Kel Tec RDB Review [2021]: Is it worth it?

by Roy Chesson

January 11, 2021

3 comments

3.7
(36)

In this Kel Tec RDB review we’ll be covering its specification and background. We’ll also provide some extra resources for you to check out if you’re interested in this Bullpup Rifle from Kel Tec.

Kel Tec RDB Specs

  • Barell Length 17.2″
  • Caliber 5.56 NATO
  • Sights Rail Mounted
  • Action Semi-Auto
  • Overall Length 27.3″

Kel Tec RDB Background

Bullpups are awesome and fun to shoot. However, some have been designed in a way that make it difficult for southpaw shooters to safely operate. Gun University will give you our professional opinion on whether Kel Tec have succeeded in their aim of making an ambidextrous bullpup rifle.

So what else do you need to know about the Kel Tec RDB bullpup rifle? Some of the most innovative aspects you’d expect from Kel Tec are found here in the RDB.

These include an ejection system that keeps your line of sight free from spent casings, allowing you to more precisely and safely operate the RDB. But, if you’ve read our other Kel Tec reviews here at Gun University, you know that things don’t always work as well in reality as intended.

If you’re thinking of buying the Kel Tec RDB, we’ve discovered a few things you really want to know first. Read on to discover what they are, along with our full review and grades for the Kel Tec RDB.

Kel Tec RDB Features

1 Ambidextrous Magazine Release

The mag release on the RDB can be operated with either hand.

2 Adjustable Gas System

Allowing you to change the power of the propulsion.

3 Downward Shell Ejection

This method of ejecting shells ensures the Kel Tec RDB is suitable for both left and right handed shooters.

Kel Tec RDB Review – Our Take

Honestly, we’re torn on the Kel TEC RDB bullpup rifle. It is a really cool, simple, svelte, budget-friendly bullpup rifle. However, it is made by Kel Tec which usually means two things: A+ on innovation, D on execution.

If you’re thinking about getting the Kel-Tec RFB, get this RDB instead. Here’s why:

Things we like about the RDB rifle:

SUPER SIMPLE operation! Seriously, one of the reasons we want one of these in our personal collection is how clean the design is INSIDE the gun. It is a tiny bolt carrier, bolt, and op-rod. That’s about it.

The bolt extracts the empty case and instead of ejecting the case when the bolt reaches the rear of the next round in the magazine, it continues to pull the case rearward and ejects it down behind the magazine. This means that the bolt travels twice as far as any other semi auto rifle: far enough to feed and an additional case-length rearward to eject.

The KelTec RDB rifle is handy – it’s not super light, but it’s not too heavy either. The more you play with it, the more you realize what a handy package it is.

The RDB by Kel Tec is reliable. It just seems to work.

What we don’t like:

The Kel Tec RDB is NOT pro-grade. This is fine for a range toy but we could never recommend this rifle for defensive use. Why? Well, even though it has been reliable for testing, there will surely be a malfunction (even if it is ammo related). And, once there’s a malfunction (like a failure to feed, failure to extract, failure to eject, etc.) it is going to be near impossible to diagnose the problem and fix it.

The RDB is novel in that it doesn’t have an ejection port that allows you to see in the chamber and see the top of the magazine. That seems cool until you realize that you can’t diagnose and fix malfunctions. Good motivation, bad judgment.

The trigger and mag release are nowhere near as good as the trigger and mag release on the Tavor X95. Seriously, this is a fun space-gun but if you’re looking for a serious duty bullpup rifle, I think you’re crazy to not get the IWI X95.

Kel Tec RDB Pros and Cons

  • Light
  • Nimble/Svelte
  • Novel Concept (Cool factor)
  • Inexpensive
  • Not pro-grade
  • Impossible to diagnose and fix malfunctions
  • Poor trigger and mag release

Report Card

Shootability

Very easy to shoot and operate – Perfect for hunting, but not as stable as a dedicated target rifle.

A+
Accuracy

Very controllable and definitely hit its targets on point.

B+
Reliability

It’s performance gave good peace of mind that it will function properly.

B+
Ergonomics

Felt a little awkward when holding, it could had a better grip.

B
Value

Not outrageous on price which is good, and is worth every penny.

A

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

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Just because you’ve purchased a bullpup such as the RDB doesn’t mean you’re ready to go out and start shooting. There are some key essentials that you need to get started.

On KelTec’s website, they claim the RDB is the bullpup perfected. And while the gun isn’t the most terrible we’ve shot, perfection is a heck of a stretch. Fortunately, there are some great accessories to make it better.

