The Kel Tec KSG is an extremely well-known shotgun mostly for its looks and its exceptional price point.
The KelTec KSG is an extremely unique 12 gauge shotgun that provides a lot of fun and a ton of potential uses. This shotgun is a direct competitor of the IWI Tavor TS12.
At KelTec, they design firearms that are innovative in design and exciting to use. KelTec employs 300 American citizens – many military veterans – who come to work every day to craft unique firearms dreamed up by our team of talented engineers.
KelTec is celebrating its thirtieth year in the firearms industry. KelTec is most notably known for their very unique designs in pistols, rifles and shotguns. The design team at KelTec without a doubt has a big collective imagination.
KelTec’s Mission Statement
Our mission is to create innovative, quality firearms to help secure your world.
We believe in respect, family, the right to bear arms, and a love for our great country.
The Kel Tec KSG
The KSG for the longest time was unobtainable in the gun world. As soon as dealers got them in the shipping doors they were flying out the front (after all the appropriate paperwork had been completed).
I remember seeing the then relatively new company’s firearms in local gun shops and even handling a few on occasional trips.
I remember their pistols seemed very blocky and felt somewhat cheap in the hand, even as an inexperienced young man in the gun world.
Then I caught a glimpse of a KSG. That particular shotgun had already been sold and was awaiting pickup by the lucky new owner. I asked the salesman behind the counter if I could hold the futuristic, space-age-looking shotgun hanging on the wall.
The owner of the shop apparently overheard my request and made his way over and took the scatter gun off the wall and handed it to me after checking to make sure it was not loaded.
The very second the short shotgun was in my hands I knew I had to have one. This was the start of approximately a year and a half of trying unsuccessfully to track down one of these beasts to call my own.
While driving to see my in-laws in the neighboring county one afternoon, my wife was scrolling through Facebook and happened upon a local gun shop’s Facebook page that had just posted that they had received one of the coveted Kel Tec KSGs in stock.
Having listened to me talk about this particular shotgun for almost two full calendar years and complain every time I tracked one down but it was marked well above MSRP or bought out from under me her eyes lit up when she read the post.
She then told me what she had found and where it was located. It was in the opposite direction that we were traveling. I mumbled something under my breath and continued to drive toward my in-laws grumpier than I was when we started the journey.
The next thing I knew my wife had located the telephone number for the shop and had them on the line. She asked if the Kel Tec KSG was still available, and although I could not hear the conversation, the look on her face told me all I needed to know.
Not expecting them to hold the gun, I had my wife ask them just in case. They stated that they would in fact hold the scattergun for me to come later that evening to purchase.
After what seemed like the longest visit with the in-laws and an equally long road trip back the other direction, I finally had a KSG that was mine. Buyers remorse is real, but I can tell you that I felt no such thing after this purchase!
KelTec KSG Design
What does KSG stand for? It’s quite simple, really. KSG stands for KelTec Shotgun. A simple name for the first entry by Kel Tec into the scattergun world.
This plays perfect into the design of the Kel Tec KSG because as a pump-action shotgun it doesn’t get much simpler than that; on the surface at least.
The KSG is a 12ga, pump-action, dual magazine, bullpup design. That’s a lot to digest.
First, we will start with the action of the shotgun. There are three main types of shotguns, the first and most simple is the break barrel. This shotgun is one that you might typically see hanging over your grandpa, or great-grandpa’s fireplace.
The action of this shotgun breaks open at the rear to load and eject its shells. Typically a break barrel shotgun holds one or two rounds of ammunition, one in each barrel.
This is not always the case though as there is a current design that has three barrels and thus holds three shells at a time.
Another design that you may commonly find is a semi-automatic shotgun. This type runs either off inertia from the recoil, or gas that is siphoned off to unlock the breach and load the next round.
You might also find this type of shotgun above an old fireplace as a family heirloom or possibly a more modern iteration in the cab of a police cruiser.
