Survival Gear Review: KEL-TEC KSG

bullpup kel tec ksg shotgun review

There is nothing else like it on the market today.  The look, design, feel, and features make the Kel-Tec KSG one unique firearm.  One can maybe debate its principal utility, but not the functional alternatives it offers.


By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to

The KSG’s Specifications Profile

The KSG is a 12-gauge, pump-action shotgun of the classic bullpup design orientation.  This means the pistol grip and the Bullpup Shotgun Review Apocalypse 101trigger are forward of the receiver action.  Underneath the 18.5 inch barrel are twin parallel tubular magazines capable of holding 14 2 ¾ -inch shotshells, or 12, 3-inch shells.   The smooth-bore is choked cylinder bore or open choke.  It will handle slugs, buckshot, birdshot, or any combination.

The KSG’s overall length is 26-inches with an empty weight of seven pounds.  Loaded the weight climbs to roughly 8.5 pounds.  The main action components are made of 4140 steel, while the stock unit is glass-reinforced nylon polymer.  The twin magazine tubes are welded under the barrel.

These magazine tubes are loaded separately with a switch lever pivoting from one to the other.  Each tube can be loaded as Apocalypse 101 Shotgun for Doomsday Preppersthe shooter desires with any combination or mix of shotshells for hunting or defense applications.  There is a pump mechanism action release lever forward of the trigger guard, when pulled down allows the forearm to be pumped open like a traditional pump-action shotgun.

On top of the barrel is an integral 12-inch Picatinny rail for mounting electronic sights/optics, or BUIS flip-up open sights.  A six inch rail is available under the pump forearm for positioning a vertical grip and or a laser device or flashlight.  These design features make the KSG very easy to customize and accessorize by the end user.

The black matte finish appearance definitely projects a foreboding to the weapon’s application options.  The factory is now offering an olive drag green version as well.  The matte finish dispels any reflections to spook game, or other targets.

Set Up Options

I have had the Kel Tec KSG for about a month now and am still in the process of using it in the field and wringing out its Apocalypse 101 Doomsday Preppers Shotgunshooting potentials.  The KSG from the factory is pretty well set up to go to work as a stock firearm.  With some practice in sighting and shooting, it can certainly be used as is without any major add-ons.

However, having said that, I tend to be an accessory nut, so I had to add a few things just to enhance the basic design and functional utility.  First I added a set of the fine Magpul ® BUIS flip-up open sights front and rear.  These low profile sights are easy to fold down out of the way or push-button pop up when needed.  The black versions I had in stock look quite handsome on the KSG and tightened down well on the rail.

Instead of the standard ubiquitous 1-inch nylon sling supplied with the gun, I opted to install a Quake Industries soft touch sling to help offset the pull from the weight of the fully loaded shotgun.  I will admit the attachment points for a sling at the KSG’s muzzle are a tad bothersome for use and carry, but I see no other plausible option for this feature.  Live with it.

I also played with mounting a Leupold electronic red-dot Prismatic sight on the top rail, but the jury is still out on that.  Apocalypse 101 KSG Shotgun ReviewMy thinking is after all this is a shotgun with an open choke, so I expect the shot patterns to be somewhat wide spread.  Thus the utility of an electronic sight might be questioned.

If one were shooting buckshot or slugs or serving on night duty then I could see using such optics.  During daylight hours, I would think most KSG shooters would use instinctive point shooting or a set of open sights.  That’s the shooter’s option.

Form and Function

So far I have fired a selection of shotshells through the KSG.  If you read other reviews of this shotgun, you will encounter commentary about how peculiar it is to load the twin tubes basically from the bottom, meaning the firearm has to be turned over to do this.  It seems awkward at first, but practice improves the process.

The loading “port” does not have the feel of a traditional pump like a Remington 870.  I found it difficult to load with the firearm up right.  The good news is once fully loaded with 12-14 rounds, the shooter should be good to go for a while.

I noted that pushing shells into the magazine tubes was met with the sharp edge of something in the mechanism yet Apocalypse 101 Doomsday Preppers Shotgunundetermined.  I cut my finger the first time.  I think there is a sharp edge on the lever that switches from one tube to the other.  I plan to investigate this further and file if necessary.  Also do not use brown cotton gloves, as they get hung up, too.

The KSG is a substantial firearm.  Its weight when loaded has a welcome hefty feel to it.  One might think a firearm of this short stature and design would kick like a blue tack mule, but it does not.  If one gets a firm grip on this gun and leans into it, the recoil is not a serious issue.  It points naturally and hits what it is aimed at.

Truthfully the trigger could be considered heavy, but personally I like that.  I sure don’t want a light trigger on a shotgun I am hunting with or using for other means.   It is not a bad trigger, just a heavy pull.  Again, practice will overcome this.

Now, to the one issue I have had thus far with the KSG.  To date I have experienced a number of double feed jams with this shotgun.  I was using 2 ¾ inch No. 6 birdshot, plastic hull shells for my initial shooting, because I wanted to test the shotgun for potential squirrel and rabbit hunting.  It jammed over half the time.

Since, I have consulted the owner’s manual, which curiously fully describes the problem I am having.  I hope to determine a fix.  It seems that perhaps the KSG may have a propensity for the extractor claw to override the shell’s rim upon firing and pumping the action.  Thus, the fired shell is not pulled from the chamber as the loading ramp is trying to insert the next shell.  This causes the jam.

The jam is not easy to remove.  The owner’s manual gives a full description on how to clear a jam, which incidentally I had already figured out sans the manual.  Have a screwdriver handy to get the fresh shell pried out of the loading ramp.

Furthermore I have gone back and given the chamber a thorough scrubbing with solvent and a brass 12-gauge brush.  My hope is that this will smooth out the chamber helping a fired shell to release better.  I also have a feeling that this being a new gun that things will improve with more extended use.

Let me point out also that I reviewed several online videos on using the KSG and found that my shooting/pump-action technique might have also contributed to the jams.  The shooter has to have a firm grip on this shotgun when firing and making the pump action extraction a smooth deliberate movement, not a jerking motion.  A jerk of the pump forearm could cause the extractor to be too easily pulled over the chambered shell rim.  I will practice my techniques further.

Hunting or Defense?

If you study anything about the Kel-Tec KSG, you are not likely to see any review relative to its use as a hunting shotgun.  This may be primarily due to its configuration and also the cylinder bore choke.  The ads for the gun typically show a para-military or security type application scenario.  To me that is like saying that a combat Hummer (HMMWV) could not be ridden around town on a Sunday afternoon.

I know enough now about the loads I have used in the KSG that it can definitely be used for hunting small game in trees or Apocalypse 101 Doomsday Preppers KSG Shotgunon the ground.  With slugs and practice, this rig can take down a deer or a feral hog.  Ditto with buckshot.  Once the shooter learns where their bullpup prints its loads, then it is perfectly suited to hunting use.

I’ve said this before, but society has changed on public lands and private.  Hunters need to be ready for anything including personal protection if need be.  For this, the Kel-Tec KSG is the perfect tool.  Go hunting with small game loads in one tube, and buckshot in the other.  Switch back and forth as needed.  Show me another smoothbore with that versatility.

The Kel-Tec KSG may take some getting used to, but with practice it might take a while to get that smile off your face.

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Photos by:
Dr. John J. Woods
Kel-Tec CNC Industries, Inc.

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Kyle December 26, 2012 at 11:43 am

Looks cool, and I've had my eye on one since the prototype was first made public, but all that talk about a jamming issue kind of puts me off now.

Good review though. :)


Jeff December 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Agreed Kyle. In a survival situation I'd feel much better with a five round tube that works instead of a 12 round tube and a screwdriver to clear jams.


Guest October 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm

and I feel most comfortable with a reliable SxS boomstick!


Doug December 26, 2012 at 1:59 pm

beautiful shotgun, great review, sadly im sure the government will make that one of the very first to go! Hopefully doesnt happen. Given its "high capacity magazine" im sure they will nix it quick, along with the previously stated "para-military" look.


T.R. December 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I have been waiting for somebody to do a review of this shotgun …………I love the size and option of having two types of rounds theoretically , one type for each feed tube .


Doug December 27, 2012 at 7:30 pm

I would have like to have seen it in semi-auto. Maybe using Benelli inertia system?


