Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun Review

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After almost ten months I was finally able to obtain a Kel-Tec KSG shotgun last month. The KSG has been tremendously hard to purchase or obtain for writers. In fact for those that have checked prices they were selling for almost twice the MSRP of $880.00. In my view those who were price gouging should be ashamed of taking advantage of the short supply.

Regardless of the hurdles my FFL called to let me know the KSG had arrived. This thing looked intimidating and I was more than excited to get to the range. Unfortunately my first trip to the range wasn’t without incident.


Inexpensive Leapers Red Dot

After arriving at the range I did my usual inspection and lube and loaded up. After firing two rounds it jammed on the third round. Jams are time consuming to clear. In fact it took approximately three minutes to clear. The jams kept coming just as often. I stopped at this point very frustrated with the initial performance.

After contacting Kel-Tec I sent the KSG back to them for repair. Customer service was very good. Communication was good and kept me up to date on the repair status. Within two weeks I had a repaired KSG back in my hands. An included note told me the rear stock was defective and was replaced. The bore was also smoothed up a small amount. Apparently I had been shipped a very early model which did not have the improvements of current models.

To explain the function of the stock, besides the obvious, 80% of it slides into the receiver and supports the bolt carrier. The function, which caused the initial problem, was the two rods that support and eject spent hulls. These rods are attached within the stock itself.

Now that I’ve covered the problems I first encountered lets move on to the review of what is now a shotgun that functions as advertised.

The KSG was designed for possible use by police officers as well as armed citizens. Of course it’s also a very handy size for either use at the legal minimum of 26.1 inches OAL.

The construction of the KSG is largely made up of polymer with the exception of the receiver, magazine tubes and barrel. Of course the internal firing mechanism has a good number of small steel and alloy parts. The total weight is 6.9 pounds unloaded.

The KSG is a bullpup design, which allows for the short length. The shotgun has two feed tubes with a selector switch allowing the user to switch from one tube to the other. In other words you have a choice of loading one tube with buckshot and the other loaded with slugs. This makes it one serious shotgun!

Total capacity of each magazine is six rounds of three inch shells or seven rounds per magazine with two and thee quarter inch shells. Any type of 12-gauge ammunition can be fired in the KSG.

Since the KSG is a pump action many will ask about the length of the action when charging the weapon. It really feels about the same as a regular shotgun both in the length of travel as well as the amount of force needed to cycle the action.

The action is smooth with no need to worry about short stroking. I tried many times to cycle it and make it jam after my initial experience. Slow or fast it never jammed again during the 250 rounds fired over several range sessions.

Loading requires the shooter to flip the shotgun over on the back if you need to reload both tubes. In the picture below you see the action and both tubes. The two small vertical grooved levers above each tube allows the shooter to unload and clear the shotgun.

In this photo the left tube is empty with a round loaded in the right tube as viewed. The two levers for unloading can be seen above the chambers. The selector lever is in the center

After loading the user selects which tube they want to use by using the selector lever in choosing the ammunition you need to use. The selector simply moves right or left blocking one tube or the other. With the selector centered it will not load a round from either tube since both tubes are blocked.

With the action to the rear of the pistol grip it’s difficult to reach under your right arm and manipulate the selector lever with the left hand. So, if the user wants to change the ammo being fired they should plan on flipping the gun over to activate the selector. It does take some force to move the selector.

Another feature unique to the KSG is the manual safety. Unlike other shotguns the safety slides to the left for safe and to the right to fire.

The slide release is show in this photo at the front of the trigger guard. Use the trigger finger or left thumb to depress the ambidextrous lever and release the slide.

The top of the gun has a full-length rail with another under the slide. I covered the top rail with some ERGO grip rail covers. I also considered a possible hazard due to the short configuration. That is when cycling the action forward with some force it would be easy to have your left hand slip off the slide and end up in front of the barrel. This could be a disaster and I strongly encourage a new owner to obtain a hand stop and install it at the front of the lower rail. That will keep your hand on the slide. I chose a rather large hard rubber ERGO grip unit that attaches with two screws keeping it firmly in place. Being hard rubber it was more comfortable than the hard polymer types.

In the photo above you can see the two tubes, barrel, slide with ERGO grip hand stop and rail covers. Since the slide is polymer I think you can see how it would be possible to have a damp hand slip off and end up in front of the barrel about the time it fires!

There is another feature that allows the user to check the number of rounds left in both tubes. There are small cuts on the side of each tube allowing the shooter to visually inspect how many rounds are left.

Disassembly is very simple and only requires the shooter to remove two pins near the stock and store them in two holes at the top of the grip. Then the shooter pulls the stock to the rear and off giving you access to the action as well as the barrel for cleaning.

In the photo above you can see the spent hulls are ejected under the right arm.

Range Time

As I mentioned I made several trips to the range. Firing 250 assorted rounds in one firing you need to be a glutton for punishment!

I used an assortment of loads. I used #6 birdshot, #3 buckshot, 00 buckshot and 1 ounce Winchester slugs at 1600 FPS. All of these rounds feed without a problem even when mixing them together. With a fairly thick buttpad the KSG was comfortable to shoot with no more recoil than any other shotgun. I can only assume the bullpup design mitigated some of the recoil.

Accuracy with slugs was good from 15 yards. I fired five rounds making one hole three inches across. I was kneeling resting my arm on my leg for some support. I also fired five rounds from 50 yards with all rounds staying within one lung of the anatomical target. I was also firing rather quickly standing unsupported.

Conclusion

Of course my first impression wasn’t good but once the KSG was returned I was very pleased with the performance. I did mention some considerations such as the hand stop to prevent injury as well as the difficulty using the selector switch while moving and firing. It’s not easy but with practice I suppose it can be done. The shooter would be better off choosing a load in the beginning and staying with it until you run dry and need to change magazines.

Handling is very impressive with such a short weapon. Getting on target and changing targets was very fast. If a police officer used one getting out of the patrol car would be much easier than with a standard Remington 870. Of course another big plus is the ability to use both buckshot and slugs without reloading.

The manual safety will take some getting used to but like anything else practice will cure this.

