We recently had the opportunity to spend some quality-time with the science-fiction-inspired Keltec KSG; a 12-guage polymer bullpup designed for close tactical work.
A shotgun like this is a large investment and I wanted to give my thoughts to the Survival Life Community before they head off to pick one of these up for themselves.
The first thing that hits you when you pick up the KSG is its incredibly-compact size. For those non-gun-nuts out there, a bullpup design means that the action of the weapon (the parts that move the rounds into the chamber and make the gun function) are located behind the trigger assembly and operating hand. Unlike a normal rifle or shotgun design, which puts all of the mechanics in front of the trigger, by moving the action to the rear of the weapon you are able to greatly reduce the length of the weapon while still maintaining a full-sized barrel (in this case 18.5″). That means the KSG is almost half the size of similarly-functioning shotguns.
The operational controls–the action-release, the safety, the pump, and the trigger–are all ergonomic and comfortable. The release, in particular, is exceptionally well-placed–being located ambidextrously on both sides of the trigger-guard–and the trigger is remarkably smooth for a bullpup. The action is easy to manipulate, though because it is so close to the body it is prone to short-stroking (a situation where the user makes the error of not pulling the action back far enough). This can lead to malfunctions, especially in high-stress situations, even though the malfunctions are almost always caused by user error.
If you have a malfunction, or need to interact with the weapon’s magazines (as in, when you load it), you’re forced to come face-to-face with the worst feature of the gun. Because the bullpup design places the action behind your primary hand and just in-front of your armpit, finding the dual-purposed loading and ejection port can be a real pain–and smoothly and efficiently loading the two, 6-round magazines was not something we were even close to mastering in our time at the range. Even with a lifetime of experience working tube-fed shotguns, loading the KSG was a pain and is not something you will be doing toe-to-toe with an on-coming horde. Once you burn through those twelve rounds you will be dropping it on its sling and going to your secondary weapon, guaranteed.
Still, assuming that you have enough time to manipulate the KSG between engagements, the twin tubular magazines give you some interesting capabilities. First, because you can switch between them via a toggle placed just behind the weapon’s pistol grip, you can load up with separate types of rounds; giving you the capability to carry, for example, 6 rounds of buckshot and 6 rounds of slug–giving you the heavy-hitting capabilities of double-ought up-close and the ability to reach out a ways to make shots with a rifled-slug. You can also pre-stage the gun for given tasks, such as one tube for offensive shot and the other with breaching or bean-bag rounds.
That said, as with loading the weapon, the placement of the selector is such that switching between them isn’t something you can do with speed and efficiency.
What the design does let you do–in a way no other shotgun we’ve ever used has–is operate smoothly inside the confined-spaces of a building or tunnel-system. Because of the short form-factor and natural ergonomics, moving the muzzle around in tight-spaces is natural and easy. We tested the KSG with a holographic EOTech, irons, and even sights-free, and in all three states we had no trouble hitting short and medium range targets–even while moving or making quick, surprised-presentations.
And, of course, if you’re talking about engaging post-apocalyptic zombies at close-range, there is literally no better way to do it than with a gauge shotgun.
In the end, we found the KSG to be a fun, functional weapon, but its one true advantage–that of its compact size–wasn’t enough to make us choose it over the assortment of other shotguns available. Though in the long-run the dual magazines make it more versatile and faster to unload 12 rounds on-target than a standard pump, the difficulty in re-loading take a huge chunk off of the total time saved. Combine that with its approximately $1,000 price tag (if you’re lucky enough to find one for MSRP), and none of us were chomping at the bit to replace our old pumps.
Assuming our old pumps were still our primary shotguns.
Given that most of us have already replaced them with ultra-efficient, highly customizable, magazine fed options like the amazingly functional Izhmash Saiga–the KSG just doesn’t do enough to claw its way into our hearts. The consensus among all the testers is that the KSG is fun to play with, but not the best choice for real self-defense.
Greg Spyridis is a survival nut who is secretly hoping that either Aliens Invade or the Zombie Apocalypse happens–because if it doesn’t he’ll have foolishly wasted an obscene amount of time and money preparing for nothing.
He spent decades as a security specialist, martial artist, and close-quarters combat expert; traveling the world as an instructor, consultant, contractor, subject-matter expert, and stunt man. Now he writes, teaches, and waits for the zombies to rise.
Should be any day now…
Editors Note: A gun is only as good as its operator, make sure that you have all proper training before making the decision to keep and own guns.
P.S. Is a Shot Gun not your thing? Would you Prefer a rifle?
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I have a Win. 1300 pump with a 27″ barrel that I bought for $85. I spent $65 on a pistol grip, fore grip and 5 round mag extension and now have an 11-round street sweeper (1 in chamber) that’s overall 38″ and about $150. Three rounds 00 Buck and 8 slugs.
I modified my Rem.1100 in a similar way- pistol grip, mag holds 10, and fiber optic sights. Seems to me semiauto is better than pump for speed but NObody EVER talks about them in a survival setting. Is chambering THAT much more reliable with a pump, or is it the “racking a round” aspect so cool that you HAVE to have a pump. I’ve never had any problems with FTFs or FTEs. Maybe I’ve been lucky ? Is ANYbody else out there using a semi auto like an 1100 ?? (besides the Saiga type).
Racking, as cool as it is for the user, is equally as frightening for the intruder. There are precious few sounds in the world that will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end like the racking of a round into a pump shotgun. This is true even if you have never heard it before and you WILL INSTANTLY recognize the sound!!
