Manufactured in the U.S. by Kel-Tec and finally available in significant numbers in Europe, the Kel-Tec KSG is a high-volume of fire, easily handled shotgun for professional and civilian users alike
First introduced in 2011, the Kel-Tec KSG pump-action shotgun was part of the string of products with which the Florida-based Kel-Tec company shifted from its original focus on pocket pistols and towards modern tactical long guns that would be suitable for civilian sporting, hunting and defensive purposes as well as for Police service.
The Kel-Tec KSG has been hard to find both in the United States and in Europe for a long time, as the Company's manufacturing capabilities struggled to meet the demand, but now the situation has stabilized and availability seems to be not a problem anymore.
Not really a hunk of plastic
Much like the vast majority of Kel-Tec firearms, the KSG pump-action shotgun is vaguely futuristic in design, and comes with a vast number of synthetic components.
Kel-Tec founder and chief engineer George Kellgren originally conceived the KSG to overcome some of the drawbacks of the South African Neostead 2000 pump-action shotgun concept – a firearm conceived for special operations and riot control, very similar in design but also much heavier and complex.
The use of carbon fiber-reinforced Zytel components on the Kel-Tec KSG shotguns is limited to the butt-piece, the handguard, and the lower receiver – which includes the pistol grip and the trigger group, with a polymer trigger connected to a laser-cut metal hammer through a couple of laser-cut steel transfer bar.
The frame is CAM/CNC-controlled, laser-machined and bent, heavy steel, and hosts the bolt – whose sliding wedge, that engages the barrel extension to achieve a solid barrel locking, can be considered the heart of the KSG shotgun. The twin magazine tubes, located underneath the barrel, are also made of metal.
The 47cm/18.5” long, smoothbore barrel is cold-hammer forged out of 4140 chrome-moly stee, and comes with an integrated CYL choke, but can be fitted with optional muzzle devices such as “Breacher”-style muzzle brakes. The Kel-Tec KSG shotgun is 66cm (26”) long overall, approximately, and weighs 3,1 kilograms (6.9lbs) when empty.
The KSG comes without sights of sort; a full-length top Picatinny rail allows the use of fixed or flip-up iron sights and optical sights. A shorter accessory rail is located underneath the handguard.
Kel-Tec KSG shotgun owners are highly recommended to use vertical foregrips, hand stops, or any other accessory that could dub as a reference point for the support hand not to proceed any further on the handguard surface. In the United States, incidents have been reported of shooters accidentally letting their support hand slide in front of the muzzle while shooting, with disastrous consequences.
Handy for everyone
Ergonomics-wide, two features of the KSG are immediately appreciable: first of all, given the overall size, the KSG is easily handled in close quarters and comfortably used by small-sized shooters. Second, but not less important, the Kel-Tec KSG is a totally ambidextrous platform.
The KSG is a bull-pup shotgun, since the action and feeding port are located behind the trigger. The feeding port also dubs as the ejection window – a feature borrowed after one of the world's best pump shotguns ever, the Ithaca Model 37 – and features an easy-to-reach selector switch that allows the shooter to choose which tube the gun will feed from.
Theoretically speaking, this feature would allow a user to load his or her KSG with both lethal and less-than-lethal loads, and choose which one to use depending from the situation.
The capacity will vary depending from the type of ammunition: the twin tubes will host up to seven 12-gauge, 2.¾” shells or up to six 12-gauge, 3” shotshells each; adding another shell in chamber, the overall capacity goes from thirteen to fifteen shots. 89Mm/3.½” shotshells are not compatible with the KSG.
The KSG shotgun fieldstrips very easily: a pin punch, a .223 caliber round of ammunition or any multi-tool can be used to remove the pins that keep the three main assemblies together: the lower receiver, the frame with the barrel and feeding tubes included, and the buttpiece with an integrated rubberized recoil-reducing buttpad.
Upon field-strip, the independent bolt assembly can be removed; this component includes basically all moving parts required by the KSG to operate.
Once field-stripping is completed, the front plugs of the feeding tubes can be unscrewed to remove the springs and followers.
The Kel-Tec KSG at the range
When we said that the KSG is fully ambidextrous we meant it: aside from the trigger, the feeding tube selector and the handguard – connected to the bolt by two laser-machined steel rods – the only other control is a cross-bolt manual safety located above the grip and easily handled by left-handed and right-handed shooters alike. Downwards ejection from behind the pistol grip allows the KSG to be fired from the right or left shoulder.
The recoil is not as brutal as one would expect from such a short shotgun, given the peculiar layout; the feeding tubes located underneath the barrel put much of the weight on the front, providing good balance and reducing muzzle climb.
Kel-Tec's signature square-shaped serrations on the pistol grip and the handguard allow a decent level of gripping in most conditions.
To sum up, we can say that if the Kel-Tec KSG is the “pump-action shotgun of the future” – as it has been labeled by many ever since it was first released – then the future is already here.
Priced at around $1,000.00 in the United States and at around 1360€ in Europe, the KSG can be considered “expensive” for a pump shotgun, but offers an undeniable level of quality, with added versatility that not many other pump tactical shotguns can boast.
With the well known drawbacks of the first-generation Kel-Tec KSG shotgun – ranging from the selector switch breaking to double feeding – having long been fixed and with many other improvements having been introduced lately, the Kel-Tec KSG definitely fights a very small number of contenders for the title of the world's best shotgun.
Kel-Tec KSG – Specifiche
12 gauge, 3"
Manual repeater (pump action)
Single-action, hammer fired, 5lbs trigger pull
Cross-bolt manual safety
14+1 12-gauge, 2.¾”/70mm shotshells
12+1 12-gauge, 3”/76mm shotshells
470 mm / 18.5”, cold-hammer forged, with integrated CYL choke
None – factory-issued MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail
663 mm / 26.1”
3,13 kg / 6.9 lbs
Steel frame, barrel, bolt, and magazine tubes
Polymer grip, stock, and handguard
$990.00 / U.S.A.
1.369 euro / Europe
Always check price with your local dealer