Finally even though I had a failure with my first outing it does happen from time to time with most any gun company. They fixed it quickly and fixed it right which is my main concern. Whether this puts you off or not is your decision. I have to say after I received the repaired and updated KSG I would trust it without reservation.

Related

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • Michael Pham

    Great review, but about prices…

    I’m not coming out in support of Kel Tec’s strange inability to bring enough of their own products to market, despite being a well known brand with desirable products but-

    Call it price gouging if you like, but if supply does not meet demand, the prices must go up. By selling it at a higher price all it is is ensuring that those who want it the most (and are thus subsequently willing to pay more) are those who get it, generally speaking.

    Now hoarding essential goods (of which the KSG is not) and selling it at marked up prices to the desperate; that I do consider a form of price gouging and is highly unethical. I understand your frustration, and I hope you bear with my pedantry, but I wouldn’t call it price gouging.

    • Richard

      Agree, except for your caveat. There is no such thing as price gouging, period. Supply always equals demand. If you try to regulate this, you get shortages or black markets or both. This has been true 100% of the time since Hammurabi invented price controls. Somebody wants to make me sell for less than the value, I am out of the market unless they take it by force. And then shotguns are essential goods.

      • Phil White

        Richard,

        But still an $880 MSRP shotgun priced at $1400-$1600! That puts it out of reach of a large number of shooters. I’ve seen it before and didn’t like it then and never will. Maybe gouging was a strong word but taking advantage of the market I can’t go along with.

    • gunslinger

      price gouging is something defined by law, not “nature”.

      that being said… if i want to sell an item on ebay and someone will pay $100 for a bic pen i got from wally world for 10 cents. and there are still thsoe same pens for a dime, am i price gouging? am i being a scumbag? what am i doing?

      now if i buy all the bic pens, and do the ebay thing, same questions.

      so really the only problem is that kel tec didn’t make enough of the KSG to meet the number of people who want to buy them.

      • Phil White

        gunslinger,

        Still doubling the price in my opinion is taking advantage supply problems or not. As I said earlier I can understand a couple of hundred bucks more but twice the price–no way! I know of some other guns that have been released in recent years and this didn’t happen even though people really wanted them.
        It’s like the one I have now I could buy it and make a bunch of money on it but I won’t. I just refuse to take advantage of fellow shooters especially in this economy. For me it’s more of a moral issue than anything else.

      • gunslinger

        Phil
        That’s fine and good. you can feel that it is something unfair, and not right and whatever else makes you sleep at night. but as it stands, sellers can resell at whatever price they deem appropriate. kel tec made a product many people want. the supply of said product is small, but the demand is high. therefore the price of the product is raised.

        and yes, you have one now, you can sell it for more than you bought it for. youcan sell it for less, you can keep it, you can give it away. you have a set of criteria to use for your choice. so do gun stores.

        what about back in 2008? ar15s were selling for double the price, yet they were flying off the shelves. wrong? maybe in your opinion, but the consumer thought it was a fair price. and so did the gun shop. both parties agreed that the price was fair.

        i remember reading about a gun shop owner who bought some custom 1911 worth 1400 for only 400. the buyer stated he knew the gun was worth more, but he wanted cash. so both agreed on the trade. was the GSO unethical? what about when reselling the gun for 1400? still unethical? remember, buth buyer/seller aggred to prices.

        what prices to come down? reduce demand. or increase supply. now, we can’t really convince keltec to make more ksg. but we can try to decrease demand. if no one bought a ksg, the price would come down. so once again…economics.

        all that being said, i do agree that you can feel it’s wrong, cheap, unethical, etc. thats fine.
        i know i wouldn’t pay 1600 for a ksg. i probably wouldn’t pay 800 for one. so… as much as i want one, i just won’t buy

        • Phil White

          gunslinger,

          If both seller and buyer are face to face and agree on price then there’s nothing wrong with that. I do remember the prices of AR’s in 08 as well as AR prices in the mid 1980′s. People did pay the price but they were anything but happy about it. I remember many guys who bought H&K’s, AR’s and others and they griped all the way out the door but felt they needed the gun so they paid the price.

          I don’t lose sleep over it I just don’t like it:-)

      • cc19

        People just need to learn how to be patient. I recall when the SCAR first appeared it was going for $4,000+. I just reserved one and put it out of my mind and before I knew it, viola, there’s 17S in my safe at dealer cost no less.

        If you can get one great. If you couldn’t afford it and bought one anyway only to complain about being price gouged, you won’t get any sympathy from me!

    • Phil White

      Michael,

      If they raised the prices by a couple of hundred dollars I wouldn’t have a problem with it but $1400 -$1600 is taking advantage. That’s just my opinion. That’s from individual sellers on Gunbroker etc.

      • Mu

        To me it’s only taking advantage if they got their hand on the weapon by unfair means. If they get one gun per month and can sell it for $1500, that’s ok. They’d probably prefer to sell 10 a months for $1000. If, on the other hand, the distributor is making sure that only a handful of dealers have these guns to artificially manipulate the supply chain, that’s probably illegal price fixing and should be looked into, at least by Kel Tec.

      • Michael Pham

        I understand it is ridiculous; I’m not saying that that price is good or justified or reasonable considering what the KSG is. But there’s just little we can do about it and I wouldn’t consider such pricing unethical price gouging.

        There are lots of things I would like and consider overpriced, but my only real option as a consumer is to not buy those things.

        If its any consolation it is hurting Kel Tec that they can’t bring enough of these to market, as fine writers such as yourself are forced to reconsider purchase. Why Kel Tec hasn’t changed is its own mystery.

        • Phil White

          Michael,

          I do wonder why companies that have a large demand don’t expand if they can sell more product. We do have things that are overpriced no doubt and many people will just have to pass these items up until prices go down or write them off altogether. It’s not like you’ll suffer (much) if you can’t buy another gun:-)

  • KM

    how long until ruger copies the design and makes a high quality version?

    • Phil White

      KM,

      Nah that won’t happen.

  • Joe

    The safety being reverse of what it should be is insane. Kel-Tec does stuff like this and you have to just scratch your head and wonder why nobody has thought about the 90% of right-handed shooters who would benefit from the safety being reverse of what they made it.

