5 Main Kel-Tec SU-16 Problems And How To Fix Them

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I recently took the Kel-Tec SU-16 for a spin, and let me tell you, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. I encountered a few issues after spending quality time at the range and going through hundreds of rounds.

The common Kel-Tec SU-16 Problems I encountered were a damaged receiver, barrel problems, feeding issues, ejecting difficulties, and general shooting hitches. So, if you own a Kel-Tec SU-16 or are thinking of getting one, you’ll want to pay close attention.

The goal here is to dive deep into each problem, explain what’s happening, and offer some tried-and-true fixes. 

Overview of Kel-Tec SU-16 Problems Problems & Solutions

Damaged ReceiverCheck warranty and send to Kel-Tec or replace the receiver. Always wear safety goggles.
Bolt ProblemCheck warranty or replace the faulty part of the BCG. Conduct regular inspections.
Problem with FeedingSwap to a reliable magazine like Magpul PMAG and use brass-cased ammo.
Ejecting IssueReplace the extractor and recoil spring. Consider polishing locking lugs.
Shooting IssuesConsult a gunsmith for expert opinion or send back to Kel-Tec for diagnosis and repair.

Top 5 Kel-Tec SU-16 Problems & Solutions

1. Damaged Receiver

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: the cracked receiver. During my time with the Kel-Tec SU-16, this issue surfaced sooner than I’d like to admit.

 Fired around 500 rounds, and boom, there it was: a crack in the receiver. Now, I’ve heard some folks say it happened to them after 300 rounds, while others hit the 1000-round mark before seeing any issues. 

Whatever the case, it’s pretty clear this is a widespread issue. While it’s hard to point a finger at the exact reason, speculation runs high about it being a manufacturing defect.


So, what to do if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation? First off, check if your gun is still under warranty. If it is, you’re in luck. Ship it off to Kel-Tec, and they should take care of it. 

My experience was pretty straightforward. I sent mine in, and they fixed it without much hassle. Usually, they’re quick, but delays can happen, so be patient. 

Now, here’s a pro tip you won’t want to ignore: always, and I mean always, wear safety goggles when firing. A cracked receiver isn’t just an inconvenience; it can send shrapnel flying. Safety first, folks.

2. Bolt Problem

When I was out on the range, I noticed that the bolt carrier wasn’t moving as smoothly as it should. 

That made me uneasy, and guess what? A closer look revealed a broken connection between the piston and the bolt carrier. Now, that’s a serious problem. 

If that connection snaps during the recoil stroke, the bolt carrier could slam back into the receiver with no resistance. In the worst-case scenario, that means you’re looking at a cracked receiver and, heaven forbid, potential injury.


Now, the good news. If you ever find yourself dealing with this issue, there’s a way out. I recommend first verifying if this part is under warranty.

 If it is, Kel-Tec will most likely fix it without hassle. But let’s say it’s not under warranty, or you want to handle it yourself. 

You’ll need to replace the faulty part of the BCG. I did this with a new, reputable aftermarket part, and the issue was resolved.

3. Problem with the Feeding

Let’s tackle another headache: the double-feeding problem. It’s no joke when you’re expecting one round to load and then two go in. 

I experienced this issue firsthand, and it’s as annoying as it sounds. It was even more frustrating that the shells weren’t ejecting properly, either. 

The problem is likely connected to the magazine; its feed lips might spread too wide, causing multiple rounds to be fed simultaneously. 

It doesn’t happen with all units or all the time, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on.


The fix? Well, it’s actually simpler than you might think. Swap out that magazine. I tried the Magpul PMAG 20-round magazine, and it did wonders for the feeding issue. 

It seems the Kel-Tec SU-16 balances really well with a 20-round magazine, although a 10-round model would also do the trick. Also, consider your ammo choice.

 I switched to brass-cased ammunition, as recommended by Kel-Tec, and saw a significant improvement. One last pro tip: clean and lubricate that rifle before you use it. 

4. Ejecting Issue

Let’s zone in on another issue: ejecting problems. So you’ve fired a round, you’re ready for the next, and guess what? The shell casing decides to stick around. 

It’s a mess, and yes, it also happened to me. In my case, the extractor spring lost its pep. When a spring loses tension, it can’t effectively pull out the spent casing, gumming up the whole system. 

To top it off, the extractor itself was no longer up to snuff. I’ve heard similar stories from other users, making it a recurring theme with the Kel-Tec SU-16.


Now, onto the nitty-gritty. Fixing this issue is pretty straightforward. I replaced both the extractor and the recoil spring, and presto, no more ejecting issues. 

Another point of interest is the locking lugs; they can have sharp edges that interfere with proper ejection. If you think that might be your problem, take your gun to a local gunsmith for some fine-tuning or contact Kel-Tec. 

A little bit of polishing on those lugs can work wonders. So, either way, you have solid options to make this problem a thing of the past.

5. Shooting Issues

Ah, the notorious issue where the gun just won’t shoot as it’s supposed to. This one had me scratching my head, too. 

You’re firing just fine one moment, and the gun goes silent the next. It’s not just me; I’ve read plenty of forum threads where Kel-Tec SU-16 owners expressed the same frustration. 

Now, there are multiple factors you need to consider: ammo type, magazine condition, and even how well you’ve maintained the rifle. It’s a complex web of possibilities that can complicate pinpointing the problem.


Alright, let’s get down to brass tacks. Assuming the gun isn’t ejecting the shell correctly and everything else checks out, there are a few places to look for a fix. 

First, you’ll want to rule out issues with the magazine, extractor, and recoil spring. How do I know? Well, I ran the same diagnostic myself.

After consulting a gunsmith, I got an expert opinion that guided me through the troubleshooting process. Sending the gun back to Kel-Tec is also an option, and they’re usually pretty good about getting to the root of the problem. 

Final Verdict

So, after a thorough review and field test, it’s pretty clear the Kel-Tec SU-16 is a mixed bag. The firearm comes with plenty of pros—lightweight, versatile, and cost-effective. 

Yet, it’s also plagued by a range of issues like a damaged receiver, bolt problems, and feeding inconsistencies. That said, none of these issues are insurmountable. 

With attention to detail and some elbow grease, you can have this rifle performing like a champ. Whether it’s swapping out the magazine, replacing the bolt carrier group, or simply maintaining your firearm more effectively, the solutions are within reach. 

Trust me, once you address these common glitches, you’ll find the Kel-Tec SU-16 to be a reliable addition to your collection.


Is the Kel-Tec SU 16 reliable?

Yes, after addressing common issues, the Kel-Tec SU-16 proves to be a reliable firearm for self-defense, hunting, and survival.

What is the difference between SU16 A and B?

The SU-16B has a lighter barrel and M-16-type adjustable-post front sight compared to the A model but has been criticized for its light barrel construction.

What is the twist rate of a SU16?

The Kel-Tec SU-16 has a 1-in-7-inch twist rate in its 16-inch barrel.

What caliber is a Kel-Tec SU 16?

The Kel-Tec SU-16 is chambered in .223 Remington caliber.

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I'm Micheal, an avid shooter and hunting enthusiast from Texas. I'm a recreational shooter who loves to spend time at the range and enjoy learning about new firearms and gears. I love to write about guns and share my passion for shooting with others.