KelTec KSG Review [2022]: Legit or a Dud?

by Roy Chesson

March 30, 2022

17 comments

4.3
(59)

The Kel-Tec KSG is one of the more popular bullpup 12 gauge shotguns, thank in part to what used to be a unique capability, and showing up in video games as well as a John Wick film. But is it just a gimmick, or does it have real capability? Well, in this KelTec KSG, we’ll find out.

Kel Tec KSG Specs

  • Barrel Length 18.5″
  • Caliber 12 Gauge
  • Sights Rail Mounted
  • Action Pump Action
  • Overall Length 10.75’’

WHAT IS THE KELTEC KSG?

If you’re familiar with Kel Tec as a brand, you know that they produce weapons with a sleek, futuristic look, that are often available in short supply and hard to get your hands on.

The KSG is Kel Tec’s first foray into the shotgun market (before they came out with the Kel Tec KS7). In fact, the gun is so significant to the company that KSG simply stands for Kel Tec Shotgun. It is very much a signature product accordingly.

So how does the Kel Tec KSG shotgun stack up?

As you’d expect from a brand that is a byword for innovation, the KSG contains a number of unique and interesting features that sets it apart from the more standard shotgun. The KSG shotgun includes a dual tube magazine, which allows you to load different types of projectile into the weapon.

In a home defense scenario, this grants a number of advantages. You can easily switch between projectile types according to how the situation develops. Also, the Kel Tec KSG has been created in the bullpup style. This is a more compact form of shotgun which allows for greater maneuverability and is easier to handle.

Although the KSG may sound great on paper, it’s not without its problems.

Therefore, before you go ahead and settle on the KSG as your next purchase, it’s vital to read on and get the full picture. 

KEL TEC KSG FEATURES REVIEW

1 Strap Vents In Stock

Gives you better transportability. The KSG is better with a strap.

2 Upper and Lower Picatinny Rails

There is a 12” 1913 mil-spec rail on top for sights and optics and a 6” rail on the bottom for a vertical grip and/or flashlight.

3 Round Detachable Polymer Magazine

Allows for quick change of two different magazine tubes by engaging this lever.

KELTEC KSG REVIEW: OUR TAKE

The Kel Tec KSG looks cool, seems cool, heck, we’ll admit it, it’s pretty cool.

But, it left a bit to be desired once we spent some time shooting it.

First off, the high capacity and bullpup design is amazing. Kudos to Kel Tec! When this first came out, they really did something unique.

However, like many Kel Tec products, it is high on innovation and low on execution. What I mean is this… Kel Tec really knows how to think outside the box but their firearms always seem to be “budget-level” guns. The plastic on the KSG, of which much of it is, feels cheap. And, the cross-bolt safety, although effective, is also on the cheap-end of things (at least in perception).

It’s as if they came up with something great, but then really wanted to lower the price, and thus cut corners in doing so, finding places to use plastic where I wouldn’t want it to be.

Now I get it…sometimes it’s nice when the price is lowered because they went after cheaper parts. However, these cheaper parts make it so that the action isn’t smooth as well as other things. So, to me, it hinders the operations a bit and isn’t just me being snobby. However, one recommendation is that if you do get it, look into picking up the Magpul Rail Vertical Grip – that makes the cycle action much better.

As for recoil, it gives a bit of kick – but that is expected for a 12-gauge. However, compared to something like the TS12, its recoil is significant. This difference between the two is because of the weight, but also the recoil pad isn’t exactly great compared to others right out of the box. There are some recoil pads you can purchase though on Amazon or other stores.

However, the biggest issue I had with this shotgun is this: it literally causes injury to shoot it. That’s right, I cannot shoot more than 3-5 rounds out of this gun without blood coming from my right wrist.

The Kel Tec KSG ejects the shotshells down and slightly right behind the main pistol grip… that’s exactly where the bone in my right wrist sits. Talking with others, they too have run into this problem. Furthermore, I have found that there are some 3rd party vendors who have built a deflection plate, that will coral the shotshell, and move it away from your arm. So, there is a away around this, but seriously?

If you want a pump action tactical shotgun with high capacity and short overall length, then this is it! The KSG really is an awesome gun.

However, it has some ergonomic issues that could be improved.

My Final Verdict

It’s a fun gun. It’s incredibly well thought out and was unique in its day. However, since then, better semi-automatic bullpup shotguns with even more capacity have come out. Furthermore, I just can’t get behind a gun that was designed where the ejection causes pain to most right handed shooters and you have to pay extra money to mitigate this. Therefore, I choose not to keep this gun, and instead went with a different one as my favorite bullpup shotgun.

Now, this doesn’t mean that this shotgun wouldn’t be a good one for some out there. It is still cheaper than many others with its level and capability and compared to those in the same price range, I do think it is the best one (so long as you pick up the deflector).