Don’t rely on that stopping bad guys. The cases of bad guys walking into a weapon pointed at them and getting shot are too numerous to list. Ask your local l.e.o. how many times someone in his department has had a weapon pointed at a perp and the perp thought he could take it away before the l.e.o. could shoot him. Alcohol make people incredibly stupid and drugs and alcohol make them even stupider than you could possibly imagine.
More likely than not if someone is within earshot of you, all that racking a shotgun will do is give away your position (not to mention why wasn’t your shotgun loaded to begin with). If they’re in your house, they’re willing and able to do you harm with some sort of weapon. Most houses today offer no cover, only concealment. Giving away your position can get you killed without ever seeing your attacker.
No, reliability isn’t that much better. In the old days, maybe, but now systems are so smooth and clearing malfunctions is so efficient that I don’t worry about it. As I said in the review, a Saiga semi-auto is my go-to for most uses.
That said, pumps can have a number of advantages.
The biggest is that they can use unusual and off-sized ammunition. Most semi-autos won’t feed half-sized slugs, certain types of breeching rounds, etc.
Their magazines can easily be topped-off during engagements. This doesn’t seem like much of a strength, but if your magazine is only down 3 rounds, it is far better to top it off than change it out and leave a short-mag in your pouch (note that this doesn’t apply to tube-fed autos).
Their magazines don’t warp plastic-cased ammunition over long periods of time (that also doesn’t apply to tube-fed autos).
They do not suffer issues if greatly reduced in size (i.e. they can be cut-down for use as door-busters without difficulty).
And they can be man-handled if there is a malfunction. Though issues with modern guns are rare, the ability to force-cycle a pump through mud and grit is something that pump-users love. That’s much harder to do with a gun that has a small or floating charging handle.
Does any of that mean pumps are superior? Nope. But that’s some of the reasons why people prefer them.
Thanks a lot for a very thorough response. So, since I have a 10 rd. tube I can top off, I don’t use shortened or specialty rds., and the tube mag wont warp rds., I can feel secure that my semi-auto is a damn good survival gun. I DO appreciate all of your insights on the pumpgun, though. I really do. Thanks again Greg.
Incidentally, three 00 buck and then slugs for the remaining rds. IS the way to load…IMHO
I personally use a Hi-Point .40 S&W Carbine with Guard Dog hollow points. I am certain this will get the job done. Yes I know it ‘only’ holds 10 rounds, but then, when’s the last time it took YOU 10 rounds to do the job. I’m talking home protection not open combat in the field. I have right at $300 invested including the red dot scope and I can cut you in half up close of reach out and touch you at 75 yards with deadly accuracy. I rest my case.
I personally use a Hi-Point .40 S&W Carbine with Guard Dog hollow points. I am certain this will get the job done. Yes I know it ‘only’ holds 10 rounds, but then, when’s the last time it took YOU 10 rounds to do the job. I’m talking home protection not open combat in the field. I have right at $300 invested including the red dot scope and I can cut you in half up close or reach out and touch you at 75 yards with deadly accuracy. I rest my case.
10 rounds of 00 buck would almost be equivalent to 90 rounds out of your High Point! Personally I prefer shotgun for out to 40 to 50 yards. I use my AR for anything past that out to 300 meters. Anything inside 10 feet I use my 1911.
Fortunately for us here in the Peepuls Republik of Californya our legislators, not wishing us to agonize over whether we want to pop the grand for a Keltec, have taken the agonizing decision off our plate by making them illegal to own. Dang! I always like agonizing over which new toy I can convince my wife that we absolutely, positively need.
Rem 1187 the way to go for a shotgun!
Good enough for me. Up close and personal…
I considered one of these, as well as the UTAS UTS-15, but after seeing so many videos and reviews with issues for both of these, I settled on the Dominion Firearms Grizzly removable mag fed. Much lighter, uses/fits traditional Remington 870 parts, and ammo is limited only by how many mags you can carry (and how fast you can change mags).
I’ve a Win 1300 20ga pump, Rem 700BDL and Ruger 10/22 (from 1970’s in early hunting days)… modern threats drove me to add a Mossberg SA20, AR-15, Glock 20C (10mm) and Taurus PT111 Pro Millennium (9mm)…
If/when SHTF, my original three weapons become supplemental but serve well to put meat on the table, while my new weapons more than suffice for self and home defense… also, a multiple selection allows for a weapon to be kept in different locations (upstairs/downstairs, etc.). A 20ga is more readily handled by smaller men, women or young people and offers a similar response to a 12ga load … less lead, but same velocities and penetration capabilities… IMO, a good trade-off for times when I’ll be out and the “home front” will remain secure.
Excellent choices… Nice spread across the board. Add an AK47, the best all around rifle period (for combat, when TSHTF, or otherwise ), and you’ll have ALL the firearms you’ll need. A perfect balance. (IMO)
This thing does look good, but I think I’ll just hang onto the Franchi Law 12 semi-auto. I’ve used this shotgun for years with no reliability problems at all. Even used it in a 3-gun match on two occasions, and did pretty well with it. One thing is, it’s FAST as hell with the Aimpoint M4. I back it up with a Zastava M70B1 (AK-47) loaded with the Hornady SST rounds and a Vortex Sparc red-dot. Para-ord P14 (.45) rounds out the list for me.