KelTec KS7 Review: Will this replace your current home defense shotgun?

by Travis Pike

March 1, 2023

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KelTec is well known for its odd and innovative designs, and today, we are shooting their
bullpup shotgun. No, not the KSG. We have hands-on with the KelTec KS7. Let’s see if
innovation equals a good scattergun.

A bullpup, pump action shotgun.

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KelTec KS7 Specs

  • Name KelTec KS7
  • Caliber 12 gauge (3in)
  • Magazine Capacity 6 +1 (3in) or 7+1 (2-3/4in)
  • Action Pump
  • Safety Cross Bolt
  • Stock Polymer
  • Sights Fiber Optic Bead
  • Barrel Length 18.5 inches
  • Total Length 26.1 inches
  • Weight Unloaded 5.9 lbs

The KelTec KS7 – Keeping It Simple

In 2011 KelTec introduced a very odd shotgun. It was a bullpup design with two magazine tubes. This gave the shooters an impressive 14 rounds of 12 gauge ammunition. While neat, it’s big, heavy, cumbersome, and a bit complicated. Admittedly even as a shotgun nerd, it wasn’t for me. A few years later, KelTec released the KS7, a simplified version of the KSG. 

The KS7 retained the bullpup layout but moved from a dual tube format to a simplified single magazine tube design. They made a few other revisions, namely the eye-catching carry handle sight setup. It gives the KS7 a retro space gun vibe. That carry handle contains your sight as well as some M-LOK slots. 

A simplified design lowers the weight and the price significantly. At only 5.9 pounds, it’s a very light and handy gun. Additionally, the bullpup layout ensures a short overall length. In fact, it’s only 26.1 inches long. For reference, that’s shorter than a Mossberg Shockwave. The KSG would typically cost close to a thousand bucks, but the KS7 is about half that. 

The KelTec KS7 holds seven rounds of 2.75-inch shells and can chamber 3-inch shells as well. That’s not a bad deal for such a small and lightweight shotgun. The KS7 is a little odd but looks to be a very effective shotgun, or at least it could be. KelTec historically has had some QA problems. 

Will these issues plague the KelTec KS7?

KelTec KS7 Features

KelTec KS7 Weapon Features
1 Bullpup Design

Keeps the firearm very compact but with a legal barrel length

2 M-LOK Carry Handle

Doubles as a sighting solution

3 Fiber Optic Bead Sight

Fast, simple, and effective

4 Magazine Tube Witness Holes

Helps you see your round count

5 Downward Ejection

Pushes the spent shells down and out of the way, good for right or left handed shooters

Models and Variations of the KelTec KS7

There are a few different color variations of the KelTec KS7. Here are 3 variations you may want to consider.

KelTec KS7 –  Our Take

One thing you have to do with the KS7 is toss out most conventional shotgun knowledge. You’ll have to relearn a few things when it comes to the KS7. The KelTec KS7 still requires you to know how to shoot a shotgun, though, especially when it comes to recoil mitigation. You need to exercise a good push/pull technique, or the gun will beat you up! 

KelTec KS7 Patch

Recoil can be sharp with full powered loads. Additionally, you’ll need to watch your thumb on the pump. My thumb naturally points toward the target when holding the gun’s pump. The KS7 has a hand stop built into the pump of the weapon. My thumb would rest on this hand stop, and when I fired, the recoil would thump my thumb. I had to curl my thumb up to prevent this. 

I would have liked an M-LOK slot or rail on the pump somewhere to mount accessories, but that’s not an option, sadly. A vertical grip on the pump would make shooting it much more comfortable. 

The short and light design makes the gun easy to handle and easy to get on target or to transition between targets. There is no weight to swing around. Just turn your body and the gun points where you want it to. Ergonomically it’s a sound design. It works for righties or lefties due to the downward ejection and ambidextrous nature of the controls. 

Loading can be a little awkward, but everything else flows well. I especially like the short length of pull. It makes it easy to assume a good squared-up shooting position and to let the lead fly.

Throwing Lead 

The big triangle-shaped fiber optic sight is easy to see and quick to get on target. Buckshot and slugs are varying types that went exactly where I wanted them to. The point of impact and point of aim aligned perfectly.

KelTec KS7 Damage

The M-LOK rails below the sight offer you a place to mount a light. With that said, somehow, in between shooting the gun and transporting it to the range, the M-LOK slot I had a light attached to broke. Now my carry handle is broken, and that’s likely due to its plastic nature. I plan to replace it with an optics rail now. There is no provision for optics from the factory. 

