Kel-Tec is ever the innovative maker of odd and interesting firearm variants, most of which are comparatively inexpensive and seem to capture the imagination in some compelling way. With the SUB2000, they took the idea of the pistol-caliber carbine and made it compatible with Glock and other magazines. But other manufacturers have done that. So, even though it has a 16” barrel, they made it fit easily into a small backpack without disassembly. That was kind of a neat trick.
I’ve had my eye on the SUB2000 ever since they first came out and have long contemplated picking one up. Something else always took precedence and I never actually got one. This month, though, I had the opportunity to spend some time running the Kel-Tec SUB2000 Glock 9mm model at both static-indoor and practical-outdoor gun ranges, and now I get to share my thoughts on the experience.
Why Consider the SUB2000
The Kel-Tec SUB2000 is a full-sized pistol-caliber carbine (PCC) that folds in half to pack easily into a backpack or bag, or stows away in a vehicle, for relatively quick deployment at need. It is made specifically to be a utility rifle that conceals and/or pack for easy daily or situational carry.
You might consider the SUB2000 for its small footprint in basically any backpack or duffle (folded, it’s just a bit larger than a laptop computer). You might also consider it for the fact that it comes in a Glock-mag-specific (G19/27 or bigger) or “Multi-Mag” configuration in either 9mm or .40 cal chambering. So feeding the rifle should be easy. Otherwise, you might consider the SUB2000 for the fact that, unlike other small-footprint PCCs, it sports a full-length 16” barrel.
Note that the SUB2000 is not what I consider to be an ordinary PCC. When I think of a PCC I think of an AR platform with receivers made to run pistol rounds. I’ll confess that I am not and have never been a fan of pistol-caliber AR rifles. I say if you’re gonna have a rifle, get one made for rifle rounds and do rifle things with it. I believe that if you don’t need a rifle round, a plain old handgun is just fine…even better than a PCC.
The SUB2000, however, is a bit of a different animal. It is lighter than a typical AR-platform PCC and it has the peculiar talent of packing a full 16” barrel in a package that folds down to just over 16” overall and can be deployed from a ruck and fired on target in less than 10 seconds. That alone is compelling and the SUB2000 has long piqued my interest.
Anyway, let’s start with the specs:
Caliber: 9mm (or .40)
Length: 30.5” (16.25” when folded)
Height: 7”, open or folded
Barrel: 16.25” with 1:10” or 1:16” twist ratio
Weight: 4.25 lb
Sights: Barrel-affixed steel front, rear peep sight
Capacity: varies with magazine used (Glock & others)
Shooting the SUB2000
I started out standing in a static-indoor range lane just learning how to operate the thing. Not that it’s difficult, but its odd configuration means some peculiar controls. Owing mostly to the bottom-of-stock-arm charging handle I had to learn which hand should do what and when for basic manipulations, like sending home the bolt for an initial loading and then what changes when performing a speed reload.
The charger locks up into a notch at the rear-right of the stock arm. After a couple of trials I found that for an initial loading with a locked-open action, you pretty much have to grip the gun up front on the handguard with your secondary hand and slap the charger down with your right hand (similar to how an MP5 works). However, for a reload, it’s best to keep your primary hand on the grip, then with your secondary hand load the mag and reach back to charge the handle, then re-grip the fore-end and fire. For reloads, it’s kind of like running an AK-47. Heh, it’s easier than it sounds. At just over 4 pounds, the gun is light and easy to shoot and manipulate.
The front sight is fixed to the end of the barrel and the rear peep sight pops up into position when you unfold the rifle. It is not terribly difficult to get a proper sight picture, but it’s neither as easy nor as comfortable as doing so with a real rifle. The “stock” is just molded hard plastic and it does not have anything like a smooth, rounded, elevated surface for your cheek to weld. It’s all rather uncomfortable and I immediately found myself wishing for a red-dot optic so that I didn’t have to get my face down quite so far onto the hard, bumpy stock. In fact, my third outing to the outdoor range with the SUB2000 I did mount a red-dot on it, and found shooting it to be far more enjoyable.
The trigger is a bit heavy and not so smooth, but I didn’t notice it causing any problems when running drills. The trigger breaks at about 10 pounds and it has a very plastic feel. The charging spring is pretty darned stiff and you have to charge it like you mean it. The bottom-of-stock-arm placement is a bit awkward, but not a dealbreaker. I soon learned to run it pretty smoothly for basic manipulations.
