KelTec’s KS7 Bullpup Shotgun

KelTec’s new KS7 bullpup shotgun is a derivative of the KSG, but with just one tubular magazine.

KelTec is known as an innovative firearms company. They continually break down what a gun is supposed to do and then they design it from the ground up. People comment that Keltec is always making futuristic designs, and that was true when they started in the ’90s. However, NOW is the future and Keltec continues to make guns that perform without fitting the forms set by guns from the 1960s.

The KS7 is a recent addition to their lineup and their second shotgun. It’s a bullpup 12 gauge with a single magazine and a truly compact design. I wouldn’t have had to mention that it has a single tubular magazine, except that the company’s KSG, released in 2011, has dual tubular magazines with various models that hold as many as 25 shells. The KS7 has a much smaller footprint but still holds 7+1 when shooting 2 3/4″ shells.

It’s compact, it comes up well, and it’s priced competitively. It’s clearly intended as a home-defense gun, but it’s so light and packable that it may find it’s way into other uses. Let’s take a close look at its details as well as its idiosyncrasies.

Ambidextrous Bullpup

The KS7 has a bullpup design, so the grip is in front of the action. Spent shells are ejected downward from under your armpit as you shoot.

Spent shells from the KS7 are ejected from the buttstock under your armpit. You can see a red shell falling downward here.

The tube magazine is stacked under the barrel and they are the same length. Working the pump-action ejects the spent shell on the way back and racks a new shell into battery on the way forward.

Since shells are ejected downward and basically under your face, it’s truly comfortable for both right and left-handed shooters. The safety and pump release are also fully ambidextrous.

Stock

The buttstock is just inches behind the action, so the whole gun is very short — just 26.1″ overall. Even the barrel begins behind the grip and is still 18.5″ long. It’s a pump-action gun with a contoured forend pump.

The buttstock begins right behind the action. It has got a thin recoil pad — you’re going to want to augment this pad.

Keltec’s iconic gator grip texture wraps the pump and the vertical pistol grip. The carry handle on the top doubles as a channel sight with a fiber optic bead at the front. There are MLOK slots on the pump, carry handle, and buttstock. There’s a hard rubber pad on the buttstock, too.

The pistol grip has plenty of room for big hands and the iconic gator grip texture.

All of these parts are a polymer, which lends to its light weight. The whole gun is just 5.9 pounds. The only metal you’ll be handling as you shoot this gun is the cheek plate. The comb is situated directly over the chamber, so it’s nice to have steel armor deflecting any problems away from your face. The barrel and magazine are also steel but are almost completely enclosed by the polymer stocks.

The pump grip also has the gator grip texture and a lip at the front and back like the guard on a sword. The carry handle also has MLOK slots.

The grip assembly comes away from the receiver with two AR-style pins so it’s easy to access the action for cleaning or clearing.

When you remove the grip assembly, you can store the assembly pins in these two holes in the grip.

The carry handle can be swapped for a KelTec-produced replacement Picatinny rail that attaches right to the barrel and includes a heat shield. This rail sits flat over the barrel, reducing the gun’s profile by about 1.5″. There are also third-party manufacturers who make similar rails. KelTec’s rail upgrade (KS7-1142) costs $40.

The pump has MLOK slots behind its grip.

Fit & Finish

For a gun that looks like it’s made completely of plastic, it is surprisingly tight. There’s less play in the pump than on my Mossberg 500. The KS7’s polymer pieces are all color matched and evenly toned. The seams fit without large gaps.

All the seams are tight, but the edges are not trimmed smooth. The pump release button is ambidextrous and easy to find in the dark.

The polymer pieces all fit together well, but they are not trimmed neatly. There are sharp edges at almost all the seams. The bottom of the pistol grip is particularly sharp. Functionally, I didn’t notice the edges while shooting. If I owned this KS7, I think I’d get after it with some fine emery paper and smooth things out.

Barrel & Magazine

The steel barrel is 18.5″ long. The barrel begins just behind the pistol grip and the pump grip slides right to its other end. The forcing cone appears to be about 3″ long, which is quite generous and should make for more regular shot patterns.

The 18.5″ barrel sits above the tube magazine. Currently, no chokes or brakes are available from KelTec, but 3rd parties have some available.

Currently, KelTec doesn’t offer any chokes or brakes for the KS7, but they report that those are forthcoming. The KSG series has a choke adapter, compensator, and a gnarly-looking muzzle brake, and similar offerings will be coming up soon for the KS7. Third-party manufacturers, like Hi-Tech Custom, already have muzzle devices available.

The white polymer follower in the magazine can be replaced for an aluminum model. This is looking forward down the barrel with the buttstock and action removed.

The tubular magazine is also steel and situated under the barrel, as in most pump-action guns. It’ll hold 6+1 when loading 3″ shells, or 7+1 with 2 3/4″ shells. The end cap screws off and the spring and follower come out easily for maintenance. There are vents along the magazine that allow you to see how many rounds are loaded.

This catch keeps the shells from falling out of the magazine as you load it, but it also makes it a little slow and uncomfortable to load. I’d like to see someone develop a speed loading technique for the KS7.

