Review and photographs by Oleg Volk
The story of this carbine goes back to 1997, when Kel-Tec introduced the Sub-9 carbine. In general, it was a conventional blow-back gun with the magazine inserted through the hand grip. Designed during the high-capacity-magazine-ban years, it used popular and available pistol magazines, but the Sub-9’s claim to fame was its unusual folding form.
When folding or collapsible stocks were not legal, the Sub-9 worked around that concept by creating a carbine that folded in half at the chamber, halving its overall length for storage and transport.
The folding is initiated by pulling down on the back of the trigger guard, which allows the front of the gun to swing up and back eventually locking the front sight into a recess on the butt-stock.
In 2001, the machined aluminum receiver was replaced with a plastic clamshell, resulting in a lighter and less expensive Sub-2000 model, and since it was made to fit several makes of pistol magazines, in 9mm Luger and .40S&W, this carbine became extremely popular.
Kel-Tec Sub-2000Mk2 (Mark 2). An upgraded version of the Sub-2000 but very similar mechanically and incorporates many improvements that were requested by users but often supplied by after-market accessory makers.
DEAD FOOT ARMS
Performance has improved. Racking the bolt is easier, although the two-finger extended charging handle from Twisted Industries would still be a useful addition. The barrel appears to have improved as well. The old Sub-2000 ranged from 5 to 6 minute of angle while the new one shoots 2.6 to 4 MOA with the same red-dot sight. The top rail even allows the use of magnified optics, since the carbine itself is accurate enough to justify them. Cantilevered AR-15 scope mounts should be used because the top rail only covers the front two-thirds of the forend.
The gun ran reliably with all types of ammunition, except 50- to 60-grain hyper velocity loads. Point of impact changed considerably from load to load and as much as 3 inches diagonally at 25 yards. For serious use, it’s best to find one load that shoots well and stick to it.
Overall, the gun favors lighter-weight ammunition. The absolute winner in the accuracy department is the all-copper 100-grain OATH Halo with a consistent 2.6 MOA. A mild load with 1,250 feet-per-second velocity also produces minimal recoil and expands reliably.
One hundred and fifteen-grain Corbon JHP and, surprisingly, Winchester’s “white box” FMJ are almost as good with 3 MOA. Remington Golden Saber 124-grain is less accurate with 4 MOA, but works well up close with 1,350 fps velocity. Winchester 147-grain JHP lagged at 4.5 MOA, but would be accurate enough for its intended short-range use with sound suppressors.
Although 60-grain Liberty ammunition did not cycle, it did reach 2,550 fps and could be used for varmints out to nearly 100 yards.
The trigger pull is about 6.5 pounds and not very smooth, with a gritty second stage and some over-travel. Fortunately, the wide trigger guard allows for a safe addition of a trigger shoe designed for a P11 pistol. This wide shoe improves the feel of the trigger and gives it better control. This carbine uses an internal hammer with a sufficiently energetic pin-strike which makes misfires unlikely. In fact, I’ve had no malfunctions of any kind, even with over 300 rounds of mixed-type ammunition.
The bolt does not stay back on the last shot, but the difference in the feel is sufficient to tell when the gun is empty, and the charging handle can be locked back to show a clear chamber. This carbine fits 17- or 33-round Glock magazines and works well with 50- and 100-round drums; all drop freely when released. Smith & Wesson M&P magazines are the next in line for production after the Glock-compatible model.
In practical terms, it’s a competent companion to a center-fire pistol. Its main advantage over the pistol is improved practical accuracy and some increase in muzzle velocity. Folded, it can safely fit into a laptop case with a loaded magazine in the grip. While ballistically weaker than a true rifle, the Sub2000Mk2 is also lighter and quieter. For firing indoors, the reduction in concussion is very helpful, not to mention many ranges do not permit 5.56mm and other rifle calibers. –AmSJ
Note: Some of the photos for this article show a pre-production version of the Sub2000mk2 carbine without the threaded muzzle. All production guns will have a threaded muzzle.