Outside of that M-LOK rail breaking, I have zero reliability issues. The gun eats high brass, low brass, birdshot, buckshot, and slugs without complaint. The gun does not function with short shells, but that’s not a problem for me. Those are nonstandard shells. The gun never failed, jammed, or double-fed. It just went bang. 

I’ve heard of short stroking issues with this gun, but that’s on the user. It’s not any easier to short-stroke this shotgun than any other. You just need more practice and training to avoid it. 

Price-wise, it’s a little more expensive than a bare-bones 870 or Mossberg 500. That can be a detraction for some. Both of those guns have decades of proven service and a massive aftermarket to support them. The KS7 does not have that prestige.

I really enjoy shooting the KS7. It’s just so different from other shotguns I own. Add in the fact it’s smaller than most short-barreled shotguns, and you get seven rounds, and that’s just the cherry on top.

KelTec KS7 Side View

KelTec KS7 Pros and Cons 

  • Weight – Ultra Light
  • Size – Short and Compact
  • Reliable – Never failed, jammed, or double-fed
  • Fragile Rail – Ours broke in transport and testing
  • Ergonomics – Can Have a Painful Thumb Bump

Report Card

Shootability

Recoil can be stiff. A sub-six-pound shotgun will do that to you. You really need to exercise a good push/pull recoil mitigation technique.

B
Reliability

The gun eats what it advertises. It has zero issues with 2.75-inch and 3-inch shells. The gun fires, extracts, ejects, and loads without a problem. It gets a B due to the broken rail, which remains unexplained.

B
Accuracy

The point of aim and point of impact is dead on for advanced loads like Flitecontrol and slugs, and it works perfectly with buckshot, as you’d imagine. At shotgun ranges, it does shotgun things and does them well.

A
Ergonomics

The gun does have a lot of high points. Downward ejection makes it lefty friendly. The safety is easy to access, and the LOP is nice and short as well. The main downside is the painful thump your thumb can get if held naturally.

B
Value

The KelTec KS7 doesn’t break the bank, and for such an interesting shotgun, it’s pretty darn affordable.

A
KelTec KS7 Final Grade

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 4 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
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KelTec KS7 Starter Pack

Shooting a shotgun of any kind is a ton of fun. Here are a few extra things you’ll probably want to pick up–if you don’t have to make it a great experience every time.

  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Keep your shotgun clean and ready for duty. We’ve got a whole article dedicated to gun cleaning kits you’ll need to keep your pistol in tip top shape.  
  • Eye Protection: This should go without saying, but you need to invest in some quality shooting glasses. One errant piece of brass, and you’re in for a bad day. Check out our recommendations for the best shooting glasses!
  • Hearing Protection: Shotguns are loud. Save your ears and get some quality hearing protection. We’ve gathered all of our favorites to help you decide the best hearing protection for you.

Here are a few good deals we found on the KS7.

Upgrades and Accessories for the KelTec KS7

There are many good upgrades and accessories for the KelTec KS7. So many in fact that we wrote an entire article on the subject! Click the button below to read more. 

Best Ammo for Your KelTec KS7

One benefit of shotguns is the flexibility in the type of ammo you can shoot from it. If you are using this shotgun for home defense you should look into slugs and buckshot. We picked out some slugs and buckshot ammunition for you to checkout. 

Slugs

Hornady TAP Slugs Ammo

Hornady TAP Rifled Slug 12 Gauge 2-3/4in

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Hornady Armory $1.60
Vance Outdoors $1.80

Buckshot

Federal Personal Defense 12 Gauge 00Buck Ammo

Federal Personal Defense FLITECONTROL 00 Buck 12 Gauge 2-3/4in

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Impact Guns $2.33
Palmetto State Armory $2.40
Optics Planet $2.80

Other Shotguns of its Class to Check Out

The KelTec KS7 is a really unique shotgun. Here are a few other unique bullpup shotguns we think you might want to check out! 

#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

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 38 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Shotgun? Leave A Review

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

#2 Kel Tec KSG

Kel Tec KSG

Sold at PalmettoStateArmory.comBrownells.comGuns.com

The KSG is Kel Tec’s first foray into the shotgun market. In fact, the gun is so significant to the company that KSG simply stands for Kel Tec Shotgun

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

Our Grade

B+

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 45 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

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

#3 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.

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

Our Grade

A-

Reader’s Grade

A-

Based on 4 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

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

In fact, if you are a fan of bullpup firearms, we have an entire article discussing our favorites! Click the button below to learn more!

How to Care for Your KelTec KS7

Take a few minutes to learn how to properly take apart and clean your KS7 shotgun. We found this well made video from KelTec on how to take this shotgun apart, do some cleaning, and re-assemble.

We have gathered the links below for the manufacturer’s website and operator’s manual.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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