Kel Tec KSG Review: Pros and Cons

  • High Capacity
  • Short Length
  • Ability to Switch Magazines
  • Awkward Ergonomics
  • Minor Reliability Issues

Report Card

Shootability

Handles well, but some of the actions are hindered due to the cheaper material.

A
Reliability

The KSG works…mostly. Occassionally it hangs up on loading and operating the gun.

B
Ergonomics

This gun is awkward to operate and in many cases, down-right painful.

D
Accuracy

As accurate as a shotgun can be.

A
Value

You get a lot from the low price of this shotgun.

A

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 26 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Ammo for the Range

Remington Gun Club 12 Gauge

Remington Gun Club

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Sportsmans Guide $0.31
Palmetto State Armory $0.51

Ammo for Defense

S&B 12 gauge Buckshot

S&B 12 Gauge Buckshot

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Sportsman’s Guide $0.61
Brownells $0.75

KelTec KSG STARTER PACK

There are some must-haves when purchasing any shotgun. And the KelTec KSG is no exception. We’ve put together a list of what you need to get started.

After you the basics have been acquired, it’s time to check out the cool stuff you can get to optimize your KSG.

Best Accessories for the KelTec KSG

Like I talked about in the review above, there are some parts that you should absolutely get, if you decide you want to purchase and keep this shotgun and thanks to the top and bottom picatinny rail, you have some options for attachments:

Accessories for the KelTec KSG

EOTECH HWS 512
  • Reliable & Durable
  • Water Resistant
Check Price
Magpul MBUS PRO Sight
  • All steel construction
  • Extreme resistance to wear and corrosion
  • Mounts on any MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny/STANAG 4694 rail
Check Price
KSG Deflector Plate
  • Direct Fit
  • No Modifications To Gun Needed
Check Price
Magpul Rail Vertical Grip
  • Light-weight
  • Cost-effective vertical fore grip
  • Ergonomically designed
Check Price
12 Gauge Tactical Breecher Win Choke
  • Features a serrated, saw-tooth tip
  • Easy to Install
  • 1704 stainless steel for maximum strength
Check Price

Like I’ve discussed in previous articles, I really like the EOTech holographic sights for shotguns like this. The larger holographic image, and the ability to increase or decrease intensity is a plus. However, if you don’t want to have to operate something like that, then getting the Magpul steel backup sights are a much cheaper option.

Two components that I think every KSG owner should get though is the deflector plate, and the vertical grip. Like I discussed in my KSG review above, the shotshell ejects straight into the bone of my right arm and caused me to bleed on a couple of occasions. Coming in at a low cost and not obstructing operations, the deflector is well worth the dollar or two you’ll spend. Also, I really love the Magpul RVG. It helps to give more control and helps with the pump action.

For a full overview of accessories for the KSG be sure to check out our article Best Keltec KSG Accessories.

Other Tactical Shotguns of its Class to Check Out

As far as KelTec weapons go, we’re a bit biased. We think they have amazing designs and great innovative thinking…but the execution doesn’t quite do it for us. That’s not to say that KSG is a terrible bullpup shotty. There are definitely some true fans of it out there. However, if you’re looking for some alternatives… there are definitely some good options available.

#1 IWI Tavor TS12

IWI Tavor TS12

Shotguns have always had capacity limitations. The TS12 by IWI aims to help solve this. Love this firearm.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 24 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Shotgun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Let’s start with the IWI Tavor TS-12. This is by far the best bullpup shotgun we’ve tested at Gun University. And we’ve stated so on our best bullpup rifles and shotguns article. It’s really hard to name one negative thing about this gun’s design, function, and ability. The biggest drawback is its premium price. But hey, you get what you pay for…READ MORE

#2 EAA MKA 1923

EAA MKA 1923

The purpose behind the MKA 1923 was to bring the quality associated with MKA weaponry to a new bullpup shotgun packed with innovation and quality.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability B-
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Accuracy A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 3 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

Now, this is a gun we can get behind. We like to say here that this gun really isn’t the best at anything. But don’t let it fool you. It’s really not bad at anything either. It’s a good solid average to compare other similar guns to. However, unlike the KSG, it’s a semi-auto. So if you’re willing to substitute your pump action for a decent semi-auto budget gun, this could be your best option...READ MORE 

How to Care for Your Kel Tec KSG

Got a quarter? Call someone who cares–or take care of your KelTec KSG. In this YouTube video, you’ll learn how to completely disassemble your KSG for maintenance using only the most technical of tools. A quarter.

Now, if you’re looking for more info on the KelTec KSG, we’ve compiled a list of extra resources sure to satisfy.

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About Roy Chesson

Roy Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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17 COMMENTS

    1. Hey Bruce, great catch. We shifted over to a new web layout and I think that one sentence got carried over from a different template. Fixed, and if we meet, I owe you a beer.

    1. Not the point. I’m reviewing the gun as-is.

      If I reviewed a car that didn’t come with a gas tank, I could always put one in myself. However, the review of the car from the factory would include a negative point about a missing gas tank.