Bill Ruger would have turned 104 years old in 2020, and even though he is gone I believe that he would have been quite impressed with the innovative ﬁrearm designs that continue to appear on pages of his namesake company’s annual catalog. Unlike Colt, Smith & Wesson, Remington and Winchester, which were all operating in the 1800s, the Ruger brand is relatively new. But in just over 60 years, Ruger guns have earned a spot near the top of all American gun manufacturers. In ﬁrearms manufacturing terms that’s a meteoric rise, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing.
The American Compact enters the most competitive arena in gundom, and is the most recent combatant in the ﬁerce battle for carry-gun supremacy. And while Glock may have brought life to the polymer frame/striker-ﬁre gun category, they are hardly the only game in town anymore. Virtually every major handgun manufacturer has some sort of gun that ﬁts this mold, and more are coming.
For the past few years, Ruger has launched several products under the American name (which is ﬁtting, since these guns are made in the U.S.), most recently adding the American Pistol to round out their patriotically themed rimﬁre and centerﬁre riﬂe families. The Ruger American is a polymer-framed, striker-ﬁred semiauto available in 9mm and .45. It offers many of the same features you’ll ﬁnd on competing guns, such as interchangeable grips, a bladed trigger, and an accessory rail tucked under the gun’s muzzle. The price is one that any hard-working American can afford: $579 MSRP, with lower prices around for bargain shoppers.
The standard American has a 4.2-inch barrel in 9mm and a 4.5-inch pipe in .45. With a full magazine, the 9mm version offers an impressive 17+1-round capacity, and while the gun is great fun at the range, it’s a bit big to break into the main channel of the concealed carry market.
GET IT HERE
But Ruger was one step ahead, planning (and now offering) a compact version of the American semiauto pistol.
It’s not as though Ruger needed another compact gun, truthfully. This is, after all, the brand that brought us the LCP and LCP II, LC380, LC9s, SR9/SR40C, and they also now offer a 1911 Commander as well. But the concealed carry market continues to grow, and having a full portfolio never hurts, so they have added the American Pistol Compact to that mix.
THE 9MM COMPACT VERSION of the American (the full-sized model is called the Duty) sports a 3.55-inch barrel (3.75inch in .45) with a length of just 6.65 inches. Designing a carry gun is always a give and take with regard to overall size; small guns are easy to hide and carry, but they aren’t as comfortable to shoot or as accurate (in most cases) as larger, longer-barreled guns. The American Duty pistol is a very comfortable gun to shoot at the range, with great sights and an excellent trigger that mate well with its grip geometry and control layout. But it’s big; too big for most people to carry.
The Compact, on the other hand, does a great job balancing on that middle ground that makes it just the right size for everyday concealment. It weighs right around 29 ounces (a little more or less depending upon whether or not you opt for a manual safety) and measures – again depending on your safety option – just under or over an inch and a half wide at the controls. It utilizes a double-stack magazine that gives you 12 shots in 9mm, unless you live some place that forbids that amount of ﬁrepower, in which case you’ll be deducted a couple shots.
Concealed carry is indeed a numbers game, and the American Compact has the data required to be a serious player. But to do a proper evaluation on any carry gun, we need to take a close look at all the features and see how they stack up against the competition.Dead Foot Arms
I put about 200 rounds of 9mm ammo through the American Compact I was testing, and although it’s hardly torturing the gun, that many rounds offers plenty of feedback on what this gun will do. I used three different loads for the test – Hornady’s American Gunner with 115-grain XTP bullets, SIG Sauer’s 124-grain Elite Performance V-Crown, and Nosler’s Defense Bonded Performance 124-grain +P load. It wasn’t any accident that I chose these loads, either, for they’ve all proven to be effective and accurate, and I’d stake my life on any of them.
