Safety and Kel-Tec KSG Bullpup – A Couple of Suggestions

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Several times in the last year TFB has reported on serious accidents involving bullpups mainly the Kel-Tec KSG. Now some may say it’s the gun and a bad design. I have to take issue with this. The first time I handled a KSG the thought of a possible hand injury came to mind should my hand slip or I just grabbed the gun to far forward.

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The first thing I did was purchase a Magpul vertical grip. Notice I said Magpul which is a quality accessory and not a chinese knockoff. The reason I bring this up is one of the accidents we reported the user did use a grip but it was a cheap copy which broke and allowed the shooters left hand to get in front of the muzzle with very bad consequences. Another option is also a Magpul product and that’s the AFG or AFG2.

Magpul AFG-2

Magpul AFG-2

An additional accessory I added a short time later is the DOUBLE STAR – KSG ENFORCER flash suppressor. The Enforcer is carried by Brownells who also supplied the flash suppressor for this article. Price is $49.99 on the Brownells website.

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KSG Enforcer

KSG Enforcer

With these simple additions the KSG is much safer to aggressively operate. This is especially true when you have wet hands or using gloves in winter. I wanted to pass this along to the readers and hopefully with the extensive coverage of these accidents these suggestions and a little common sense we won’t have to hear of anyone else nearly losing a hand.

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On a side note I’ve tried an EoTech and Lucid optic on this KSG and found both tend to block more of my peripheral vision than I like. My problem was solved when I started using a Trijicon RMR sight. The model in the photo has the green triangle reticle and operates on fiber optics and Tritium. No batteries are needed.

The RMR has a very low profile and allows good peripheral vision. Trijicon

Trijicon RMR Dual Illumination

Trijicon RMR Dual Illumination

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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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  • HH

    Agree with the vert. grip. I put a Magpul on mine recently. lots better. It should be standard stock issue actually. I’ll add that flash suppressor now after reading this. Bit more barrel length just in case, maybe. I’ve heard the pros and cons of the KSG but after recently receiving and shooting mine Im happy with it personally

  • MrEllis

    Good tips, thanks for looking out.

  • Burst

    When the existing design has to be modified/ accessorized for there not to be an issue, it reinforces that bad design choices were made.

    Keltec wants to build a differently-configured gun, fine; the onus is on THEM to ship it from the factory in a safe configuration.

    • Vitsaus

      You nailed it. My thoughts on the KSG: Just because the concept is innovative does not mean the execution was correct. Most Kel-Tec products fit into that mold, interesting idea, shoddy and inconsistent execution. The rest just sell because they are cheap and cheap always wins.

    • 3XLwolfshirt

      A pump shotgun is something that is, IMO, more dangerous in short barrel configuration than any other type of SBR or SBS (I realize the KSG isn’t technically a SBS, but you know what I mean). A short barrel with a forward pump just seems like a bad idea. I realize that this problem is easily avoidable, but I could picture a home defense scenario in which a person would be trying to fire off several rounds quickly and accidentally blow his own hand off.

      The KSG is a neat concept, but I’d rather have a semi-auto if I’m dealing with an SBS.

    • Grindstone50k

      The onus is also on the USER to operate it in a safe fashion.

      • Burst

        As opposed to any other firearm?

        Putting a foregrip on your gun shouldn’t end in surgery.

        • Bal256

          All bets are off the table when you mix toy parts (airsoft-grade foregrips) and high-recoiling firearms.

          EDIT: I should really add, if there is ANY alteration of the firearm, the onus is on the person altering that firearm. If you change your own brakes on your car, and you end up going past a red light and hitting a pedestrian, you are probably not going to win a case against your car’s manufacturer.

    • Darkpr0

      The KSG ships with a hand stop already installed. If it wasn’t effective, we’d already be talking about how much money Kel Tec has lost because a court found them negligent and awarded damages to the defendants. If you want to put an accessory on your firearm, the onus is on you to outfit and operate the gun in a safe manner. The design choices you’re criticizing are a direct result of the demand for a short OAL shotgun. If you want short, you’re going to have a muzzle near your support hand whether it’s a KSG, Serbu Super Shorty, or your other favorite SBS. Plan accordingly.

    • sean

      It doesn’t need to be modified for there not to be a issue. The issue is the people that modified it with cheap accessories. It works Safely without out a foreward grip but you take a chance a short stroking it and having a jam or failure to feed. Its nice that kel-tec lets the end user pick what style of foregrip, handstop, or padding that they prefer and shouldnt feel responsible when some acts a fool with crappy secondary parts.