      1. I love my ksg. I’m able to cycle slugs and 00 buck from alternate tubes as desired. It is also the only one of my shotguns that will reliably feed 1.75″ mini shells.
        That being said
        1. Mount a foregrip stop or risk your foregrip hand slipping in front of muzzle
        2. Wear a glove or you will wear ejection scars.

    2. I would like to know where everyone is placing their hands to get cut. After 200+ rounds, I never had that issue.

  1. I own a KSG and have spent lots of time with it. Bottom line is that I would never trust a stock KSG with my life. The springs and followers in the tubes are terrible, and I have had both of them jam multiple times.

    I replaced both tubes with stronger wolf springs ($6 a piece) and aluminum followers ($25 a piece). I rate both these replacements as an absolute must. I was shocked at how cheap and sticky the stock followers were when I took them out, and I had cleaned recently (although without taking out the stoppers).

    I now trust the KSG with my life. But I also make sure I keep the gun clean and lubricated. She is a high maintenance girl.

  2. the EOTECH site is great BUT cost prohibitive. Almost as much as the gun. Waht cheaper alternatives? And why not a laser? No advice on a lite ?

    1. Lasers seem like a good idea until you try to use them (in many cases). Vortex has some great options – but, remember, you are getting what you pay for regarding quality. If you’re not going to war, you don’t need battle-grade.

  3. I bought one in 2020..played with it for a week before taking it out to shoot, cleaned,, oiled got familiar with the platform..
    I can say after a box of 00 buck its easy to maneuver, smaller package and probably good for a behind the truck seat gun..
    It’s pretty horrible to shoot, cheap feeling and really kicks hard so target tracking is impossible..I guess if you never shot a piston mag fed 12ga then you would think.the KSG is good..Fortunately for me I’ve experienced many different platforms so for me the Keltec KSG is at a substandard level in shooter enjoyment but alas they are easy to sell off.. try one for yourself and you be the judge in what level of shooter quality you expect from a 12ga Tactical Shotgun..

  4. Good article. Im a lefty and have had no wrist problems. I have read about the tube springs and followers. It wants to be shucked hard, loading failures IMO are operator error 99%. I do like the iron sights for a shotgun, if you need more just pose at the range with your IPhone, Tommy Hilfiger pastel shorts and overkill sights on your KSG. Also, to correctly identify the weight shedding material on the KSG, it is a strong short chain polymer, not plastic which is a cheap long chain polymer and completely different.

  5. I’ve been shooting the KSG for years now. I’ve put thousands of different kinds of shells through her; different shot sizes, different shell lengths, ect.

    You DO know of course that the “self-injury” aspect of ejecting shells is easily overcome by installing an ejection shield? And that despite such an aftermarket feature, which is easily available online, I’ve never installed one and somehow have never injured myself…

    It’s because each firearm is inevitably unique! Once you learn how to use it the way it was intended, or you could just wear a long sleeve coat lol, you’ll have more fun with it.

    The capacity allows me to look past idiot mistakes that may lead to self-injury by morons who frankly don’t know what the fuck they’re doing. I make no apologies to the gun university. This issue is so easily overcome lol.

    I also own a Benelli m4, three Mossbergs, a silly DP-12, and a Remington. So please, don’t assume that I don’t know what a shotgun is.

    The compact capabilities, the picatinny rail, and capacity makes this shotgun superior for indoor clearing PERIOD.

    This thing is only limited by the person using it in my opinion.

    To each his or her own. I love the damn shotgun.

    I will point out however that I spent an extra $500 on her getting an aluminum trigger and trigger group installed, red anodized aluminum followers, gel butt pad!!! (takes the recoil punch right out), foam cheek-rest to make her comfortable, new gripping on the pistol grip, and a magpul vertical foregrip. Makes this shotgun so much more comfortable to shoot!

    This shotgun was meant to be customized and aftermarketed.

    I highly recommend this shotgun for room clearance or home defense.

    My opinion of course. Have a good day.

    1. Well, it sounds like you actually do agree with our grade and review considering that, as you pointed out, you needed to upgrade it to compensate for its ergonomic and other short-comings. To say you had to do all those things to make it good is why it doesn’t have a better grade. We’re not heading it on how you can supe it up but on how it is out of the box. And considering that at this time, there are 19 user grades that average to our grade, it looks like others agree as well.

      I’m glad we’re on the same page.

      1. Heh. My apologies. I definitely look foolish commenting before reading everything first. I was over the top, and it was stupid. The KSG is okay, but obviously something like a 590a1 will always be more reliable (my silly opinion).

  6. I purchased the KSG for home defense and for that purpose I couldn’t be happier. I’ve shot about 5 – 6 boxes of 2 3/4 buckshot & #2 buckshot through it and haven’t had a problem. Also I’ve not experienced the wrist issue that the author did. It does have the weight and kick to it. After shooting one box of shells I do have to take a break.

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