The New Kel Tec KSG Shotgun- STAY AWAY!

Written by Greg Ellifritz

Topics: Articles, Firearm Reviews

  • SumoMe

Playing with the new Kel Tec KSG shotgun. It was a cool gun. It would be a lot cooler if it functioned reliably.


Last month I got a chance to put some rounds through the new Kel Tec KSG pump shotgun.  It’s been all the rage on the firearms websites ever  since Kel Tec notified folks of their intention to put it on the market more than a year ago.


The buzz is well deserved.  The gun has the potential to be revolutionary…short, light, and holds 15 rounds.  Add to those characteristics the ability to instantly transition between different types of loads by switching which mag tube feeds the chamber, and you have a unique and effective weapon.


The description from KelTec’s website:


The KSG (Kel-Tec Shotgun) is Kel-Tec CNC’s first entry into the shotgun market. The size, shape, and design is similar to the currently available Kel-Tec RFB rifle, but the KSG ejects downward, instead of forward. The KSG weighs 6.9 lbs. and is as compact as legally possible with a 26.1” overall length and an 18.5” cylinder bore barrel. Even with this compact size, the internal dual tube magazines hold an impressive 12 rounds of 12 gauge 3” rounds in total (6 per tube). It can also reliably shoot shells as short as 1 3/4″ up to the 3″.




A friend was able to purchase one of the first of these shotguns to hit the retail market.  We took it out to his range and ran it through the paces on an extremely cold winter day in Ohio.  We were shooting on steel targets and used high brass birdshot loads.  Here’s how it went after I loaded it and walked up to the firing line:


Pump/Bang/Pump/Click/Pump/Click/Pump/Bang/Pump/Bang/Pump/Click/Pump….catastrophic malfunction. 


If you do the math, I tried to shoot it seven times.  It only actually fired three times.  When it shot, it was accurate and controllable.  Unfortunately, that was less than half of the times I pulled the trigger.


Due to the nature of the short Bullpup design, you have to pull the forend back extremely close to your face to chamber a round.  It’s a very unnatural motion for anyone who has ever used another kind of pump shotgun.  The design is very susceptible to short stroking because of this.  But unlike other pumps that jam when you short stroke them, this one gives no indication of a problem until you pull the trigger and hear a click.  It just simply doesn’t chamber the round!


I am a very experienced pump shotgun shooter, yet I was constantly short stroking this weapon.  I wasn’t alone.  The two friends who were shooting with me had the same problems.


The catastrophic malfunction happened when it was failed to extract the empty case from the chamber. When that happens, a new round is wedged against the head of the empty case. Due to the positioning of the carrier, this is a fight stopping malfunction. You need a cleaning rod and maybe even a pair of pliers to fix it.


It took about 10 minutes to fix.


I was sick of the shotgun after that, so I handed it it my friend to try.  He short stroked it a couple times, fired it a couple times and then had the same failure to extract that I did.  We had to break out the pliers and cleaning rod again.  Another 10 minutes to clear the jam.


I really like to shoot, but not like this.  I shouldn’t have to spend more time fixing the gun than I do pulling the trigger.


It’s a fun gun when it shoots, but I wouldn’t trust it in a defensive role.  Most of the reviews in the gun mags are very positive.  Maybe my buddy got the one bad sample.  Or maybe those reviews were bullshit and only written to sell ad space in the magazines.  I’ll let you decide for yourself.


They haven’t released all that many to the open market. Suggested retail is in the $880 range, but people with expendable cash are bidding the second hand prices up.  Current prices for new ones on are in the $1600 range.


For $1600 you can buy a Benelli that works, a case of ammunition, and a two day shotgun class at a professional shooting school.  I think that would be a far better use for your money.  Save the KSG for a keyboard jockey with too much disposable income.




19 Comments For This Post I'd Love to Hear Yours!

  1. Larry says:

    I ran across this review while looking up parts for my KSG. Unlike you, I and everyone who fired my KSG had a very positive experience. No FTF or any FTE issues at all.

    I have fired Winchester, RIO, and Remington brand shells through it-all without any issues. I have fired 00, various other shot sized loads, and two brands of slugs down the KSG and no hiccups of any kind. I would venture to guess that in the week I have owned it, it has about 150 rounds through it.

    I would contact Kel Tec and see what they say. They have great customer service.

    Glad I got a good one, I suppose. I love mine.

  2. Chris says:

    I have mixed feelings. My local gun shop is top notch. Quality products superior staff. They have never given me bad advice. Back in April, I decided to give them my full payment and submit to the long wait time. Before he took my money he showed my a short video. Its was the KSG repeatedly jamming. The 10 or so shots they fired, ejected off his wrist causing a small bruise. His advice to me: WAIT. KEL TEC is struggling to make 100 KSGs a month. They have not addressed any ‘bugs’ that are common with new firearms. I have never fired one. I understand its a quality weapon, but is in need of some fine tuning.

    • Eric Schwartz says:

      Can you post a link to the video? There is a long wait list for civilians for this weapon as numerous agencies are sucking them up. I have a perfectly good Mossberg 500 with a Sure fire on it so picking up an unreliable gun and forgoing a trusted one is not sound decision making. Kel Tec does have good customer service but I would rather let someone else sort the bugs out than risk my life being a crash test dummy of sorts.

  3. Obtained one a few weeks ago. Fired repeatedly without problems. Stopped first range session early as I found that I was pointig at the target with my left(pump operating) hand. The index finger was getting VERY close to the muzzle. My KSG came without a stopping device on the slide. Purchased a Mag-Pul “XTM Hand Stop Kit” and the potential for injury was cancelled. This Mag-Pul item stretches the stress of operating the pump action over several inches of the slide, reducing the stress on the plastic.

