Kel-Tec RDB Survival Bullpup | SHOT 2017

At the 2017 SHOT Show Kel-Tec showed off their new RDB Survival bullpup rifle. The RDB Survival is based off the RDB C which is a pistol gripless California compliant (hence the C) version of the Kel-Tec RDB bullpup rifle which does have a pistol grip. We posted about the RDB C model last year at SHOT Show when it was first released.

The new Kel-Tec RDB Survival isn’t much different than the Californiafied version RDB C. The main difference really is the shorter 16 inch thinner profile barrel and shorter handguard as well as flip-up front and rear iron sights. The overall length is also shorter at just 26.1″ long and it weights in at 5lbs unloaded. Why the non-pistol grip version for their new RDB Survival? Kel-Tec is marketing their new bullpup for people taking it into the woods, preppers, zombie slayers and the like. I’d imagine the more stream lined RDB C and Survival models without the pistol grip would be a bit easier to carry when hiking through the bush vs the original RDB bullpup.

I got to play around with the new RDB Survival and it felt noticeably lighter vs the other models, it also pointed very well. I can’t vouch for the new RDB’s reliability though. However I really want to try shooting the new model, I’d imagine the lighter weight and shorter length may also increase the recoil. Not that 5.56 has much anyways. Just like with the other RDB models the new Survival accepts standard AR mags and is ambidextrous. Check out for more info.

Ray I.

Long time gun enthusiast, archery noob, Mazda fan, Sci-Fi nerd, Whiskey drinker, online marketer and blogger. My daily firearms musings can be found over at my gun blog and Instagram.

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  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Semi-automatic centerfire rifles in CA with an OAL more than 30″ are automatically assault weapons.

    So… They can call it a California model all they want, but these won’t be legal there.

    • allannon

      Do you mean under 30″, instead of over?

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        Yup! Thanks! Fixed it.

    • Esdee

      Should be good to go in NY though, oddly enough. I’m willing to give it a try…

    • mreams13

      The original RDB-C is 30″ OAL. The Survival model is based off of the RDB-C, but shorter.

    • Jimmy D

      They’re just trying to make a non-CA product that shares some of the same tooling they need to make the CA version.

    • MPiet

      Negative, one “nice” thing about the new CA aw regs is that they dropped overall length to 26 inches.

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        Haha, no. They did not redefine AW’s. 30″ OAL is still the law.

        • MPiet

          Once it’s registered, the federal law applies = 26 OAL.

          • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

            You know the entire reason for guns like the RDBC is to COMPLY with the law instead of registering, right?

            Plus, you cannot register any “AW” that you’ve purchased after 2017 started.

  • MzUnGu

    Could be a noob question….but what makes a “Survival” rifle now days?

    • allannon

      “Survival” is the new “tactical”. Make it some brown color, slap survival on the label, and there you have it.

      I suppose it could be a benefit in gunshy states. Your “Kel Tec tactical bullpup with eotech holographic sight” is scary. Your “Kel Tec survival rifle with compact optic” less so.

    • Keiichi

      Survival => Compact and light enough to fit in a camping pack or bug-out-bag along with all your other equipment and provisions.

      Though, many would likely consider anything other than .22 LR (or maybe .22 Win Mag) to be too heavy due to the ammunition weight.

      • You think their weird foldy 5.56 rifles would be more survival-y than this thing then, no?

        • iksnilol

          I dunno,this thing is more compact.

          • RocketScientist

            Well, to be fair, the gun pictured is the SU-16C model, which when folded measures over a half inch shorter than the subject of this article. and the C model can be fired from a folded position and fold/unfold over an inserted 30-rd magazine. Also weighs about 1/3 of a pound less.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but the bullpup doesn’t need to be folded, its short all the time. And it has an adjustable stock.

      • BraveNewWhirled

        Right. “Survival” arms must have some break-down or folding aspect, or at least have a hidden compartment in which one may store a fly rod and sleeping bag.

