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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