    The fidgety mag switching system is another issue. I wouldn’t want to break concentration on whatever I’m doing to try and switch tubes and wonder if I’ve got the correct one.

    Overall, the parts quality to be typical to Kel-Tec designs, something acceptable in a sub $300 pistol, but not on a $900 shotgun.

    • Phil White

      Joe,

      The safety really threw me off when I first loaded up! I really haven’t gotten used to it yet. The only reason I can think of is the mechanism prevents the standard configuration.

    • Duray

      It would appear from the placement that the safety was intended for the thumb, rather than trigger finger, in which case it makes sense. See the Beretta 1951. Predecessor to the 92/M9, and it has a crossbolt that works the same way.

  • John

    You need to test the UTAS which is based on the Neostead and available in the US. Wonder how it compares to the KSG.

    • Phil White

      John,

      I’ll check into it sir.

  • Reverend Clint

    ill take a saiga

  • Burst

    That safety is probably a deal killer for any leftys out there.

    • DrewN

      Why? That’s the way I’d prefer them to work, but I’ve trained myself to hit a Remington safety with my thumb as I mount the gun. Conventional cross bolt safeties are the worst for a lefty I think.

      • Phil White

        DrewN,

        I did try your method and it was so-so as far as the reach with my thumb. I still had to break my grip which I don’t with an 870. Eventually I’d get used to it I suppose.

      • DrewN

        Oh yeah, it can’t be done easily if the weapon is already shouldered. I break a few rules by picking it up in such a way that I disengage the safety immediately upon grasping the weapon. So it’s less than ideal because the gun is always off safe once I pick it up. That’s why once I didn’t live alone in the country anymore I had to ditch the 870.

  • http://www.facebook.com Sean Paul Doughty

    Well, as one man put it, “decent but needs inprovements”. The but plate could use a recoil pad called the “limb saver”, a plastic cheek cover to protect the face from the actual jump as the gun gose off, and the finish isn’t that good needing. A good oil rub down,inside and out. A minimum of once a month, an R&D (Rust and Dust) check. Thats what I’m doing now with my SU-16. As far as the safety gose, its intended to be taken off by using the right thumb. The SU-16, you’re using your trigger finger. Yet, from what I was told the safety is reversible. The manual should have the how to directions. Oh Bigtime! This gun is too damn pricey!

    • Bryan S.

      The plastic cover is more for protecting the finish, as your face oils and sweat will start to rust the receiver after a while.

      • Phil White

        Bryan,

        The finish seems to be pretty durable so a cover doesn’t really concern me. That and I tend to put a bit of lube on it when cleaning. I’ll use Frog-Lube and a hair dryer to heat it up good and it gets into the metal which protects it pretty well.

    • Phil White

      Sean,

      The manual actually does advise the owner to use the thumb for safety manipulation. It can’t be reversed though. I understand the idea but my muscle memory is so tuned into an 870 and traditional safeties of say some lever action rifles I have had to hesitate a bit before activating the safety. I can see someone firing off an unintentional round thinking the safety is on.
      Now as far as the buttplate it does have a pretty thick rubber buffer which does work well.

  • Bryan S.

    Ive got a bit of range time on it, and was RO at a 3 gun match where a friend ran his all day.

    A few things I would point out. I found his sample to need a very hard pump stroke, as i was able to short stroke the shotgun. Reloading is quicker if you point the rear of the shotgun up, and push shells into the tubes with your index finger.

    I think the slowness to reload is one of those things that will be figured out after some time, but it is the largest handicap.

    And the selector switch is not too bad for those of us with larger hands, i can reach back and flick it with my thumb.

    • Phil White

      Bryan,

      Thanks for the comment! The pump stroke was really easy on this one. It may vary some between guns though. It’s just one of those guns that takes a good amount of practice to develop a method that works as well as developing muscle memory.
      Tilting it up and using my left thumb may be a better way to reload.You just have to remember which tube your using unless both have the same ammo.

  • RickH

    I chuckle to myself everytime I see an optic on a shotgun.

    • Phil White

      RickH,

      Hey it works and I didn’t feel like buying standard flip up rail sights.They would be mounted pretty far forward as well. The red dot made it fast on target. This would most likely be the only shotgun I would use an optic on.

      • RickH

        I will backtrack a bit: If a shooter is using nothing but slugs, an optic might be of benefit. Just my opinion and preference.

        • Phil White

          RickH,

          True you would benefit if you were using slugs. I was in the review and like I said I didn’t want to buy an extra set of sights.

    • Bryan S.

      Yeah, who would ever need to aim a firearm? Its a shotgun, just point it in the direction of what you want to hit and BAM! destroyed.

      Right?

      • RickH

        Geez, I guess all those years shooting skeet, trap, and duckies I’ve been doing it all wrong.

    • John Doe

      Yeah I know right! Video games taught me that I can point my boomstick in that guy’s general direction and pull the trigger, and as long as he’s <10 feet away, he's toast.

    • Sian

      it’s a red dot sight, not a 4-16×25 variable scope. For shotguns and rifles I consider red dots and holosights to be essentially just like irons, but faster and easier to use. Got a Tasco Propoint with an enormous 42mm tube on mine.

      • Phil White

        Sian,

        Heck there’s even a trend to place very small red dots on handguns to replace the rear sight. It’s mostly for competition but still.

        The more I consider it the more the red dot makes sense on a shotgun such as this one. If you look at the rail the rear sight would be very far forward making a sight picture a but tough. The red dot makes more sense on this bullpup design.

      • RickH

        What is the intended range of this weapon? Since it’s a shotgun I assume shotshells will be used. If all you’re going to be using is slugs so you can shoot out past 50 yards, there are better weapons to choose from. At 5 to 15 yards you’re saying that a red dot or ghost ring or whatever is going to be faster than a simple bead? I’d like to see it.

        • Phil White

          RickH,

          Since it’s intended use is close combat in a restricted environment it could be from contact to 10 yards in a larger structure. There are times when you would use it out to about 25 yards with slugs. Hopefully you’ll have a heads up of the possible distances involved.Now I’m speaking strictly from a police standpoint.