That folding lock at the rear of the stock is NOT an inviting cheek rest. This is definitely a utility gun and not a fun plinker or main range gun.
When the magazine runs dry, the bolt does not lock back and, instead, you get the “thunk” of a trigger falling on an empty chamber. Reloads are accomplished in much the same way as with a pistol. The mag release is in the same position as for the average pistol and I had no trouble running reload drills, as seen in this video:
I spent quite a few rounds running deployment-drill reps and reload-drill reps. Took a minute to get the hang of deploying quickly from my backpack, but that was due mostly to figuring out which way was best to stow it in the pack pocket to make deployment as quick and easy as possible. The video above shows that it took me roughly 8 to 10 seconds from “go” to get a round on target. Not bad.
Features and Components
The SUB2000’s main feature is that it folds down from a 30.5” rifle down to a 16.25” stowable assembly. Barely larger than a laptop computer, it fits easily into nearly any backpack, shoulder bag, or day bag. In this way, it’s the kind of rifle one can keep with all day, concealed, without fear of detection. At just over 4 pounds, it’s no great encumbrance either.
For folding the gun (with a clear chamber, only), you pull forward on the trigger guard a bit and the lock releases allowing you to fold the barrel back on the action and stock arm. Easy peasy. To unfold, give the plastic lock that holds the front sight a slight tug and the barrel is again free to fold down and lock into operational position. It’s all quite easy.
As mentioned earlier, the trigger is just okay and breaks at about 10 pounds. The safety is a crossbolt style button on the rear of the receiver. It is not placed for ergonomic operation—as with an AR selector—but I’ll argue that it shouldn’t have a “safety” mechanism anyway, and should be left in the fire position so there’s no need to interact with it (safety is a human behavior, not a lever on the receiver).
The model I used was fed by Glock magazines, and you can use anything from the G19 size, up. When ejected, the magazines dropped free for me and I had no trouble with quick reloads…except where the only way you know it’s time to reload is when the trigger goes “thunk” on an empty chamber. The charging handle is kind of ugly, but serviceable.
Mine had a threaded barrel for mounting a muzzle device or a suppressor. Not sure either is warranted, as they would mar the small fold-down size of the stowed rifle. The handguard has M-LOK slots on the sides and picatinny on the top and bottom, so there’s room for accessories. However, putting anything on the top picatinny rail means you can’t fully fold the rifle. There are aftermarket accessories to mitigate this issue, but out of the box, the top rail has to remain clean.
I think the Kel-Tec SUB2000 is pretty darn good at being exactly what it’s supposed to be: an easily concealable, packable, full-length pistol-caliber rifle. It is quite bare-bones and utilitarian out of the box, but with some aftermarket love it can become quite a bit more effective and easier to use well.
There are some tradeoffs as compared to AR-style PCCs, but the full-length barrel, weight, and packing-size of the SUB2000 make it compare fairly well. And the fact that it will take your mid-size or larger pistol magazines, and thus sort of maintain your platform efficiency, is quite a boon. I wouldn’t want to fight a foreign insurgency with this thing, but I think it’d be good in a pinch, and it makes for a helluva survival rifle.
As I write this review, much of our nation—especially in the big cities—is in chaos, as various communist insurgent groups work to cause mayhem, destroy history, loot and destroy property, and continually attack and intimidate American citizens with whom they merely disagree. These groups are aided hand-in-glove by nearly 100% of the staff at media outlets and large corporations, who either suppress facts and run interference for the insurgents’ crimes or they make widely publicized genuflections toward the groups’ inane and disgusting demands. All the while, big-city governments are either cowed or offering full-throated support for this violent, anti-American evil.
As a result, cities are on fire and American culture is crumbling. The pace and spread of this evil is alarming. It seems all of media, business, and much of government is arrayed against ordinary, decent American citizens who simply want to be left alone to live their lives free from tyranny, violence, and mayhem. The forces arrayed against us continually promise that we may not do so.
What if things deteriorate further, as they’re sure to do? How do decent Americans prepare to preserve normalcy or to just survive when the rule of law fully collapses? What works well and what doesn’t? What is practical and what is fantasy? Few of us have professional experience in such matters and the clock is ticking.