        “Tactical” should most certainly be black, and have enough gadgets hanging off it so it’s sure to snag on clothing or straps.

  • allannon

    It’s interesting; I wonder if they’ll have a thumbhole or pistol grip version for sane states? And maybe a pistol caliber version?

    …and what’s up with that front sight? Nowhere else has that giant, Vaultboy thumbs-up post on the front.

    • XT6Wagon

      The normal RDB has the pistol grip, and is in actual production. I haven’t seen any evidence that the RDB-C is in production yet. Same with the RDB with the 20″ barrel which I would have bought instead of the 17″ barrel if I could have.

  • Keiichi

    This is the first .223/5.56 rifle that has appealed to me right off the bat.

    I very much hope they push this internally and shift their manufacturing capacity in its favor… and that it somehow becomes available locally for me… pretty please…

  • Justin Roney

    I still have yet to see an RDB in the wild… :/

    • I had a friend wait outside a gun store when the Sub 2000 that could take 9mm Glock magazines was first announced. GWB was still president, I think.

      His wife remarried twice since then, and I hear he’s built a shantytown behind the dumpsters… still waiting for keltec products.

      RIP Gumbo Billy, if you’re still not out there waiting…

      • int19h

        I figure that “friend” really ought to be in quotes here, as otherwise you’d have long told the poor guy about GunBroker…

    • XT6Wagon

      Its a lovely rifle, fun to shoot.

  • Southpaw89

    Interesting, I wouldn’t buy one without handling it first, but it actually looks like it might be pretty comfortable to hold and shoot. I sure wouldn’t mind getting a closer look at one.

  • Vitor Roma

    Nutfancy has a video on this gun, he liked it quite a bit.

    • Jimmy D

      His credibility continues to erode.

      • Vitor Roma

        Why? The gun is super compact and light while having a 16″ barrel, making it a non-NFA item. How liking a gun that is very practical bad to the credibility?

  • Jack Morris

    That front sight post better be extremely tough. Its going to catch on everything under the sun.

    • Nicholas Snow

      Take it off. It IS the thread protector… Lol

  • Frank Stratton

    A survival rifle is just like a survival knife. It is what ever you have at the time you need it. unless you are trying to market a product to sell. Mean no disrespect for this model. Have fired the RDB C and like it.

  • iksnilol

    Might be gooder without the pistol grip if you carry in a scabbard.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    I loved the swoopy space gun look of the RDB-C when it was announced last year but wouldn’t consider buying one because it’s the “California Compliant version” and that’s against my religion. The RDB Survival maxes out the benefits (I love the low weight), and the marketing definitely strives to distance itself from the nanny state perceptions associated with the RDB-C.

    I love my RDB. It’s a game changer.

    I was hoping Kel-Tec would announce the 308 version of the RDB as a replacement for the RFB at the 2017 SHOT Show… or some other pumped-full-of-drugs Kel-Tec design. I love Kel-Tec innovation. I’m cuckoo for Kel-Tec. I suppose if the RDB Survival is all that Kel-Tec is showing off at SHOT this year, I can console myself with the fact that they focused on manufacturing in 2016 rather than new product development. Much as I love their new designs, if I can’t buy them for less than 3X MSRP, they aren’t doing me any good.

  • survivor50

    “The Rhino…”
    I sure hope that “FRONT SIGHT” has some other function other than being UGLY…what were they thinking?
    I like “Survival”… how is that going to SURVIVE a trip in the field? If it can fail, it will at the most inopportune time.

    • Jimmy D

      Its obviously a grappling hook. And a floor jack.

  • L. Roger Rich

    LOL..looks like it would be legal in CA, NY and MA. Joke IMHO

  • Paul

    I wonder if we will ever be able to purchase the weapons they already manufacture? Example, the sub2000 that accepts the glock 17 magazine. Finally was able to buy a PMR30 after waiting over a year. Just keep coming out with new things that no one will be able to buy.

    • RocketScientist

      Wait what?

