Kel-Tec KSG-12: Bullpup Door Breacher

Kel-Tec KSG-12: Bullpup Door Breacher

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When Kel-Tec launched their RFB bullpup autoloader in 2008, it was deemed a risky move. Against all odds, the risk paid off and a few manufacturers adopted the concept, although mostly in .22 LR array. Then, in 2011 Kel-Tec came out with a bullpup shotgun prototype named KSG-12. The weapon has two tubular magazines with the possibility of selecting which one will be used and insane capacity of 14+1 12/70 or 12+1 12/76 shells.

With the price of around $800 at the time, many gun people wanted to own it. The demand has exceeded the production capabilities, so the price has surged as well. Even now, three years after the beginning of production, whoever wants a Kel-Tec KSG-12 must be prepared for a several-weeks’ waiting period.

At first glance, this shotgun may look like a zombie apocalypse shooter. Its sci-fi design, matte black polymer and overtly dangerous look definitely make it more suitable for some PC games character. But, with KSG-12 Kel-Tec has in fact improved the classic combat pump-action shotgun in several ways. First it’s much more compact. The magazine selector action is not smooth as we would like it to be, and requires a firm push sideways. It has three positions. Pushing it to left side enables loading the right magazine and other way round.

Kel-Tec KSG-12

The center position is used for unloading the magazines. The double tubular magazine means that the standard capacity is increased double, but that is not the main advantage. The most important feature is the option of having two types of ammunition in respectable quantity. In this way, a shooter may combine lethal with non-lethal incapacitating ammunition, such as chemical or rubber shells. On the other hand, more experienced operators may make a different combination – one magazine loaded with buckshot or 00 and the other with slugs. This combo covers all tactical close-quarters situations which call for shotgun blast, but also engagements on greater ranges and accurate hits with heavy slugs.

Another good feature is that this shotgun can be loaded, round by round, directly into the magazine on the underside, while keeping the aim.

Kel-Tec KSG-12 is delivered in a cardboard box with no accessories at all, including the sights. There are Picatinny rails for fixing a plethora of tactical attachments, ranging from simple iron sights to state-of-the-art holographic sights. Still, when firing a shot round, aiming along the radiator rail should be enough. For slugs, the ultimate solution would be a collimator sight.

Kel-Tec KSG-12

The straight line configuration almost completely eliminates the vertical recoil, and the kick feels twice weaker than with regular shotguns. One of the reasons behind it is the soft rubber stock butt pad. The trigger action is ideal, not too soft but crisp and short, with the trigger travel of only a few millimeters. While taking position in narrow corridors, a classic shotgun sticks out two feet in front of the shooter. When carrying a KSG-12, you can hold it with one hand, the stock firmly in your shoulder, and open a door with the other hand, with no risk that the bad guy will try to grab you by the barrel.

Like most of the pump-action shotguns, KSG-12 is operated by sliding the fore-end backwards, which requires quick and firm execution. On the underside of the fore-end there is an indent which, when pulled backward, houses the front end of the trigger guard. As most shooters instinctively move their hand backward in pumping action, away from the muzzle, that is a serious pinch point. It can be avoided by installing the vertical grip on the Picatinny rail on the underside.

Kel-Tec KSG-12

Another drawback is the position of the ejection port. In order for the weapon to be fully ambidextrous, the ejection port is positioned on the underside, right behind the pistol grip, which means the ejected shells hit your forearm some 3-4 inches behind the wrist. The repeating action is brisk and the shell hits hard in on the same spot every time, which may cause a painful spot and inflammation. On the other hand SWAT teams don’t break in with their sleeves rolled up, and the home defense scenario usually doesn’t require firing 50-60 shots.

The field stripping is simple. By pulling out a couple of pins, the weapon is broken in two parts which is enough for inspection and cleaning. Re-assembling takes more time as the openings for the pins have to be aligned on both sides. Both magazines have ports on the upper side which help with estimating the number and type of ammunition in the tube.

With some adaptations this shotgun has serious potential, despite its price of over $1,300. At the end of the day, it seems that KSG-12 means to stay on the combat shotguns market for a long time.

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October 14, 2014
  1. "Interesting weapon---a second chamber and barrel with a 410 shell would be excellent." A second chamber and barrel, mounted in…

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