The magazine comes standard with a plastic follower, but KelTec offers an aluminum follower(KS7-511) that they say slides a little easier and runs a little cleaner. It’s just $15.

Safety

All controls on the KS7 are ambidextrous. The big safety button is easy to find without looking because it’s so big. In fact, they molded a bumper into the grip stock to keep the button from snagging or banging on stuff. It’s positioned such that a thumb will push it one way while the first knuckle of an index finger will push it the other way.

The safety is a big chunky button you can’t miss, and it’s got a bumper in front so it doesn’t snag or get pushed inadvertently. It’s stiff at first but loosens up with use.

The cross-bolt safety can only be engaged when the gun is cocked, but the action can be run when the safety is engaged. That means you can empty the gun with the safety on by running the pump.

One of my gripes about this gun was the safety button. At first, it was really stiff — so much so that I had to reposition the gun to push with my thumb. However, it has softened with use and is now easy enough to push with either thumb or knuckle.

Trigger

The trigger moves somewhat differently than other guns. The fulcrum is far behind the trigger rather than above it like most triggers. The trigger moves backward and downward, but it’s not an unnatural feeling.

The trigger’s movement is backward and down because the fulcrum is behind the trigger.

There are two stages of takeup before the trigger breaks. After the takeup, the break is not crisp but is a little spongy. After it breaks, the trigger stops hard against the trigger housing.

This is the trigger assembly. That’s the hammer sticking up way back there on the right. That gives you a real idea of where the action is in this gun.

The trigger weight averaged 8 lbs 6 oz.

Downward into the trigger assembly.

Sights

The KS7’s carry handle is a throwback to classic military designs and it houses sights in a protected channel. It’s almost impossible to knock the front sight off. It’s a bright green fiber optic sight made by HIVIZ. It’s fairly long and gathers light well. There is a knob at the back of the handle that can line up with the front bead for long shots, but it would be useless in low light or in a quick-response situation.

The front sight is a triangular fiber optic provided by HIVIS.
The rear sight is this post that can align with the front. both are nestled in the channel on top of the carry handle.

Shootability

As a bullpup, this gun is short and dense. But at 5.9 lbs, it’s not heavy. It swings and comes up easily and naturally. Every time I raise it up, my eye is right on target with the front sight and targets at 20 yards were hit quickly and easily.

This is the bolt: side view, bottom view, top view, and face.

Thinking in terms of home defense, this gun is maneuverable, short, and comes up on target fast. It’d be ideal for close-quarters shooting.

Recoil on this gun is very sharp. The thin butt pad is inadequate, but adding a recoil pad like a LimbSaver made it much more comfortable to use and didn’t seem to change the way it swings and comes up. Without the recoil pad, my shoulder was bruised by birdshot. Slugs were painful. The heavy recoil made me flinch but adding a recoil pad helped immensely.

The recoil also gives me a little issue with my front hand. Every time I shoot, the lip on the forend bites into my index finger. I’ve tried several different grips, but that lip always jumps back into my finger. It’s noticeable after shooting an entire magazine quickly. It may just be me and wearing gloves removes the problem. You’ll see me trying different grips in this video.

Another interesting phenomenon is that when you cycle the action, the shells flip 180 degrees and fall forward and down from the ejection port. As they do, the brass on the shells hit my right wrist each time and the hot metal bruises. I’m told this can be avoided by raising your elbow while pumping and wearing gloves should also help.

Pump With Authority

I’ve seen several other folks who’ve reviewed this gun having trouble with it cycling ammo. It’d double feed and drop an extra shell on the ground, or it won’t load a new shell at all. For my part, I’ve found that running the action with authority takes care of most of the issues. You’ve got to rack it all the way back and all the way forward. It’s easy to short-stroke the pump in either direction which will either not load a new shell or not completely cock the shotgun. If it doesn’t cock, it won’t fire.

The KS7 breaks down without tools for easy maintenance.

Still, on my sample gun, I was never able to shoot a full 8 rounds from the magazine, as you can see in the video above. Each time I loaded and shot, an unspent shell would fall from the ejection port with a spent shell at least once. I usually got 7 shots out of 8, but sometimes I only got 6. I could feel the difference in the stroke and note that two shells dropped after I became more familiar, but I couldn’t find a way to stop it from happening.

The bolt travels back into the buttstock where part of the feeding mechanism is also housed.

When I spoke with Keltec about this, they said they’ve got a fix for it. Mine is an early sample and current production has a fix so this doesn’t happen anymore. Plus, it can be fixed so sending the gun back would be an option. I’ve seen other owners who sent it back for the update and reported that the issue is completely fixed.

As long as you rack the pump all the way back and forward, your KS7 will cycle flawlessly.

Who’s This Gun For?

This gun is clearly intended for home defense. It’s short enough that I think it’d be a good option to keep in a vehicle, too. It’s simple to operate and the controls are completely ambidextrous. It holds 7+1 shells in 2 3/4″, or 6+1 shells in 3″. It comes up on target and shoots well.