Amid this increasingly grim saga comes Clay Martin who out of a self-professed sense of moral duty offers the plainspoken, practical advice good folks need, as many find they must prepare against a violent tide. His book, “Concrete Jungle” is, as described on the back cover, “a down and dirty guide [on how] to survive the most extreme environment imaginable.” The book offers hard-won insights on practical matters like, how to plan and budget for your preparations; how to build an information network; how to build an effective team; what training to pursue, and which kinds; food and fitness preparations; stores and equipment; which actions work well and which don’t…and much more.
The author, Clay Martin, served in both the US Marine Corps and the US Army. He was, among other things, a scout/sniper and a Green Beret. He explains in the book’s introduction…
“As a retired Green Beret, I feel a moral obligation to help those that want to help themselves, which is what this book is about. Like a return on your investment for your tax dollars. I don’t have all the answers, but I can at least say my opinion is tempered by real world experience both spotting unrest, and surviving to tell the tale.”
Given his experience and success, it is perhaps best that we pay attention when he speaks to these topics. I enjoyed the book and learned a great deal. Here, I have some observations to share on the author’s effort—the good, the bad, and the ugly—and hope that you might find them useful.
While some may imagine that a review of a book will deal exclusively with the content, I’m reviewing the entire effort here involved with the paperback version of the book: The content and its organization, the language, the design, the “furniture” (cover and ancillary bookish-info-things at the starting and ending pages of the book), and the defined architecture of the book. I’m doing these things because reading a book is a physical experience—a user experience that involves tactile, visual, and navigational input. Since these things are component to my profession, I know how important the whole of the experience can be to reading a book. So here we go.
First, the specs:
“Concrete Jungle – A Green Beret’s Guide to Urban Survival”
By Clay Martin
Published June 15, 2020
Available on Amazon.com (and perhaps elsewhere)
Chapter 1: Not the Guns
Chapter 2: Common Sense Planning (I think this is chapter 2)
Chapter 3: Building Your ODA From Scratch
Chapter 4: With Our Own Powers Combined
Chapter 5: Greenhorn to Wyatt Earp
Chapter 6: Nunchucks and Throwing Stars
Chapter 7: Stabby Things
Chapter 8: Fitness, Food, and Water
Chapter 9: Rumble in the Bronx
Chapter 10: Savages on the Warpath
Chapter 11: Balkanize Before They Rise
Chapter 12: Weapons
Chapter 13: Care and Feeding of Your Gat
Chapter 14: Becoming a Harder Target
Chapter 15: Blow the Escape Hatch
Heh, some of the chapter names are kind of whimsical. Guess the author was having a good time when he wrote them. If a chapter name doesn’t make sense to you, I can say with reasonable certainty that the content that follows it will. The author has a knack for explaining things in simple, practical terms with plain language.
Since I’m no expert on most of the topics, I can only say that what the author shares here makes a lot of sense to me, and the occasional caveat rings true. Some of the nice surprises included things most of us never think about or would ever have experience with, given that we grew up in a highly civilized, prosperous nation. Things like, what happens to a person when they’re very hungry from not having eaten in a few days, or admonishments on how to eat in the hellscape and how not to get caught doing it.
These insights speak to some the really horrible aspects of conflict, when things we take for granted are suddenly gone, cut off, run out, or turn septic. They’re things we don’t think about because they’re too horrible to imagine. The author takes pains to address these unimaginable horrors and offers strategies or tactics for dealing with them in proven and advisable ways.
I found the more I read, the more I was glad that I was reading this book and being exposed to these issues and the accompanying advice. As is the purpose, it made me understand just how much there is to do in order to better and more responsibly prepare. I also appreciated the advice against doing some things in favor of other things. Better choices mean a better, more comfortable survival. The author seems to have a lot of valuable insights into these matters.
Reading this book is a piece of cake. The prose is simple, inviting, and endearing. The author’s delivery makes it seem like the two of you are hanging out on your back porch enjoying cigars and cold beer while he offers some advice. This quality is a huge win for the book, and for every reader.
Another good choice by the author, I think, was to directly translate many military conventions into systems and choices for your preparations, especially regarding how you build and maintain your team and your community network of information. It is best that laymen rely on proven systems utilized by professionals rather than merely inventing them out of thin air, and I think the author does excellent work solving vital issues for you. He lays out some clear, proven templates that you can use to survive and live more successfully than others may.
In support of his suggestions, the author relates some personal anecdotes and illustrative fictional stories to show the practicality of what might seem like bs or fanciful ideas to some readers. In doing so he does a good job bridging the gap between military lingo/SOP and regular-folks’ needs. Like the subtitle of the book describes, the book really does read like a Green Beret’s guide to urban survival, and I believe you couldn’t ask for a better instructor in these matters.
