The Kel-Tec Sports Utility 16 is a semi-automatic rifle chambered in .223 Remington or 5.56 NATO, and, as of late 2011, supposedly .300 AAC Blackout. Like many Kel-Tec weapons, the SU-16 series of carbines is known for its compact design, simple controls and economical price. Kel Tec designed and recommends the SU-16 for law enforcement, plinking or as a ranch gun.

Although it doesn’t look like either the AR or AK, Kel Tec says it was designed using traits from both popular platforms. The SU-16 uses a locking bolt design found on an AR/M16, meaning the bolt locks in place before firing, and a gas-piston operating system, which is synonymous with the AK-design. With a gas-piston operating system the gas used to push a round out is caught and cycled back. It’s then directed onto a piston to drive the bolt back. The system is cleaner and requires less maintenance than a regular gas-operating system, which excludes the intermediary.

Except for the operating parts and the barrel, the SU-16 is made entirely of high reinforced polymer, which makes it incredibly light and reduces the price considerably because it’s cheaper to make.

Standard features include adjustable sights, a short Picatinny rail just above the chamber for easy mounting of optics or accessories, a fore-end that folds into a bipod, the SU-16 is compatible with AR15/M16 magazines, and the stock folds down for storage. However, there are five models in the SU-16 series and they all vary only slightly.

SU-16A is the largest with a 18.5-inch barrel and weighing five pounds. It features adjustable ghost ring rear sight and hooded fiber optic front, and the stock has space for two 10-round magazines.

SU-16B has a 16-inch barrel and weighs 4.5 pounds. It features adjustable rear sight and open front sight post, and
the stock has space for two 10-round magazines.

SU-16C has a 16-inch barrel and weighs 4.7 pounds. It features an adjustable ghost ring rear sight and open front sight post, the stock is skeletonized, it has a reciprocating dust cover on the charging handle that both keeps dust out and deflects ejecting spent casings, and the Charlie model can fire when its stock is folded, too. Also, it’s only available in a Parkerized finish with matte black polymer components.

SU-16CA has a 16-inch barrel and weighs 4.7 pounds. Kel Tec says the California model shares features with both the Alpha and Charlie models. It basically has the feature elements of the Charlie model, but like the Alpha, it cannot fire when the stock is folded.

SU-16D is the smallest one with a 9.2-inch barrel and weighing 3.7 pounds. Unlike the other models, the fore-end does not double as a bipod. In replace of it, it has a underbarrel Picatinny rail for mounting of accessories like a grip. It can also has a bayonet lug.

Besides numerous AR-platforms, many consider the Ruger Mini-14 and the Saiga .223 to be its competition.

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