      “I wonder if we will ever be able to purchase the weapons they already manufacture”

      “was able to buy a PMR30”

      “Just keep coming out with new things that no one will be able to buy”

      I hear this argument all the time, which is weird, because I see KelTec S2Ks, RMR, PMR, RDB, RFBs etc at most gun shops i go to. Then to see the “all they make is vaporware!!” comment from someone who was able to buy one of these supposedly non-existent guns… I just don’t get it.

      • Paul

        You must live in a different world than i do. I do see them come up on line but they are gone by the time i get there. Yes i was able to get a PMR after waiting over a year. I just lucked into it one day at a lgs after hearing from the owner that he rarely gets a pmr30. maybe 1 per year.

      • B Hawk

        PMR’s, CMR’s, sub2000, RDB, or RFB’s can be found, but you’re going to pay MSRP or much more.

  • Jimmy D

    So, the stupid pistol grip is supposed to be streamlined for the bush, but that front sight is OK? Nice try. Stop trying to get the rest of us to subsidize your attempt to stay in the CA market.

  • Jim B

    The front sight is something out of a cartoon, that has to go. Maybe replace the sights with something similar to the original Ps90 black sight (not the white one) on the rail if you must have fixed sights. The barrel if not threaded needs to be for a can. I like the concept.

  • Joe Gamer

    That front sight looks ridiculous…lol

  • Jesse Foust

    And in a mere 3 years you, too, will be able to purchase this for only two times the MSRP. Lol

  • Kodi

    The front sight hight is ridiculous. I would never buy any firearm at any price with a front sight masquerading as the Eiffel Tower. That sight is begging to catch or get hung up on things in the middle of an emergency when it could cost time and a life.
    Sights should always be as low to the bore axis as possible. For MY money, a bad design.

  • B Hawk

    The clearest picture of Bigfoot you’ll ever see!

  • Wingbert

    Good luck finding anything Keltec instock

  • TexianPatriot

    Oooooooohhhhhhhhh, a keltec. They are already sold out because they only made 5.

    • NoDakNative

      They made FIVE? Holy cow. They’re ramping up production of their newer designs.

    • KnoKnees

      I’m betting they do the exact same gimmick as they did with the PM-30, .22 magnum pistol. Provide all the usual testers, etc. with hand-fitted models that all work flawlessly. Release +/-100 pistols every quarter or so, and then let the dry market jack up the price to 3-times what their actually worth.

      And by the time there’s enough of them on the retail market for the suckers that bought them to eventually realize they’ve all been hosed, the people who paid out the rear for them can’t get rid of them for 1/3 of what they paid for them.

      After all, isn’t there a worldwide plastic shortage going on right now?

  • John Payne

    I’ve been looking for an original RDB for over a year. Looks like Kel Tec is marketing another “ghost” gun! Nuff said.

    • Mario Reillo

      Have you tried the Internet? I bought an RDB back in October. It wasn’t hard to find.

      • John Payne

        Thanks for the reply Mario. I have only seen a few on the net and they were overpriced. I will eventually find one. How do you like yours?

        • Mario Reillo

          I payed about $1350 in October. Didn’t think the price was going to drop anytime soon. On the whole, I like it. It’s really hand and about as well as my budget AR. A couple small issues. It doesn’t like steel ammo or my GI 30 round mags. Although it feeds fine from a GI 20 rnd. It also desperately needs a loaded chamber indicator. You have to flip it upside down and look in the mag well to ensure it’s clear.
          So it’s not a SHTF do anything battle rifle, but it’s still a lot of fun at the range.

  • zellgato

    I really want one of these. Yes, Indeed.
    this and the p90 sounds great.

  • Evan

    More crap that nobody needs from Kel-Tec.

  • iksnilol

    Would be interesting as an SBR in 300 BLK. With like a 8-9 inch barrel.

    • Nicholas Snow

      That would put the barrel right in front of the handguard lol

  • Kivaari

    The front sight is reason enough to not buy this rifle.