SHOT Show: Kel-Tec KSG Bullpup Shotgun Explained

Kel-Tec’s KSG is a SHOT Show stopper, with crowds hovering over the bullpup like disaster victims over Red Cross food supplies. OK, maybe not that desperately. But there’s no question that Kel-Tec will sell every one of their 1000-unit initial run of their space-saving man stopper. The company says they’re aiming to produce 5000 units in 2011. With law enforcement types sniffing around, there’s every chance they’ll ramp up from there. Firearms fans familiar with the Kel-Tec brand will cross their fingers on the quality front. We can report that the gun’s fit and finish look fine. Though that chamber selector is a bit far back for my tastes (video after the jump), the ergonomics are sound. It looks crazy, but the $880 msrp KSG just might work . . .

Kel-Tec’s thinking about putting holes in the barrels near the grip so owners can see if a given tube’s empty. At the moment, there’s only one way to tell if a chamber’s empty: CLICK. And one way to tell if the gun’s empty: turn it over and look for the followers (neither a follower nor a negligent discharger be).

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

23 Responses to SHOT Show: Kel-Tec KSG Bullpup Shotgun Explained

  1. avatar2yellowdogs says:

    That click is the same method you tell if most shotguns are empty. With the KSG’s capacity, though, you’ll be able to shoot a lot longer before worrying about it.

  2. avatarJOE MATAFOME says:

    It’s a cool looking shotgun but I’m not crazy about kel tecs quality control. I’d pay 2 or 3 grand and buy a quality shotgun and my Benelli would be very upset if I lower my standards.

  3. avatarCaleb says:

    The broken trigger bugs me. If you take the gun, fire it, then run the slide while holding the trigger to the rear position, it will not reset. You MUST release the trigger all the way before running the action or the trigger dies. I did this repeatedly with one of the demo guns at SHOT show, and I want to try it tomorrow with some of their other demo guns.

    • avatarAlex says:

      The thing about the gun at the show is it was a non firing prototype right now i’m not expecting the retail model later in the year to have that issue, if it does that would be a bummer. I’ve also been hearing rumblings that the retail will be able to slam fire.

  4. avatarZealot says:

    $600 is as far as I’d go and that’s further than I’m really comfortable going for a pump gun; but this one’s pretty BA (so far).

    How long before we start seeing double tubes on Winchesters and Mossbergs do ya think?

  5. avatarg.karlweiss says:

    As an old shotgunner Ive shot ‘em all!! And I mean “ALL”… weened on the Shotgun NOT the Rifle, NOT the pistol. re: this new KEL-TEC, can tell u from other vids Ive watched where its shot, I can watch the SHOULDER SHOCK experienced and tell ya: IT’ll be a MEAT-GRINDER on the Shoulder! OUCH, and DOUBLE-OUCH!! MAN!!!! C’mon!!! DEFINITELY precludes use of 3″ HV shells which I use exclusivley in my own 12ga. Home-defense animals.

    In this day & age, why on EARTH didnt KEL-TEC design SOME Kick-Absorption “system” into this animal!! …like EVERY other maker is doing these days. SOMETHING! would be a simple feat.

    As it is now, owners of this animal will practice with it a couple times but still grab their trusty pistol or carbine when the chips r down – I’ll guarantee!! I classify the thing as more a NOVELTY, hence.

    Look forward to an SEMI-AUTO version of it some day. …KEL-TEC? what say u?

  6. avatarDale says:

    The concept is cool and I -really- like the idea of a downward ejecting, bullpup, shotgun.

    However the execution needs some refinement. We’ve already heard about the trigger, and there MUST be a way to visually verify that the chamber is empty or half the ranges I shoot at will ban the thing.

  7. avatarFrank says:

    Neither video explicity explains on of the key advantages to this shotgun. It’s not just double the capacity of a typical pump gun, it’s TWO CHOICES of ammo and the ability to switch on the fly. Load buckshot in one tube, rifled or sabot slugs in the other for example, and then have the ability to choose which suits the current or changing tactical situation without having to switch weapons or unload/reload. Lets say you are engaging armed opponents up close with buckshot but then are suddenly faced with one down range and in close proximity to innocents, where the buckshot is not a viable option. You could change to a slug at the flick of a switch for that. Also, riot cops could have “less-than-lethal” rounds in one tube and then have the ability to switch to regular ammo quickly if the situation escalates. I can’t think of any other shotgun that has this operation flexibility/abaptability.