          00 buck indoors and a combo outside depending on distance.You also need to find out if your raid target is full of kids. If so slugs all the way for more precise use. Either way a red dot would be an advantage. Sighted in at ten yards that covers the distances you’ll be firing from.

          I know from experience on many many raids I’d much rather have this with a red dot than the 870 with bead sight and 14 inch barrel.I was also the first one through the door with the Remington. I later changed to the H&K MP5 SD.This was more precise with the possibility of innocents in a home etc.

          My personal multiple encounters have been from almost contact range to 15 yards (not always myself firing). I carried a mix with a slug first then 00 then slug etc.I could always rack out a 00 if I needed a slug. That and the sound of racking an 870 has had the effect of having more than one suspect surrender.

          I normally don’t get into any actual situations where I’ve had to use this kind of force but I want to emphasize real world use not what if’s. This info is based on six years of SRU team experience.

          In this range test I wanted to see what 50 yard accuracy was. Now could it be used at 50 yes it could with slugs at 1600 FPS.

          For a civilian a load of 000 buck in a home with a red dot would be about ideal with this 26 inch shotgun. It’s going to be dark–you probably just woke up and that bead is gonna be darn near impossible to see.

          I hope this real world experience has been helpful. I don’t make the decision to share this lightly.

    • Duray

      Rick, there’s no sight plane on a KSG. Your line of sight is significantly above the rail, as it is on a flattop AR. So what are you going to use to aim, if a fighting shotgun is, as you imply, just like a trap gun? There’s no bead, and nowhere to put one. No barrel of vent rib to sight down. If an optic is great for CQB with an AR, it’s great for CQB with a 6 or 8″ pattern of buckshot.

      • RickH

        Then put simple iron sights on it! They can put a rail on it, sights would be real easy. Anyone remember the Mossberg bullpup back in the ’80′s? It was just a standard model 500 with a clamshell enclosing the receiver & barrel. It had iron sights which served the purpose for which it was intended, I know because I owned one. If I can shoot trap, skeet, ducks with iron sights, I’m very comfortable using a shotgun for defense at close range without the need of an optic, as sure most anyone would be.

      • Duray

        Do you shoot skeet and ducks inside a dark building at night? Are the ducks shooting back? How would a non-magnifying optic not have the same advantages over irons on a shotgun that it would on any other gun? You mentioned a bead in a different post. There’s nowhere to put one. An optic gives you an instant and illuminated aiming point. Same advantage it would have on an M4, or a race pistol, or anything else.

      • RickH

        But a red dot or other optic is not a night vision scope. If it’s pitch black you shouldn’t be shooting until you know what and where your target is. When I bring my shotgun into my shoulder, I know where the end of that barrel is, practice, practice, practice. If you want you can get tritium beads if you think you need them. And as I said, they can put a rail on it, it is a simple matter to make simple iron sights as an option.

  • Partizan1942

    I know, I know… The sight is dedicated to firearms and not politics. And believe me, I am not trying to start a debate either. But I am from what most people in America still consider “Eastern Europe”. And as a person from that part of the world I cannot help but laugh my little behind off when gun-loving good old Americans – like the author of the review in this case – are bitching as soon as they find them self on the unfavorable side of capitalism. I love it when they go “that is not fair” and like in this case “they should be ashamed” and “taking advantage of…”
    Well take it from me dude, that is capitalism… You just found yourself on the wrong side of it this time, and unlike us in “eastern” Europe you haven’t gotten used to that happening to you…
    Maybe not yet anyway. :)

    So like I said, no need to comment and no need to start a discussion about this. I’m just saying…
    Just pointing out the trend…
    The differences in culture…
    And laughing – so hard… :)

    • John

      Not only that, but the fact that people are willing to pay that much essentially means that the gun is worth that much. It would be silly to suggest that they sell the gun for less than its worth.

    • JM

      That’s not capitalism as a whole…that’s supply-and-demand economics. To imply that socialist or communist trade regulation doesn’t screw the customer is asinine. If a private firm with its own in-house quality assurance doesn’t have the freedom to apply supply-and-demand economics, then the government that regulates them will. I’d rather the oversight be between myself and the manufacturer than get ANY government involved.

      • Partizan1942

        I’m afraid that you do not really understand my very specific request that this post should not provoke a debate here. It is simply not the place for one. But if you would want to argue with me, post an e-mail address and as a historian that specializes in the economic history of the 20th century (yepp that is what I do baby) I would be very happy to explain you just how flawed your premise already is. But like I asked please do not make politics out of pointing out differences between the way people think and if you must please do not do it here, because like I said my point was not to spark a debate. At least not here, and not about this. Thank you.

    • W

      LOL

      partizan you are absolutely correct. Capitalism, just like constitutional liberty, is a double-edged sword. True liberty doesn’t always play in your favor.

  • tincankilla

    Would love to get my hands on one of these, but I think the right price point for me would be about $500.

    I want to go on a rant here, but the issue of price run-ups to the benefit of manufacturers and FFLs is another topic.

  • junyo

    “Finally even though I had a failure with my first outing it does happen from time to time with most any gun company. They fixed it quickly and fixed it right which is my main concern. Whether this puts you off or not is your decision.”

    The problem isn’t the failure or the customer service. The problem is that virtually every discussion of Keltec products features how awesome their customer service is, thus waving away the fact that they have issues so frequently. Here’s the thing; if it’s a quality product, I should never have to know or care how awesome their customer service is. A weapon isn’t really an item where random critical failures are acceptable, because nobody’s customer service is fast enough for that. Keltec is great for cool looking, innovative designs for range toys; manufacturing weapons, not so much. For the record, I own multiple Keltec products, so not just hating.

    • Phil White

      junyo,

      Back years ago you never got a gun from the factory that needed a trip back for repair. Then you had artisans that did a lot of hand fitting etc. preventing these problems. There are fewer hands on any new gun produced now so you have some that need some work. Should inspection catch them? Yes they should but it still happens with almost all companies that mass produce.
      I don’t like it or accept it but that’s just the way it is.I have had hands on more guns than most and in the past three or so years four have gone back. One had the wrong rear sight another had a tight chamber and I mean tight enough some brands of ammo would leave a good amount of residue behind on the forcing cone. Another had a crooked slide! No matter how far the sights were adjusted it still shot to the left. The last one that comes to mind wouldn’t feed no matter what even with two trips back to the factory.They replaced the gun.

