KEL-TEC KSG: Survival Gun Review for 2020

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.


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 kel-tec ksg reviewtrigger 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.

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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.

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

John J. Woods
Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.

31 thoughts on “KEL-TEC KSG: Survival Gun Review for 2020”

  1. 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. 🙂

  2. 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.

  3. 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 .

    • If want a Benelli then you should buy that, its a Keltec PUMP ACTION using their system not stealing it from another company, it bothers me that people offer up opinions that make no sense at all.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    • 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..

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    • "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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. i own one. i love it. no issues at all. seems interesting that the posters would say kel-tec guns have issues don't own one or have never personally handled one; just repeating internet garbage…

  12. My preference is that if your going to carry a shotgun you better have a side arm as I have explained at great length one arm has to be a semi auto there are no rules in a gunfight it is the person that can put lead on target
    and consistantly and in rapid succession any weapons system is piece of junk the moment it fails in a firefight
    drop it it is not a family hierloom it is a tool if it breaks have another, grab another .

    If your playing with a jam your not situationally aware your focus is split or worse not engauging the targets of opportunity if your in a crossfire this is deadly.

    I only advise arms that meet certain criteria first function next strength and last numbers of production because should you need repairs or parts unless itfis numbered in the millions your chance of finding parts are "0"
    Unless your in a group where muzzle awareness becomes difficult I see no reason to use a safety this is not like hunting game if your carrying a long arm for defense it is a differentt situation.
    Watching a youtube video one of the classic complaints of shotguns was the placement of a safety
    I never use it you are ready for conflict it is a deadly weapon counting on a anything other than muzzle and trigger
    awareness is foolish if your having to carry a weapon out of fear of being attacked it had better be hot and ready.
    a rifle or shotgun needs to be at port arms position to protect your body and face from side or close quarters attack.

    in open areas if your sure of the terrain safety on and sling arms position is fine, sloppy weapons handling is contagious
    In camp is where a safety is used if you feel an attack is possible if your not a sentry then an empty chamber is
    acceptable or when crossing a fence or difficut terrain alone safe handling of arms trumps as it would not be good to shoot yourself.
    an empty chamber on a pump pull the trigger and rack a round and aim and fire no need to use the action release under combat circumstances

    If you think this is in conflict with conventional wisdom consider a r glock it technically has no safety or a double action hammer down and holstered or double action only pistols if you engauge the safety your adding to reaction time SXS are carried by the frame for ballance most all have tang safeties so your hand is all over it.
    revolvers have no safety, well today maybe but that is lawyer FOO.
    Muzzle and trigger awareness & safety with all arms is more important than a mechanical device that can by accident knocked off or a person forgets to engauge it.
    Pointing toward the ground is aiming at another legs or if the barrel runs into am obstruction your foot.
    port arms is across the body at about 15 degrees muzzle pointed into the air

    Just like baton training it is not held dragging the ground slung around your neck or stuck behind your belt.
    if your prepared to engauge
    home defense camp sentry marching or traveling in indian territory and hunting as a sport are all different
    a loaded weapon in the home can fall and discharge if it is not secure in a rack so it should not have a round chambered.
    A loaded magazine is OK if people know it is loaded after all all arms are loaded all the time
    never point at anything ever if you don't intend to kill or destroy it " remember"

    If you walk to a corner or enter an opening like a door with the "Danny Glover stance" pistol pointed and the ground both hands on the grip with that stance your going to get your head handed to you.
    port arms defends the upper torso and head with a shift of body weight you have 180 degree defense.

    Hostile or possible threat to your life requires that all arms are ready to fire and fingers off the trigger either on the frame or trigger guard or grip.
    single point harnesses are tacticool but familiarity breeds contempt is the old saying with all the gear an A.D. is possible.
    I like a 2 point harness or a mountain climbers sling like Verro Vellini's double sling.

    holding a person your off hand needs to be in a defensive position and your wepons hand needs to be close to your body pointing in the direction of your opponent.
    Arms fully extended places the weapon in the reative area of the person your holding and your back need to be
    secure or to a wall your going to feel real stupid if they have a partner who glides up behind you.
    If your 6 is secure then the person your holding becomes a hostage or a barrier either is good for you bad for them.