    • avatarAlex says:

      I don’t know how i’d feel about cops loading their weapon with lethal and non lethal ammo … a simple wrong switch or not racking the slide after the change could be life or death.

  8. avatarjim says:

    Fine points mentioned … The availability of switching rounds on the fly is a nice option … But a bad flip of the switch for law enforcement might be a really bad thing … Killed for running from a car accident? … No thanks …

    • avatarJoshua says:

      Easy solution, DONT RUN FROM THE COPS!!! Or better yet don’t do anything illegal and bring a frown on the rest of the responsible gun owners out here.

    • avatarAndrew says:

      There is NO WAY that agencies are going to carry less than lethal and lethal rounds in this gun if they were to use it. That’s not part of the versatility that they are going for here. Agencies today, paint their less than lethal guns crazy colors to try to avoid accidents, there is no way they are going to use this for both.

    • avatarCC Coleman says:

      Don’t worry! If your in Seattle, the Seattle PD would do that on purpose and not by accident.

  9. avatarBLAMMO says:

    Is there anything, legally available today, that will put more lead in the air faster than this thing?

    • avatarRobert Farago says:

      A semi-automatic Benelli M2 with an x-rail system: http://www.xrailbyrci.com/

      • avatarBLAMMO says:

        Never saw that. Seems rather bulky. There are the Saigas too but I can’t put my faith in a mag fed shotgun. After all, we’re most likely talking life and death here, not water fowling. :-D Even with the Kel-Tec, having the magazines offset from the center line might cause some feeding issues. It has to be dead-bang reliable.

        They have some bugs to work out and I hope they do. Having this much firepower in such a small package is very appealing. What a great PD/HD gun this could be.

    • avatarTim says:

      Granted a Saiga takes some breaking in, and you may need to tweak the gas system depending on the power round you use, but the AK system is simpler and easier to maintain… though the barrel to overall length ratio is horrible compared to the KSG.

      • avatarBuuurr says:

        I think he is talking about the fact that with mag fed the shells can be squat whereas with tube fed they are going from front to back.

  10. avatarChris says:

    This is a very nice shotgun, as is with any and all new guns there are going to be some kinks in the road. And as far as knowing wether or not the gun is loaded, as noted before, what other shotgun has a was to know if it is loaded or not after shooting up your load? The X-rail is available for semi auto’s, but it does look bulky, and then you are adding all of that weight to the front of a full size shotgun. Is there another shotgun out there with a capacity of 15 shell that is only 26.1″ long? I have a winchester pump 4+1, this would definately be a trade up for me.

  11. avatarOperations says:

    The shotgun will definitely prove useful in swat and military functions. They have since fixed the trigger disconnect issue from the SHOT show and are prototyping slots and other options including a polycarbonate sleeve under the slots to prevent coming into the magazines while still being clear and seeing if the mags are loaded. Also because of the design of the shotgun there is a tactile and visual method of ensuring the chamber is clear. Ithaca has made numerous bottom feed / bottom eject shotguns checking for an empty chamber there is no different from the KSG. The Twin magazine tubes are actuated by the three position mag tube selector switch. When in the center position the switch allows the chamber to be cleared and opened for inspection. right and left designate tubes. While I agree that any weapons platform intended for less lethal, according to ALL safety training is designated to be used solely for less lethal and duty ammo is NEVER used in a less lethal gun as part of responsible training. However, the military and law enforcement use that comes to mind for me is the SWAT or Ranger entry team. The ability to switch from a frangible lock breech round to a tactical buckshot round or slug is highly useful. That being said, the KSG also has been threaded on the end of the barrel to accommodate door breaching standoff attachment. If placed into an ambush situation an entry team member could certainly use frangible ammo against a human target but switching would be preferable. There are also other specialty rounds that would fire in a pump but NOT a semi auto reliably. And from a Patrol standpoint, a 15 round pump gun would be no slouch in any patrol gun, especially in a situation where you are pinned down and need the extra ammo.

  12. avatarDick says:

    This is an intriguing weapon. I am concerned about recoil. If you have “big bucks” to spend on a top of the line tactical shotgun I would recommend Benelli for the semi-auto crown and the Wilson Combat Tactical Shotgun (Rem 870 on steroids!) for the pump action folks.

  13. avatarcraig says:

    Uh yeah, I’ll stick with an eight shot Mossberg.

  14. avatarB Obama says:

    I just looked at my trusty old Remington 870 and noticed that the magazine is offset on it also…

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