The only steel you have to handle on the outside of the gun is the cheek plate, which is directly above the action and protects your face.

Fortunately, I didn’t have any real-life opportunities to test its home defense capabilities. But I did take it jackrabbit hunting a few times and carried it for several miles. When it’s empty, the balance is to the rear and the carry handle is uncomfortable to use, but when the magazine is loaded it’s well balanced for carrying. It’s fairly lightweight, too, and that makes it more totable. As I hiked with it in hand for rabbits, I kept thinking it might be a good option as a bear gun in grizzly country because you could simply carry it and be ready all the time. When chokes are available, I’d like to try it as a chukar gun.

Keeping it at the bedside or carrying it in the hills is also made easier by its lightweight price. It’s got half as much capacity as the KSG, and with an MSRP of just $495, it’s about half the cost, too.

The plastics have some edges, but since they’ve fixed the feeding issues, this gun shoots well and fits a niche. The price is just right and I think you’d appreciate having it in your arsenal.

The KS7 comes in black, green or coyote tan.

Specs

  • Caliber: 12 gauge, 3″
  • Capacity: 6+1 with 3″ shells, 7+1 with 2 3/4″ shells
  • Weight: 5.9 lbs
  • Overall length: 26.1″
  • Barrel length: 18.5″
  • Length of pull: 13″
  • Sights: Fiber optic front, post rear
  • Accessories: MLOK, upgradeable to Picatinny top rail
  • MSRP: $495

For more information visit the KelTec website.

Buy and Sell on GunsAmerica! All Local Sales are FREE!

About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Chuck October 22, 2019, 11:00 am

    Just saw the Keltec on “Alaska, the last frontier”. It was carried by the youngest son when they were checking the bear population. I think this is a great bear gun when loaded with slugs. Certainly more power than what his cousin carries, a 10mm 1911.

  • Charles Reed October 21, 2019, 7:41 pm

    I really enjoy my AR-15 as well as my AK-47 and my Norinco wannabe AK-47 as well. That being said I think they could clean up the lines on the shotgun and indeed make the mini rounds function in it as well would do wonders. From my viewpoint, it looks like the X-Box “Special ops” couch potato shotgun. All bark and no bite. The sticker also needs to come down a little as well. However, this is just my viewpoint about a shotgun that looks like my 5-year-old grandsons “army gun” that shoots soft point foam bullets.

  • The Millionth Counsel October 21, 2019, 5:17 pm

    I had a chance to see one in a gun shop a few days ago. It was a two tone. My main complaint was it looked like a super soaker. The double barrel standard DP 12 looked a lot more aggressive and real. However so was the price. Kel TEC $540 vs DP 12 $1200.

  • johnnyraygun October 21, 2019, 2:00 pm

    Anyone try Mini-Shells in this shotgun? That would reduce that recoil, increase capacity and I would think reduce collateral damage

  • Donald E Eggleston October 21, 2019, 11:33 am

    As soon as they make a stainless steel 20 guage I will buy it.

  • Lance Son October 21, 2019, 10:43 am

    Will it run the Aguila Mini shells?

    • David October 23, 2019, 9:43 pm

      I don’t know about the KS7 but I have the original KSG and it will shoot the Aguila Mini-shells without any problem whatsoever. I have shot the bird-shot and slug mini-shells and it is a blast. As the article suggests, aggressive or authoritative cycling is the key.

  • Darren October 21, 2019, 10:24 am

    Levi – Thanks for the good write up. I shot my buddy’s KS7 that had some modifications to help with the recoil and it was a blast to shoot. I think I’m going to get one as a home defense gun. The price is right, and I prefer a shotgun with high capacity like this one. I could even see myself using this as a truck gun.

  • Tom October 21, 2019, 8:58 am

    Thank you, I’ll take mine in 20 gauge.

    • KBSacto October 21, 2019, 12:41 pm

      It would be great if they would produce a 20 gauge version. It would certainly increase sales to women and recoil sensitive owners.

  • terry buydos October 21, 2019, 7:10 am

    i had same issues with feeding and can report that a return to KelTec solved the issues. Now I have no feed of eject issues even with mixing std and shorty shells. They should never have sent them out that way. But that aside, where it really shines is with the shorty shells. 12 or 13 rounds and the recoil is more like an AR and muzzle blast difference has to be experienced! I’d say shorty shells are THE home defense load

  • Mike October 21, 2019, 6:35 am

    Nice write up Levi. I bought one of these a week ago and I concur with your review completely. I never have an issue with it ejecting a live round though. I was not liking the front sight and have already ordered and replaced the carry handle with the Kel Tek rail kit and put on MBUS flip up sights. Much better. I will absolutely agree the recoil with slugs is brutal, but the low recoil slugs are a less painful option. You pretty much nailed it with the sharp edges as well. I had a cut on my left pointer finger after the first five slugs. I have to say I do like the gun and would recommend it. $468 buck in Alaska, probably cheaper in the lower 48.

  • John Bellamy October 21, 2019, 6:19 am

    Keep me informed.

  • Mal October 21, 2019, 4:31 am

    Is it Commiefornia compliant?

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend