Kel-Tec Has the Coolest Gun at SHOT?: The RDB Survival Model and the KSG-25 | SHOT 2017

In this SHOT coverage piece, James discusses two of Kel-Tec‘s newest guns.

First, the RDB Survival Rifle – perhaps James’ favorite gun from SHOT this year – is a new and extremely compact, NON-NFA 5.56mm/.223 survival-style rifle, designed to be stowed away in a pack or small carrying case. It accepts AR15 magazines and has a bottom-ejecting design.

As described by TFB’s own Ray I.: 

“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.”

Kel-Tec also displayed the KSG-25, a KSG pump shotgun that holds an ENTIRE BOX OF 12 gauge shells.

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James Reeves

• NRA-licensed concealed weapons instructor, 2012-present
Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, 2011
• “Co-Director” [air quotes] of TFBTV
• Former Regional Sales Rep, Interstate Arms Corp., MA
• Champion, Key West Cinco De Mayo Taco Eating Competition
• GLOCK® Certified Pistol Operator, 2017-2022
• Lawyer
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  • Scott Tuttle

    love’m or hate’m you got to admit keltec isnt afraid to try something new.

    • HSR47

      They seem to do a good job of coming up with products that stir up a lot of market demand, but they suck when it comes to actually meeting that demand.

      On the whole, I really wish they would move to be more like Armalite: Come up with new and innovative designs, and then license them to manufacturers. Ruger’s clone of the P3AT is proof positive that this business model could work.

      That way, Keltec could spend all of their time coming up with new and interesting designs, and then sell them off to companies that are actually interested in producing them.

  • William Elliott

    they need a port cover on the ejection port. Fails the mud test because crap gets in behind the bolt

    • Amplified Heat

      If you cram it up there maybe. Why would you do that?

      • XT6Wagon

        No, the RDB is pretty sensative to junk in the action. That said its not designed for military use and abuse, so expecting a little care in handling doesn’t bother me. I don’t have to hike 30 miles, swim with it, or crawl through a muddy ditch to get to the gun range… I doubt 99.9% of the people who whine about “military proven” do either.

        Also, plenty of mud tests show Russian stuff are also allergic to mud in the action so its hardly unique.

        • iksnilol

          AR’s as well, get a bit of gunk in the trigger and it all chokes up.

        • Amplified Heat

          There’s a whole lot more room in there than an AR receiver, and the trigger area that fouls first on ARs far more protected. Besides, the port facing down & being rather deep protects it from incidental mud & dust, even while firing. Going out of your way to shove mud in there is akin to doing the AR test with the cover open; i.e. designed to fail. FWIW, the RDB will run many hundreds of round without lube like most piston guns, so it’s just as easy to construct a ‘test’ that consistently fails the AR.

          A flexible neoprene flap would probably help, though, since ejection is quite positive.

          • William Elliott

            The test i saw it fail was the “soupy mud” in the wheel barrow. An AK with the safety off fails the same or a similar “sand test” because stuff gets in the charging handle slot abd prevents the bolt from cycling (and sticks in any lube build up behind the bolt carrier)
            The neoprene flap is a good idea, or a springloaded door like the SAW and F2000 have. Not talking something overly complicated, but as a “survival rifle” you want to design for “crawl through the swamp”, just in case
            Oh, and as long as the magazine is in, the same sand test the AK failed, the AR passes, because the tolerances are tight enough to keep most of the crap out…its just the “talcum powder dust/lube mud” that starts tripping you up there

    • XT6Wagon

      The brass catcher bag they keep talking about will solve most of that issue. The RDB-C style mag release will remove the gaps near the mag well that the tavor style mag release has.

  • st381183

    No one will ever own one. Can’t buy what doesn’t get produce. I really want an RDB but I’m not getting from a GunBroker carpet bagger.

    • Amplified Heat

      I own one. I “overpaid” like fifty bucks on GB on a slow weekend. Determine how much you are willing to pay (1200$ for me, and well worth it so far) and see if it’s selling for that. If you want one for $600 or something, complain about Kel Tec being too rich for your blood. But not unavailable; there’s over a dozen for sale on that one site.