The third main design bridges the technology gap between the two previously mentioned styles quite nicely.
It takes the simplicity and reliability of the break barrel and high capacity of the semi-automatic and combines the two into one package; the pump action.
A pump-action shotgun is actuated by pumping the forearm of the gun to feed, extract and eject the shells. This design is popular and is used around the world.
The design team at Kel Tec chose to make their first shotgun a pump action. They then chose to make that pump action shotgun tactical. They also made the bold choice to make their first tactical shotgun a bullpup.
Bullpup firearms seem to have a love-hate relationship in the gun industry. While most of the time they look cool and futuristic, there are several design and logistical and potential extreme safety problems to overcome.
By definition, a bullpup is any firearm whose chamber is located behind the trigger. This obviously is not an everyday occurrence.
One glaring problem with this design for the KSG is you now have the contained detonation of a shotgun shell no more than a few millimeters away from the arguably most important organ of your body. The one that thinks and makes thousands of decisions every day.
This is no light matter to consider. The folks at KelTec knew that they needed to design the receiver of the KSG to be sturdy and robust enough to handle anything that could be thrown at it.
The receiver of the KelTec KSG is made from hardened steel and is thick enough to contain any blast that may occur in the chamber. The furniture of the KSG is made from glass-reinforced polymer.
The furniture of the KSG is simple in design and functions practically. The one aspect I do not care for about the KSG furniture is the way it is attached to the gun.
KSG is known for using a clamshell-type design to cut weight and cost when manufacturing their firearms. This is no different for the KSG.
To attach each section of the clamshell, KelTec uses bolts and nuts on the opposing side that are offset into the side of the shotgun.
This detracts from the overall appearance of the scattergun and somewhat cheapens the rugged space-age look. One might even compare it to a child’s nerf gun, although it obviously is much tougher than that.
The forearm and the pistol grip is where this issue is most apparent. I wish KelTec would spend a little more time and money on this aspect of the design and make these points more solid and look more professional.
Other than the gripe with the non load-bearing aspects of this shotgun, all the rest of the construction is as solid as you can ask for.
The top rail is quality aluminum, the magazines are made from the same hardened steel that the receiver and chamber are constructed from and the stock is capped with a nice rubber pad and is much thicker than the seemingly flimsy pistol grip.
As stated above, the mode of operation for the KelTec KSG is a pump action. There are similarities to other pump actions in this design.
The forearm on the KSG is wider than that of a traditional shotgun. This is because of the dual magazine tubes located underneath and parallel to each other and under the barrel.
This is noticeable when holding the shotgun, but not to the point where it is uncomfortable.
On the underside of the forearm, there is a row of picatinny rail to attach a vertical grip or hand stop. Installing one of these accessories is a good idea because as a pump-action shotgun, you have to pump the action.
If you end up pumping the action a little too hard, you may end up a few digits short after your hand slips off the front of the shotgun and into the path of the barrel.
This could be an obvious safety issue if you are not careful or cognisant of how you are operating the shotgun.
The safety of the KSG is a simple cross bolt design. This style of safety is a classic design that is easy to activate and deactivate.
The safety is clearly labeled with white paint and red paint for “safe” and “fire” respectively. While simple in design, you could accidentally activate or deactivate it on gear when the shotty is slung.
The trigger of the KSG is made of the same glass-filled polymer that the other parts are made of. Unfortunately, this makes the trigger feel of cheap quality, but it does get the job done. The trigger pull is not horrible, it is serviceable for a combat shotgun.
I should note that there is a company that makes aftermarket parts for the KSG, one of them being an upgraded trigger. This company is MCARBO. They have a website and a YouTube channel detailing their products and installation of the same.
I feel that this is the single most needed improvement on the KSG.
Takedown of the KelTec KSG
Takedown of the KelTec KSG is interesting. After visually and physically checking to make sure the KSG is unloaded, move the magazine selector to the center of the receiver.
