Kel-Tec’s RDB and M43 Bullpup Rifles

Kel Tec RDB Bullpup Rifle

Kel Tec is revealing two new bullpups at Shot Show this year with their RDB and M43.

Scaling down from their successful RFB .308 rifle, the RDB and M43 are both .223 bullpup rifles using downward brass ejection system rather than the forward system of the RFB.

The RDB is the modern variant, while the M43 is described as a “cold-war inspired design.” The internals on both rifles are the same, but while the RDB features polymer and picatinny, the M43 is all wood and steel. New rifles in old styles are something I’d like to see more of.

Kel Tec M43 Bullpup with Surefire

Both rifles feature a 17.4″ barrel and use a short stroke piston system. The bolt travel is quite a bit longer than conventional rifles in order to eject brass out the downward chute behind the magazine well.

The magazine release on these is a metal slider in a similar position to the Tavor’s magazine release, right behind the knuckle of the shooting hand’s thumb.

The bolt release is an ambidextrous setup, but the charging handle can be manually locked back as well.

The RDB’s optics rail mounts directly to the barrel, while the M43 has a heat shield over its piston. Rather than optics, the M43 has integral folding sights, with the large front sight base being threaded onto the end of the barrel.

Both rifle barrels have a substantial length of 1/2×28 threading. On the RDB a spacer is followed by a standard A2 flash-hider, but on the M43 the front sight base threads onto the barrel with space leftover to attach a flash-hider.

Kel-Tec M43 Bullpup RIfle

The charging handle we saw was reciprocating, although numerous Kel-Tec representatives said they are working on a non-reciprocating version. We did see a folding charging handle on one of the M43s that made for a much lower profile on the rifle.

Kel-Tec’s new rifles are certainly unique bullpups, and the wood and steel concept behind the M43 is something I think deserves some praise. We’ll have to see when these guns actually appear on the market whether they find acceptance in the growing bullpup community.


Edward O

Edward is a Canadian gun owner and target shooter with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Crawling over mountains with tactical gear is his idea of fun. He blogs at TV-Presspass and tweets @TV_PressPass.


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  • MadMarsupial

    It might be the photographs – or it might be my eyes – but does this rifle seem to have a bend in it?

    • jamezb

      I see it too…odd.

      • Jeremy Star

        It’s probably due to the way the photo was taken.

        • MadMarsupial

          I thought that originally, but all the photos seem the same.

          Could be the way the design angles up in a couple of places too – creating an optical illusion?

    • Asdf

      It is a photo issue called, oddly enough, barrel distortion.

    • http://www.scoutbasecamp.com/ TV-PressPass

      Apologies all around! In my haste to post, I skipped the crucial lens correction step. I’ll try to replace the images tonight.

  • Guest

    “The barrel on both rifles has a substantial length of 1/2 x 28 thread.” Could you fix that?

    • http://www.scoutbasecamp.com/ TV-PressPass

      Thats what I get for writing on multiple devices! Fixed

  • jamezb

    I love the retro M43’s looks. I’d buy one.

  • MIG90

    I totally dig the looks of the M43! All the bullpups from the 50’s are completely unobtainable (like the british EM2 pictured below) so I’m glad Kel-Tec is bringing a firearm to the market that has super cool pre cold war aesthetics. When they’ll bring it to the market is another question :/. I’ve had great luck with all my Kel-Tec’s, I hope my luck holds out if and/or when I get one of these :).

    • abecido

      Being brought to market by Kel-Tec, they’ll be only slightly less unobtainable than the bullpups of the 1950s.

      • MIG90

        I’ve had no problems acquiring my Kel-Tec’s at MSRP, you just have to be patient.

        • abecido

          Patience may be a scarce commodity when there are Tavors and AUGs providing instant gratification.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            It doesn’t help that Tavors and AUGs are superior guns in every way.

          • mig1nc

            I mostly agree, but the downward ejection like the p90 or old Steyr ACR is quite interesting.

          • 00Bk

            lol at whoever down voted this comment. Is he wrong?????

          • kaos_in_tx

            Depending on where it dumps the hot brass. I ran a 5.7 conversion on an AR that spit the brass right into my belt…(modified an AR mag to act as a funnel).