      • st381183

        I work at a gun shop and I check our whole sellers daily for the RDB. None to be had. I know the wholesale cost and MSRP. I find it amazing that the only place I can find an RDB in the wild is on Gun Broker. I’m willing to pay $250 over wholesale and that figure is NOT $1200. I am patient and I will wait for the carpet baggers to lose interest and like the KSG, buy and RDB for a reasonable street price. So thanks for calling me out as a cheapskate Amplified Heat. My complaint was referring to the overall lack of production number that Kel Tec is famous for.

        • Amplified Heat

          Oh, I thought you were a cheapskate consumer, but it seems you just want a sweetheart deal as a middle man so you can bid the price back up to guys like me & pocket the difference. Prices won’t drop so long as guys like you refuse to sell them for less than 1200$, though (as if you’d be selling them for less than GB prices from a storefront, anyway)

    • CommonCents

      keltec is surely innovative, they just announce their innovation early for market feedback. many bigger companies sit on their ideas until much farther down the line closer to production.

  • Phil Hsueh

    Man, that RDB is really sweet looking, I really want one of them now. Guess I need to start saving my pennies.

    • Amplified Heat

      Totes worth it. Seems like the perfect bullpup, at least of any I’ve used. It just needs a better bolt release lever, gas system that allows full cutoff & with more coarse adjustment which vents forward, more robust mag catch, and some prettier furniture. *Very* small changes considering it is a first article. The 6.5 Grendel or planned 308 variant will be the closest thing to a WA2000 available, unless the MDR is everything it’s cracked up to be for 2X the price.

      • Twilight sparkle

        Why would they scale the rdb up to 308 when they already have the rfb? I mean giving the rfb a different mag would make a lot of sense but that seems more like a gen 2 rfb thing you could do

        • Machinegunnertim

          They may plan to discontinue the RFB soon. I do remember that last year someone (might have been Chad at Kel-tec) said that the plan is to make the RDB in .308 soon.
          I can’t imagine them keeping the RFB at that time, they don’t make a lot of them and it’s gotten real mixed reviews over the years.

          • CommonCents

            the bottom ejection probably better design than the forward shell ejection of the RFB. good idea to consolidate to a more reliable design for different calibers.

          • Stan Darsh

            Now, if only they drop the FAL mag in favor of the SR25/Pmag.

        • Amplified Heat

          The RDB is cheaper ro make, so is supposedly being discontinued

      • XT6Wagon

        The small bolt release takes a little getting used to, but most people I see just use the charging handle to drop it.

        Also they need to start shipping versions with the longer barrels, its kinda annoying to be held hostage by the SBR crowd that seems to think a rifle needs to be as close to the size of a glock as possible. Meanwhile I’d prefer the extra balistic performance of a longer barrel and the comfort of a few more inches to the muzzle. Makes all the difference in the world when you put on a muzzle brake.

        • iksnilol

          If you’re using a brake you’re doing it wrong.. and are most likely a douche.

          • XT6Wagon

            Yes, because recoil makes you a real man. Also there are brakes that work well without being much worse than the stock a2 flash hider for sound and back blast.

          • iksnilol

            No… Brakes are douchy because they increase the noise by about 10 db on average (which means long term hearing damage even with ear pro). And they rattle everybody else’s ears as well.

            So go for a suppressor or a smart compensator or a flash hider instead.

            I’d rather say that brakes are used by the macho types who are too macho to put a recoil pad on their rifle.

          • Toxie

            Recoil on a .223? REALLY man? Cmon now, and I call shenanigans on brakes that are EFFECTIVE and “not much worse then an A2” for sound. Comps maybe, but not brakes.
            Brakes have effectively jumped the shark on light caliber arms.

        • Amplified Heat

          I’m sure that is the plan with the Grendel version. The RDB is a fine size for a civvy “fighting rifle” though. I’m sure replacement barrels are in the offing if the barrel extension could be made in sufficient quantity.

        • Amplified Heat

          Agree on the charging handle, but a bolt release at the rear of the magwell or better yet the pistol grip would be really nice. The gun effectively doesn’t have a manual release in practice.

          • XT6Wagon

            You can tag the little triangle thing with a thumb with the right grip on the mag. It’s a bit small and heavy for casual use IMO. Need to practice to make it work. I think for casual users something near the trigger would be better as either the support hand returning to the front handguard or your trigger finger could operate it after the magazine change

    • Justin

      you likely have time. if it’s anything like other Kel tec rifle products unless you are willing to pay Gunbroker prices then it will be a few years before there are enough in the wild to actually see one.

  • hoipolloi

    Why is this story filled with crappy hyperlinks to unrelated garbage? Advertorial?

    I like shopping at Brownells and Ebay, but why would I click on a link for “pistol” or “handguard” and expect to stop reading TFB and immediately buy something that I am not shopping for? How about the editors maintain a distinction between ads and content… you know, like the rest of the internet does?

    • Amplified Heat

      Gee, an advertorial on a free news site covering an industry trade fair?

      • ozzallos .

        Sure you can, but when you abuse your readers eyeballs monetizing every other word, expect some backlash.

    • Cymond

      It’s viglink, a horrid ad revenue service.

      I just don’t click links on TFB anymore.

    • Lobo Rojo


      • Rooftop Voter

        According to AOL, everything is jaw dropping.

  • gunsandrockets

    I had a chance to handle a KSG-15 recently in a local gun store. Guess it’s not such a unicorn after all. It was surprisingly handy and light. Even more surprising, it is still legal under the most recent expansion of the California ban on so-called “assault weapons”.

    • CommonCents

      my KSG handles the aguila 1.75″ minishells really well too unlike most shotguns….25 round capacity 😉

    • Justin

      As a KSG owner I will say they are not unicorns but they aren’t exactly all the common either. I will say the weight is nice until you fill it with one tube of slugs and the other with 00 buck and then fire them all off. I don’t mind recoil but the big purple bruise was a bit much.

  • Green Hell

    I love it how Kel-Tec rebranded their “fatureless” Cali RDB model a “Survival” rifle. I guess, for gun owners living in Cali is survival indeed.

    • iksnilol

      The Survival version is too short to be Cali legal.

      • maodeedee

        Pretty soon all guns in California with a barrel shorter than six inches will be illegal because they will be Saturday night specials, and all guns with a barrel LONGER than six inches will be illegal because they will be considered assault weapons.

        • Cottersay

          I would not doubt that one bit.


          -An EX-Californian

    • Amplified Heat

      The Kali model got a surprisingly warm reception, much like the Ares SCR, so they are making it available to other markets

  • CyberSamurai

    RDB looks awesome. Hopefully I’ll be able to find one oneday.?

  • Arandor Thinnorion

    Another Kel-Tec firearm that you may never seen in the wild and if you do it will cost at least 10% OVER MSRP.

    • Amplified Heat

      “The wild” isn’t a gun store or show, anymore. Online sales are the future. BTW, even at Gunbroker prices, it’s a good 20% less than the Tavor, its nearest competitor (though that gun has fewer features of note than the RDB)

      • Arandor Thinnorion

        I have purchased *all* of my firearms online. I’ve never purchased from a store. But I will never purchase a firearm *over* MSRP.

  • maodeedee

    Cool gun except that it’s chambered in a varmint round.

    • Cottersay

      I laugh too when I see the tiny .223 cartridge, but it’s a nasty round when it hits some scumbag. (Still, I only own .308 and 7.62×39 rifles…)

    • User

      Tell that M855A1 EPR. Seen it run 3303fps out of only a 20″ barrel, thats 2037J. Instant fragmentation even from a short barrel, and fragmentation to 600meter.

      Also for a survival Rifle you WANT a light cartridge. Your not fighting space elephants.

  • Amplified Heat

    One other item that merits mention; Kel Tec somehow got the *cheek rest* designated as the serialized receiver from what I can tell. This part is about as complex as an AK shell, minus trunnions. I think we’ll be able to cheaply buy stock/handguard/magwell units as well as barrel assemblies without going through The Man, and fold up simple receivers from inexpensive flats.

  • SP mclaughlin

    I think Hudson and SilencerCo take the cake for coolest weapons at SHOT.

    • Cottersay

      I agree 100% — those are my exact choices too!!