There are some striker-ﬁred semiauto carry guns that seem to eat anything you feed them, and the Compact is one of them. I fed it magazine after magazine, ﬁred from the bench at 15 yards and from standing and kneeling positions. I did draws, drills, and double-taps, all in an effort to see if this gun runs. And, in fact, it does. It feeds nicely, the magazine is well built and easy to use with springs that function well but don’t exhaust the hands when loading (if your mitts do get tired, there’s a mag loading tool included with the gun, though).
In 205 rounds tested there were 205 proper feeds, proper extractions, and proper ejections. The only inconsistency was that the slide didn’t stay open once, but when you’re talking about roughly 40 magazine changes over the course of the test I don’t consider that an issue. In short, the American Compact will function well with good loads. It isn’t particularly ﬁnicky, and it functions well.
I PLACE CONTROL DESIGN AND LAYOUT near the top of my priority list when evaluating a carry gun. Over the course of the last decade, controls on carry guns have been consistently shrinking – in some cases, disappearing altogether – with the idea being that fewer controls are less likely to hang up when drawing and less confusing when shooting. I suppose that there’s some validity to this, but I’ve drawn dozens and dozens of test guns over that same time period and I have yet to have a slide stop or safety hang-up when I was doing my part. What I have had happen – and what seems to happen with some regularity – is that I have tested striker-ﬁred guns with such Lilliputian controls that I have to fuss with a teeny tiny slide stop during a reload.
I offer this lengthy thought to laud praise on the American Compact. I tested the version with an ambidextrous manual safety in large part because a lot of people who carry concealed want a manual safety (if you just rolled your eyes, there’s a version called the Pro Model for you). At its most basic level, the Ruger’s safety operates like that of a 1911 in as much as you press the lever down to ﬁre and elevate it to activate. It’s fairly narrow but easy to ﬁnd and manipulate, a good combination on a carry gun. There’s no ﬁddling with a tiny, heavy button – one swipe of the thumb and you’re ready.
The ambidextrous slide stop is fairly small but functional and, like the safety, shouldn’t hang when drawing. The takedown lever remains tucked out of the way on the front of the frame, but it makes disassembly a cinch. A subtle depression and polymer bump keep the shooting hand thumb in place, and just below that you’ll ﬁnd the triangular magazine release button. If you choose the Pro Model and eliminate the manual safety, it’s a clean but functional control landscape, and even with the safety lever this gun is easy to holster, draw and hide.
Triggers on striker-ﬁred guns range from pretty good to terribly sloppy, and you simply can’t expect the same performance you’ll get from a single action. That being said, the Ruger trigger is on solidly the plus side of striker guns. There’s a good deal of take-up and the trigger breaks at 6 pounds, but the reset is positive and short, so you can deliver fast follow-ups.
THIS GUN IS MEANT TO BE CARRIED, so for eight days the Ruger was my traveling companion just about everywhere I went. I tested it with Versacarry’s new Commander OWB and Quick Slide OWB/IWB holsters, opting for the Commander when I was wearing a jacket or wasn’t as concerned about concealing the gun and switching to the Quick Slide when I wanted to be sure the gun was out of sight.
The double-stack magazine makes the American Compact slightly wider than the ultrathin single stacks from Ruger and others, but with a maximum width of just 1½ inches with the manual safety this gun isn’t terrible hard to conceal, and at 30 ounces it rides well in both holsters without the need for a really heavy belt. It’s also worth noting that the grip angle promotes a positive, high grip when drawing the gun, so it’s easy to be consistent when engaging a target.
There are two options for magazines; one with a ﬂat bottom and another with a ﬁnger extension. Measuring 5¼ inches from top to bottom with the ﬁnger extension magazine installed, the gun is compact enough that you could easily carry with either mag. In fact, I carried with the ﬁnger extension in place the whole time and never had any issues with printing, although it was winter and I wore a light jacket almost everywhere I went. As previously mentioned, Ruger built this gun with speciﬁcations that allow it to be carried relatively easily (though it won’t vanish under light clothing like the LCP II), yet it’s fun to shoot at the range.