      • Burst

        There are KSG accident reports on this very site where that wasn’t an issue.

        • Sianmink

          Is there one KSG accident report that didn’t involve a busted or loose VFG?

    • securitywyrm

      Under that logic, all knives should be shipped dull and it’s up to the user to sharpen them. Used properly, this is a safe product. The article is pointing out a way that the product is commonly used incorrectly, and how to mitigate that opportunity for error.

  • Good suggestions for more safely using your KSG, but I still would not feel comfortable using it aggressively. I do not feel the combination of a barrel that ends just in front of your nondom hand and back-forward pump-action is a safe one.

    • Given that the lower rail is polymer, I don’t think I’d trust any foregrip to stay attached during vigorous use. The muzzle plate needs an extended lip added below the magazine tubes to prevent accessories from coming off of the rail when the action is closed.

    • 3XLwolfshirt

      Exactly. They should have made it semi auto if possible.

    • nadnerbus

      A forward-back pump would have been a lot safer for a short bullpup design like this, though I’m not sure how easy that would have been to engineer.

      Lot harder to shoot off your hand when you have to rack the slide back towards yourself to lock the action.

      • wetcorps

        The South African Neostead actually works like that.

        • Sianmink

          Comparisons to the Neostead 2000 are inevitable. They’re the only two double-tube bullpup shotguns out there. (The UTS-15 is just a modernized, heavier, less-reliable Neostead) Maybe they had the right idea with the forward-back action.

  • Callum Davenport-Lambton

    Thanks for posting this. I use a hand stop on mine. It’s wrong to say that it’s a kel-tec design flaw when all the injuries are due to a combination of poorly manufactured accessories and user error.

    • I have to agree with you. Just plain old common sense should tell you when you buy it you need a vertical grip of quality. If you see a potential problem hold the slide farther back or add accessories as I and others have done.

      • Ben Pottinger

        i have a MP5-PDW and haven’t managed to shoot off my fingers or hand. On SBRs it’s something you have to be careful of. Maybe keltec is getting more grief over this because the NFA process doesn’t artificially limit access to the weapon like with an SBR (ie, NFA owners are more likely to be “hardcore” shooters with more experience)?

        • I tend to agree that they would have more experience.

        • HH

          I also have several MP5 variants including the k. BIG difference in my comfort level shooting my KSG in its stock format vs. the MP5k PDW. The k gun is much safer. Even though one’s hand is close to the muzzle of the k gun you arent also racking a large heavy gun with that same hand which is stationary on the k gun. Also the PDW variant adds a lot more safety and control vs the simple SP89…the vert. grip and stock make a Huge difference over the pistol format. The Vert grip I’d consider near critical. Therefore on my KSG having a vert grip is even MORE critical in my opinion. I own and shoot both and both really should have vert. grips…regardless of the operators experience. And prob like you I’ve also shot 10’s of thousands of full auto rounds thru my Mp5k and still have 10 fingers.

          • Ben Pottinger

            It’s probably also relevant that mine spends 99% of its life with a SWR Trident 9 attached to the front. Tough to get your fingers in front of that! 🙂

  • Bobing

    On a short segue, I have to admit I like the muzzle device. It sort of makes the gun look like a grenade launcher or sci-fi gun somehow (not that Kel-Tec is behind in the sci-fi movie aesthetic in their products).

  • David Vileta

    Where did you get that color of RMR with the green triangle reticle? I can’t find any US-based retailers.

  • Sianmink

    The reason people are blowing their hands off is because they’re relying on airsoft-quality foregrips like the Archangel. If it doesn’t have two through-bolts that secure it to the rail tightly enough that you could swing it around over your head by the handle, then it’s not a good choice for this shotgun.

    • Very true!

      • Commenter

        True to a point. No question, cheap stuff does suck, but it seems clear now that a KSG out of the box will make at least some people nervous enough to compel them to add stuff to it – just to shoot it ‘safely’. That itself, I think, argues that Kel-Tec could have made different design choices, and ones that wouldn’t have diminished what’s so revolutionary about the KSG in any way.

