This is our KSG. It is a 12 gauge bullpup shotgun made by Kel-Tec that holds a total of 15 rounds, 7 in each magazine tube and one in the chamber. It is outfitted with a front and rear open AR-15 type sight from Leapers/UTG, and the front sight has a laser that is activated by a pad on the handgrip. The front grip is a Tapco polymer model that works great on the gun.
The KSG is suprisingly manageable when you lean into it and take control of the gun. With light, medium and heavy buckshot we shot this for an entire afternoon with over 200 rounds and nobody got a bruise, or missed a target.
If you enlarge this picture you will see the magazine selector lever. It is to the right. Whichever side it is on, this is the side you can load the magazine on, and the side that will pop the next round when you jack the action. The slide has to be forward to load the tubes. The middle position allows you to clear the action without popping another shell.
This is the slide release, in the front of trigger guard. It allows you to open the action and eject a shell without firing. With the selector in the middle position this would allow you to clear the KSG and load a specialty round, like a breacher bag or a non-lethal.
The only downside to the ergonimics of the completely ambidexrous KSG is that the rounds eject down onto your wrist, and it hurts after you get hit a few times. The red mark didn’t photograph well, but it was pretty red.
We tested the KSG with ten different kinds of ammunition, including the Aguila Minishells. All of them worked really well.
The KSG fed the Aguilla Minishells reliable with zero failures over several boxes. It holds 12 in each tube.
The paper plate don’t lie. There is a world of difference between all three of these rounds that have become popular with law enforcement and for home defense. We really need to do a complete overview of the differences, but you can see from the targets and velocities some of the differences here.
These two pins work just like the ones we saw on the KRISS Vector some time ago. You can push them out with your finger and the whole gun comes apart from there.
Then you pull off the buttstock from the back, and the bolt is just sitting there to take out and wipe down. It really didn’t need it the gun stays amazingly clean.
We just happened to put on polymer Tapco foregrip with a large bearing surface. The bottom rail may be plastic, but it seemed and worked solid as a rock with the polymer grip.
No gun has made more noise in the gun market over the past two years than the Kel-Tec KSG. Introduced in prototype at SHOT Show of 2011, the KSG is a bullpup design pump action shotgun with two, side by side, selectable magazine tubes, each holding seven regular 2 3/4″ shotgun shells. This adds up to an awesome firepower total of 14, plus one round in the pipe, for a total of 15 round pump shotgun. For a compact high capacity shotgun, the KSG has had no equal.
The problem has been unfortunately , nobody could get one, not even the writers. Now the KSG is making its way out into the market and the demand is far outstripping supply. For several months now the guns have been selling at a premium of well over the MSRP of $880, but they are at least coming out, and we were able to finally take one to the range. While everyone has been waiting for the KSG, while supply slowly catches up to demand, we have all been asking, is the KSG a novelty gun for the armchair zombie hunters, or is it a serious close quarters battle shotgun? On first blush, it could be a bit of both, but when you shoot the KSG, there is no denying that for home defense, police use, and even military strike teams, this is probably a gun that is here to stay.
The first order of business on any new firearm design like this is to run the gun a lot with several types of ammunition. We started with bird shot, just to get a feel for the recoil. This is of course a bullpup, so the shell is being shot from right next to your head. That can be a little scary for a gun you’ve never shot before. The birdshot was like shooting an AR. Light and comfortable. Then we moved up to Federal low recoil law enforcement buckshot, then to full snot buckshot, then to the Hornady specialty hot buckshot. Overall we put more than 250 rounds through the KSG in one afternoon, and surprisingly the gun did not have even one shortstroke or failure to eject or really anything other than perfect behavior.
That brings us to recoil. The KSG does take 3″ shells, but for these tests we stuck to 2 3/4″ buckshot, and a couple specialty rounds. You will be surprised at how little the KSG recoils, even with the hottest loads, which we found to be both the Hornady Critical Defense and Superformance. It is still a 12 guage shotgun of course, and the laws of physics still apply. With full strength and extra hot buckshot the KSG does recoil a good deal, but if you lean into the gun and brace yourself, you can shoot the gun over dozens of rounds with no pain or bruising, and the jump doesn’t hinder followup shots the way it does with a standard full stock 20″ tactical shotgun. The straight back, shoulder pivot point of the recoil somehow makes the KSG feel like it recoils about half of what you would call normal. You have to shoot it to believe it.
