Range Review: Kel-Tec KSG-25 Shotgun

posted on August 5, 2017

People used to call the original 16-shot Henry "a rifle that you could load on Sunday and shoot all week." What would they have said about the new Kel-Tec KSG-25 shotgun, capable of holding 24 2.75-inch shells in its twin magazines? Going to the longer 3-inch ammunition lowers the capacity to a still impressive 20, but using the low-recoil Aguila 1.62-inch Minishells allows for a total capacity of 40 rounds! While magazine capacity is the first specification that jumps out, the KSG-25 represents a considerable improvement over the original Kel-Tec KSG in several key areas.

The mechanics of this longer shotgun are the same, featuring a pump action with the bolt locking into the barrel extension, two manually selectable magazine tubes, bottom ejection and a straight-stock configuration. Unloaded weight has gone up by 2.3 pounds to 9.25 pounds total, while loaded weight has increased even more, thanks to the hefty load of ammo, with more than 2.25 pounds of shotshells with fully loaded twin magazines.

The weight of the full magazines changed the fairly neutral, centered balance of the original KSG to the more typical front-heavy bias. That's less convenient for one-handed control but makes the gun more comfortable during firing, reducing already minimal muzzle rise to almost zero. Interestingly, the loaded center of balance 2.5 inches forward of the slide release shifts backwards only slightly as the magazine empties. The Kel-Tec KSG-25 swings much better than the shorter version, making it more suitable for clay shooting. Though not intended for skeet or trap, it works quite well for that.

Most of the controls on the Kel-Tec KSG-25 are ambidextrous, and the cross-bolt safety can be easily accessed from either side of the gun.

The longer magazine tubes sit under the barrel, which measures a full 30 inches in length. The tubes have witness holes on the bottom front and top rear, allowing verification of load status. Looking closer at the barrel, while the velocity gain over a more traditional 18-inch barrel is only around 100 fps, the drop in the uncorking pressure at the muzzle and the greater distance from the shooter to the muzzle amounts to approximately 10 decibel reduction of the report, a significant help in retaining hearing. The brightness and the size of flash also drops from noticeable to negligible. The Kel-Tec KSG-25 is simply more comfortable to fire than shorter shotguns. The lengthening of the iron-sight radius helps with practical slug accuracy. The incorporation of a straight stock allows for the use of AR-15-style sights, especially red dots, for improved speed and accuracy.

The longer barrel and mag tubes moves the pump forend forward, placing it in a more ergonomic, comfortable position for racking. Using a Magpul angled foregrip or Strike Industries Ricci extended rail section with a vertical foregrip improves the ergonomics without putting the support hand anywhere near the muzzle. With its bullpup design, the overall length of the Kel-Tec KSG-25 is 38 inches, and 30 inches of that is the barrel. Its 38-inch length is the same as Remington 870 with 18-inch barrel. Unlike the 870, all controls, other than the safety, are symmetric. The push-through safety is reachable from either side.

Field-stripping is the same as with the shorter model. Two detent disassembly pins come out, after which the entire grip assembly pulls down and the stock pulls back. At that point, the bolt separates from the operating "rod," which is actually more of a rigid grid. For deep cleaning, the magazine tubes may be removed by unscrewing the front caps. No further disassembly is necessary, and the only tool required is a quarter or a similarly sized flat-tip tool.

The twin magazine tubes on the Kel-Tec KSG-25 sit flush with the end of the 30-inch barrel. Despite its long barrel, the KSG-25 matches the size of other popular defensive shotguns, due to its bullpup design.

The weight of the KSG-25, coupled with the straight stock and a thick rubber butt pad, makes recoil tolerable even with 3-inch magnum shells, comfortable with most 2.75-inch loads and giggle-worthy with Minishells. The short Aguila ammunition feeds reliably and, while the considerable freebore of the little slugs doesn't make for the best accuracy, birdshot and mixed No. 1 and No. 4 buckshot load perform quite well.

Reloading, as with the regular KSG, is a bit on the slow side. For best results, the shotgun should be turned over and each shell pushed along the raceways molded on the outside of the receiver opening. The spring pressure felt about the same as on the shorter version, but loading 25 or so shells takes time. If owners wish to single-load shells into the gun, the tubes may be bypassed by putting the magazine selector lever in the middle for direct chamber loading.

The shotgun is equipped with robust sling brackets. The sling can act as the third hand, stabilizing the weapon for easier loading. Since high rates of fire heat up the barrel, the Kel-Tec KSG-25 is equipped with a perforated barrel shroud. Made of laser-cut sheet metal, it helps for the first fifty shots, after which mirage becomes a factor in aiming. Fortunately, the extended surface and the increased mass of the longer barrel manage heat dispersion a bit better, and extended loading with the bolt open gives further opportunity for a cooldown.

All in all, if capacity is what you're after, the Kel-Tec KSG-25 provides plenty of it in a package that doesn't exceed the size of many traditional home-defense shotguns.


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