        For example, a bull-pup configuration already gives you a package more compact than any regular shot gun could hope to be. Regular SGs have 18.5″ barrels simply because their receiver design/layout required that size barrel to bring it to the level of tactically maneuverability desired by those who used it that way. The bull-pup KSG doesn’t have this inherent problem, and an 18.5″ barrel on it is really pointless. A 22″ barrel on a KSG would give you just as much ‘tactical-ness’ as any regular SG, and with the added advantages of more accuracy and even more mag capacity (as crazy as that sounds).

        More relevant here though, it would ALSO give you about 4″ more space in front of the hand guard, which is probably more than enough to prevent these accidents, and without the need for additional stuff added to operate it in any manner chosen.

        Frankly, I think Kel-Tec wanted to make a radical design even more radical by sticking with the 18.5″ barrel. I mean hey, it’s legal, and if short is good then shorter much be gooder … right? From a marketing perspective it must have seemed like a total no-brainer.

        Well, perhaps marketing in this case perhaps led to a very capable and certainly safe design becoming less so.

        • CommonSense23

          Your “regular” shotgun doesn’t have a barrel length of 18.5 from a tactical perspective, but from a legal perspective, you need paperwork to have a barrel less than 18inches. Also explain how you are getting more practical accuracy out of a additional 4 inches of barrel on a shotgun.

          • Commenter

            By regular I’m referring to the non-bullpup design – it being vastly more common in a shotgun. Bullpups are rare, thus not regular.

            I was not referring to the 18.5″ barrel length as regular. I only mentioned it by it’s specific length for that reason.

            As for legality, not to digress too much I hike, but from my understanding, the 18.5″ minimum length came after sawed off SGs became a problem for law enforcement (around the time of Prohibition I think, but don’t quote me). For a variety of reasons, 18.5″ was decided on as the minimum length – a] for cops (being much more civilian oriented, especially in armament, than we see today) in tactical situations, allowing maneuverability and reasonable accuracy, while b] requiring a civilian SG length that would be hard (er) to conceal during criminal activity, than say something in the 10-14″ range, which wasn’t unheard of back then. I’m sure there were other factors at work too, but the point is the resulting minimum size & legal paperwork for anything less that we deal with today comes from mostly the same origin.

            As for practical accuracy, I’m stunned you question the advantage of a longer barrel. It’s kInd of a given – more barrel means more time for the shot to ‘form up’ (or the slug to spin) before leaving the barrel, thus better groupings and accuracy, at longer distances. I certainly am able to ‘reach out’ further with a 30″ SG over a 26″, to the tune of about 10 yards or more, depending on the load. While I haven’t used a shotgun with a barrel shorter than 24″, I’ll go out on a stout limb and state I believe the same dynamic applies with barrels even shorter than that.

            So, a KSG with better accuracy, potentially even more magazine capacity (not that I’m saying it needs it), and less chance of blowing your fingers off, all due to a 4″ longer barrel. I’m hard pressed to see a problem.

          • CommonSense23

            Explain how to me that a additional 4 inches of barrel is going to give more time for a slug to spin and get more accuracy. You might want to read up some more on internal ballistics of a shotgun.

          • iksnilol

            Uh, it doesn’t work like that. Longer barrel doesn’t magically add more accuracy. Only more velocity (which is marginal with shotguns) and longer sight radius (which helps if not using optics).

          • cawpin

            The minimum length for a shotgun barrel is 18″ even, not 18.5″.

          • Kivaari

            People want the shortest legal shotgun they can have. Making a bull pup longer simply defeats the advantages of the whole concept. The NFA ’34 intended to disarm everyone, as the original bill included handguns requiring $200 FET. It was an anti-gun bill of the worst kind. It never stopped a criminal from cutting the barrel shorter than 18 inches.

        • derf

          The gun doesn’t come with a brain, so you are required to use yours……..actually, this is true of all the guns I’m aware of……it’s not like the gun turned on him and shot him in the hand…..the gunner is always the brains behind the activity…..

  • Justin

    The KSG should have a larger handstop built in similar to the MP5PDW. A shallow handstop which is barely deeper than your pinky finger isn’t good enough.

  • Jack

    Just get yourself a Salvo and you’ll be fine!

  • BearSlayer338

    The first problem is buying a keltec product,the second problem is continuing to use a keltec product.

    • I have had 0 problems with this one. No malfunctions of any kind.

      • BearSlayer338

        Yet you mean.
        If it is anything like their handguns it is only built for about 2500 rounds.

        • I’ve had this one since about a month after they came out. I have shot it a good deal. I haven;t kept track of the humber of rounds but I have shot a good number of rounds down range from birdshot to 00 buck and slugs.