    • eba

      IMHO, this is the price you pay for innovation. I don’t expect a rifle designed in 1880 to have issues anymore. I _do_ expect something – whose design goes beyond what the major manufacturers have been capable of even considering – will have some initial nits. It’s not like Kel-tec doesn’t constantly improve – they do. Every issue I have with one of their weapons has come with a redesigned part to address the problem. Problem solved, for me and everyone from that point on. So in 2112, you’ll say – Damn, those Kel-tec guns are sure dependable.

      Meanwhile, all the majors try to knock off the Kel-tec stuff, 5 years after it’s been proven by Kel-tec.

  • Partizan1942

    Regarding the gun and the review, I think that the concept of the KSG is a good one.
    I like the option to lode the two different tubes with different shells and being able to chose between the two. Makes the gun more versatile.
    I like that you have a rail available for whatever you want to pimp your gun out with and call it more tactical.
    I like the relatively large magazine capacity and the relative low weight and the overall shortness of the gun.
    I like the fact that one can use different length shells for the gun.

    I do not however consider the reality of the KSG a good one.
    I do not like that it takes a LOT more time to reload this gun than let’s say a Saiga.
    I do not like the production value of the gun. I mean just look at the work on the plastic in picture 6… Chinese toys from the 80’s have these kinds of cheap plastic fittings (and no I do not have a problem with plastic, but take a look at the production value of a Glock or an FN made weapon – any weapon and Kel-Tec guns. Errrrr not the same…)
    I do not like the price especially not after seeing the production value.
    An I do not like the ergonomics (safety, tube changing etc.)

    Sorry but in conclusion when the s@%t hits the fan and the zombies come, I want a Saiga and/or an SRM1216

    • Phil White

      Partizan1942,

      Concise and to the point==thanks!

  • Matt

    The safety presents a serious training issue. Every gun I’ve ever shot with a cross-bolt safety, from a Daisy Powerline 880 to an M240, fires in the left position. I’m still waiting for someone to make a quality shotgun with AR-style ergonomics and controls.

    • Phil White

      Matt,

      True especially if they shoot other guns with cross bolt safeties. There are some shotguns out now that look like AR’s.I’m not sure about quality but Centerfire carries them.

    • eba

      MKA 1919 is a an inexpensive, quality shotgun with AR15 ergos

    • Bryan S.

      I’ve seen plenty of shotguns out there with marked left hand safeties. Depending on range / match rules, it is something to look for when the rules call for a safety to be enabled in a certain condition.

    • Bull
      • Phil White

        Bull,

        Looks pretty good:-)

  • Maksimir

    Phil – just wondering if you deplete one mag tube and the other is full of slugs – doesn’t that affect the balance? Especially when shooting slug at a distance?

    • Partizan1942

      not unless he was a 50 lbs schoolgirl shooting depleted uranium shells… :)

    • Phil White

      Maksimir,

      No not really. The tubes are so close together it really is something you don’t notice.

      • Maksimir

        Thanks.

        And I wonder how it would stackup against this design… http://www.utasturk.com/utas-turk-uts15_urunler-uts15.html

        • Phil White

          Maksimir,

          Hum, it may stack up pretty well. I’d have get my hands on one to know for sure. It does look a bit large top to bottom.The materials and weight are identical.

  • D

    I don’t see any utility for the weapon itself (it’s a pump shotgun with a few extra rounds).

    But, i DO love the little rubber guard things put on the rails; thats a slick idea.

    • eba

      How do you not see the utility of this gun?
      Do you see the utility of a pump shotgun in general? OK, it has that.
      Would you like carrying twice as many rounds with a plastic or velcro clip? It has that.
      Would you like a rail for optics. It has that.
      Would you like to be able to switch from broad pattern to pinpoint? It is the only shotgun that can do that.
      Would you like the same accuracy in a much shorter, better balanced package? That too.

      Everything about this is utilitarian. Your comment makes no sense. If you are saying you wouldn’t trust it or its not worth paying 500 more for those features, sure. But its all about utility.

      • Partizan1942

        I absolutely agree with everything you just wrote with a tiny correction: there is at least another design that can do the same (and in fact even more) than the KSG. Yepp, with the SRM1216 the shooter has the chance to load 4 different type of shells in the 4 tubes so basically one can load door breaching rounds in the first tube, slugs in the second, buckshot in the third and birdshot in the fourth or whatever else like dragon’s breath or non lethal etc.

      • DrewN

        Leaving out that it would be a stupid,stupid idea to load a weapon with a combo of lethal/less than lethal however.

      • Sian

        @ Partizan

        There’s also the UTS-15

        What the SRM1216 can’t do is put a whole lot of shotgun into a 26 inch package. Also, I like to keep it simple, having 4 different rounds to choose from is a bit much to worry about in the typical ranch protection situation. It’s a feature that will have utility for only a tiny number of people.

      • Partizan1942

        @ Sian
        There is also the Neostead shotgun. :)

    • Phil White

      D,

      Here’s a link for you on those rail covers> http://ergogrips.net/products/rail-covers.html

  • Brandon

    Nice write up.
    As for the price gouging, other manufacturers should take note. When you release a NEW product (not just another AR15 or 1911) it flies off the shelves.

    • Phil White

      Brandon,

      Thanks! It seems in the last few years some companies have made a habit of releasing new models without having the stock to fill the demand. Ruger comes to mind.

  • tony

    Thank you for your detailed review. It is much enjoyable to read your review than watching “reviews” on youtube.

    Thanks

    • Phil White

      tony,

      Thank you Tony I appreciate it! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  • West

    Good review but I do not agree with your assessment of “price gouging”.
    This was not a product like fuel or food that can mean life or death.
    If the price has been set too high then nobody will pay it. If somebody pays it then it isn’t too high.