Sometimes shooting a compact pistol on the range is a real chore; recoil can be excessive when shooting ultralight pistols with narrow grips coupled with hot defensive loads. The American Compact is much more subdued, feeling (at least with the ﬁnger extension magazine, which you’ll probably using at the range anyway) more like a midsized pistol – Ruger’s American Duty or SR9, a Glock 19/17 or Walther PPQ – than a single-stack ultracompact 9mm. The three rounds tested performed well (see chart) and groups around 1½ inches were the norm when ﬁred from 15 feet off the bench while using sand bags.
But the real test for this gun was how it handled off the bench, and it performed quite well when delivering double-taps, performing lateral and horizontal movement drills, and when drawing and ﬁring. The trigger, as previously mentioned, has a short reset, and that high grip and a relatively low bore axis helps keeps recoil manageable for quick follow-ups. Those Novak sights are a nice touch, too, and even in dim light or with poor eyesight you’ll be able to see the white dots.
The American comes with three easily interchangeable grips, so if you want to change the feel of the gun, it’s easy to do. There’s also a Picatinny rail, so if you want to add a laser or light that won’t be a problem either.
In closing, the Ruger American Compact is a great gun for those who appreciate its simple-to-use design, good trigger and reliable engineering. It’s a crowded and tough market out there, but the American deserves a spot on your short list when comparing 9mm carry guns. AmSJ
There are many great 9mm pistols of the past and present out on the market. But, which ones are really accurate right out of the box without any customization.
Here’s why using 9mm ammo for personal defense is a good choice:
When I used to work at a gun store I was frequently asked what caliber was best for any given situation. It would have been nice if there had been some sort of magic death ray that I could have suggested, but there isn’t, and most people have a pretty flawed understanding of what actually happens when a bullet interacts with a human target.
For starters let’s examine a couple of concepts that don’t actually exist in the scientific world but everyone talks about anyway. I’m going to regurgitate the work from those better than myself, and the information is worth paying attention to.
This doesn’t actually exist. If a bullet had enough force to knock down an individual, it would also knock down the individual firing the gun. People do not go flying through the air when hit by a bullet, contrary to what the movies and television would have us believe. Newton’s Third Law and all.
On the back of a box of ammo, manufacturers list the foot-pounds of energy (ft-lbf, or foot-pounds of force/energy) that their rounds have. Well, that doesn’t actually matter. The terminal performance of a projectile is determined solely by how much tissue it cuts, crushes or tears. While it has been advocated by many-a-misinformed-gun-counter commando that some sort of energy transfer occurs between a projectile and its target, this has been rejected by everyone I respect who studies terminal ballistics for a living.
9MM IS FOR GIRLS AND SISSIES
How often have you heard, “If you’re not carrying a caliber that begins with the number four and ends with the number five, you’re doing it wrong”? This almost makes sense if we were limited to nonexpanding ammunition, but most of us aren’t. When we compare modern hollow-point rounds in popular service calibers, there is, on average, one-tenth of an inch of difference in expanded diameter between a 9mm and a .45ACP. Grab a ruler and look at a tenth of an inch. It doesn’t seem like much, does it? That’s because it’s not.
In autopsies of gunshot-wound victims, the wound track created by a 9mm is indistinguishable from that created by a .45ACP.
The only advantage that a larger caliber is going to offer you, in my mind, is slightly better performance through intermediate barriers. Probably one of the more commonly encountered intermediate barriers is the front or rear windshield of a car. That’s not to say that the smaller caliber doesn’t perform well through those same barriers; it’s just that the larger ones perform only slightly better. Tempered auto glass has a nasty tendency to deflect bullets from their original course, as well as separate metal jackets from their lead-core bullets. It’s for this reason that .40S&W gained so much popularity in law-enforcement circles during the early 1990s.