        • Fracking Saves

          My Su-16C has 4k through it without a problem.
          Are you one of the “rag on Keltec because it’s not *fill in brand name*” and you’ve never owned one? A lot of people laughed at my RIA 1911…until they shot it…and later asked where to get one.

          • BearSlayer338

            No I rag on them because they make faulty products I’ve seen two of their handguns kaboom from factory non +p ammo.

      • andrey kireev

        I can attest to this. 0 problems with my KSG (I got a tan one !)

    • HKGuns

      Wrong.

      I own a KSG, shoot my KSG, have a VFG on my KSG, have not blown my hand off AND my KSG works reliably, as designed.

      Please refrain from posting comments on articles where it is obvious you have no first hand experience and are just parroting what you read on the internet.

      • Fracking Saves

        Bingo

  • michael franklin

    You’ll shoot your eye out!… I mean your hand off!

  • Sledgecrowbar

    When did shooting yourself start having the first damned thing to do with a firearm’s design? This is anti-gun logic. This problem exists entirely within the connection between the floor and the grip, like every other gun safety issue.

    You’re supposed to learn how to keep control of a gun at a normal shooting rate before trying rapid fire, this is like learning to drive a car by immediately accelerating to 100 mph. Guns have been harder to keep control of during rapid fire since the first one that held more than one round and nobody has ever blamed the machine for their own stupidity. If you handed a select fire AK to someone who had never held a gun before and started them on full auto, would it be due to a bad design when they go full-lawn sprinkler? Take some responsibility for yourself.

    • Budogunner

      Google the USA .22lr Zip handgun. I think that is a perfect example of a firearm that is fundamentally unsafe by design.

      Now safety issues arising from design choices clearly vary by degree. There are plenty of people who have not blown their hands off with the KSG. I agree that you should know your firearm and train with it responsibly before trying to speed up or perform more advanced handling, but a 1.5 inch tall handstop integrated into the forearm would have at least helped Keltec’s lawyers and stakeholders sleep better at night.

      I still want a KSG, they are just made of polymer unobtanium. If I get one, I’d be bolting am aluminum handstop onto the forearm, first thing.

  • Sulaco

    I thought adding forgrips like that was illegal according to ATF?

    • Nope not at all. That’s just on an AR pistol build. Or any pistol build really AK or whatever.

    • David Sharpe

      There wouldn’t be thousands of different grips on the market if they were illegal.

  • Yes the green is the way to go. I have no trouble seeing it.

  • MisterTheory

    I guess I am weary of it always being the fault of someone other than the operator. Everything could be designed differently. However, it is what it is. I like the looks of the gun and if I had one, I would be concerned about getting my hand or other body part in front of the barrel and therefore, I would be careful about it. I mean the point of the design is to keep the weapon short. You know, you can mess up yourself shooting any powerful revolver if you don’t keep your hands in the right place.

  • Tom Currie

    The problem IS a Kel-Tec design failure! They forgot to include a permanently engraved and filled warning on the side of the receiver in 1/2″ high letters: “WARNING: DO NOT SQUEEZE TRIGGER WITH HAND IN FRONT OF MUZZLE. SERIOUS INJURY MAY OCCUR.”

    • Sianmink

      They forgot to put ‘GRIP ZONE’ on the fore-end.

    • andrey kireev

      Maybe something like “Warning getting shot can cause a serious injury”

  • Jeff Smith

    While I’ve never used one on a pump shotgun, the Magpul AFG doesn’t seem like it would be that great on the KSG. Since you can’t really wrap your thumb around the grip itself, it seems as if your hand could easily slip off the grip while pumping the gun.

    • Zachary marrs

      It has a lip on the front, which would prevent your hand from sliping off

      • Jeff Smith

        Even with the hand stop, it feels as if the momentum of stroking the pump could cause your hand to go over the stop and in front of the muzzle.

        With an AR platform weapon, you can at least wrap your thumb over the top of the rail to get a firm grip. I’m not sure you could do so on the KSG. While not as necessary on an AR, it feels as if you would really need a FIRM grip of you were going to be racking a slide on a shotgun. Here are a couple of pictures of the grip method I use on my AR pistol with an AFG. While I can get a decent grip on it, it seems as if it wouldn’t be optimal for a pump shotgun. But, again, I’ve never used one on a pump gun, so someone please feel free to correct me.