        • kaos_in_tx

          3 to 4 years patient…

      • mikee

        Now that would be something! An EM2 clone in .223 or 6.5 Grendel etc.,

        • Michael

          How about an EM2 in the original caliber.280?
          The only one I have ever seen was in 30 06.

    • wetcorps

      Bullpups with wooden furnitures are indeed a rare sight. I think it’s a very cool option to have with the M43.
      Apart from the EM2 and the obnoxious Walther WA 2000, what other bullpups have wood on them?

      IIt seems the bullpup design became popular at the same time wood was replaced with more modern stuff. A shame, if you think about it. There was a lot of potential for strange and awesome guns.

      • José Pulido

        It seems most bullpups were cursed with hideous bakelite, rather than heavy wood in the early days…. then faster powders and science began strangling the belief of needing a long barrel.

        • jamezb

          I kinda like hideous bakelite. It’s …hideous… That’s what I like about it.

          • wetcorps

            Agreed lol.

    • FourString

      Yup, if any of these get to the market in a big way (if…) then I could foresee seeing these M43’s used anachronistically in perhaps a few Cold War era movies lol

  • Kevin1911

    Now if only Keltec has a way for their production to meet the demands….

    • Justice

      That remains to be seen. Its probably a clever business tactic to keep supply low and demand high on these sought-out guns like the PMR30, KSG, and now these 2 Bullpups. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but it appeals to a certain enthusiast or collector.

      • Kevin1911

        I just have a hard time believing that Keltec would rather sell less guns than more guns.

    • Vaughan

      Well said!

  • MIG90

    Here are two videos with Chad from Kel-Tec showing off the new rifles:

    M43:


    RDB:

    • Colby

      This is the version I’d like to see become readily available. M43 with a pic’ accessory rail. Yes please, especially if they come in at reasonable prices and aren’t ridiculously marked up by retailers.

      The poly version of it just doesn’t do it for me.

    • Michael

      Well that proves they have actually built ONE, now how long will we have to wait for them to actually sell one.
      I have seen a couple of the 22 Magnum pistols (so long ago I cannot even remember the name of it), but way above MSRP. I saw one 7.62 Bullpup and no Shotgun.
      What about the 22Magnum Carbine that they showed a while back.
      Nice designs, but they actually need to make some guns,

  • ahil925

    Any word on the Length of Pull on those rifles? I like the idea of a downward ejecting action, but at a glance they look like they might be a tad uncomfortable.

  • Michael

    “When they bring it to the market”, IF might be a better word. Still looking for a 22 magnum pistol, or to even see a KelTec shotgun.
    These guns look even cheaper than the other KelTec guns.
    Looks like it has a bend in it, Its a Kel Tec, so probably is bent

  • 12B

    Wish Kel-tec was an actual firearms MANUFACTURER rather than a big boy’s R&D facility.

  • 69murray

    If these guns prove reliable, I may have to give Kel-Tec another chance. That M43 looks fun as hell! Damn You, Kel-Tec.

  • Joey S

    It looks like it could use a Viagra. Little droopy looking at the loud end. LOL

    • RFB

      Yea I was thinking is that thing bent? Maybe they left out in the sun and it melted a little since knowing Kel-tec, it’s not a real gun, just a wax model. First prototype will roll off the line in 2016.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        Wide angle lens.

    • http://www.scoutbasecamp.com/ TV-PressPass

      My bad. I skipped the crucial lens correction step. I’ll try to replace the images tonight.

  • j

    The m43 looks awesome

  • schizuki

    The M43 is “Cold War” inspired? It looks Palestinian cellar workshop inspired.

    • jamezb

      It has design elements from both SPIW prototypes as well as Soviet bullpup prototypes.

  • Davidio Flavio

    Great another plastic and tin chud from keltec. Maybe I’ll actually see one in the next decade, and decide again why I don’t want an uneconomic, over complicated, over priced POS.

    • http://www.pontifex.roma.it/ Kwisatz Haderach

      *wood and tin.

      FTFY

    • Vaughan

      Yes, exactly. I wish a REAL gun manufacturer would buy Kel Tec and take these forward thinking designs to production as quality accessible firearms. Kel Tec’s brand is so tainted as “vapor ware” “crap quality” and “promises without delivering” I’m surprised that bloggers and gun journalists would waste their time and effort even mentioning them.