Next, there are two HK-style take down pins located on the bottom side of the receiver that are retained by a spring pin.
You can fully remove them when taking down the KSG for service and cleaning and KelTec designed two through holes into the pistol grip of this shotgun to hold the takedown pins so they do not end up lost in the process.
Once the takedown pins have been removed and properly stowed, lift the pistol grip section up from the rear of the receiver and rotate it toward the front of the shotgun. KelTec advises not to take this section apart any further for cleaning.
Once the pistol grip and trigger section has been removed, next you need to pull the stock out of the back of the receiver. This is accomplished by simply pulling the stock to the rear until it clears the receiver.
Next you move the forearm of the shotgun further to the rear until you can remove the bolt out of the receiver.
KelTec also advises to not take the bolt down any further that this for field strip/cleaning.
After doing these steps, you will have access to clean almost all of the KSG. If you want to remove the pump-action, you can remove the two retaining nuts at the front of the two magazine tubes.
KelTec suggests you turn the nuts in sequence of a half turn for each at a time to keep the retaining bar from binding up behind the nuts. Once these are removed you may pull the pump-action free of the frame and set it aside.
KelTec KSG Features
The KSG is only offered in one chambering, however, it is the most popular chambering for shotguns in the USA. The 12ga of the KSG means that you have all the firepower on tap that you could ever need.
The KSG comes with a removable cylinder bore choke.
This means that you can remove the factory choke and replace it with a choke tube adapter and be able to place any style choke the adapter is designed to take. This opens the possibilities of the shotgun up tremendously.
The pistol grip on the KSG is located approximately mid-way between the end of the barrel and the stock. The pistol grip is the only protrusion from this sleek scattergun.
There is checkering on the pistol grip, but it is more for aesthetics than functionality.
The trigger guard does exactly what it is intended to do. To actuate the pump of the shotgun, the slide release is located directly in front of the pistol grip and is ambidextrous.
The stock of the KSG is thick and robust. It helps that the stock is directly attached to the back of the receiver.
There is a rubber but pad that helps hold the stock in the shoulder pocket and keeps it from slipping around on clothing. It does not do much to help the recoil of the shotgun.
Next, we have the magazines. As alluded to previously, there are dual magazines on this bullpup shotgun.
Each magazine is constructed out of hardened steel and holds 6 or seven rounds of 3” magnum shells. Yes, that’s either 12 to 14 rounds of high brass, hard hitting magnum 12ga firepower on board, pre-loaded, and ready to go.
With a 6 round Lynx Defense Shotgun Card the KSG could potentially hold up to 20 rounds (one in the chamber) of 12ga destruction on board. This is an obscene amount of ammunition to have on the shotgun itself.
Having two magazine tubes also means that you can have one mag loaded with your favorite flavor of 00 buckshot and the other full of 1oz slugs.
To choose between the two magazines all you have to do is flip the magazine selector which is located on the bottom of the receiver.
To load the KSG you have to flip the scattergun over to be able to access the magazines.
The magazines load easily enough and have individual catches to retain the shells in the magazine.
To unload each magazine, you must press the mag catch lever of each individual tube to allow the shells to bypass it and come out of the shotgun.
The rail located on the top of the KSG is solid and is made of quality aluminum. Most shotguns come with a simple bead sight or perhaps rifle-style sights if it is a rifled shotgun.
The KSG comes with neither of these but the rail allows you to place whatever sights you choose on it.
I opted to place a set of Magpul MBUS sights on my KSG. The MBUS sights allow for proper cheek weld to be able to use the sights as they were designed to be used.
Having a standard picatinny rail up top also means that you are able to place any type of red dot or holographic sight on top of the KSG. As this is a smooth bore, any quality choice of non-magnified sighting system will serve you well.
Shooting the KSG
Shooting the KSG is downright fun. Per square inch, I don’t think I possess a more powerful firearm. When the KSG is fully loaded it is a heavy beast. This weight is well balanced and because of the bullpup design, the weight is kept very close to the shooter’s body.
