Skip to content

Kel-Tec KSG: Wretched Pulsating Ball of Suck, Fail, Tears and Cancer

So the guy running The Firearm Blog got his hands on a Kel-tec KSG bullpup shotgun and posted his review of it.

At the risk of spoiling it for you (but take a moment to read through it, I’ll wait), they gave it a thumbs up and recommendation, despite the gun not working out of the box and having to spend a couple weeks at Kel-Tec getting the QC it didn’t get the first time out the door:

After arriving at the range I did my usual inspection and lube and loaded up. After firing two rounds it jammed on the third round. Jams are time consuming to clear. In fact it took approximately three minutes to clear. The jams kept coming just as often. I stopped at this point very frustrated with the initial performance.

He isn’t specific with the nature of the malfunctions (failures to feed, fire, extract, eject? Where did the shell or empty hull end up and how was it reduced?), and taking 3 minutes to clear per malfunction is a little alarming, and I’d really like more information on how it was cleared. But to Kel-Tec’s credit, they got it working again and it functioned properly for another 250 rounds.

TFB could also use a remedial economics lesson. Grousing about “price gouging” FFLs who are charging $1600 for a $800 MSRP gun is just plain ignorant. It’s not the retailer’s fault Kel-Tec priced the gun too low, or lack the capacity to keep up with demand.

I’m not even going to pick on the gun not working out of the box. This is Kel-Tec we’re talking about after all, and a unique design from a small company without a lot of QC or manufacturing ability should be cut some slack.

I still would not recommend the KSG for serious use, even if it worked 100% out of the box, and here is why:

[Images reproduced without permission from The Firearm Blog.]

This is a detail view of the KSG’s loading ports, located behind the pistol grip. Items of note are the large tube selector lever that physically blocks the tube not in use (or both if it’s in the middle!), the long reach to get to the magazine tubes, and the lack of ramps, guides or other hints for the user who is putting shells in there. It’s also not clear to me how easy it is to get the round past those little fingers on top of the shell, or even how to do a chamber check.

For context, here’s the entire underside:

That dark, shadowy cavern at the back of the gun there? That’s where the shells go! Hands up who’d like to try that in the dark or under stress?

In fact, good luck doing it quickly in broad daylight in a relaxed range setting:

Or on the range, on the move:

Compare and contrast to the Remington 870, incidentally, available at less than half the KSG’s MSRP and probably a quarter of it’s street price.

But the marketing of the KSG revolves around its high capacity negating the need to reload the shotgun. I think this is a load of crap, particularly if you intend to use it with slugs. Without easy access to the chamber, getting a slug in action with the KSG (unless you’ve dedicated half of your magazine capacity to slugs, which is dumb) involves cycling the action twice.

Again, compare to something that’s been in use for 60 years.

A shotgun that cannot be efficiently kept in action is not a shotgun that can be used for competition or self defense.

This is the hurdle that innovative firearms face. No doubt the KSG is a unique, creative design. But in breaking a lot of new ground it also ignores a lot of tradition and proven technology and techniques. I’m not saying that the kata to run an 870 is the only way to run a shotgun, but the KSG appears to have been designed to max out a spec sheet by people who knew nothing of how to operate a shotgun in a serious manner.

{ 8 } Comments

  1. Marko Kloos | October 18, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    For half the price of a KSG, I can get a Benelli Nova that has a convenient mag cutoff button on the underside of the pump handle. I’m willing to bet that my old Nova let me switch to slugs in half the time it takes a KSG operator, and the Nova holds eight in the tube with the extender.

    The KSG just seems like a solution to a non-existent problem. The short OAL is nice, but unnecessary for someone who doesn’t have to deploy their shotgun from a cruiser seat or the back of an APC. Then again, my house shotgun (Remington M11) has a 26″ fowling barrel on it, so I’m tragically un-tactical.

