Kel-Tec KSG: 21st Century Shotgun

Once known only for inexpensive, polymer framed pistols, Kel-Tec has given their image a facelift during the last few years.

For this review I decided to but an EO-Tech EXPS Holographic Weaponsight on the shotgun.   I’ve been using them for a while now but recently I was truly sold on the holographic capabilities during a nocturnal training scenario.  Armed with an M4 that was topped with an EXPS and a white weapon light I had to clear a building in complete darkness.  The targets were full-color bad guys on paper. 

After the scenario was complete the controller and I went back through to score the hits.  I was apprehensive because the targets were engaged rapidly at hard angles from awkward shooting positions.  Never once was I able to assume a solid shoulder mount on the rifle.  The holes in the targets turned out to be miraculously well placed.  Even though I was shooting fast from awkward angles the shots all impacted in the preferred zone.  That was a true epiphany for me.

The rail at the base of the forearm might seem a bit superfluous but with a vertical fore-grip affixed to it, you can run the action like nobody’s business.   I attached a GripPod to the KSG before departing for the range.    

Range Time

I filled my shell bag with Federal’s Personal Defense 00 buckshot and their Gold Medal #8 Target loads and headed to the range.   Step number one was pattern the gun at seven yards using the 00 buckshot.   The first shot was a harbinger of things to come.   Historically, I have found that most cylinder bore fighting shotguns will spread 00 buckshot from ½ to 1 inch for every yard traveled. 

Looking down range at the target I could not distinguish any 00 pellet holes.   All nine 00 buck pellets impacted so closely with each other that they simple tore a large ragged hole in the target paper.   Moving back to 20 yards I took aim and fired another round of Federal buckshot.  The pattern looked tight but I wanted to see close up.  A close examination of the target proved impressive. To the naked eye it seemed to be less than five inches.

Just to be sure it wasn’t a fluke I patterned a second shot at 20 yards.  The shot pattern was nearly identical to the first.   Pulling out the ruler I found that pattern #1 was 4 inches across and pattern #2 was even tighter at 3.85 inches.  Folks, that is phenomenal consistency for an 18 inch cylinder bore gun.

With the patterning chores complete it was time to have some fun.  The KSG was stuffed completely full and fifteen rounds fired as fast as I could get on target.   My range partner, Mark, and I switched off running the shotgun.  We’d fire eight shots in rapid fashion until tube ‘A’ was empty then quickly flip the lever and run tube ‘B’ dry.

Parting Thoughts

The Kel-Tec KSG has a lot of attributes; the most obvious being high capacity, light-weight and compact size.  After my range session I was aware of one more very impressive attribute, a tight consistent bore.  The pump action was smooth and sure and with the addition of the vertical fore-grip ran as fast as you could ask for. 

Being a bull-pup design the majority of the gun’s weight is toward the rear, not the front so the gun balances tremendously well and handles like no fighting shotgun I’ve even used.  During the testing period no malfunctions or failures to feed were encountered.  Every shell chambered and ejected clearly. 

The only hurdle Kel-Tec has to clear is production.  They have historically been slow in producing popular models; the RFB is a good example.  I am personally convinced that they will sell every KSG they can make.  The question for them is how many can they build and deliver? 

Will American Law Enforcement embrace the KSG?  Only time will tell.  One thing is certain.  The Kel-Tec 12 gauge KSG is not a reworked hunting gun.  It’s a dedicated fighting tool with a tremendous amount of potential.


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About The Author:

Mr. Markel is a former United States Marine, Police Officer, and has worked as a professional bodyguard both in the U.S. and overseas. A Subject Matter Expert on Small Arms and Tactics, Markel has provided instruction to law enforcement and U.S. Military troops.

As a recognized author and writer, Paul has penned several hundred articles published in numerous professional journals and trade periodicals. Topics include firearms training, use of force, marksmanship, less-than-lethal force options, product reviews and evaluations, emergency medical care, and much more. Sought after as a public speaker, Mr. Markel is at home in front of an audience large or small.

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