At the Range with Kel-Tec’s SU-16CA

By Woody published on in Firearms

Florida-based Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc. is well-known for manufacturing small, lightweight pistols, and the company’s SU-16 line of rifles follows this same philosophy. The SU-16CA is a hybrid of the SU-16C and SU-16A rifles. It comes with the same 16-inch barrel with chrome-lined bore and chamber and 1/2-28 threads as the C model. All features from the C model are retained and combined with the stock of the A model. This combination did make for a lightweight set-up, as our rifle weighed in at a little over 5 lbs. When we bolted on an optional collapsible stock with an integrated pistol grip, it brought the Kel-Tec’s weight up to only 5.5 lbs.Kel-Tec-SU-16CA-bipod

The SU-16CA differs quite a bit from an AR in its control location and operation. The Kel-Tec uses a side-mounted operating handle rather than a charging handle. Made of plastic, it has a series of molded ridges on it to assist in grasping it. The lever reciprocates upon firing and acts as a brass deflector. This surface became nicked from ejected brass during our testing.
Kel-Tec SU-16CA
The barrel and action are 4140 steel, with the balance of the gun constructed of Zytel polymer. Additionally, the barrel is chrome lined for corrosion resistance and has a twist of 1:9. It comes with ½-28 threads covered by a knurled cap thrKel-Tec-SU-16CA-rightead protector. Two plastic 10-round magazines came with the rifle, and it can accept standard AR magazines as well.

The plastic forend had molded checkering and becomes a bipod by splitting in half and folding forward. An optional AR-style compact forend was also provided. Kel-Tec did a very good job in molding textured areas on the SU-16CA. We found that holding the gun was secure and the pistol grip was particularly comfortable. When we took trigger-pull measurements, we noticed a clicking sensation followed by a clean break at 7.1 lbs.

The bolt head is an AR-15 style, and locks open when the magazine is empty. The gas piston system on the Kel-Tec is non-adjustable. The magazine release consisted of a plastic rectangular button located just forward of the trigger guard.

Kel-Tec SU-16CA Stocks

We replaced the standard fixed stock on the Kel-Tec SU-16CA with an optional adjustable model. Note that the trigger assembly is part of the stock replacement unit.

The safety was a crossbolt located above and slightly behind the trigger guard. It was beveled on the left side and cupped on the right. It’s set to fire when the bolt is pushed from the right to the left. The bolt lock/release located on the bottom of the SU-16A is adjacent to the mag well.

The sights on the SU-16CA consisted of a partially hooded sight post that can be adjusted for elevation and a single aperture rear peep sight. The rear sight is adjusted for windage and elevation by repositioning the sight up and down the flat-top rail and by using a pair of Philips-head tensioning screws.

Remington .223 Rem. 55-grain MC L223R3V produced our highest average velocity at 3025 fps and also our smallest average groups at 1.4 inches. The piston in the Kel-Tec seemed to moderate the felt recoil and supplied consistent performance with no malfunctions. Empties were thrown slightly forward with some inconsistency in their pattern. At the line, we also shot Monarch Brass .223 Remington 55-grain Soft Points into 1.6-inch five-shot average groups at 100 yards. Silver State .223 Rem. 63-grain Sierra Soft Points were only slightly behind at 1.5-inch average group size.

If you’re not wedded to an AR-15 platform, this light little rifle offers a comfortable-to-carry option for a field carbine.










Tags: , , , , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, "The Shooter's Log," is to provide information-not opinions-to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (17)

  • Bryon Thornton


    If you replaced your Keltec SU16 standard stock with something else, I would like to buy the standard stock. I have an SU16 with the C stock & I hate that stock. I want something more substantial in a standard rifle stock not AT pistol grip style. If I had wanted an AR I would have bought an AR.


  • Rick


    My CA model has done nothing but jam from the day that I bought it. I replaced the extractor and that cleared up the failure to extract problem, but the empty cases hit the charging handle and don’t clear the exjection port. Kel Tec said they would sell me a new charging handle. Kel Tec has been less than helpful through this ordeal. I keep hoping to fix the problems so I can depend upon it, but alas, Kel Tec doesn’t want that to happen.


  • S.M. Ingersoll


    The SU-16 series of rifles is in fact chambered in 5.56mm. The only ones that are marked differently are the ones that were manufactured for the canadian market. The rifles are still identical to the american market ones. Again, the SU-16’s are all chambered for 5.56mm


  • Ronin


    Every review Ive see says these are fantastic rifles- downside is that they are NEVER in stock with a dealer/distributor… Prices are low but availability is scarce at best. Further reviews are simply teasing the willing but unable consumer!!!


  • Randellholland


    Good pistols haven’t shot rifle now too hi


  • Tommy Tucker


    I saw one of the “C” models, with the folding stock, at a gun show 2 weeks ago and the price was $750 which, compared to an AR is cheap these days. I didn’t get it though because it’s a .223 cal. and not a 5.56.


  • Michael Smith


    It is about time that the manufactor of firearms and accessories take a stand. The citizens have been resisting and fighting back for years to keep the rights under the second admendment.

    It is always the gun that is at fault, not the person holding it. A recent article I read showed that one state had not been filing information on mental subjects. After the Connect shooting that started reporting of 94,ooo names that they had held back for years. There is no place on this planet that your are absolutely safe. The only ground you own is under your two feet if you are armed.

    If you watch the news regularly, you will see that people are killing other people with knives, bow & arrows, cars, ropes, poison, clubs, etc. People who carry concealed weapons can stop them because the police only show up afterwords. Think of all the lives that could have been saved in Colo Theater shooting if a conceal carry had been present.

    I applaude the manfactures, developers, suppliers of guns for taking a strong stand against the gov infringement of law abiding citizens.


Leave a comment

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

%d bloggers like this: