Radikal NK-1 (image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com)
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I think the first time I saw it was at SHOT Show a couple years ago. I had forgotten all about it until it came up for review. It was a strange looking, surprisingly good shooting shotgun back then, and it still is today.

Like every bullpup ever made, the Radikal NK-1 is a weird looking gun.

The upside to weird looking is pretty huge. The NK-1 seeks to overcome the two major disadvantages of the shotgun in “tactical” usage.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The first is that shotguns are typically quite long and therefore difficult to move safely and quickly inside the confines of vehicles, buildings, tunnels and corridors. The NK-1 largely eliminates this issue by going with a bullpup design. It’s about five inches longer than the US Army’s 5.56NATO SBR of choice, the M4.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Despite a total length of 38″, the NK1 has a full 24″ barrel. Wrapped around that barrel is what the owner’s manual refers to this as a “muzzle brake.” It is not a muzzle brake. It’s a hollow tube that sits over the barrel. It’s not vented, weighted, or anything.

If you want to run the gun without what is not a muzzle brake, but is clearly a barrel shroud (which is also not “the shoulder thing that goes up”), it should make no difference. It didn’t for me.

A 20″ barreled version of this same gun also exists, where the muzzle ends almost immediately after the handguard. No “muzzle brake” is included in that version.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The other major disadvantage of a traditional tube-fed shotgun is low ammunition capacity and slow reloading times. Lena Miculek’s famous silent video is still the best dual loading instruction I’ve ever found, but even she takes a while to load eight new shells into an empty gun. Any remotely competent shooter will beat her reloads when using a magazine swap, and by a lot.

The key to really fast reloads on a tube-fed gun is simple. Don’t let the gun go dry in the first place. You don’t have to keep a mind to round count, you simply have to make sure you’ve drilled into your brain that any chance you get, you’re filling that tube back up. A single, or even double shell load doesn’t take long at all.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The huge advantage of the magazine is the fast swaps of not just additional rounds, but different kinds of rounds. Five to ten new rounds of buckshot, birdshot, or slugs are all about two seconds away. There’s just no way to do that swap with a traditional tube magazine.

There are different strategies to work around this with a tube-fed shotgun, but none of them are anywhere near as fast and efficient as simply dropping the current magazine and putting in a new one.

The disadvantage of the magazine fed shotgun is that single alternate loads are more difficult, and, of course, you need a bunch of magazines. The tube-fed gun’s loading mechanism is totally self-contained. You can’t lose, forget, or drop it. You can, however, lose, forget, or drop, all those extra shells you had to put somewhere.

These advantages and disadvantages highlight the fact that the shotgun is the thinking man’s weapon. Not because smart people use shotguns, but because it provides you so many options, you have to think and plan to use it well. Stupid people using a scattergun in any kind of dynamic, complex scenario tend to get weeded out pretty quick.

It should be noted there are two versions of this firearm. This is the second, updated version. Magazines designed for the original version are not compatible with this version.  You can find both 5 and 10-round magazines on the United Sporting Arms LLC website.

The five-round magazines I used functioned perfectly well. A first round failure-to-feed was never an issue, and they never failed to lock into the receiver or drop freely from the magazine well with a firm press of the magazine release.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Magazine changes on any kind of a bullpup firearm tend to take just a little bit more training than a traditional semi-auto carbine or rifle. In those guns, the magazine is right next to the magazine release, so both of your hands and your eyes are all in the same place. The human brain likes that.

Like most bullpups, the NK-1 has the ambidextrous magazine release next to the firing hand thumb, but the magazine is far behind that position, and outside of the shooter’s forward view. If you’ve laid out your kit right, magazine swaps with a bullpup can be very fast, since everything is close to the body. But you’ll need to really drill that motion so that your support hand automatically comes back to the shoulder every time to replace that empty magazine.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Bullpups of all types are well-known for having crappy triggers. The long bar and transfer system between the trigger shoe to the hammer and trigger mechanism do not lend to light, crisp action.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The NK-1’s trigger isn’t bad at all. Color me pleasantly surprised. It’s not a “shotgun” trigger at all. It feels much more like a milspec AR trigger, although it’s probably a little better.

Using a Lyman digital trigger scale, the trigger averaged to 5lbs 7oz over five pulls. Yes, there’s some squish and grit, and if this were a precision bolt gun it would be less than ideal. But this is a shotgun, and it’s great for that. As it is, the trigger enables the shooter to make fast and very precise (for a scattergun) follow-up shots.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Just about everything on the NK-1 is ambidextrous. Even the charging handle can be moved to the left or ride side. Just pull it out and swap it.  The ejection port will remain on the right.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The only ergonomic failing of the NK1 is the selector switch, but it’s a big one. Small and thin, I was never able to get it to switch from safe to fire with just my firing hand thumb, at least not without a few tries. With gloves on, it was impossible.

Switching up the practice and instead using the switch on the opposite side with my trigger finger, taking the selector from safe to semi was easier, but then getting it back on safe was a challenge.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

A set of Magpul-esque rip-off flip-up plastic sights come stock with the gun. They slip right on and work just fine.

What works even better is the top rail for mounting optics. If you’ve never run a red dot on a shotgun, you’re missing out. A single simple red dot optic is ideal — truly a what-you-see-is-what-you-get sighting solution — and a complete game changer for shotgun use in low light.

A red dot optic on a shotgun isn’t really more accurate than irons, but it’s just as accurate at much faster speeds. The NK-1 with an Aimpoint red dot and loaded with 00 is giggly fun.

If you’re going to use a red dot, or even a magnified optic for slug hunting, you’ll appreciate the adjustable cheek riser on the NK-1. If you’re going to go with the stock irons, you’ll likely want to leave the cheek riser in place.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Disassembly of the NK1 should not be done in the field. It’s a bit cumbersome and requires the use of tools. If you need to clean it, I would suggest a spray cleaner followed by a healthy dose of CLP and a bore snake.

I found disassembly particularly difficult, because the far forward takedown pin (there are 3) simply wouldn’t come out. I finally called the retailer and let him know that I might break the gun trying to disassemble it. He said he hadn’t heard of that problem before, but if for some reason I damaged the gun, no problem, he’d immediately send me a new one.

This is where I should probably note that this shotgun, while very similar to others imported from Turkey, is imported and distributed by International Firearms Corporation, which works very closely with United Sporting Arms, the retailer who loaned TTAG the NK-1. Between the two of them they impressed upon us very clearly that their pre-sales QC and in-house warranty service is what they feel sets them apart from buying a similar shotgun import with a different brand name on it.

With that “we’ll take good care of you” confidence, I took a pair of pliers, a punch, and a heavy mallet to the pin, and got it out without damaging the pin or the receiver, though it never got any easier to get out. I’ve looked online, and I can’t find anyone else reporting this issue.

Reliability was great. Eventually.

The gun was pretty clean, with a very light coat of oil on it right out of the box. I was grateful to see that it wasn’t caked in packing grease, as I often find with imported firearms. All the NK-1 required was a quick spray of CLP.

My first 10 rounds using Winchester 9-pellet 00 buckshot included several issues with failures to feed. The next five, which were Armscor buckshot, experienced the same issue.  But by the end of the next 5-round magazine, things were running well. After those first 20 rounds, I never had a problem again with any 00 round, either 8 or 9-pellet, and from a wide range of manufacturers.

With the ammunition crisis in full swing, one of the few rounds I had a whole lot of still was 00 buck. I probably have a couple thousand rounds of it, so I used quite a few of them for this review. After that first couple magazines of issue, I didn’t have another problem with buckshot. After the initial inspection, I never lubed or cleaned the gun again.  I also put 10 rounds of Herter’s Foster type slugs through the cylinder bore, having no issues there either.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Dove shot, however, repeatedly failed to cycle the gun at this point. Failures were intermittent, but more likely to fail to feed than run smoothly.

Swapping the choke to full, I ran two boxes (10 rounds) of 5-shot 3″ Winchester Long Beard Turkey rounds. I didn’t have any cycling issues with those, but, expectedly, recoil did increase substantially. Given the overall short nature of the gun, the included sights and the ease of mounting optics, that means the NK-1 would make a very odd, but oddly very functional turkey gun.

There’s no reason, using this combination, that 50-yard shots on toms wouldn’t be very doable for a competent marksman (though it’s a lot more fun to call them in closer).  You may have to modify the magazines to reduce the total capacity to comply with local game laws.

The owner’s manual states that the shotgun shouldn’t be considered reliable until after at least 100 rounds of break-in. I experienced exactly that. After all of the buckshot was fired, about 200 rounds, I went back and tried the dove loads again. This time they cycled, although I did have four failures to feed in 100 rounds of mixed dove loads.

Winchester’s “low noise/low recoil” shells I use for cowboy action matches wouldn’t cycle. They would fire fine, but then the charging handle had to be used to operate the gun like a bolt action shotgun. Most rounds you would use for defense or hunting seem to run reliably in the gun after a very significant break-in period.

The first version of the gun included two pistons, one for standard loads and another for buckshot and slugs. This version doesn’t include two pistons, and it is not required to swap them out to run different shells.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

The NK-1 includes several chokes; IC, modified, and full choke tubes, along with cylinder bore. It also includes a nice choke wrench.

The typical accuracy pattern for a cylinder bore shotgun is exactly what I experienced with the NK-1. It is a painful and persistent myth that shotguns at home defense or “tactical” distances don’t need to be aimed. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Buckshot at close range has proven to rapidly incapacitate and kill for hundreds of years.  But the fundamentals of marksmanship always apply, and shotguns still have to be aimed.

The standard 00 buck pattern for a cylinder bore shotgun is typically a 1-inch spread for every yard. This is exactly what I experienced with the NK-1. At 15 yards, the pattern would completely cover a standard 19-inch wide silhouette target. At 25 yards, one or two pellets would miss entirely. You are responsible for every single projectile fired.

Remember, the closer the target, the faster they can cover the ground to you. You’ll want every one of those pellets center mass if you intend to immediately stop an attacker at even seven yards. On a determined and moving aggressor, this is a serious challenge, especially in the dark.

With the supplied iron sights and using simple Herter’s Foster type slugs, I was able put every round inside an 8-inch plate at 100 yards. Without a magnified optic and a sabot slug and slug bore, this is about what I get with every shotgun.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

At just a bit over 7 lbs, I expected the NK-1 to recoil a bit more with buckshot and slugs.  It didn’t. Most semi-autos soak up a bit of the recoil, but it’s really the ergonomics of the gun that lead to a gentler shooting experience.

The adjustable cheek riser allows you to keep your head up and the wide stock shape works well to keep the stock locked in place so the gun doesn’t build momentum coming back to the body. The compact grip allowed by the bullpup design also allows the shooter to keep everything in tight, so the shooter’s full body weight can be perpendicular to the line of recoil.

The format, with its weight mostly to the rear and right in the shooter’s hands, means that the barrel starts and stops moving much faster than with a full-length traditional birding gun. That makes rapid target transitions faster and more precise, but dove hunting a quite a bit more challenging. The NK-1 is very much a specialized machine.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

With an MSRP of $650, the NK-1 is a little more expensive than what most of us are used to from Turkish shotguns. It’s also about half the cost of the Tavor TS12.  For what you get, that six and half bills is still a heck of a value.

image courtesy JWT for thetruthaboutguns.com

Specifications: Radikal NK-1 Shotgun

Manufacturer: International Firearm Corp.
ACTION: SEMI-AUTO
LENGTH: 24″
GAUGE: 12
MAX CHAMBER SIZE: 3″
STOCK MATERIAL: SYNTHETIC
HEIGHT: 3.4″
WIDTH: 9.05″
LENGTH: 37.95″
WEIGHT: 7.3 lbs
MSRP: $650

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style and Appearance * * *
Nothing fancy in the finish. Every bullpup looks strange. That goes double for bullpup shotguns.

Customization: * * * * *
You can swap out chokes easily, and they are all included with the shotgun. There are both 5 and 10-round magazines. The adjustable cheek riser is nice but the top rail for mounting optics is even nicer.

Accuracy * * *
Exactly average for any cylinder bore gun.

Reliability * and * * * * ½
After a long break-in time, it works great on anything but the lightest loads.

Overall * * *
It’s awful hard to measure the Radikal NK-1 against anything else. There aren’t a whole lot of tactical bullpup 12s on the market. But if you need a tactical bullpup shotgun, and whether you do or not is entirely up to you, the Radikal NK-1 is a solid buy. It’s weird looking, but good feeling, and a solid performing shotgun.

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30 COMMENTS

  1. OK, but I prefer a Black Aces Tactical magazine fed semi-auto bullpup 12ga. with 18.5″ barrel with three chokes and total length 28″. It has a vertical fore grip which also helps in pointing, control, and taking recoil loads. Don’t need a cheek riser. Don’t need to put weapon near your face, use a dual IR Green laser, all you need. Very maneuverable because of its compactness for inside and outside home defense. It comes in right and left hand types and all kinds of colors. Uses 5, 10, and 20 round magazines. It shoots light and heavy loads and breaks in with a single 25 round box of cheap stuff. So If you take the NK-1, get rid of the angle grip and check riser and shorten the barrel you might be a competitor.

    • I agree. 24″ serves a purpose on a bird gun, but none on a defensive shotgun, and defeats the purpose of a bullpup.

      • Although component quality is good most anything from Turkey has to be cleaned and tweaked. Not a bad retail price for the NK-1 but don’t expect it for less now that Jim Crow Gun Control threats are on the rise and sellers know that stimulas checks are on the way. Those are POTUS DJT checks that the stalling a-hole mcconnell handed to biden who deserves no credit.

        Nonetheless awhile back we ordered a $300 + $20 ship 12 GA Citadel Warthog pistol grip model and it was taken apart and reassembled a dozen times before firing. Get one thing fixed and found another issue such as the hammer pin bore had .009″ slop so it was bushed making the trigger mucho better. There is a seller on GB with excellent feedback that has Warthogs for $339.99. Includes shipping. 893885001
        Importer Legacy Sports has a good disassembly utube which should be viewed prior to purchase.

        • My Saiga-12 wasn’t much more than that, operates flawlessly, and is about 31″ long since I bullpupped it. It balances nicely one-handed when the support hand is needed for opening doors, moving curtains or obstacles aside, etc.

  2. Needs moar shorter barrelz.

    They could chop almost 6″ off the barrel and nearly a foot off that thing OAL and still not run into NFA territory. A bullpup shotgun should be an SBS or as close to it as you can legally get without crossing that line. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  3. Looks OK…do the Turks have one giant company putting out these shotties? I see new ones constantly. The Panzer Arms bullpup is getting rave reviews(my friend got her boyfriend one). My 70 year old buddy wants to get a “high capacity” shotgun too. I’m not sure I’d ever shoot one enough to justify it(where’s my biden buck ‘s😕)?

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  4. Nice review as always. I have a Mossberg & Benelli for hunting but have been debating getting another shotgun for fun & pointless noise making. Not that 28” barrel shotguns can’t serve that purpose but they can be a little unwieldily & tiring after a while. So a bullpup like this or maybe one of those ‘not-a-SBS’ Shockwave/Tac-14/ will have to be added to my (endless) shopping list.

    One minor item of note:
    >>>”Manufacturer: International Firearm Corp.”
    International Firearm Corporation appears to be an ‘importer’ of firearms not a manufacturer. Radical Arms appears to be the manufacturer.

  5. “….At just a bit over 7 lbs, I expected the NK-1 to recoil a bit more with buckshot and slugs. It didn’t..

    How is the felt recoil with 2 3/4 buckshot or what you were testing with? I have always heard that BullPup shotguns have increased recoil. Can you compare it to a regular shotgun?
    Thanks

  6. Best part after you out $1400 worth of buck shot through it to get it to finally work ?relaibly? You get to realize u. Coulda done got a Benilli m4

  7. JW, thanks for the review. I have a Panzer with 10 round mags is an absolute blast (no pun intended). I looked at the NK-1 slammed a 10 round steel Panzer mag in it, fits perfect exact match. I think Panzer is behind making this gun. I bought two 20″ NK-1s @ $560.00 ea. Did you mention that the 5 round mags double as a handgrip. the bottom of the magazine accepts picatenny with a lock and can be slid and locked on the side rail. thanks M

  8. I haven’t read all the reviews but I’m shocked that there is no mention of how low the iron sights are compared to the height of the cheek guard. It’s nearly impossible to align the eye with the front and rear sight. I have a total of 2” of riser on my Sig Romeo red dot and it’s perfect, except the potential to snag something. The iron sights I feel are virtually useless unless you put risers on them. I know this is inherent to the bull pup design but if the cheek guard could be lowered it might be fine. Not sure how it would look but the integrity of the iron sights would be there. Great looking piece of art though! One mean looking beast of a shotgun!!!

  9. OK, I have owned my Radikal NK-1 for two months now and while I can remove the lower from the upper with ease, I cannot separate the upper. The instructions suck (heck they don’t even tell you what the different chokes are), and there are no online disassembly procedures posted yet because the firearm is relatively new. Does anyone have any tips for full disassembly of this firearm? And it is worth noting that it is a slightly different set up than the panzer BP 12 (gen 1&2).

  10. I bought one of these in January this year (2021) the gas ring FAILED in the 1st 5 rounds.

    00 buck shot, CONSTANTLY CONSTANTLY failed to eject and reload with the 5 round mags that came with it.

    It started getting worse from there, stripped it down (I had cleaned it out already) and found the RING around the piston was out of place and warped.

    I was told by the store I had to contact Radikal directly for assistance.

    I did. The short version: Eşref BALCI is who was ‘taking care’ of me. I have all 29 emails still.

    They KNOW there is an issue with the rings, and apparently, have since changed to a ringless gas piston.

    They were going to ship a NEW firearm to the local gun store, and then I would get to trade them out.

    After 4 weeks,

    Eşref BALCI
    Mon, Apr 12, 1:50 PM
    to me

    For so long we waited for our importer to visit us but they stopped buying from us. To be able to solve this problem we ll send you gas pistons as we cannot send shotgun directly to the end-users.

    Then

    Eşref BALCI
    Thu, Mar 18, 2:35 PM
    to me

    Yes we re only using piston no mpiore gas rings

    _____________________

    It has been 2 month. He has all my information, no new piston has arrive, he stopped responding to emails after that one. I have emailed and emailed, they just ignore me.

    I own a $600. paperweight.

  11. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?
    I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work.

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