Not every reader will already be a firearms expert or seasoned prepper and the author easily takes this fact into account with the scope and quality of his advice. That said, those of you who are expert in such things won’t be left bored or nonplussed. There’s seemingly something for everyone here.
Along with the hard-earned insights and surely solid advice comes some incongruent content, I believe. Given the topic and context of the book, I think the author spent far too much of the book dwelling on the spectrum and comparative qualities of various empty-hand defensive systems. From my own decades of experience in a handful of them I see that his observations ring true, but for a book about strategies, tactics, and preparations for the NOW, it seems out of place to devote so much of the content to efforts that genuinely take years, often a decade or more of continual practice, to be automatically useful in a violent situation. Moreover, the financial cost of that continual training in a quality academy tends to dwarf the costs of other, more immediately useful preparations. I believe the author even touched on that fact.
Don’t misunderstand; pursuing this training is something every man should do, but it’s something you should have started decades ago and not as a last-minute prep for impending social unrest. Again, it’s good advice and worthy of inclusion, but the large percentage of pages dedicated to it is just perhaps misplaced in this particular book.
This last complaint is perhaps just my opinion, but the ending of the book seems oddly abrupt. There is no summation or “conclusions” section…nothing to neatly tie the preceding content up into a bow at the end. I think the author could have really used something like that to drive home some key points and perhaps direct readers to other resources. I just know I felt like the ending was a bit wrong. Maybe it’s just me.
“Concrete Jungle” was independently published and I’m disappointed to say that pretty much everything about the book’s format, design, and state of text makes that fact achingly clear. I purchased the paperback version of the book and while it’s likely a bit harsh to say, this book seems more like a voluminous pamphlet. I get that we’re moving quickly into a world where printed matter is more and more an afterthought, but if one is going to publish a printed book there are a few important conventions one should follow as a matter of course and out of respect for the customer. This book lacks most of them.
There is no index, no glossary; nothing but the text. In fact, there is nothing inside the front cover other than …the book. The Introduction starts on the very first page. It’s an efficient start, but the traditional first info-pages conventions are conventions for a reason. Sometimes folk like to browse by chapters and get a sense of where things are. Of course, to do that, you’d need page numbers. This book doesn’t have those either(!).
There are chapters, but they are only vaguely hinted at; there’s no contrasting text to give your eye purchase on the fact that a new chapter has started. In fact, chapter 2 isn’t even vaguely hinted at; it is apparently nonexistent. You’re reading chapter one, then later there’s an unlabeled page heading that seems to be chapter-like, but a few pages later you’re in chapter three. Likely just an editing error. Also concerned with editing, there are several misspellings and space/punctuation errors throughout the book that should have been caught before publication. Again, expediency has its place, but not at the cost of the fundamentals.
Now, I’ll admit to the possibility that the omission of page numbers, an index, contrasting chapter notations, etc. were all thematic components of a broader point the author was making. But if that’s so, I’ve got no clue what that point could be. I just think it’s more likely that these were omissions of expediency—to get the book out and into the hands of patriots while we still have a country to defend; an effort for which I am sincerely grateful!
Finally, from a design standpoint (as a design professional, I can be a total snob with this stuff), the cover is just heinous! Red text on gray is a horrible choice and an assault on the eyes. The text composition on the back cover looks like random words were thrown haphazardly onto the canvas; hurts to try and read. Haha, so much is wrong with the design here, but like I said, I’m a design snob. That said, it really is the content inside that really counts. My overarching point is that there are a lot of things that count.
This is a much-needed book and I’m glad that we got it delivered in the voice and style that Clay Martin offers up. This book doesn’t exclude anyone in voice or delivery, and I think that was a solid choice here. I also like that it’s not a huge tome, but a relatively quick read. Time is short and offering a stripped-down and practical take on strategies and advice based on first-hand experience is a great choice for those “who want to help themselves.” Those of us who have read Clay’s book and want to know more can now seek that further information from a far more informed stance.
Along with what’s good here, there are obvious less-than-awesome components that I thought need to be recognized. Part of the reason for publishing a review…of anything…is to take advantage of opportunities to point out how subsequent efforts might be revised for better effect. Since I care deeply for both the medium and the topic, that is most certainly one of my aims here. As such, my review may come off as more negative than is deserved so please don’t get the idea that I didn’t like this book or that I don’t recommend this book. On the contrary, I strongly recommend that all responsible Americans purchase and read this book. It deserves your attention and I dare say you may be in more dire straits than is necessary without it.
