price of $550-$700 for the Mini-14 (Ranch Rifle) and often over $1000 for the AR-15.


External links

* [ Kel-Tec's homepage. Contains descriptions of each variant, plus downloadable manuals and parts lists.]
* Kel-tec Owner's Group (KTOG)

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