  • Mike

    Mossberg 500 Bullpup did not have this problem.

    • Sianmink

      It’s a lot harder to stick a low-quality airsoft VFG onto a Mossberg. Wasn’t its foregrip permanently attached?

      • Mike

        Yes, it was permanently attatched and thus users did not have tendency to shoot themselves.

  • Joel

    To Two Too.

  • HSR47

    After photographic evidence of numerous Keltec Shotguns with broken 6-o’clock rails in conjunction with vertical foregrips, I’ve come to the conclusion that the plastic is not able to handle the torque involved with that configuration.

  • stephen

    After using the 870 for so long in the military and in law enforcement I decided against the KSG. I like compact firearms (Love my Tavor) but the short stroke on the KSG was too risky for me, so I didn’t buy one.

    Now if the KSG was semi-auto I would be all over it.

    I think the company should have designed and installed permanent hand stop but that is just me. Regardless the user is ultimately responsible (unless the manufacturer was grossly negligent).

    Me I like my hands and I could see that I might run too hard and too fast, so I gave the KSG a pass. Many others don’t have a problem and that is fine too.

    🙂

  • All the Raindrops

    If I had one, I might put a vfg and then another hand stop in front of it, in case the vfg broke or my hand slipped. That said, I don’t have one, so maybe this is a dumb idea.

  • tony

    a permanent round hand guard piece below the muzzle would be a better solution, like the one on MP5K

  • JQPub

    Well, don’t have one, but if I did, I would probably run it like that (VFG, muzzle device). Looks sharp too. I’ll just stick to my tricked out SPX for now. Money’s tight. And saving up for the new Sub2K anyway…

  • Nicholas Chen

    One thing I added on my KSG is the factory hand stop. And yes I have the same Magpul RVG as well.

  • Ali

    I stopped reading at “Kel-Tec.”

    • Fracking Saves

      Good…don’t comment on something you know nothing about.

  • robocop33

    The KSG is not near as likely to cause accidental injury as the MP5 was or more recently that other Bullpup designed Shotgun that I think UTS makes. That one has the barrel on the bottom and the two magazines on the top and more likely for someone to put their fingers or hand in danger. Bottom line, firearms are NOT toys and you should know what you are doing before you pick the damn thing up!

    • iksnilol

      I think it is. MP5 doesn’t require moving your support hand back and forth + the 9×19 recoils way less than 12 gauge. Also, the short MP5K has a built in foregrip and handstop.

      If the MP5 was way more dangerous to the user than the KSG then we would have heard about people shooting their hand off with MP5s.

  • iksnilol

    For a short pump gun it seems safer to use a forward and back pump mechanism. Like the Russian shotgun or the Neostead.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    Yes, care must be taken to operate the KSG safely, but that’s true of all firearms. There are gruesome injuries with conventional shotguns, but they aren’t as newsworthy because they didn’t happen with a radical new design. Shoot your hand with a Remington or Mossberg and it’s user error, nothing to see, move along. Shoot your hand with a KSG and it’s bandied all over the internet as an example of a poor/dangerous design. That’s the sort of selective reporting that will ensure that we’ll have fewer new products and less innovation. In that world, we’d all be carrying 1911s cocked and locked… you know, because it’s a venerable and proven design.

  • Charles Newman

    Some people are just too stupid to trust with any firearm, so I wouldn’t make claims that the KSG is a bad design. Then again, we sure do like to blame others, don’t we.

  • NoDakNative

    The factory 14″ Remington 870 SBS, of which I own one, has a steel hand stop plate at the end of the magazine tube for this very reason.

  • bruce Cambell

    I don’t care for the full vertical grips, so as a precaution I put Magpul AFG2 or a basic forward grip nub on all bullpups and SBR’s to act as a handstop. This way when I shoulder, I can maintain a consistent forward grip and I know that my hand isn’t anywhere it shouldn’t be. The grips are fairly inexpensive, light and are generally low profile, stick to quality mfrs and stay away from airsoft stuff.

  • Big George

    I have the TROY aluminum modular grips on both my KSG’s as well as my AR pistols. Magpul makes great stuff, in fact I probably own half the Company in their products, but I prefer the Troy grip. It’s just a matter of preference, and equally as safe.

  • Kingfhb

    There is a lower metal rail extension that also reinforces the strength of the lower polymer rail. I would recommend it when using a vertical grip.

    At a minimum, I would recommend a hand stop on the lower rail.