    • Phil White

      West,

      Thanks West. I am surprised that so many folks have agreed with the current prices for the KSG.

      • West

        No sir, I do not agree with the pricing which is why I have no intention of buying one for quite a while but they are selling at that price so that is a good business decision for them.
        Personally, I think it’s a ridiculous price.

        • Phil White

          West,

          It is expensive either way.

  • Mike Knox

    I’ve had a question ever since this oddball shotgun came out. If it can feed off detachable box mags, Which ones? Is kel-tec going to make some?

    • Phil White

      Mike,

      No sir it only feeds from the internal magazine tubes.

      • Mike Knox

        Well at SHOT Show last year, the booth guy said about the detatchable magazine option when the lever is set to middle. I didn’t catch the other stuff that he said, I was thinking about cake..

        • Phil White

          Mike,

          LOL–gotcha!

  • John Doe

    I really do like the compactness of this shotgun with a longer barrel. Stock-less shotguns aren’t always a good solution, and a good cheek weld always makes things better.

    I admire Kel-Tec for trying something new, good job!

    • Jeff

      One thing I’m not comfortable with is how close your face is to the chamber, even if they designed it with a blast shield.

      Bullpups are also rear heavy, so recoil might also be an issue, but that’s subjective

      • Phil White

        Jeff,

        The right ear is right over the chamber. The steel there is very substantial so I’m not concerned about it. Of course people can always get dumb when reloading.

  • Jeff

    Anyone know why Kel-Tec refuses to expand their business? is it not monetarily viable?
    It seems like (at least with the KSG, and SUB-2000 especially) they make products that people really really want, but are never in stock…. its almost as if their business model is to sell off prototypes of vaporware

    • Phil White

      Jeff,

      I have no idea Jeff. I suppose it could be fear of the economy getting worse or any number of reasons. No doubt they could sell a lot more guns if they had the capacity.

    • gunslinger

      Jeff
      i’m not sure of their production capacity, but i can say this. I’ve worked in manufacturing for some time. it’s not as easy to just “ramp up” production for a new part. and even if they know there is a demand, woudl it make sense to build a $10 million line if they will only sell $8 million in product?

      and even if they added capacity, that doesn’t mean they can crank out KSGs overnight.

      so i guess the real question is what is holding KT back? and what are they doing to address the issue

      • Phil White

        gunslinger,

        The real question is the last one and what has held them back? This is not a new situation with only this model. I know they have to secure financing, have available facilities or build a new one, purchase new CNC machines and hire new employees and that’s just the surface. All of which takes time and we’re talking well over a year if not two.
        The question is what will the economy do in the coming time period they would need to upscale. What new laws will mess with the second amendment (none I hope). There are a lot of decisions which must be made.

        This also begs the question of analyzing the profit vs. loss in investment.

  • Miles Digby

    Thanks so much for a REAL review.I read one from a gun magazine where it was on the cover and it told me nothing.

    I am of two minds one if I had a ton of money I would buy it today because it looks like a gun from Star Wars, also being able to go from buckshot to slug with a flip of a switch is amazing. It is just the most bad ass looking design I have seen in a very long time. That is part of why I would buy it.

    But what you reported about needing to put your OWN hand guard on it, is safety wise not acceptable. The first rule of gun manufacturing is “first do no harm”. Rapid firing a shot gun,then having your left hand slip and get shot off is not a good day at the range. How many owners have longer arms than you and god help them did not read your article so they did not put in a $20 hand guard.

    There was a awful 1958 B movie called “Teenage Cave man” made by Roger Corman (featured on MST3000) staring Robert Vaughn (Robert Vaughn said in an interview that he considered this to be the worst film ever made) , in the film the inside joke that my wife and I still use,is this line: “THE RULE IS THE LAW AND LAW IS THE RULE” is what the teenager keeps being told by the elders who chant it at him.

    When it comes to guns having your safety on the shotgun be pushed to the left for fire “THE RULE IS THE LAW AND LAW IS THE RULE”! Why because that is what my muscle memory is used too, why make a gun more dangerous.

    I SOO love the guys a Kel Tec for their bringing new ideas to the US market and being company that builds in the United States. Also for having great prices.

    For now I will stick to my Remington 870, it has NEVER failed.
    ———————————————————————
    Why can’t I point this gun at people, I am sure its unloaded?

    Chant with me

    “THE RULE IS THE LAW AND THE LAW IS THE RULE”

    Why do men and women have problems in relationships?

    Sex or Money always.

    Great Review where can I see your videos? I did not know you did that you have a new subscriber.

    • Phil White

      Miles,

      Oh geez I remember that movie and yes I think it’s right up there as the worst but then again there were a ton of bad sci-fi movies in the 50′s and early 60′s.

      You’re very welcome and I’m glad you enjoyed it. As far as the videos I do them now and again but not terribly often. A couple are on reviews here. Where I shoot is wide open and windy more often than not which makes getting decent audio problematic.Look at the review on the Taurus 454 Casull for a video.

      Kel-Tec does have a hand guard but they are an option you have to purchase. The ERGO isn’t expensive so I didn’t mind. I wanted to make sure that was in the review simply because if you haven’t handled it you might not even think of it.You would eventually I’m sure but would everyone before an accident happened?

  • TxDog

    The Kel-Tec KSG could be the best shotgun in the world with the most reliable action and most versatile handling…

    … and it does me no good if it remains as rare as unicorn balls.

    If I can not find a KSG, much less buy a KSG for less than an arm and a leg and a kidney, telling me about its features, positive points, and negative points has all the relevance of a travelogue review about a trip to the moon. Yes, I can get there, but no, it will not be cheap and yes, there’s a list of people in line ahead of me.

    So thank you Kel-Tec for turning out the best shotgun no one can find, nobody has in their store, and no one can buy for MSRP… you know, that thing that most people set the ceiling of their prices at, not the starting point.

    • Phil White

      TxDog,

      Before this sample arrived I’ve never seen one in person and I visit a good number of gun shops. Even after all these months I am very glad they sent this one.