I want to sincerely thank Clay Martin for writing and sharing this book, blemishes and all. The things that are occurring in our nation seemingly have only one eventuality and I’m already using the advice the author offers here to improve my preparations and my family’s situation in the face of a potentially grim future.
As someone who cares a great deal for our American culture and our nation, I hope that you read this book and act on the author’s advice.
When Sig Sauer created a 10+1-capacity, subcompact pistol it sent the industry reeling. Not long after, about 9 months ago now, Springfield introduce the Hellcat, a similarly sized 9mm pistol with a capacity one-round higher than that of Sig’s P365. Playing one-upmanship will eventually have diminishing returns, but having 12 rounds of 9mm in a tiny subcompact pistol is nothing to sneeze at!
The Springfield Hellcat is just that: a tiny, 11+1 round 9mm pistol that is basically the same size as the Sig P365. Is that a good thing? Does it work? What many folks have discovered in the months since the Hellcat was first released is that the answers to these questions would seem to be yes. But what’s it like to shoot and run the Hellcat, even in a defensive style of drills? Here follow my first impressions.
Why Consider the Hellcat?
The Springfield Hellcat is a subcompact double-stack, striker-fired pistol. It is meant specifically for deeper concealed carry. You might consider the Hellcat for its 11+ 1 capacity (13+1 w/extended mag), which puts it head and shoulders above almost every other comparable pistol and at least a bit above any other competitor. You might consider the Hellcat for carrying in non-permissive environments or for times when you’re wearing lighter clothing. Basically, it is for when deeper concealment and higher capacity are essential to your preference.
I spent some time shooting the Hellcat and getting familiar with its capabilities & performance, and want to share my thoughts on that experience here. As this is a first-impressions review, issues of durability and reliability are not addressed. Others, if you’re interested, have put the Hellcat through a truly grueling 10k-round test, which the Hellcat endured with no reported problems.
Note that the Hellcat comes additionally in a fiber-optic front sight version and there are also versions pre-cut for a micro red-dot optic (and combination thereof).
Note also that regardless of the positives and negatives cited in this review, the Hellcat is a subcompact pistol and, as such, is appropriate only for experienced shooters. If you’re a novice shooter or brand new to everyday carrying, always avoid subcompact models of any brand in favor of compact or full-size pistols.
Shooting the Hellcat
I started out shooting the Hellcat for groups at short range, just to get a feel for firing rounds. It’s a subcompact, so it’s a bit snappy. Given the magnified felt recoil and the short grip, you’ve really got to—how should one put it?—grip the hell outta the gun to maintain a proper grip and control. It’s really not so terribly bad, but like all small pistols it requires you bear down a bit. I was able to rest my support-hand thumb on the takedown lever, which proved to be a good home and helped with control.
Groups at short range were fine and when I missed, I missed low, due mostly to the longer trigger press combined with me trying to compensate for the muzzle rise. That’s my fault. I did shoot some groups at 10 yards and they were acceptable for a subcompact, but the stock sights—rear sight in specific—were not awesome for precision, for me. Were I to own this pistol, I’d swap out the rear sight for a 2-dot model. I did not enjoy the rear u-notch site so much when trying to keep tight groups. I find it imprecise as compared to a 2-dot rear sight, which for me allows for a better gauge of proper vertical lineup. But I have old-man eyes and simply found it more difficult to know where to place the front dot in relation to the “U” at the rear. The top extensions of the “u” do not go all the way to the top of the sight, so my eyes didn’t efficiently and precisely line up the tops of the front/rear structures without me making adjustments after what seemed a proper sight picture. But that’s me and you may have no trouble at all with a precise sight picture.
After some groups, I did quite a few fast shooting strings that included: moving off the “x” and 4 shots in 1 second, followed by a moving reload, followed by a followup shot. I wanted to see if I could control this small, snappy pistol in something that approximated a defensive shooting context. I had no trouble keeping fist-sized groups at 5 yards for those 4 fast shots, provided I did my part to bear down. The reload was not at first very smooth, as the shortened grip tends to make the empty magazine catch on the palm of my grip hand rather than drop freely. After some practice I was able to modify my grip while ejecting the empty magazine. It’s not ideal, but it’s certainly doable with practice. I didn’t try those fast strings at 7 or 10 yards, but I’m quite sure they’d have opened up considerably.
