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
- Length: 26.1”
- 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.
* * *