When the original KSG hit the streets so many years ago, it set the firearms world ablaze. It was the must-have new toy for a variety of reasons. I had a friend at SHOT Show that year seek it out for me, to see if it was real or just a unicorn dream. I wanted one so badly that I could taste it. It seemed to be everything I ever wanted in a truck gun. It’s 14-plus-one rounds of buckshot and slugs made it ideal. There aren’t many problems that you can’t solve with that kind of capacity. How could they possibly improve on that design? Enter SHOT Show 2017 and Kel-Tec has done it again. Now the KSG-25 offers 24-plus-one shells of buckshot and slugs at your fingertips! An entire box of shells onboard, with the reliability of a pump shotgun. Yes, please! I will take one.
- Type: bullpup pump action shotgun
- Gauge: 12
- Capacity: 24+1 rds. (41 Aguila mini shells)
- Magazine: Dual tube fed
- Trigger: 6 lbs.
- Stock: Synthetic
- Barrel Length: 30.5 in.
- Sights: Iron sights
- Weight:9.25 lbs.
- Overall Length: 38 in.
- MSRP: $1,400
- Manufacturer: Kel-Tec
The original KSG was a bull pup design and was engineered from the ground up for the U.S. market to get a maximum shotgun with minimum legal barrel length. The overall package was extremely compact. Shooters had all that firepower with an overall length of 26.1 inches. You can read our review of the original KSG shotgun here.
So what is the story with this new model? Why, given the originally stated goals, would Kel-Tec design the same gun with a 30½-inch barrel? Kel-Tec has a long history of innovative guns such as the PF9, SU-16 Series, and the PMR-30. Why take an extremely compact, bull pup design and make it huge? The original answer was to take care of the European market. The KSG was selling like wild fire, but the poor European peasants in less free countries had a problem. Many nations on the other side of the pond had a very different set of restrictions on barrels and overall length. Kel-Tec, being red-blooded American Capitalists, set out to build something acceptable to the European market. Once the specs met the prohibitions set on the serfs, some engineer thought, “If we have to extend the barrel, why not extend the magazine tubes.” It was a happy accident that the overall length of 38 inches resulted in a capacity of 25 shells. The engineers at Kel-Tec thought the finished package was so cool that they decided to release a limited run for the U.S. market.
So, to the reader who lives in a free state, why would you possibly want this plus sized model instead of the original? It depends. The original KSG is more compact, and the ergonomics are the same. That is to say that the new KSG-25 shoulders like a bull pup, pumps like a bull pup, and the trigger/safety remain in the same spot. Loading and switching the tube to feed from is identical. There are a few very real advantages to the new model though, which bears some scrutiny.
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First is obviously capacity. A 25-shell capacity is nothing to sneeze at. If that won’t handle the problem, you need a belt fed and a gunship. That is so much ammo it makes my usual argument about shotguns being slow to reload a moot point. If you decide to use Aguila mini shells, you get a capacity of 41. The mini shells are much more of a viable option than I thought they would be, and they ran reliably in the KSG. Plagiarizing myself, this is what I learned about the mini shells when I measured velocity through my chronograph for another review last year.
“The slugs are a 7/8th ounce size, which is more than plenty for home-defense purposes. In testing, they chronographed slower than a standard slug, but still fast enough to count. If a slug that size at 900 feet per second won’t kill it, you have problems. The buckshot is the really strange one in this equation though. Rather than cram less pellets in, Aguila opted for two different sizes of pellets in the same shell. This works quite well, and produced an acceptable pattern at home-defense range.“
Forty-one shells is an insane capacity for a shotgun, and without question gives it the “hand held claymore” designation.
Barrel length adds velocity, and the KSG-25’s full 30½-inch barrel should give optimal velocity in all shotgun rounds. Shotguns are more susceptible than most guns to lost velocity in barrel length reduction. I am not an expert on shotgun powder burn rates, but this is the observed truth from 3-Gun. All other things being equal, barrel length doesn’t change your pattern much. But it does matter for velocity. If you are doing a type of shooting that means maximizing speed, this is a better option for you.
At an overall length of 38 inches, the new KSG-25 is still ¾ inches shorter than a Remington 870 Tactical. Hard as that is to believe, it is true. Using specs from Remington’s own website, the KSG is shorter overall, with four times the capacity. Wow. Just wow.
I have been looking forward to this since SHOT Show, and I wasn’t disappointed. This is meant to be a tactical shotgun and comes out of the box with Magpul folding sights. I decided to up the game and added a Vortex Sparc red dot. I like red dots for CQB range engagements, and with how out of practice I am, I shoot slugs better with them. Slugs are pricey, and I can zero a red dot in fewer rounds. I mounted the Sparc pretty far forward, though the top rail extends the full length of the barrel. You could put it on the end if that is your fancy. It proved to be a good combination, one that I would recommend highly.
The KSG-25 ran flawlessly with both 2¾-inch shells and the mini shells, as long as I did my job. There is a bit of a learning curve with a bull pup if you come from a traditional pump action shotgun. I had a tendency to short stroke the scattergun, a bad habit from years of heavy metal 3-Gun with one platform. This would result in an empty chamber and a click, which fortunately you can rectify easily. You also want to run the pump on this gun hard. It’s no princess or ’70s era Wingmaster, you need to slam this thing around. Like a 1911, it will respond to this.
Both the 25-round and 41-round magazine dumps were tiring, but that’s expected. The stroke of the pump is a different movement than anything else, and with training time this would undoubtedly go away. I really wanted the tubes to be empty when I was filming this segment, that is an unholy amount of shotgun rounds to try and dump in one setting. The balance of a full load of 25 is a little odd, but if you are carrying a tactical shotgun that is a minor issue.
Overall, I think this is a great scattergun. Kel-Tec continues to impress me with innovation, and the KSG-25 is no different. If you are in the tactical shotgun market, both models of KSG deserve a look.
For more information about the Kel-Tec KSG-25, click https://www.keltecweapons.com/shotguns/ksg-25.
For more information about Aguila Ammunition mini shells, click https://www.aguilaammo.com/shotshell/.
For more information about the Vortex Sparc, click https://www.vortexoptics.com/product/vortex-sparc-ar-red-dot.
To purchase a KSG shotgun on GunsAmerica, click https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Kel-Tec%20KSG.