I should note that I shot this pistol with the pinky-extension mag and the extended mag, but did not shoot it with the flush magazine. I was just able to just barely keep my pinky on the grip while shooting, but I don’t generally mind if the grip is too short for all fingers. The Hellcat’s grip has a mild texture that for me was not optimal. Especially for a pistol this size and chambered in 9mm, a rougher texture would be much better.
The controls seemed to be well located and none got in my way for grip or running the gun. Overall, while it was not entirely pleasant to shoot, it was no big chore. That’s generally what one gets with a 9mm subcompact, so nothing exceptional to report here.
Features and Components
The Hellcat’s main claim to fame and selling point is its 11-round standard magazine (either flush or with a pinky extension) and 13-round slightly extended magazine. This capacity puts it in rarified air as compared to other subcompact 9mm pistols. The stock sights include either a Tritium or fiber-optic front sight, depending on the model, and the rear sight is a u-notch.
The Melonite slide features front and rear serrations, which I found to be just fine for manipulating the slide. Melonite is perhaps the best possible treatment for a pistol slide and it’s nice to find it on this pistol. Though I did not run such a model, there are Hellcats available with a slide that is pre-cut for a micro red-dot optic.
The polymer frame is simple in design and adorned with large, well placed textured areas. The texturing is a sort of micro stippling that is in my opinion not adequate. Like nearly all poly pistols, this one will need proper stippling for better purchase; especially on a snappy little pistol like this. There are even textured rest/index areas forward on the frame that one might use for gripping. I found the takedown lever to be a better thumb index area while shooting.
The trigger is adequate, but not great. The takeup is long and the break is a bit “thunky” and plastic feeling. I didn’t notice it as a problem while shooting the pistol, except where I was used to a shorter press and I sometimes dipped my muzzle low in expectation of a shot that came an instant late. With practice, surely that would not be a problem. The shoe was quite comfortable for me. So, again, this trigger is okay.
It seems Springfield has managed to fit 12 rounds of 9mm into a tiny subcompact pistol without any major problems. Provided it’s reliable in the long run, it would seem to be—as of this writing—the ultimate expression of a high-capacity subcompact for deep concealment.
I’m not a huge fan of the sights or the trigger, but sights can be replaced and the trigger, though not awesome, works just fine and causes no problems when firing the gun. There’s no getting around the fact that a subcompact 9mm is going to be a bit snappy, so I again recommend this or any subcompact only to experienced, strong shooters who know how to properly control a violent little meanie in their hands.
If you need a tiny gun with lots of capacity, I recommend you try out the Springfield Hellcat. Rent it at Eagle Gun Range or your local gun range and see what you think.
The context of this video is, for the most part, gear that you keep at hand while you’re away from home: vehicle-carry gear.
When things suddenly go wrong while you’re driving or otherwise away from home, you will NEVER have the time or opportunity to kit up in full military-style kit. You need ordinary, easy to carry, fast on / fast off, ordinary looking gear that will provide what you need. it needs to be relatively light and normal looking.
Here, I detail some basic choices that fit the bill for ordinary folks.
I remember a couple of years go spending time with and reviewing Kel-Tec’s KSG. I really enjoyed running that double-magazine 12 gauge around the range. Fun times. Fastforward to this week and I’m shooting a similar, but different iteration of that model: the KS7.
The KS7 is a bullpup 12-gauge shotgun and is something of a single-mag-tube version of the KSG, but it has some interesting differences. The most obvious difference is the top carry handle and fiber-optic bead at the front. This makes the KS7 shootable right out of the box. But it sure does look weird. In any event, I’ve gotten to spend some time shooting the KS7 and here follow my impressions of this lightweight beast of a shotgun.
Why Consider the KS7
You might consider the KS7 for its small and lightweight configuration, which makes it a very wieldy, easy-to-carry, easy-to-maneuver firearm. Good for home defense or other cramped or close-quarters needs. At just over 26 inches long and ~6 pounds, it’s easy to hold, easy to pack, and (unlike the KSG) simple to use.
You might also consider the KS7 for its value. Often found for less than $500, it’s an inexpensive way to get a tactical-ish shotgun with a front sight bead that makes it shoot-ready right out of the box. With its numerous M-LOK slots, there are several locations for mounting accessories like lights and sling mounts, too.