The nice thing is, with modern designs, most service ammunition is going to perform pretty well through barriers, and it is for this reason that a lot of larger law enforcement departments are switching back to or have been using 9mm all along. Some notable examples are the NYPD and my very own Cincinnati Police Department, which is using the 9mm 147-grain Ranger T series fired from their Smith and Wesson M&P9s. The PDX1 Bonded ammo line is the civilian version of this round with the only difference being price.
So, since I’m happy with the 9mm’s performance through barriers, and all handgun calibers suck anyway (editor’s disclaimer: the views of the author are not necessarily the views of the world at large but his determination, confidence and delivery is inspiring), here is why I like 9mm:
“Damn, I wish I hadn’t had so much ammo” is not something I’ve ever known anyone in a gunfight to say after the fact. The phrase “If you can’t get it done in six, then it ain’t gettin’ done” is asinine, and something that I hear so often it makes me want to rip out what remaining hair I have. None of us are mind readers, and if we could predict beforehand how many rounds we would need to stop a threat, then why the hell wouldn’t we just avoid the threat entirely in the first place? More rounds are a good thing; if you think differently, I’m going to have to politely disagree with you, and think nasty thoughts quietly to myself.
Can I shoot a .40 or .45 as quickly as I can a 9mm? Sure I can. Can I shoot a .40 or .45 as quickly and accurately as I can a 9mm? I wish I could. There are some people who can, but I’m not one of them. Whether I’m shooting strong or weak hand, my accuracy only gets worse. In every force-on-force exercise that I have ever participated in, someone always seems to get shot in the hand. So with that in mind, being able to put rounds on a target quickly with one hand seems important to me.
IT’S CHEAP! (Relatively)
Nine millimeter ammunition is cheaper than any of the other service calibers. Cheaper equals more ammo. More ammo equals more practice, and obviously more practice equals awesome. Since I’m a fan of awesome, it all works out pretty well for me.
Even the FBI have made the decision to go to the 9mm rounds for all of its agents. Reasonings are similar to what this article have mentioned. (accuracy, penetration, etc..)
So there you go, the logic behind why I’ve chosen 9mm as my preferred handgun caliber. Obviously the choices you make are going to be determined by your circumstances and personal preferences, but hey, at least you know why 9mm gives me the warm and fuzzies that is does. For a more detailed and intelligent take on this subject, check out Service Caliber Handgun Duty and Self-Defense Ammo by Dr. Gary Roberts. ASJ
Editor’s note: John Johnston is the owner and host of Ballistic Radio, a weekly show and podcast dedicated to topics about self-defense, firearms and training with a touch of humor thrown in for good measure. See the cover story of American Shooting Journal’s June 2015 issue. John Johnston is on the cover.
Here are some top 9mm’s ammo for self-defense:
The debate over the 9mm and .45 ACP is one of the most talked about in the firearms community.
Both handguns/calibers have a huge following thanks to their popularity and success in the field.
So which one is better you ask?
9mm vs .45 ACP Match Ups
One of the biggest mistake that most people make is taking a black-and-white stance (only looking at ballistics stats) on the .45 ACP and 9mm.
Many will say that the .45 is better because it shoots a bigger caliber bullet, or that the 9mm is better because of its higher magazine capacity.
Both points are spot on and provide good reasons to prefer one over the other.
Even if you think more bullets is better, you have to admit having bigger bullets with more bullets on tap are both worthy considerations when choosing one gun over the other.
If you look at the bigger picture is that neither gun has a total advantage over the other one, and your own preferences will play a lot in determining which handgun is for you.
Let’s take a look at the major points of each caliber to help you decide.
Manufactured will pitch it as being compact and easier to handle than its .45 ACP counterpart which may be the many reason why the 9mm has become one of the most popular rounds in the gun world.
Just like the .45ACP, the 9mm have served the U.S. military gloriously for more than 30 years.
Yes, even the FBI dropped their .40 S&W pistol in favor of the 9mm.
Here are some of the advantages that the 9mm has over the .45 ACP:
A question to consider for the pro .45ACP carrier, is carrying bigger necessarily better?
