I’m not a character worthy of a “John Wick” movie, but it’s tough to avoid the tacticool vibes when you pull out a double-tube-fed 12-gauge bullpup KelTec KSG, which has spent a fair amount of time on the silver screen with the legendary gunslinger. There’s a lot to like about this compact shotgun that offers a 14+1 capacity.

Its unique dual magazine-tube system gives it the capacity, but it’s the bullpup design that keeps this scattergun at a mere 26.1 inches in length. On paper, that capacity and size make it a heck of an option for home defense and tactical uses. But there are some tradeoffs to consider before you tuck one of KelTec’s KSGs next to your pillow at night.

Here's my take on the undeniably innovative shotgun. 


Table of Contents

Video Review
KSG Background
Specs & Features
Range Testing
Pros & Cons
Final Thoughts

Video Review
 


KSG Background


Futuristic is a word you could use to describe the KSG, but I think I prefer the innovation angle. The gun is clever and surprisingly wieldy for a shotgun that can stow up to 14+1 rounds in an easy-to-rack platform. 
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
Compact firepower is exactly what the KSG brings to the table. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The KSG itself rolled out in 2011. As a bullpup design, it opened the doors to 18.5 inches for the magazine tubes. Adding dual tubes next to each other made for a respectable loadout of 14+1 2.75-inch shells for the onboard capacity. Though, KelTec wasn’t satisfied with that and created the KSG25, which unsurprisingly hosted 25 shells and had the look of a gun from a yet-to-be-produced “Alien” movie.

None of the guns in the KSG line are really fit for winging fast-flying birds or hunting in general. They lean to the purely tactical genre of firearms. Hunting was never the intention. Also, if you want to go chasing blue-winged teal ducks or any other migratory game birds with a 14+1 shotgun, you’re almost certainly falling on the foul side of magazine-tube limits.  
 

Specs & Features

 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
At 14+1, the obvious advantage in capacity shines. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The KSG features a generous slide that is just shy of 11 inches and includes a 6-inch bottom Picatinny rail if you want your gun to host any lights, lasers, or popular grip options. The top boasts 12.5 inches of Pic rail that is ready for any dots or iron sights that you want to mount. 

Here are some general specs for the KSG I tested:

Length: 26.1 inches
Chamber: 3 inches
Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
Capacity: 14+1
Width: 2.25 inches
Weight: 6.9 pounds
Trigger Pull: 6.66 Pounds

Aside from the somewhat spooky trigger pull that came in at 6.66 pounds for me, the trigger itself felt more tactical than refined. It works, but it’s not light or smooth. It’s a bit blockish and springy. The reset is positive. As a pump-action shotgun, that reset goes largely under the radar when shooting and makes the gun easy to shoot and reload and shoot again fast on close-range targets.
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The trigger isn't very refined, but it serves well as a tactical option. The grip texture is also simple but on brand for KelTec. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The slide is quite long and offers a generous amount of Pic rail. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The grip texture is the standard KelTec square pattern on the pistol grip and slide. The safety is also a simple cross bar that you can activate with your trigger finger and thumb. It’s simple and unrefined with clear markings for the “fire” and “safe” settings. I would ding it here because a tactical gun generally deserves a tactical safety, and the push-version safety is not as fast as I would like when compared to an AR-style thumb safety. 
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The previous owner of this KSG opted to add a check pad, but I don't particularly find that necessary. The gun is actually reasonably easy to control when it comes to recoil. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The safety is one of my main complaints. It works fine, but it isn't very ergonomic for a tactical shotgun. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


Front and rear sling mounts round out the design that is clearly meant to serve a tactical purpose. This used gun also came with a cheek and butt pad. I did not find this design to be terribly aggressive when it came to recoil. But it is worth noting that there are plenty of after-market recoil-absorbing options for anyone who is recoil-sensitive. 
 

Range Testing
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The gun wasn't picky about ammo, but it did care about how you racked the slide. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


I did run a Crimson Trace red dot for some of my testing, and red dots seemed particularly suited to this bullpup system. It has a short barrel and overall design, so quick shooting in closer quarters seems to be the entire point of the gun. I kept my shooting within 50 yards, which is what I would consider well inside reasonable distances for home defense. 