Caliber: 12 ga
Barrel Length: 18.5”
Weight: 5.9lb (unloaded)
Length of Pull: 13”
Sights: Green fiber optic front bead
Capacity: 6+1 w/3” shells (or 7+1 with 2¾ shells)
Color: Black or Green or Tan
MSRP: $495 (often found for less…and for considerably more!)
Shooting the KS7
The KS7 was easy to run and fun to shoot…up to a point. This shotgun is very light, so I felt every bit of the recoil from every round I fired. With hot ammo, this little shotgun kicks like a mule. I can say with full confidence that anyone who owns a KS7 should put a soft buttpad on it to mitigate the stiff recoil impulse. The “pad” present on this shotgun is hard as a rock.
One improvement over the KSG that’s immediately noticeable on the KS7 is the feel and function of the pump action. This feels much more like the action on a traditional shotgun than did the KSG’s action, which was rather stuff and plastic, and prone to easy shortstrokes. This action feels far nicer and it’s easy to properly cycle the gun between shots. Well done, Kel-Tec. The pump grip is also much improved over what is present on the KSG. With molded stops fore and aft, it’s easy to keep your hand safely in the proper position. I do, however, recommend against placing your thumb against the forward stop fold. When the gun fires it’ll give your thumb a stiff jolt.
Because the KS7 is so small and the length of pull rather short, it’s not super easy and comfortable to use the front sighting bead atop the weird carry handle. That said, sighting is completely doable, but of course you’ve got to get your cheek fully welded and face low to the top of the stock to get a proper alignment for accurate hits. My first shots were significantly high, but once I got a proper cheek weld and sighted down the entire carry-handle channel, hits were right on.
The trigger is, …okay. Because of the bullpup design, the trigger uses a transfer bar to get back to the far-rear bolt area. That typically means a less-than-ideal trigger feel for bullpup guns and that is the case here. It feels mushy and plastic, but it’s not terrible. Just not great. I found I didn’t care while operating the gun. Still, it’d be nice to find a way to improve that feature just a bit.
All in all, like I said earlier, this is a fun gun to shoot and very easy to run. I can imagine all sorts of roles this little shotgun could fulfill in the home or in my truck or on the hiking trail. Its size and configuration tends to stir the imagination.
Features and Components
The KS7 features mostly plastic outer construction. The important parts are steel, of course, but all of the outer contact areas and non-action structures are plastic. The magazine tube (there’s just one) holds six 3” shells or seven 2¾ shells. It’ll hold eleven mini-shells, but I’ve heard that the KS7 can sometimes have problems reliably cycling those. I did not try any.
The most conspicuous feature of the KS7 is the top carry handle which stands tall off the front half of the gun. The rear portion has a carry handle opening and the forward part of the structure has 3 M-LOK slots left and right. The front top of the structure has a length of captured fiber optic that serves as a sighting bead. There is a cross-bolt style safety in the area where a selector switch might better have been placed, and the action release lever resides at the front of the trigger guard, and can be actuated on both left and right sides. That, with the downward shell ejection, make the KS7 a fully-ambidextrous gun.
Field disassembly is accomplished by pushing out 2 pins in the rear area of the gun. The upper area of the grip has 2 holes where you can place those pins so that they don’t get lost when you take down the gun. I note that those pins, when fully inserted, protrude about 1/8” from the other side of the gun. This is not optimal, in my estimation. They can snag on things and could easily become damaged.
With numerous M-LOK slots on various components, there would seem to be lots of places to add any accessories you might want. It’s also worth noting that if you don’t like the big carry-handle on top of the gun, you can replace it with the KSG’s flat picatinny rail, allowing you to mount BUIS and/or a red-dot optic, and/or anything else you might choose. When I get my KS7 (and I will definitely get one), this is how I’ll configure it.
The Kel-Tec KS7 is a short, light, easily-carried, and highly maneuverable shotgun that looks like something out of Starship Troopers. Kel-Tec got the basics right on this strange looking bullpup shotgun, so the little details tend to matter less.
It’s almost small enough to put in the average backpack and will certainly fit in larger packs. The bullpup design and size make it a potentially good choice for home defense, a truck gun, a trail gun, or even just a fun range gun. With its easy reconfiguration and accessorization, there’s plenty of room for folks to set up their KS7 to suit their specific needs. I will be doing so myself soon.