I am not generally a fan of bullpup designs, it is just not my flavor. I understand many people are, and for a variety of reasons. Some just like that they are different. Some like the full-length barrel in a compact package, also a valid point. Some like the concept of a rifle that handles like an SBR, without the need for tax stamps. I get that too. The soldier in me just can’t get behind it though. I see bullpups as a novelty, but not a replacement for rifles. I don’t care if the Brits carry them, they also sip tea. I’ll take tactical advice from the Redcoats the day I am wearing a toe tag.
Still, I was curious about this one. If nothing else, I generally like everything Kel-Tec produces. Kel-Tec is the most outside the box thinking company in the industry, and more importantly, their designs go bang. The strange design is very much preferable to unreliable, and Kel-Tec can never be accused of cookie cutter replica guns. I have already made an exception to my no bullpups policy for the KSG shotgun, so this was worth a look.
Check out Clay’s review of the KSG-25.
The RFB is chambered in 308 Winchester, which gives you quite a lot of gun in a small package. With an 18-inch barrel, which our test model was wearing, the overall length is 26 inches. A 24-inch barrel is also available, increasing the size to 36 inches. Unloaded weight is 8.1 pounds, not bad for this caliber.
This is not the first foray of Kel Tec into the bullpup market. In addition to the KSG shotgun, Kel Tec also created the RDB line years back. The names are so close, I called the RFB the RDB several times during the video portion of this review. What, exactly, is the difference? RDB stands for rifle, down, bullpup, describing the platform and how it ejects empty casings. The RDB ejects empties down, which is a pretty unique design itself.
The RFB, in a radical departure from everything, stands for rifle, forward, bullpup. It actually ejects rounds out the front of the handguard, which takes some getting used to. Talk about a feat of engineering! There is a small tray under the outer polymer shell, which feeds empty shell casings toward the muzzle. When you get enough of them stacked up, they start falling free. Without fail, every time I lowered the gun after shooting and brass fell on the ground, I looked at the rifle to see if it was broken. It is a very weird concept, but it works as advertised.
- Cartridge: .308
- Capacity: 20+1 rds.
- Overall length: 26 in.
- Barrel Length: 18 in.
- Twist Rate: 1:11-in. rate
- Trigger Pull: 5 lbs.
- MSRP: $1,929
The trigger was the biggest surprise, as most bullpup triggers are abysmal. The RFB is shockingly good. Very little take-up, almost no over travel, I would actually say it is better than a standard AR. Kel Tec says it is 5 pounds, and my trigger gauge says slightly more. But in use, it feels like neither. It could have been just that it exceeded expectations, but I was mystified every time I dropped the hammer. It is that good.
Accuracy was also well beyond the expected. I have never tried a Kel-Tec rifle, so I was basing accuracy standards on other bullpups, and battle rifles. I would have been happy with a 3 MOA or better group. I slapped the good old NightForce 7-35X scope on, broke out the new foam action shooting sports blocks, and away we went.
The blocks were important since you can’t put a bipod on the RFB. There is a separate review of the foam action blocks coming up, but they are awesome. The RFB turned in a just over a 1 MOA group, measuring right at 1&1/8th inches from 100 meters. Very impressive for this style of rifle. Also, this might be the first time ever that a $4,000 scope was used on a Kel-Tec.
After the initial accuracy test, I switched to an optic that is a better fit for a mid-range rifle. I had Night Force 1-8 short dot scopes on hand, so it seemed like a winning idea. The combination proved a winner, as I worked steel at distance and up close paper targets. The RFB ran without a hiccup, eating everything thing I fed it.
In a couple hundred rounds of testing, only two things came up. First, I had trouble getting the magazine to seat, and not just when it was full. This is probably more a training issue than a design flaw, but know ahead of time, you have to rock the mag in like an M-14. The second was the recoil impulse. There is a bit of recoil, and it moves in a weird direction. I would classify it as low and right instead of high and right, which feels a little strange. It’s not better or worse than a similar size AR, it is just different.
If you like bullpups, or just want a weapon that is from off the beaten path, the Kel Tec RFB is a winner. If nothing else, it is big bore firepower that will fit under the seat in a Honda Civic.
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