Flipping between the two magazine tubes is not the smoothest thing. You can’t be casual about it. With a hard push it clicks over every time. The tubes are set up so that the selector lever is on one side or the other, or in the middle. When it is on either side, that side can be loaded, just like you would load the magazine tube on a Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, one round thumbed in at a time, and when you rack the slide, that side is the one that will pop the shell for the next shot. If the selector is in the middle, the gun merely ejects the round and doesn’t pop another shell.
Theoretically, you could carry a different load in each of the two tubes and select between them depending on your needs. I take a little bit of an issue with this thinking because on a practical level, nobody is going to put themselves into the middle of a potential gunfight with an empty chamber, waiting for a decision on which type of round to use. Granted, because of the extreme high capacity, you could, say, keep the left tube with buckshot as your default, and fill the right tube with slugs. If you needed to take a longer shot than 40 yards or so, or you were dealing with a hostage kind of situation where a wide buckshot pattern isn’t desirable, you could flip the selector, rack the round out and pop a slug. It sounds good, and with real training it might actually work, but someone has to pay for all that ammo. Probably not happening.
As we said all the way back at that first look at the gun in 2011, the KSG is packed with features that you wouldn’t think you would find on a first generation gun like this. It has a top and bottom accessory rail, and the sides of the magazine tubes are slotted for round counters. If you look at the pictures you will see that the slide release is right in front of the trigger guard, so clearing the chamber is easy and intuitive, far more than any other pump gun on the market. The top rail is aluminum, and believe it or not, the KSG doesn’t come with sights. This is probably the the only odd thing on a gun that seems to have brought everything else to the party.
The sights we put on are from Leapers/UTG. The rear is a standard AR-15 style aperture and the front is also a standard front post. This front sight also has a laser in it, and we led the pressure switch wire across the top of the rail in the middle slot, held down by UTG rail covers. The top rail could of course employ a red dot or holographic sight, but for a home defense weapon that might sit for months without being checked, relying on batteries isn’t the best idea. This gun shoots fabulous with regular old open sights, and if you want to add lights and lasers, great, but make sure you your primary sights are available without batteries.
As you can see from the pictures, we decided to trick out the gun a bit with what most people will probably want on the KSG at a minimum. I have seen some internet armchair mavens shooting the KSG without a foregrip, but in the opinion of everyone in our group who shot it, you really need a foregrip. The two magazine tubes make the slide itself fat, and the rail makes it not the most pleasant thing to hold onto under recoil. There have been complaints that the KSG bottom rail is plastic, and subject to breaking with a foregrip, but after hundreds of rounds we saw no evidence of any wear whatsoever. We did use a plastic foregrip, from Tapco and it has a large bearing surface, but it is plastic itself. Perhaps an aluminum grip would cut into the plastic of the rail more, who knows. I wouldn’t want to fall forward and land on the gun and expect the grip to not twist off, but for regular shooting under regular conditions, this Tapco grip isn’t going anywhere on the KSG and just about anyone will shoot better with it, at not a huge additional expense.
Taking down the KSG and putting it back together is a little tricky but not difficult once you understand the pieces and they way they work together. You pull the two pins, remove the lower, pull out the buttstock, and remove the bolt. If you want you can take the mag tubes out but there is no need from what we saw of the gun. In fact, after over 200 rounds, the action of the gun was almost completely clean, leaving little to do but wipe down the bolt and bolt face, which weren’t even covered with carbon. Swab the barrel like any shotgun and you are good to go on the KSG, with not a lot of cleaning concerns.
For ammo, we tried a total of ten different versions of traditional law enforcement and personal defense loads. Nine are represented in the results here because there was no difference between the Federal Law Enforcement and Personal Defense rounds, LE142 and PD132 respectively. We included in our tests the Aguilla 1 3/4″ Minishells, just to see if they would run. Surprisingly they did, with complete reliability, and the Kel-Tec KSG holds 25, count em, * t-w-e-n-t-y f-i-v-e * rounds, 12 each side, plus one. At ten yards the Minishells open up a little more than most would like, partly because the KSG is only an 18 1/2″ cylinder bore gun with no choke at all, but for close quarters combat, that’s a ton of firepower in a small package.
