Photo: Hanzo Hattori
Editor's Note: This month's Arsenal review is accompanied by two video reviews from the author, so don't miss the "Kel-Tec KSG: Overview" and "Kel-Tec KSG: Field Test." We've also assembled detailed photos of the weapon in a photo gallery.
Most shooters' first impression of Kel-Tec's new KSG shotgun is that it looks like a weapon out of a video game or some sci-fi movie. But despite its unconventional bullpup design, I believe this innovative weapon will have a positive impact on the law enforcement community.
Standard police patrol shotguns are approximately 38 inches long with an 18-inch barrel. This standard size shotgun is difficult to rapidly deploy in and out of a full-size Crown Vic patrol vehicle much less the new compact police vehicles. Indoors, conventional shotguns have presented similar tactical failings. The standard police shotgun is also one size fits all. Many smaller stature officers find it difficult to work the action of the standard pump gun and maintain control during firing due to the overall length and weight distribution of the weapon.
Kel-Tec may have solved these issues with its KSG, which is based on a design by South African gun manufacturer Neostead, by knocking more than 10 inches off the standard police shotgun and centering the weight at the pistol grip. This bullpup 12-gauge measures only 26.1 inches long.
Kel-Tec incorporated many of the features shotgun shooters have long requested into the KSG. For example, the KSG has a Picatinny rail system on top of the receiver as well as on the bottom of the slide action. This rail system allows users to accessorize their shotguns with lights and optics. I found that the top rail also functioned as a heat shield to protect the shooter's hands after continued firing. There is also a designated "heat shield" on the barrel above the trigger housing group.
The most unusual features on the KSG are its twin magazine tube design and the "Magazine Selector" lever, which allows the shooter to select either magazine tube. This makes the KSG an extremely versatile weapon system, but it can be a bit tricky to use, especially the first few times. If you center the Magazine Selector lever neither tube will feed the firing chamber. You have to be familiar with the Magazine Selector in order to use the KSG under stress.
The KSG's safety also operates opposite of what I am accustomed to on the Remington 870 or Benelli. On these conventional police pump guns, the safety is engaged when extended to the right side of the receiver. The KSG safety is reversed, and I think it's actually an improvement.
Conventional police shotguns require you to use your trigger finger to push the safety off to the left and then again use the trigger finger or some other digit to reach under the trigger guard to push the safety back to the right. During this process many officers have inadvertently placed a finger inside the trigger guard looking to engage the safety and unintentionally discharged their shotguns.
In contrast, the KSG's safety is easily manipulated using the thumb of the primary hand (for right handers) to push the safety "off" to the right and the trigger finger of the primary hand to push the safety left to "on." This allows you to manipulate the safety without taking your primary hand from the KSG pistol grip. The KSG's safety is clearly marked white for "safe" and red for "fire" and when activated makes a distinct click.