OfficerOtto December 29, 2012 at 4:45 am

I'm glad someone on here has finally done a review on it. I've only seen one in person once, these things are VERY rare. Right now, you can expect to see one listed for between $1300 to $1800 on a store shelf, when the retail price should actually be in the $700 to $800 range. If KelTec ever manages to get them out in stores in any kind of quantity, I think they will sell very well.

I don't think this particular one will end up on the "high capacity magazine" list. Generally speaking, shotguns seem to be ignored at this point. Couple that with the fact that many police and sheriffs departments are essentially abandoning shotguns as a tool of the trade and I don't think you'll see a whole lot of movement legal-wise with shotguns.


KansasScout December 31, 2012 at 7:35 am

I've been thinking of this one or a standard Mossberg with an open choke and a modified choke barrel. However if I find that I can afford the KSG I will get one. I could use it for Home Defense, hunting, securing a base camp, and several defensive or in worse case scenarios offensive applications.


gunrunner January 5, 2013 at 10:47 pm

I have the Mossberg 590sp,,with 2 3/4" it hold's 9 round's and 1 in the tube making 10 total,,really do love the pump action on it,,ease of care..AND it want beat the heck out of your shoulder..


Don January 1, 2013 at 8:19 am

Check out youtube a guy put 2000 rounds through a kel-tec with only one mis-feed. Most of the jams are user error, holding the weapon too tight to the body so that your body covers or partially obstructs the ejection port or not fully racking the weapon. Check out the youtube reviews before you write this one off. It is now #1 on my shotgun list.


Guest October 4, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I'd take one of those Serbu Super Shorties before this Sci-Fy shotty…


Zed January 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Daddy Likes!!!!!


BamaMan January 5, 2013 at 7:19 am

Sweet looking gun and shotguns are so versatile.

Only problem is the huge cost difference between this gun and standard Remington 1100 with extended tube. If you could get a .223 rifle – say a Ruger Rancher – for the same price as a Remington 1100 would you upgrade to a $1,000 S&W AR 15 platform. Probably not.

Would love to have one if money was no object.


the best essay uk March 17, 2013 at 2:23 pm

The only two things that typically need to be changed out are the barrel and bolt carrier group


Zack September 30, 2013 at 8:21 am

from everything i've heard, read, and experienced, Kel-Tec makes awful firearms. This just reinforces that point. Why on earth would anyone buy a firearm that "jammed over half the time"? Sure it holds 12 rounds, but if its gonna jam even once over 12 rounds, why is that significantly better than a conventional shotgun? I know I can reload my 1100 or 1187 remington faster than I could probably use a screwdriver to clear a jam on this weapon. and 1300 dollars? Thats AR territory. As someone who spends the majority of their discretionary income on shotgun shells, I will say this is an inferior shotgun. Kel-Tec weapons are made to look "cool" and thats about it. Their handguns are sorry excuses for firearms, and it looks like this weapon is another weapon on that track.


Guest October 4, 2013 at 6:26 pm

"Amen" to that, brother. I can reload a double barrel faster than most can fumble a "tactical reload" on a pump gun, keep it simple!


Guest October 4, 2013 at 6:20 pm

what an… ugly gun!


Tim November 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm

I have had no issues with mine. It shoots anything you put in it. I could see a person not correctly pumping it but as long as you practice with it you should be fine. I have shot clay with mine and hit targets at 100 yards with slugs. I have not had it jam. Mine is a second generation so they may have got some issues worked out.


Roger January 3, 2014 at 10:38 pm

I agree with KISS (keep it simple stupid), I keep a S/S 12 gauge loaded (no spring to weaken) with #12 shot inside the house which will vaporize anyone at close range (small house, small rooms) without threatening anyone on the other side of a wall. The buttstock holder carries five more rounds close to hand, but in 3" Mag. 00 Buck. For hunting, a pump gun is my choice, reliable, and only cost about $300. $800 or more for an extra mag. tube welded on, really pricy! Most states only allow 3 rounds in a shotgun for hunting purposes, but I'm sure this will ruin most critter's (2 legs or four) day and pumps reload fast! Besides, $500 buys a LOT of 12 gauge ammo!


James Lester January 13, 2014 at 5:17 am

I have one of these…


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