  2. Dennis | October 18, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Had a keltec P3AT for a backup to my Colt. Carried with the belt clip option in the small of my back. Got tired of people saying ” you dropped this ” and handing my magazine to me. It just wouldn’t keep the magazine in the gun and I bought it new.

  3. Les Jones | October 18, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    I shot the KSG at the Luckygunner shoot. The pump action was rough. The tube selector was rough. It jammed hard on shells with a roll crimp.

    That last problem is supposedly fixed and was only a problem on the “beta” version we were shooting. Apparently TFB’s problems were with “early production” versions. It’s like Kel-Tec has an excuse generator to explain away their mistakes.

    Cool-looking gun. Nice and compact. Big capacity. Questionable execution by a small company that has innovative ideas, but a bad record for quality control and supply chain management.

  4. Tam | October 19, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    This is what you get when people who are casual shooters but not actual, you know, shooters design guns without input from any end users.

    Ergonomics? That’s Greek, isn’t it?

    Manual of arms? Yeah, we include one in the box. We even sprang for four-color printing!

  5. Mr Evilwrench | October 21, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    I’ve come to think that Kel-Tec is George Kellgren’s sandbox, where he can come up with his cool ideas, and produce just enough of them to finance further hacking. If he was serious about production, he’d invest in it.

  6. Some Scared Guy | October 22, 2012 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    Not a surprise it didn’t work out of the box. I bought a PLR-16 from Kel-Tec, the 5.56 pistol they make, right when they came out. Thought it was a cool design, simple and easy to operate. Except it didn’t actually work. Only rifle caliber design I have ever seen DOUBLE FEED live rounds. When it double fed the first time, one round almost fed all the way and was at a shallow enough angle that the bolt coming back had a chance at hitting the primer. I thought, must be the magazine, no way that could happen again, cleared it, and it promptly double fed again. They got the gun so light by making it out of plastic, and it it had fired 5.56 out of battery, I could have blown my hand off.

    Got the Kel-Tec guys on the phone, and they said, “Oh yeah, they do that sometimes, just send it back.” They fixed it, eventually, but I didn’t have the pistol for about two months, and it was clear that consistently DOUBLE FEEDING LIVE ROUNDS was not surprising to them. I got rid of that nightmare soon after.

    Kel-Tec designs are beyond “bleeding edge,” well into a realm I call, the “blowing your face off edge.”

  7. IZHUMINTER | October 23, 2012 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    The PLR-16 is the only rifle caliber design you’ve ever seen double feed live rounds? You need to get out of the house more often. I’ve seen that from quite a few issued M16A1/M16A2/M4 and AR-15 clones over the years. I’ve even seen it in a Mini-14.

    Consistently double feeding with different mags is a whole ‘nother story. The only time I got to shoot an M231, the one at the port next to me double fed every time…but other than that consistent double feeding has luckily been a rarity.

  8. Some Scared Guy | October 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Yes, out of the box, the PLR-16 double-fed after every fired round with Kel-Tec’s stock 10-round magazine, and the P-Mags they recommended. When I got it back, the bolt carrier group, gas tube and piston, and the trigger group (?) looked to have all been replaced. At that point, I realized that whoever at Kel-Tec was testing it had no idea how to fix their own design, and they were just replacing everything to see if it worked.

    I’ve had a few AR-pattern rifles over the past few decades, but I’ve never personally had a rifle double feed on me. I’ve had jams, FTF, FTE, etc., but not one double feed. Maybe I’m lucky, but my hands were shaking after I saw the last double feed in that PLR-16.

{ 2 } Trackbacks

  1. Kel-Tec FailGun | Gun Nuts Media | October 18, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    […] FailGun October 18, 2012By CalebSome dude who knows his junk about shotguns points out some key flaws in the KSGs design. Kel-Tec KSG: no seriously, this square wheel will totally catch on. Share […]

  2. SayUncle » A review of a gun review | October 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    […] PDB not a fan of the KSG […]