      • TxDog

        My ire is aimed solely at Kel-Tec. I don’t begrudge anyone lucky enough to get one – heck, if I had one, I’d probably be saying a bunch of good things about it. I just despise Kel-Tec’s corporate leadership. Whether by design or neglect, they treat their customer base with utter contempt. To them, NOT selling their wares in sufficient quantities is viewed as a viable and preferred business model which leaves us, the consumer, holding the bag… an empty bag at that. I had to wait several years for a SU-16CA and have waited over a year now for a KSG to even enter my local gun store. That Kel-Tec has done nothing to alleviate these waiting periods tells me they simply couldn’t care less.

        That is unacceptable.

        • Phil White

          TxDog,

          I wish I had an answer for you. Nodbody will know the answer outside of the companies management team.

      • TxDog

        Their actions speak louder than words.

        • Phil White

          TxDog,

          In most cases that’s true——

  • Sanjuancb

    It always amazes me that—even in our capitalist nation—the market forces of supply and demand are unfailingly labeled ‘price gouging’. If that is the case then they are price-gouging the hell out of people on gold these days…

    • jdun1911

      There nothing wrong with price gouging as long as there is no price fixing. Price gouging is a market force that actually is beneficial to people in places where supplies cannot meet demand.

      Price fixing is what destroy free markets. Price fixing hurt everybody.

      • Phil White

        jdun1911,

        Price fixing does hurt people certainly. I was approaching it as more a of a right vs wrong viewpoint.

      • jdun1911

        Excellent review on the Kel-Tec. Look forward to future write ups.

        There nothing wrong with price gouging IMO. It overall help depress areas in the market. It help those that needs the product the most.

        For example: Lets use Bullpup Shotgun as an example. It’s a depress market. Not many manufacture make them. Price gouging is in effect. Manufacture X notice this so they get into the act. Manufacture Y also notice it and they want a piece of the action. And so on. What happen next? The market will be flooded with bullpups and prices will come down to a reasonable level.

        This happen with the AR15. I remember casted Ar lowers went over $400 20 years or so. Today you can buy forged lowers for $59.

        There are other benefits too but that takes too long to type. These two videos so explain it in greater detail.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6ojYtKazgQ

        • Phil White

          jdun1911,

          Thank you sir! I’ll have a look at the videos to get a better idea. I do remember the prices of the AR parts in general being very high. Now everyone makes one it seems.

      • W

        That is my favorite youtube channel!!!

        I think they should be mandatory teaching in our schools today.

        thank you for posting that.

        • Phil White

          W,

          You bet glad you like it.

    • LJK

      Exactly. That’s just the price you pay if you want to have a capitalistic society. Everyone’s happy in that nice middle ground when the supply meets demand in a way that products are accessible to the majority of the people. But suddenly everyone’s up in arms in the more extreme situations which are always inevitable; either the supply is so large that the companies are in trouble (they can’t make a profit because the prices are so low), or the demand is so high that everyone cannot get the products, and they usually wind up in the hands of the more wealthier.

    • Roberto

      This is not straight-forward supply and demand. Just like with scalping tickets, a class of dishonest people are taking advantage of others by inserting themselves in-between the manufacturer, dealer, and purchaser. These people buy all of the supply available (so that they will have a monopoly) and then raise the price to astronomical levels because they know that if they control the supply then people will have to pay whatever they say. They add absolutely no value not already present. The legitimate dealers and distributors already provide the same value as these ilegitimate ones and at a fair price. If these scammers didn’t exist, the weapons would simply be sold for around MSRP. They are not buying weapons because they want to use them, or because they want to make a reasonable profit (already built into the MSRP). They are buying them because they want to work together with other similarly unscrupulous people to extract as much money from legitimate buyers as possible. It’s like saying the mafia is just legitimate capitalism. Nonsense. It’s totally artificial and it’s a perversion.

      Gold is a pervasive commodity. It would be nearly impossible for a cartel to try and control the price or supply because there is so much gold in circulation and there are so many producers. In this case there were no KSGs in circulation and there is only one producer. Bad example.

      • FrozenPatriot

        “people will have to pay whatever they say.” -Nobody “has” to pay anything. They can choose not to buy. If nobody buys, “evil middle man” has lots of capital tied up in inventory he can’t move. This is a risk of being a reseller (especially a scalper, where the item is worthless after a point in time).

        “If these scammers didn’t exist, the weapons would simply be sold for around MSRP.” -You still might not understand the basic laws of supply and demand. Any price agreeable to both the seller and the purchaser is, by definition, the “right price.” Capitalism benefits both the seller, who values the buyer’s money more than his goods or services (time), and the buyer, who values the seller’s goods or services more than his money. If either party decides the above statement is not true from their point of view, the transaction does not occur. Easy.

        MSRP is: 1) a rough estimate of what the manufacturer thinks the seller can get in markup without disclosing the wholesale price of the item. 2) a rough estimate given to the public to allow them to begin the decision process of whether they value that item more than their money.

        You can’t be both “RAH RAH FREEDOM!!!” and “RAH RAH PRICE CONTROLS!!!” when it comes to guns, or anything else for that matter.

        • Neil Tarasoff

          I will buy one of these when I can walk into my gun dealer/show and purchase one at a reasonable price. I am not desperate to own one to pay way over a market price! 8-)

  • Clodboy

    The ability to instantly switch between buckshot and less lethal could make this very interesting for police users – if it would be possible to have an idiotproof indicator which of the tube holds painful less-lethal rounds and which holds hot leaden death.

    Heck, given man’s propensity to interpret “less lethal” as “non-lethal” or even “painful but harmless”, there is even more of a need for a training course that stresses first and foremost that you’ve got two tubes, one of which is filled with ammo that can seriously f*** people up, the other with ammo that will f*** them up beyond repair.

    • Phil White

      Clodboy,

      It’s an idea but it would never happen. We are very paranoid about mixing less lethal and lethal. Most less lethal shotguns have a orange and sometimes blue painted stock so they can be easily chosen without any deadly mistakes.Even so mistakes have happened.

      I’d never mix real ammo and rubber bullets in the same gun.It’s just too easy under stress to pick the wrong tube.

  • Richard

    Simple solution. If $1600 is too much, don’t buy one. Buy a 870. If people will pay $1600, then it is the right price.

