4 Kel-Tec SU-16 Problems You Should Know

AR-15 rifles have some limitations due to laws in different states. Hence, KT SU-16 has become one of the most popular alternatives. Like other guns, there are a few Kel-Tec SU-16 problems.

Double feeding, cracked receiver, improper extraction, and problematic shooting experience are the common problems of the SU-16 series.

These are minor issues with easy solutions that I have also discussed alongside the problems in this article. Let’s get started.

Features & Specifications of Kel-Tec SU-16

Kel-Tec SU-16
Barrel Length18.5” (SU16A) 16” (SU16B; SU16C; SU16CA; SU16E) 9” (SU16D9) 12” (SU16D12)
Magazine Capacity10/20/30
Overall Length37.4” (SU16A) 35.9” (SU16B; SU16CA; SU16D9; SU16D12) 35.5” (SU16C; SU16E)
Twist Rate1:7” (other models) 1:9” (SU16D12)
Rear SightPeep
Front SightAdjustable front sight
SafetySteel Cross-bolt Button
Weight (Unloaded)5 pounds (SU16A) 4.5 pounds (SU16B; SU16D9; SU16D12) 4.7 pounds (SU16C; SU16CA)
Trigger Pull6 pounds (other models) 5-7 pounds (SU16D12)
Common Kel-Tec SU 16 Problems
Kel-Tec SU 16

Common Kel-Tec SU-16 Problems and Solutions

Without further ado, let’s talk about the SU-16 problems and possible solutions in detail below.

Quick Overview of the Problems and Solutions

Feeding more than one ammo at a timeReplace the magazine with a better one, and try good-quality ammunition.
Cracked or broken receiverContact Kel-Tec for a solution.
Not ejecting spent shellChange the extractor and recoil spring, trim sharp points of locking lugs, or take expert help.
Not shooting smoothlyTake actions according to the cause, or call Kel Tec for help.

1. Double Feeding Problem

A newly bought Kel-Tec SU-16 rifle user mentioned that he was not happy with the performance of the gun.

In this particular case, the firearm was double feeding and not ejecting the shells properly.

However, the issue may not occur all the time or in all units.

From the users experiencing the same problem, the reason behind this issue is very likely related to the magazine.

Due to various reasons, the magazine becomes faulty; the feed lips spread to such an extent that it feeds more than one ammo at a time.

The Fix

Changing the magazine solves this problem permanently. Here, I recommend buying this Magpul PMAG 20-round magazine.

SU-16 perfectly balances with a 20-round magazine. You can also use a 10-round model.

Also, changing the ammo will make the shooting experience buttery smooth.

According to Kel Tec, you should use brass-cased ammunition instead of steel-cased ones. And, don’t try to save money in ammo choosing.

Pro Tip: Cleaning and lubricating the rifle before use may seem irrelevant to solving feeding and ejecting issues. But do it anyway to eliminate all possibilities of failure. 

2. Cracked Receiver

The most common Kel-Tec SU-16 problem is its receiver getting cracked after firing some rounds.

Some users faced the issue after only 300 rounds, some after 1000 rounds, and some didn’t have a cracked receiver before 4000 rounds of firing.

However, one thing is certain here. Lots of users are facing the same issue, and you can experience it too.

The reason may lie in the manufacturing process. But it is not possible to pinpoint the cause.

The Fix

If it occurs under warranty, you don’t have to spend any money on fixing it.

Send the gun to Kel-Tec, and they will solve the problem for you.

Usually, the company doesn’t take much time to repair the faulty receiver. But it may be delayed for unforeseen reasons.

Pro Tip: As this is not a simple or small problem, you can understand that sudden cracks can cause shrapnel to fly around. So, always put on safety goggles before firing.

3. Ejecting Problem

The problem of ejecting empty shells is already mentioned in the first problem statement.

Here, I am mentioning this separately to tell you the reason and solution briefly.

After using SU-16 for some time, the extractor spring losing its tension is normal. The extractor becomes faulty too.

As a result, the used shell can’t come out jamming the whole system. You can get an idea by seeing the image below.

The Fix

Simply changing the extractor and recoil spring will solve this issue permanently.

After some research, I have found out that there can be another possible reason behind this issue.

The locking lugs may have sharp points which can also stop the gun from ejecting shells.

In this case, take the gun to a local gunsmith and he/she will polish the lugs. Or, you can contact Kel-Tec for a solution.

4. Not Shooting Properly

I have seen several forum threads mentioning that the gun doesn’t shoot a round sometimes.

It is not possible to link all the threads here. So, I’m using one example.

According to a Kel Tec SU-16 user, he couldn’t shoot after the first shot whereas the magazine had 3 rounds left.

Here, there can be several reasons for this problem.

To identify what kind of fault you are dealing with in your particular case, you have to answer these questions first.

  • Are you seeing proper cycling?
  • Does the gun eject shell properly all the time?
  • Are you using the stock magazine?
  • What is the brand and type of ammo you are using?
  • Have you ever disassembled, cleaned, and assembled the rifle?
  • What is the current condition of the rifle?

Indeed, the list is a bit long, but all of them are important.

The Fix

For the sake of providing a solution, let’s assume that your gun is not ejecting the shell properly.

Also, I am considering that other parameters or answers to the questions are positive.

Here, the problem can be in the magazine, extractor, recoil spring, or in the user who is not closing the action properly.

Regardless of the issue, getting an expert opinion (possibly from a local gunsmith) will help a lot.

Or, you can send it to Kel Tec, and they will take care of the problem.

User Feedback on Kel-Tec SU-16

When it comes to quality control, Kel Tec doesn’t rank in the top 5. So, investing in Kel-Tec SU16 can be a gamble.

I have already mentioned the major problems this model has according to the users.

So, you must not buy the SU16 without thinking thoroughly. In my research, I saw both positive and negative opinions in the 60-40 ratio.

Regardless of the issues, SU-16 is reliable, extremely lightweight, and easy to operate.

The lack of accuracy with stock sights is a real pain that you have to solve by buying an additional scope.

To make these guns affordable, Kel Tec uses flimsy plastic parts to manufacture the SU-16 series.

Hence, don’t get disappointed if you see cracks or broken parts after shooting 200 or 300 rounds.

In summary, you can get this rifle but don’t expect it to last long as some expensive alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is the Kel-Tec SU-16 reliable?


How much does a Kel-Tec SU 16 cost?

About $500; but check the latest price.

Does Kel Tec still make the SU 16?


What does make SU-16 series different from the AR-15 platform?

Gas piston operating system

Yes; it is possible due to the folding stock feature.


After knowing all about Kel-Tec SU-16 problems, what do you think about the rifle?

Is it still your favorite? I think that you must not consider these issues as deal-breakers.

Because no guns are perfect. When you face an issue, you solve it. And, Kel-Tec is always there to help you keep the gun functioning properly.

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