  • Davidio Flavio

    Excuse the auto correction in the last line, uneconomic should be uneconomic.

    • zardinuk

      Nobody cares.

  • Davidio Flavio

    Dammit, UNERGONOMIC!

  • Moose

    Any word on kel-Tecs .22wmr Rmr-30 rifle?

    • Conrad Gabbard

      Kel-Tec said by the end of the year when I asked. They were non-commental about a carbine conversion unit for the PMR-30, but didn’t deny one was in the planning.

  • Squirreltactical

    Make the M43 in 5.45 and feed it from ’74 mags. They would absolutely have my money.

    • mikewest007

      They announced they will make it in 7.62×39, how hard would it be to mate a 5.45 barrel to that?

  • erwos

    What’s the OAL?

    • http://www.scoutbasecamp.com/ TV-PressPass

      Varies between rifles. Kel tec lists the RDB at 27.4″ OAL and the M43 at 26.2″ OAL

  • Anders Albertsson

    Too bad no more than 12 will ever be produced.

  • José Pulido

    With such a long action, it’s almost inching into AR-15 territory with zero dead space, but still being long. Still wish Kel-tec would invest in increasing its capabilities/efforts for production(so long as it doesn’t ruin their cool R&D.)

  • Geoff a well known Skeptic

    I wish Remington would make them an offer to produce the rifles on a real production line. But, I’m told Remington and Ruger are at production capacity now. Hummm does Colt have an idle line now? Geoff Who notes Kel-tec has been working for years on quality.

  • http://virtualmilitia.com/ MJ Mollenhour

    I did actually see one of these on the shelf at a gun store. Shocked to find it actually manufactured.

    • ChuckyTee

      OOh really? Thought these were not coming out until later this year (if ever).

    • http://www.scoutbasecamp.com/ TV-PressPass

      I think you might have this confused with an RFB?

  • Andrey Martim

    Oh boy a Bayonet… I’m bayonet-nut…

  • gunslinger

    ksg in .223?

  • dp

    Appearance notwithstanding, this is first bullpup which makes sense. It solves the basic BP issue in elegant way. (No sense in pushing cases forward such as F2000) If US military thought of such weapon as future GI’s arm, here is sound candidate.

  • Дмитрий Волков
  • Tinkerer

    So, downward ejection, eh? Totally called it on the first post that you guys presented.

    About the mechanics: it appears to me that, in order for spent brass to be ejected just behind the magwell, there must NOT be a traditional hammer there. Maybe it’s striker-fired, like the Vz.58?

    Also: in traditional designs, the bolt recoils only about the lenght of a complete cartridge in order to empty the chamber. In this design, however, the bolt needs to recoil TWICE that distance, in order to empty the chamber AND clear the magazine. That gives us a long recoil travel -which might translate in a softer felt recoil, but I’m just guessing-.

  • Blake

    Fantastic idea with the M43 for all the old-school folks out there (like most of my family) that prefer our rifles to look like this (and if the wood ever breaks, we can make another part in our shop). I know that if the SU-16 was available in this sort of finish my father would have gone for it vs. the polymer stock in a heartbeat.

  • ATman

    All I can think of is 18.5 inch barrel.

  • sebastian

    wait time would be Hell here in Canada if they made a M43-C 18.5” barrel, I have been waiting over 6 weeks just for a single RFB-420 quadrail…

  • SAR

    Oh boy, its a retro-russian throwback!!!

    Are they serious? Come on guys, its the 21st century.

  • kaos_in_tx

    That scope on the polymer RDB better have some pretty long eye relief. Great guns! Order NOW so you can see it by 2018…Their next shipment of unobtainium should be in by then.
    I am a HUGE Kel-Tec fanboy…but the are run by a group of NASA engineers that wanted to make space guns. They could triple their production and STILL always be sold out.

  • kaos_in_tx

    That scope on the polymer RDB better have some pretty long eye relief.
    Great guns! Order NOW so you can see it by 2018…Their next shipment of
    unobtainium should be in by then.
    I am a HUGE Kel-Tec fanboy…but
    the are run by a group of NASA engineers that wanted to make space guns.
    They could triple their production and STILL always be sold out.