The Kel-Tec RDB (Rifle, Downward ejecting, Bullpup) is one of the most promising bullpup designs of recent years, thanks to its slim layout and ambidextrous features. However, there is a lot that can go wrong with even the most clever of designs, and unfortunately Kel-Tec has had a history of producing weapons that, while innovative, have experienced issues with usability, reliability, and quality control. So, the question on many people’s minds was “sure, the design looks good, but can we trust a rifle from Kel-Tec?” InRange TV was one of the recipients of the pre-production RDB, and this week they released their very thorough review of the Kel-Tec RDB, giving us an idea of what to expect:
A brief summary of the video: Karl and Ian were very impressed with the rifle’s handling and ergonomics. One shooter with particularly large hands and gloves who tested the rifle dropped the magazine more than once during the 2-Gun Action Challenge Match, but the general opinion was that the RDB was less susceptible to this problem than its competitor, the Tavor. Karl and Ian found field-stripping to be easy, and swapping the charging handle was easily done with no more disassembly than would be required for routine maintenance. Accuracy left something to be desired; with Eagle Eye 69gr match ammunition, the rifle was printing 5-shot groups between 2.5-3″ in diameter; much wider than a comparable AR would have done. However, as Karl notes, this is not unserviceable accuracy for a duty rifle, just not as good as most AR shooters are used to. Although the gun had modest mechanical accuracy potential, everyone who tested the gun reported an excellent trigger for a bullpup, better than most stock AR-15 triggers.
The mud test brought another flaw to light: The rifle has an exposed ejection chute behind the magazine well that is open to mud and debris. When submerged in mud, the rifle ceases to function as grit totally clogs and blocks both the full rearward travel of the bolt, and positive movement of the hammer. Besides the rifle’s failure in the mud test, Ian and Karl reported good reliability over the course of their shooting.
Despite all this, Ian still called the RDB his favorite bullpup of the current generation.