The balance and weight of the KSG assists greatly in recoil mitigation. That’s not to say this scattergun is a light recoiling. With full power loads you will know when you’ve pulled the trigger.
Being a pump-action, you do not have to rely on recoil from high brass rounds to cycle the action. This means that you can use reduced power or light loads in the KSG as well.
One of my all-time favorite loads to put in the KSG is the Aguila Mini shells and Mini slugs. With this loading, you can house up to 24 rounds in the twin magazines plus one making this compact shotty’s capacity just 5 rounds shy of an AR15.
Add on a Lynx Defense Shotgun card to the side of the receiver and you can add another 6 rounds contained on KelTec KSG’s frame easily eclipsing the capacity of the AR. Now that is really impressive.
Price & Models
KelTec places the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) of the KSG currently at $900.00. This of course is just a suggestion.
These scatterguns can be found for more or less depending on the situation and simple supply and demand.
With the current political climate toward all things gun-related as it is, if you find a KSG for close to this price I’d say you’ve probably found a deal.
There are some other models and variations to the KSG that have been released through the years since the KSG first was released to the market. KelTec has a KSG25, with an overall length of 38” and a standard capacity with full power 3” shells of 25 rounds. The KSG25 has a MSRP of $1150.00.
KelTec also has two other models than that of the standard KSG and KSG25. One of these would require a tax stamp in addition to their purchase price as its shorter barrel length would make it a NFA item.
This version is called the KSG Tactical. It has a barrel length of 13.7”. The capacity of the KSG Tactical is reduced to 10 rounds of 2 ¾ “ shells. The KSG Tactical goes for around $1225.00 (plus a $200.00 tax stamp and paperwork to the federal government)
For a shotgun that only comes in at 26.1” overall length to begin with, this model seems quite trivial, and the loss of capacity puts the nail in the coffin as far as I’m concerned.
The next model that KelTec offers is the KSG Compact. The KSG Compact Keeps the overall length of the original, and the same barrel length of 18.5” but shortens the magazine tubes.
There are only two logical reasons this model exists:
- For those states that have been allowed to tread on the freedom that the Constitution guarantees each and every one of us as US citizens and;
- If you want to make the KSG into a SBS (short barrel shotgun) but want to take the scattergun home with you while you wait for the paperwork to come back before you chop it down to the length of the Tactical model mentioned above.
The last variation of the KSG is the KS7. The KS7 is unique as it gets a slight face lift in appearance.
The barrel length and OAL remain the same, but the KS7 loses one of its magazines, reducing its capacity to 7+1. This also means that the KS7 is a thinner and lighter package if that is important to you.
No matter which model you choose, or what kind of shells you decide to stuff in the magazine(s) of the KSG, it is next to impossible to surpass the firepower and handiness of this small scattergun.
Some have complained that the downward ejection of the shotshells can cause them to hit the wrist, but I have not experienced this over the many years and thousands of shells sent down range through my copy.
While I do think there are some areas that could be improved upon, overall the KSG is a must-have addition to any collection in my opinion.
I feel like this shotgun can fill many roles, and while I may not choose to take the KSG directly into a combat zone, it does check the “shotgun” box of home defense plans.
I believe the compactness can not be beaten and the large capacity of this shotgun is unmatched.
It is shorter and more maneuverable than a full-size AR, and more stable than a pistol. If I choose to grab a shotgun when something goes bump in the middle of the night, this is the one.
If you are in the market for a defensive shotgun the KSG is definitely a contender but be sure to weigh your options the KSG against the IWI Tavor TS 12, the Remington Tac-14, and the Benelli M4.
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My KSG has served me well! No matter if I’m trying new ammo or just showing off. But…..I have tried the mini’s and sometimes it wont eject the empty. Not sure why but its a bit of a pain to get it out. Any suggestions? Also my beard hair gets pulled so I need to make a slide on the very grippy stock.