Range Review: Kel-Tec KS7 Shotgun

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posted on January 23, 2019
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Bullpup 12-gauge shotguns started with the South African Neostad of the 1980s, but it was the Kel-Tec KSG that brought it to the mainstream, spawning a variety of imitators. The original double-tube bottom-ejecting KSG shotgun held fifteen shells in the minimally legal non-NFA length. In theory, fifteen shellsa pound or more of leadwould end any fight short of reenactment of Rorke's Drift. For people who preferred a little more velocity and a lot more capacity still, the eponymously name KSG-25 held a full box in a shorter weapon than a Remington 870 or Mossberg 590 with 18.5-inch barrels. Adopted by Corrections Special Operations for suppressing prison riots, by prepared individuals for home defense or for recreational shooting, the two KSG models reached considerable popularity. However, not everyone liked the two-magazine manual of arms, so there was room in the market for an even lighter super-compact shotgunand this is where Kel-Tec KS7 comes in. 

The original KSG isn't light, and KSG25 approaches 11 pounds with a full load, so swinging them takes some effort. Kel-Tec's newest addition, designed with the benefit of eight years of production and utilization experience with the KSG series, is only 5.9 pounds empty or about 6.6 pounds fully loaded. The gun features the same non-NFA length as the original KSG, and the single-magazine KS7 is noticeably slimmer and somewhat simpler in design. A number of improvements over the older models makes it more convenient to handle.

Operation of the Kel-Tec KS7 remains extremely similar, differing mainly in the absence of the magazine selector. The most obvious external difference is the channel sight with a triangular fiber optic in the front, integrated into the carry handle. The channel sight provides rapid acquisition for wing shooting, while the tip of the fiber-optic bead allows precise slug placement. The highly contoured pump handle improves retention and removes even the theoretical possibility of the support hand ending up too far forward. The flared front and rear ends of the pump attached to two action bars keep the support hand where it belongs, precluding accidental slipping into the path of the shot or back onto the slide release lever.

The usual KSG style fenced push-button safety goes right with thumb pressure for FIRE, left with index finger for SAFE. The manual of arms is similar to other pump shotguns, with an ambidextrous slide release in front of the centrally located trigger guard rocking down to unlock the slide. Loading is from the bottom, with a raceway aiding the centering of the shells in the magazine tube. The shell retainer is relatively thin and textured, so you can really feel it when loading. As with the KSG, loading and ejection use the same port in the receiver. Unlike the KSG, the KS7 cannot be loaded directly into the chamberthe shell must first go into the magazine and only then to the chamber, like with the Ithaca 37, because the shell lifter is in the way with the bolt retracted.

Being 26.1 inches overall and sporting an 18.5-inch barrel, the Kel-Tec KS7 is not an NFA-regulated gun. It holds seven 2.75-inch shells in the magazine, or six 3-inch shells for those who like the extra hard thump on both ends. For the fans of more ammo and longer barrel, a 30-inch tube to match a +3 magazine extension will be available as options. Disassembly is just two pushpins coming out of the back and center of the receiver. The pins may be stored in the thoughtfully provided openings in the pistol grip. With the pins gone, the pistol grip tilts out, back end first, then the buttstock slides off, freeing the bolt. On the front, unscrew the slotted magazine cap with a coin to remove the spring and the follower. The barrel is held on with a spring-loaded detent, and comes off easily for cleaning. This gun works smoother with plenty of grease around the rails and the bolt.

Shipped with a cylinder-bore barrel, KS7 is meant for defensive use. Lighter and shorter than many submachine guns, the KS7 delivers firepower on part with the much longer and heavier riot guns of conventional design. Centrally balanced and ambidextrous, it can be easily controlled with one hand, which comes especially handy around vehicles. It can even be fired and cycled one-handed in an emergency, with reloading by by pushing the flared front of the slide handle against any available edge to eject, then pulling to re-load. The single-hand reloading works better and quicker than you might expect.

Thanks to the straight line stock, recoil goes almost straight back, with little muzzle rise. M-LOK slots in the pump handle and, more usually, in the stationary channel sight allow installation of lights, lasers, and front sling eyelet or swivel. Handy, compact, and ergonomic, looking quite distinctive with the "space rifle" carry handle in black, FDE and OD Green, KS7 is likely to gather its healthy share of adherents. This time, having learned from the past complaints, Kel-Tec produces thousands of guns of this new design before letting anyone outside of the company know about its existence. The suggested retail price on the Kel-Tec KS7 is $495.

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