Best Sights for the Kel Tec RDB

If you’re looking for a way to make your RDB 100% better immediately, get a good set of optics. Optics make everything nicer particularly on a bullpup. Here are our top picks for sights:

The Editor’s Choice for Optics on the KelTec RDB is the Leupold DeltaPoint Pro.That probably doesn’t shock many of you. I mean it’s a Leupold. Quality optics are what they do. We especially like this DeltaPoint Pro for two major reasons. The Auto Brightness adjustment tech and Motion Sensor Activation. These two features not only optimize your shooting experience, but help to save on battery life as well. CHECK PRICE

Another good standby for the RDB would be the Trijicon RMR. It’s sleek and doesn’t sit too high on the rail–keeping the bullpup at its most tactical. But it still provides you with a huge range of vision complete with a 3.25 MOA adjustable LED and eight different brightness settings.

CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON

Best Slings for the Kel Tec RDB

If you plan on taking your RDB out (whether to the range or for sport), I can guarantee you’re gonna want a sling. Hand carrying a rifle gets real tedious real quick. But when you’re equipped with a good sling, your trips will become much more enjoyable.

This sling is quickly becoming our favorite for just about every long gun. It’s lightweight, sturdy, and it’s got padding in all the right places. Plus, it’s got an extra-wide strap to prevent the sling from digging into your shoulder too much on longer treks. CHECK IT OUT ON AMAZON

Other Bullpups of its Class to Check Out

While we believe that this particular KelTec edges out the RFB, we also think that you’ve got some better options out there. These two recommendations perform and feel better than the KelTec RDB–at least in our opinion.

#1 IWI Tavor X95

IWI Tavor X95

Sold at palmettostatearmory.comGuns.com

The Tavor X95 has by far earned the Best Overall Bullpup Award. You can see below why we made that decision.

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

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Variation? Leave A Review

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

When it comes to bullpup rifles, this is our favorite one we’ve gotten our hands on. It’s got just about everything you want in a bullpup–including things you didn’t even realize you needed. As matter of fact, it actually tops our list of best bullpup rifles and shotguns…READ MORE

#2 Steyr Aug A3 M1

Steyr Aug A3 M1

Sold at EuroOptic.comGuns.comPalmetto State Armory

The Aug is a modular firearm and comes in many configurations to include those that fire in the open bolt position as light machine guns.

Check Latest Price

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

Our Grade

B

Reviewed by Roy Chesson

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

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

Now, we all know KelTecs look cool. There’s no doubt about that. But if you’re looking for another cool looking gun without the hangups of the KelTec RDB, check out the Steyr Aug. It’s the quintessential bad guy gun seen in films everywhere. Honestly, the biggest hangup would be the specialized parts you’d need to get…READ MORE

How to Care for Your Kel Tec RDB

It’s one thing to own a bullpup rifle. And another to own one with pride. If you’re serious about treating your guns well, you should know how to take them down and do basic cleaning and maintenance. Geoff Tac put together a great video on how to do just that.

Important Links And Manuals For Your KelTec RDB

This review is by no means everything you should know about the KelTec RDB–especially if you’re considering purchasing one. Here’s a list of recommended reads for you to gain more insight.

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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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3 COMMENTS

  1. Well thought I would try a 9mm bullpup the Jard J68. Gun malfunctioned after 5th round and fired out of battery due to a broken piece of the bolt wedged in chamber. Very disturbing when your new gun goes pow out the bottom and smoke pours out of everywhere but the barrel. Retailer & Company has pretty much $%$#@d me off. The reason, bolt not in stock/waiting production. Got this answer finally after 3 months of e-mails and phone calls.Believe I am now in possession of a very expensive paper weight! In Canada so no loss to them I suppose.

  2. I do respect and value the opinion of your group about the RDB, however would disagree with most of your cons on the rifle.

    Trigger is excellent compared to ANY bullpup and much better than X95 any day of the week..

    Mag release is stupid simple and just works. No need to over engineer if not needed.

    Lastly, as a former Marine I have no problem with this rifle as a defensive firearm…..all guns are range toys, but If you train to your system and understand its limitations and strengths it gets the job done. Also lets be honest 99.9 of us will never be taking our rifles into a firefight or hostile situation. This fantasty people have of being covered in mud, sand, ice, and body parts is absurd and doing nothing but causing them to pass on an otherwise outstanding bullpup.

    Malfunctions are a rarity, but in a defensive situation would be diagnosed behind cover anyways. I have cause all malfunctions in this rifle and can clear pretty much everything with tap rack bang….with the exception being a doublefeed.

  3. i have to disagree about the trigger. its by far much better than the tavor. its actually the best trigger on any bullpup out there. one thing i dont understand is why people would put a scope on a bullpup lmao. the reason its short is for cqb and close range. putting a scope on it you might as well get a 20″ ar15 imo.

    this gun has been my home defense rifle for a year and i love how easy i can maneuver in my house with it.

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