The 9mm also has a higher muzzle velocity than the .45 ACP because it uses lighter bullets. Which has caused further debates within the firearms groups over which is better, a fast/light cartridge or a heavy/slow one?
The .45 ACP
If you like the idea of shooting a gun with a lot of stopping power – you’re not alone.
With its heritage engraved in history the trusted Colt M1911 to the modern .45 Glocks, it has always been a most reliable caliber for the gun owners.
Many of us handgun lovers believe that bigger is better and love everything that the .45 ACP has to offer. Here are some of .45ACP’s best features:
On a irrelevant side note, the .45 ACP is a very cool handgun.
Looking at the Two
The advancement of technology has improved the 9mm cartridge, it didn’t get better than the .45s. But, that the 9mm capability caught up to the .45 ACP.
What the experts are saying is that the modern 9mm is just as powerful.
Take a look at these pics highlighting rounds that opens up to create possible nasty wound channels that can stop an attacker:
Not Breaking the Bank
Affordablity, is something that the 9mm is in favor for the average shooters.
Boxes of 9mm Luger are cheaper than the .45s ammo.
When you’re spending some long range time, the 9mm isn’t going to break the bank.
Velocity – Suppressed
We have to mention this because there are folks that love shooting their .45s suppressed. The .45 is a subsonic bullet, because it fires slow and its a heavy bullet, the muzzle velocity is lower than the 9mm which makes it damn near-whisper level.
This is mainly for military and LEO’s but you could be faced with similar situation, if needed.
Most of these folks have gone with the 9mm because they wanted the deeper bullet penetration.
For home defense only, go with the .45 ACP for less penetration, you won’t have to worry about hitting innocent bystanders.
What you choose to go with depends on your budget and life style.
Each caliber has it good points, sometimes it depends on the owner.
Are you a good shooter that can work that gun well? Or, are you just one that only wants to have a gun and never think of practicing with it.
Maybe you’re the tactile person thats into the feel of a handgun.
Some like the heavier weight with a decent kick.
While others prefer the lighter recoil for rapid shots.
Will you be carrying for open or concealed? For CCW, most will go with the 9mm because of the smaller profile. Again, its up to you.
The good news is that which ever you choose, manufacturers has them for you to choose from. You’ll find the 9mm and .45 ACP for home defense, EDC, SHTF or just plinking papers.
Which caliber do you prefer?, Let us know below.
Sources: FBI, Lucky Gun, Youtuber Edwin Sarkisian
Greeley, PA – Kahr Arms is happy to announce that three of their popular CW9 9mm models are now California legal. These models include the CW9 in a Black Carbon Fiber frame, standard CW9 with front night sight and the very popular Cerakote Burnt Bronze.
The three CW9 models all feature a 3.6” barrel with conventional rifling, an overall length of 5.9”, and a height of 4.5” and each pistol weighs just 15.8 oz. All three models offer a trigger cocking DAO, lock-breach, “Browning-type” recoil lug, and a passive striker block with no magazine disconnect. Capacity is 7+1.
The attractive CW9093BCF is one of Kahr’s newest finishes in a classic Black Carbon Fiber print. This textured weave provides a 3-D dimensional appearance to the 9mm while also providing a textured grip that has a tacky feel in your hand. MSRP on the CW9093BCF is $495.00.
Next in the line-up is the CW9093N which features a stainless steel slide and a black polymer frame. It also features a drift adjustable white bar-dot combat rear sight and a pinned in polymer front night sight. MSRP on this model is $495.00.
Last in the group is the CW9093BB. The Cerakote Burnt Bronze has been a popular finish for Kahr Firearms Group having introduced it in both the Kahr and Magnum Research product lines. The attractive brushed bronze finish always turns a few heads at the gun range and has proven to be the top choice of many shooting enthusiasts. The MSRP on that model is $482 and is now available for California gun dealers to buy from authorized Kahr Firearms Group wholesalers.
For more information about these three models, please go to www.kahr.com or check with your local gun shop.