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.
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.
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.