The other rounds we tested at 10 yards behaved as expected. The Federal LE132 stays tighter than most normal buckshot, probably because of the plastic fiber buffer that they stuff between the 9 pellets. The 8 pellet, slightly lighter payload Hornady Superformance and Critical Defense were the most punishing on both ends, clocking almost 300 feet per second faster than standard 9 pellet buckshot on the front, and with the sharpest recoil on the back. Most surprising were the new Winchester PDX1 12 gauge loads. They deliver a whopping 590 grain total payload using a 439 grain rifled slug and three buckshot, traveling at over 1000 feet per second. At ten yards the PDX1 was right on point of aim with the slug, and the buckshot were dispersed reasonably well. All of the standard buckshot, including military issue 00 Buck from Winchester, shot pretty much to the same point of aim with healthy dispersion at 10 yards, which is considered normal combat distance for buckshot.
The only real downside to the KSG was the ejection port. It ejects the spent shells with force straight down, into your arm. After a few dozen rounds our shoulders were fine, but on a short sleeve day in sunny south Florida, there was a noticeable red mark where the shells where hitting on our wrists. Other than wearing a heavy shirt or coat, there is no real way around it. I suspect there will be some kind of aftermarket deflector at some point, but for now you just have to train yourself not to say ouch after you get hit enough to hurt. Saying out in a firefight is bad, even if you are winning. Because the KSG ejects straight down, and the controls are all in the middle on both sides of the gun, the KSG is completely ambidextrous, including the red mark on your wrist.
Looking around the internet, it is comforting to note that there are really nothing but positive reviews of the KSG out there. Kel-Tec took an extra year of R&D after SHOT of 2011 to get this gun right. Originally it didn’t cycle 3″ shells, and though we didn’t test this yet, now it apparently does. There was a short stroke issue with the early prototypes, but you can’t get this gun to short stroke even if you try. The trigger reset was another issue, and we measured our test gun with calipers at about 1/10th of an inch, in line with the most advanced striker pistols. The thing you don’t see much of on the internet are reviews with more than a few rounds. We put a ton of lead downrange with the KSG and the gun doesn’t even need to be cleaned, and nothing got loose, came apart, or misaligned. America has never been particularly in love with bullpups. Most have failed in the market over the years. But like the revolutionary RFB .308 bullpup rifle from Kel-Tec (that we still have yet to get one to try), America seems to love the KSG, and it sure shoots great, so even those who do pay the price gougers out there right now won’t be disappointed.
And on a closing note, about the price gougers, and yes, they are selling on GunsAmerica as well, please don’t flame Kel-Tec about the people out there selling the KSG well over the MSRP of $880. They do not control what dealers get the guns, nor how many guns they get, nor how much those dealers sell the guns for. Kel-Tec sells to distributors. The distributors sell to dealers. The dealers sell to consumers, and it is the dealers who set the prices. This is America, and capitalism shouldn’t be a dirty word, no matter how hard the media, the grade school and even college teachers have tried to make it one . Supply and demand are a product of the market. Right now the distributors are rewarding their good dealers by sending them KSGs, so that they can sell them to their own regular customers, mostly at MSRP. A few guns here and there don’t get allocated to the big shops, and that is the source of the price gougers mostly.
And in defense of the dealers who are selling the KSG at well over retail , if they sold every KSG they were able to get for $880, there would be flippers searching out the guns and selling them for $1,500 the same day regardless. At GunsAmerica we would rather see the stocking dealers make the money if the money is to be made. Stocking gun dealers, who are getting most of the 100 or so KSG shotguns that Kel-Tec can produce every day, are the foundation of our 2nd Amendment freedom in America since the Gun Control Act of 1968, and anything that makes a brick and mortar stocking gun dealer a little extra is a good thing. Eventually supply should catch up to demand on the KSG. Kel-Tec opened a whole new production department this year and is working to further capacity even more.
In the long run we will all get our KSGs. It is a high quality firearm from a company that has improved every year since they began Kel-Tec is in the firearms business for the long haul, and the KSG is here to stay. Patience grasshopper. All good things come to those who wait. And no, ours is NOT FOR SALE!
The Kel-Tec KSG – Spread and Velocity with Common Defensive Loads
This is the Federal LE132, which was the same as the PD132. The “Flight Control Wad” stretches the entire length of the cartridge and the shot is buffered with a white plastic fiber. As you can see it stayed the tightest of our group at 10 yards. Average velocty was 1145 feet per second. Total payload was weighed at 444 grains.