    Of course this is all dependant on the handlers ageor maturity or familiarity with the arms they carry.

  13. I look at this weapon as too complicated for the average person to attempt to disassemble for cleaning or repair in the field and I am not a SXS fan
    weapons get dirty mud especially this does not look like a weapon that can deal with mud or extended field use.

    any action can get caked mud and jam the function on pumps get silt behind the fingers are a location to watch for
    but SXS once filled with silt needs the stock removed and cleaned and that is not easy, as pump like the 870 is
    push out 2 pins rinse it out dry oil replace parts and your ready.

    Any pump can be loaded via the ejection port as fast or faster than a SXS one reason why I push the pump
    if you drop a shell and dent or swell one on a hard surface an automatic can jam
    one a pregnant shell and side by side wont accept it and then you cannot close the breach.
    A pump allows maximum force to close the breech or eject the shell over any other mechanical method.
    Extracting a spent hull by handfrom a SXS is not easy I have seen people forced to use a pocket knife if the rim slips over the ejector / extractor inexpensive SXS weapons are not superior quality O&U are the same unless the hull is uniform it can drag or hang up.

  14. Your article on the KSG shotgun was well written and very insightful.

    Are you aware of any Police Departments or other agencies that actually utilize the KSG? If so would you pass that info along to me? [email protected]

    You may be doing another article featuring my functional improvement of the KGS soon.

  15. I have a KSG and it is loads of fun. I don't think it would have much utility as a hunting shotgun accept in a survival scenario. I have a Benelli SBE 2 for hunting.

    That said, the KSG is much easier to handle in close quarters. It has a nice swing feel to it when cornering and less exposure for a barrel grab. It is my primary home defense weapon and loaded with 4OT Buck 3" mags in both tubes. I have fired several hundred rounds through it at the range and have never had a jam or misfire. I found disassembly quite easy with 2 pins, built in pin holds so you don't lose the pins, and pretty much everything slides apart. Mind you, any new weapon takes patience and practice to assemble and disassemble it. I also find that the 3" mags do kick quite a bit and it isn't uncommon to have a few bruises after a day of shooting. Nothing a real man can't handle.

    I put an angled foregrip on the pump to ensure I consistent get a firm action of the slide. The action is almost a 2 step action and if you don't pull the slide completely to the rear, you will likely have problems. I also put an Aimpoint holographic site on it which adds to the 'fun' and 'cool' factor, not to mention I find it more suitable for low light situations.

  16. Have had one for all most a year. Short, handi, the double tube means your just a flip of a switch from changing to a different load, buck shot to slugs etc…… It handles well, quickly points and points naturally, plus 14 rounds of 12 gauge!!!! What's not to like? Unfortunately it does have warts. Feeding and extraction problems continue to plague these gun. Some apparently do get functioning units….but even if fortunate enough to get a reliable example they still are finicky. These guns need to be pumped just right or they do not function properly. Not pumping a tiny fraction of an inch short, 1/8", on either end of the stroke failures will plague you. Other shot guns will fail if short stroked but NONE are as finicky as the KSG.
    As it stands at this point a very cool gun but I sure as heck wouldn't beat my family's life on it in a desperate situation.

  17. New Survival Cache reader, and I enjoy the site! I have to say, I own one of these.

    The first one I brought home wouldn't feed from the left hand side tube. Right tube was a breeze. So I took it back and the store replaced it with another one, and it works just fine. Yes, you have to work that slide well, all the way, but once you figure that out it works very very well. This little beauty is a keeper, I'm glad I have one in my safe. 18.5 inches of barrel with a rifled slug is good out 75ish yards for deer. With a red dot this is my bush bunny hunting gun. 6 shot and you are good to go. Where legal the home protection uses are obvious, more power with less length than holding a handgun out properly.

    THey do have QC issues at the KelTec factory, but the good ones are good. Run snap caps through it at the store before paying for it to ensure you got a good one. If something isn't right, it's obvious right away. For your trouble, you may even get a discount!

  18. i need someone to answer this question…Can the ksg hit targets without you installing some form sights on it….mine cannot, i miss every target


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