I did most of my shooting with some Magpul MBUS sights, and those irons were point of aim at 25 yards with slugs. I also like the AR-style of those ghost-ring sights and found them to be light and fast.
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The Pic rail up top also offered plenty of space for optics and iron sights. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


My tactical 12-gauge ammo situation wasn’t as deep as my tactical rifle collection, but I did manage to scrounge up 160 rounds of a mix of 1-ounce slugs and 00 buckshot. I added 50 rounds of #2 and #5 birdshot to that.

The barrel length on the KSG is a mere 18.5 inches, which seems long but is pretty short relative to the more standard 26-28 inches on most hunting shotguns. Accuracy proved to be acceptable, with shots at 25 yards holding at center mass on a silhouette target. In fact, I would venture to guess that the shorter barrel pays off for close-range patterns with 00-shot types for self-defense uses. 
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The bullpup design pushes the loading and unloading area behind your shooting hand. That saves space, but it also makes clearing jams a bit of a chore. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


My biggest issue was reliable feeding. The gun wants you to rack it with authority. I found that short-stroking the slide can lead to a double-feed situation. These are fairly easy to clear in most guns, but the bullpup design of the KSG puts the shot shell above the elevator that is also blocking the spent shell in the area of your armpit. 

Again, not the biggest issue, but it’s all happening behind your shooting hand with the bullpup design. This forces you to stop shooting, invert the shotgun, and then manually clear the obstruction. I had five of these malfunctions. However, they seemed to be user-caused issues. So, I guess the lesson is to rack this gun like you mean it. 
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
Then again, that bullpup design makes this a compact package that doesn't require constant reloads. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


KelTec’s KSG swings like a bullpup. I wouldn’t chase birds with it, but it is nifty enough in a tight space like a house. As far as shotguns for home defense, it has a lot of potential. I would just recommend spending time with it on the range. Recoil is surprisingly light relative to its size. This gun came from the Guns.com Certified Used Vault and included a recoil-absorbing pad. It didn’t really require that, in my opinion, and the recoil wasn’t much different from a run-of-the-mill Remington 870
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
Two magazine tubes feed the gun under the barrel. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
Swapping between the tubes is as simple as flipping the loading switch. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)
KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The slide release is also ambi and located at the front of the trigger guard. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


As an additional note, the dual-tube system would allow this gun to host multiple types of ammo. I don’t normally like the idea of mixing ammo, but this platform does make it easier. You could host slugs on the right and buckshot on the left. Swapping between the two is fast and easy. The bottom-ejecting design also keeps spent shells from whacking your shooting partner or distracting you on the range. 
 

Pros & Cons

Here’s my quick list of the main pros and cons:

Pros:

  • 14+1 standard capacity
  • Short and compact
  • Lots of choices for sights/optics/extras 
  • Bullpup design
  • Bottom ejecting
  • Tactical ergonomics
  • Long slide with rails
  • Two tubes for different ammo choices
  • 3-inch chamber offers lots of ammo options

Cons:

  • Issues with light-racking the slide
  • Clearing jams can be more difficult
  • Trigger isn’t very refined
  • Crossbar safety isn't very ergonomic
  • Not fit for hunting

Overall, the gun ran well and was a joy to shoot at the range. It's not ever going to become my go-to clay buster, but it does have some more tactical chops than a traditional hunting shotgun. Racking the slide and swapping between the magazine tubes was easy. My only real concern was the fact that you have to invert the firearm to clear a jam in the rear of the bullpup action. 

A jam caused by something like a double-feed issue will effectively kill the gun in a crisis. Most pump-action shotguns could suffer a similar failure, but it did seem to be more common with the bullpup design if you failed to rack the slide aggressively.
 

Final Thoughts
 

KelTec KSG 12-Gauge Shotgun
The KSG excels in size and capacity. I wouldn't take it duck hunting, but I wouldn't shake my head at 14+1 12-gauge shotgun shells either. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)


The KSG is a bit more complex than your average home-defense shotgun. That comes with a serious capacity of 14+1 in a tiny, maneuverable package. As always, training is key to running this gun well, and it has a very tactical feel in confined spaces. 

Just don’t expect to take it out on a hunt and come home with a gorgeous mallard. This scattergun belongs in the realm of tactical shooting and really doesn’t lend itself to clay busting or bird hunting. Then again, at 14+1, it does bring some heat in the capacity department. It’s also reasonably enjoyable to shoot relative to its size, and I wouldn’t be too worried about a sore shoulder afterwards.

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