Kel-Tec KSG-12 Shotgun Review

IMG_5852I recently acquired a Kel-Tec KSG-12 shotgun. It is a 12 gauge, 14 shot, tactical shotgun. Like all my firearms, I bought this one used, from someone I could trust (a fellow veteran). It had been well-maintained.  It had been lightly used.

My Last Shotgun

My last shotgun was a 20 gauge Ithaca Model 37 shotgun that I acquired in my youth. I never did figure out what happened to that shotgun; I guess I must have traded it for something during my young and stupid phase of life. Now it’s a classic. I liked the 20 gauge because it had manageable recoil and the Ithaca had a clever design that allowed you to keep the trigger pulled and when you slammed the next shell it, it would fire. It was as fast as an automatic. Of course, it also held only four shells. Pretty much all I ever shot was bird shot, and as a result, I never had to deal with what you could call significant recoil.


Enter the KSG. One reason I got it is because it is a bullpup design. It’s 26.5 inches long (so non NFA) and has an 18 inch barrel. The other reason is the dual magazine. It holds 6 3 inch or 7 2.75 inch shells in each magazine. So you can configure it with lethal rounds on one side, and non-lethal on the other. Having 14 shotgun shells at your ready pretty much takes you through everything short of the zombie apocalypse. Or stated differently, if you need more than 14 rounds in a home defense scenario, you’re not living a very Christian life. If you’re one of those two is one and one is none people, the Kel-Tec should make you positively radiant with joy.

The Range Session

After cleaning and oiling I took it to the range and proceeded to tear off my right shoulder. Okay, not exactly, but my goodness that thing kicks like a mule! I have always regarded recoil pads as sissy spacers, but at the advancing age of 61, they seem like a prudent investment in limb preservation. So I bought one and stuck it on the end.

One rather annoying bug with the Kel-Tec is how easy it is to short-stroke the weapon. It takes a great deal of practice to be able to slide the pump all the way back and all the way forward in order to properly seat a round. And field-stripping and cleaning the shotgun is the kind of endeavor that makes you wish you’d taken a picture of how things looked before you started, but only realize that you should have after you’re trying to follow the unhelpful photos in the manual.

Field-Stripping and Cleaning

You start by removing the pins and placing the pins holding on the pistol grip inside the pistol grip (two convenient holes are placed there for that purpose).  You pull off the grip.    Then you pull off the stock.  This requires a bit more effort than it would appear at the outset.  I had to hit it with a closed fist.  Then you remove the bolt.  Then you loosen the magazines with a quarter (half turn on each one in seriatim) and then remove a DFI pin, followed by the magazines and barrel. It’s a lot of work, and it’s the kind of work that makes you not want to go back to the range (which is, of course, stupid).

Maybe I’m just lazy, too. I owned Glocks first, and so field-stripping and cleaning a Glock is like a walk in the spring breeze. I can field-strip it in a matter of seconds. I can clean it inside of 3 minutes, and have it reassembled. I love my Glocks. Then I acquired my Kimber 1911, and that requires a bit more patience and attention to detail. This experience probably prepared me for the Kel-Tec which, as noted above, is a lot more work than either a Glock or a Kimber.

Home Defense

Understand, this is not a hunting shotgun. It’s a defense shotgun. While it might be helpful hunting hogs, or perhaps in some close-range style of hunting, it clearly is not meant as a tool for hunting. There is no built-in sight. It does have dual rails. So you can put on MBUS sights or a red dot if you want. And, yes, it is effective at ranges of up to 30 meters with buckshot and slugs. It can be used for hunting, it just shouldn’t be.

What this shotgun is meant to do is be used to pie-ing a corner in a home-defense situation so you don’t get the shotgun wrenched from your grip by the bad guy.   Even the most practical of tactical shotguns (Mossberg 590, etc.) have lengths that are far greater than this Kel-Tec. This gun is the king of close-quarters personal combat. It has really only one purpose: to kill at close range. It is a tactical weapon only. But it’s a tactical weapon that this guy will use with a sissy-pad, because it not only does a number on that at which you fire, it does a number on your shoulder too.

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