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Bull Pump: Kel-Tech KSG Review

on . Posted in Gun Reviews

The 12-gauge, pump-action KSG bullpup has a 14-round capacity (courtesy of two parallel seven-round tubular magazines), a weight of 6.9 pounds and an overall length of 26 inches, including, of course, the legally compliant 181/2-inch barrel. For purposes of comparison, in case you’re interested, an 18½-inch-barreled Benelli M2 Tactical has an OAL of 393/4 inches.
With its pistol grip; skeletonized, bullpup-style stock; and black synthetic furniture, the KSG is pretty far removed from the old-timey pump-action Ithaca 37 or Winchester Model 12 riot guns that have been a fixture in squad cars since well before Broderick Crawford swung his bulk into a 1955 Buick in the old “Highway Patrol” TV series.
Kel-Tec has been grabbing a lot of attention for innovative firearms—from its ultra-compact P-3AT .380 pistol to the 5.56 SU-16 rifle series to the forward-ejecting RFB .308 bullpup. It seems almost inevitable that the company would eventually turn its attention to what Jeff Cooper used to refer to as the “social shotgun.”
Hi-Cap and More
Even beyond the KSG’s truncated steel/polymer dimensions, what’s going to appeal to a lot of folks is the 14+1 total capacity. But the intriguing aspect of the two-tube setup is that you can stuff one with, say, buckshot and the other with slugs. This is significant because ammo specialization is the strong point with a shotgun, and being able to switch from one type to the other with the flick of a lever only enhances that advantage.
Tactical shotgun classes usually cover buck/slug switch-out drills, predicated on the bad guy popping up at distances from seven to 75 yards. Merely switching to a different magazine/load is a lot easier than wrangling with magazine cutoffs and fishing for the right round.
The KSG features a mil-std 1913 Picatinny on top and under the injection-molded fore-end, allowing the user to hang a plethora of AR-type accessories. I chose Troy Industries’ excellent front-folding HK-style battle sight paired with the company’s rear folding unit, which features a flip-up choice of apertures, large and small. The large one, obviously, is more suitable for a shotgun. You could, of course, install a red-dot sight as well, not to mention tactical lights and/or laser units underneath. I wanted to keep things simple, figuring—not unreasonably—that the more gizmos you hang on a gun, the more confusing things can get. Anyway, the Troy setup put me dead-on for slugs at 25 yards with no need for adjustment.
Note: The under-rail accepts a vertical fore-end grip. Installing one (which takes but a few seconds) is a good idea for two reasons: It helps you control muzzle rise, and it keeps your support/pump hand away from—well beneath and in back of—that 12-gauge muzzle. And that’s a good thing. That intimidating bore is quite a bit closer than it would be were the gun of a conventional configuration.
In this era of a bazillion different choke tube options, the KSG is something of an anomaly, a no-nonsense fixed Cylinder Bore*. A couple of guys (full disclosure: They were all coyote callers) I shot it with wished it was threaded for a wider “constriction menu.”
Buck Or slugs?
But considering the fact that Kel-Tec designed the gun for a range of tactical offerings—Foster slug, buck and “less than lethal”—a flat C-choke is probably a wise choice, particularly when you stop to consider that threading it and offering a set of tubes would have driven the price point past the MSRP of around 880 bucks.
Anyway, in terms of buckshot, it’s pretty risky to crown one particular choke as the best. No. 1 or No. 4 buck in a particular gun may pattern better than 00 or 000 with Modified, or vice versa. In another gun, Full or IC may provide optimum patterns with whatever you’re running through it. The best bet is to tailor the buckshot load to whatever choke you have, and a fixed one—of any constriction—makes the process a whole lot less complicated. And you don’t have to subject yourself to a lengthy beat-down at the bench while you play mix-and-match with a handful of choke tubes and a satchel full of Max Dram buckshot five-packs.

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Gun Digest Book of Long-Range Shooting, 2nd Edition