  • http://www.true-solutions.net Andy

    So all this “price gouging” you all are talking about, you realize YOU do it to YOURSELF, right?

    Like, that’s a shitty seller, not an issue of economics or Kel-Tec. the TWO gunshops I frequent both use MSRP at the HIGH end. I ordered my KSG at $739 in march, they said it would be in around november/december. easy peasy.

    You guys need to find trustworthy sellers, not complain. And don’t tell me that “my seller IS trustworthy!” because, no, if he’s selling a gun at double MSRP, he’s not.

    Now on the the actual shotgun : Here in CA, this is a WAY better option than a Saiga, or a 1216. It’s two seven round mags mean it’s completely legal here, which is nice to be able to say about a new product for once.

    I’m looking forward to some enterprising smith figuring out how to fix the retarded safety though.

    • Phil White

      Andy,

      It’s good to know it is legal in Ca. When I was talking about unfair prices I was specifically looking at individual sellers primarily those on auction sites.

      • Duray

        A genuine, traditional, auction cannot be “unfair.” An item sells to the highest bidder. Period.

        • Phil White

          Duray,

          I know I know but just because a guy is paying that crazy price is it right for the seller to ask that much. We’ll never agree on this issue but I hope you understand my position as I understand yours.

          The auctions I saw were buy it now or had a reserve near the $1400 etc. Traditional auctions aren’t unfair,I agree.

      • gunslinger

        Phil
        Is it right? Well, if he is asking, and it’s posted, then it must be right. If someone buys/bids on it. It still is right. Heck even if no one does, it’s still right to post it. I believe you are at the cross of your personal views and the views of the economics.

        Just because you say it’s not right doesn’t make it not right. I think that BMWs and Corvettes should only cost at most $20K new. I can get a new Kia, Hyundai, Chevy, Ford, VW etc for that cost. Why should those two cars be so much more expensive?

        I think you are confusing what you believe as “moral” and “right”. What I believe you mean to say is that it’s not “moral” for a seller to ask 2x for the gun. And by all means, you can believe that. But it’s not “wrong” for him to ask so. The seller (assuming no outside laws come into play) can ask 1 billion bucks for the thing.

        Not trying to pick a fight, but the wording is apples to oranges.

        • Phil White

          gunslinger,

          Yea, I’ll go with your suggestion that my opinion is the seller is placing profit above a moral decision. I actually never meant to bring economics into it rather what I personally feel is acceptable business practice and what’s not. Just my opinion like anyone else:-)

          Your not picking a fight and I understand what you’re saying and the difference between the two. I guess that’s why I have a KIA instead of a Corvette:-)

          I’m not the only one that feels this way but I must admit I’m outgunned on this issue. Kinda surprises me really.

      • gunslinger

        Sounds good. After seeing how the comments have gone in other threads made think of when price gouging was mentioned in GD of art.com. seems that pleanty of gun loving Americans also don’t believe in price gouging.

        Oh well

  • Frank Smith

    Phil,

    Just wanted to say I read this article today and really enjoyed it. I’m actually glad that you had some trouble early because it gives a good indication on how well Kel Tec handles customer service. And you even gave that a positive, as well as that they repaired your gun to a satisfactory working condition. So kudos to Kel Tec.

    Two sides notes:
    1. If they wanted to introduce this to the police, they can use both lethal and non-lethal ordinance in the same weapon. You can have the barrels color-coded as they do for other weapons (someone mentioned that they do this. I don’t know from any experience myself.). Or they could make it a matter of training. Left barrel, lethal only, right barrel, non-lethal only and make it so that the selector is on the right barrel by default to lessen mistakes.

    2. This is more of a question. I’m reading a little on the debate between full metal framed weapons and polymer framed ones. I didn’t think the fittings looked like cheap plastic (someone else here mentioned that), but a picture only says so much about something like this. I would love to feel it in my hands. But since I can’t, and you did, what is your opinion on this? Do polymer frames feel and hold up as well against something all metal? (I showed a video of the Sub2000 to a friend of mine, and he wasn’t exactly thrilled due to some negative reviews on Kel Tec some time ago, and his personal feelings on plastic frames.)

    Again, thanks for the review. Good stuff. :-)

    • Shane Koehler

      In regards to #1, absolutely not. You do not mix lethal and non-lethal ammunition in the same weapon system. This has disaster written all over it. I can tell your right now that when the pucker factor kicks in, for some police officers I’ve seen personally, most logic and reason flies out the window. The last thing you want to do is hand them a weapon system that changes from lethal to non-lethal by the click of a button.

      You must separate lethal and non-lethal as much as possible. For example you use different weapon systems, color coordination, and even designate one to two officers to use non-lethal ONLY. You must remember, cops are human.

      • Shane Koehler

        When it comes to human life, you do not want to ‘lessen mistakes’, you want to eliminate mistakes.

  • Tim

    Glad you got the KSG. I have been looking for one for over 8 months. What are they making only 2 a week? It is like a Unicorn…they simply don’t exist!! I have given up on this weapon and instead going for a UTS-15. A little more expensive, but 1 they are available and 2 a little better manufactured.

  • mark

    My ksg had a feed tube problem after running dummy rounds through it. The spring in the left tube turned into a birds nest jumble somehow and I sent it back, I just got it back and have not tried it yet.

  • JT

    How many police departments would add this to their inventory to discover the have to repeatedly send it back to KT to get it working right? I really hope that this gun will never be issued to anyone in The line of public service

  • Stevemisky

    Bought ours at the “friends of the NRA” dinner Saturday night.
    Picked it uplast night and spend an hour tonight with the wife at our local range. Loved it. All the range folks asked for a turn too!
    We did install a front grip and had NO issues with ejected shells hitting our arms.

    We do plan to add sights it’s tough to aim without the long barrel.

    Overall a great shotgun and garners lots of looks from folks on the range.

  • braindeaddiver

    It was thoughtful of you to point out which tube was and which tube wasn’t loaded in the photo, how long have you been working for Kel Tec?

  • woodman

    Checked one out at a local gun shop. Looked and felt good. $895.00