    • pjki says:

      It chambers only 11 in one and 12 in the other of the mini rounds. Can’t figure out why it doesn’t hold the full 24? Anyone know?

      • pjki says:

        Sorry, I called it wrong. You can’t edit these posts like you can on a lot of other sites, so I just have to repost. I’m just posting trying to find some answers for my husband. The magazines are each supposed to hold 12, but on his gun, one magazine holds 12, but the other one only holds 11. Anyone else have this problem?

    • pjki says:

      My husband’s jammed continually. But he fixed it. Doesn’t jam at all anymore.

  4. Chris Moore says:

    I’m sorry Greg, but your problems with the KSG don’t sound too real.

    Got my KSG, shot it with 3″ slugs and buck-shots and with 2.5″ bird shots. Flawless and very natural operation.

    Actually pumping it feels more natural than, for instance, my Mossberg 500. The initial grip is nice and pulling the slide towards me came out very balanced; and I am quite a big guy.

  5. William Butler says:

    Sorry the author decided to condemn the firearm based on his one experiance. I have since fired several hundred rounds with my KSG without a bobble. Have shared gun with appx 20 friends and acquaintances and have had no negative experiances. Except one “Lady” who, upon firing the KSG said some words that I did not know she knew! She had followed instructions to hold in shoulder tightly and had no bruise but she admitted that the recoil was more than she expected. Even a 14 Y.O.boy was smiling after firing gun. Gun operates without any problems and just looks “cool.”

    Everybody that sees it wants it, but money and availability seems to be the problem. Keep up the good work, Kelgren and company.

    • GSP says:

      That’s the thing about Kel-Tec is that you never know if you are gonna get a good one or have to send it back to the factory.

  6. Ron Konieczka says:

    I have had absolutely NO problems with my KSG. I love it and would recommend to everyone that this shotgun is the way to go. I’ve accessorized mine with some cool stuff.

  7. mark shean says:

    Hi, Do you know of any police/agencies that actually utilize the KSG?
    if so would you be kind enough to drop me a line? Thank you very much. Mark Shean

  8. Unkle Phred says:

    Kel-tec is noted for getting a product on the market, and fixing the flaws as they surface. When I first handled one, my initial impression was, “I’m gonna shotstroke this thing.” I’ve sold about a half dozen, over the last 3 years, and advised the new owners to put a handle on the slide. So far, there have been no problems reported to me, after the sale. The prices have dropped down to the $800-850 range.

  9. saul carter says:

    Mine works last defensive shot gun class I ran 200 round through it flawlessly. Everything from bird shot to high velocity slugs. Tightest group of all the weapons there at 15 yards and was able to shoot steal from 115 yards first shot with iron sights.

    Don’t be afraid to run the gun hard. I’ve found that mossberg users including me start out to gentle because of the ease of action with mossberg.

    During the class I simulated reloads and was slower than those with mossberg but with practice could do better. I figure if you haven’t solved your problem with 15 shotgun rounds you’ve got bigger problems or 8 buddies firing rounds as well.

    KSG works for me and I’d take it over my mossberg 500 one on one with someone any day. They can reload while I keep blasting away.

  10. mark shean says:

    You judge the gun to quickly, it has a learning curve, like going from a crossbow to a recurve bow. You need to be the boss and pump it decisively, not limp wrist it like your 870.

  11. Doc says:

    I have had absolutely no problems with mine. Awesome shotgun

    • Vito Spatafora says:

      Sorry to burst everyones bubble, but mine has feeding issues. Just like the guy stated. Soo no this shotgun is not flawless…

  12. pjki says:

    OOPS! I’m just posting for my husband, trying to get answers for him, so I screwed up. I guess those are magazines!! Ugh … not chambers! One of his magazines holds 11 mini rounds, the other one holds 12 mini rounds. Everything I’ve googled says it’s supposed to hold 24 all together.

  13. James Dean says:

    Two major flaw by dim witted people at Ketlek:

    1. Go to a local gun store, grab a KSG off the shelf, and lightly slide the pump back…note the distance where it stopped…it stops SHORT. Now, using force, because it is bound up, pull it back as hard as you can until it jumps the nub thing in front of the trigger guard area. Also, when it FINALLY jumps that damn thing, note how the slide release is forced down slightly, because the slide hits that as well.

    Comments about #1 – Who over at Kel-Tek is this stupid, that they allow this design flaw? Worse, how come no one has any intelligence enough to fix it? I don’t get this king of stupidity…it is a VISUAL flaw, and one that can be felt when wracking the slide, which causes misfeeds, and forces people to wrack the hell out of them just to get it to work properly.

    2. They are using some sort of super glue product instead of your typical loctite product. What this means, is that you can’t take the gun apart by any normal means…one has to use an air hammer on the end, with a very special adapter, just to force the nut off. Worse, they use this crap on other bolts as well, making it either near impossible to remove them, or completely damaging them from being used again (can’t get them back together now that they are apart by using massive amounts of force I might add.

    Comments about #2 – Have these idiots taken apart their own guns ever? You would think they had to at least once, but the guy who does it is obviously too stupid to tell the assembly line guys to stop putting this crap on things with threads, which ruins them.

    This company is just too stupid for me to do business with ever again, and although my KSG is now flawless given the mods I made to fix the shortcomings, it is just too much work and hassle.

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