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KelTec KS7 Bullpup Shotgun Review [TESTED]

Looking for a futuristic bullpup shotgun? We hands-on review KelTec's KS7 for reliability, accuracy, ergonomics, fun, worth-it-ness, and more.

Bullpups are a fun topic to debate over. Length, ergonomics, practicality, we could argue for days about it!

Some bullpups are awesome, like the Steyr AUG or the Tavor X95, while some are… decent, looking at you Tavor TS12.

KS7 chilling
KelTec KS7

It’s hard to screw up a pump action shotgun though, so maybe it will fair better as a bullpup. To find out, we took a look at the KelTec KS7!

Table of Contents



If you had to pick one type of weapon to bullpup, which makes the most sense? 

AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15
AUG Vs. 16 inch AR-15

Before we answer that, let’s analyze bullpups. 

  • They are smaller on average, while still giving you a good barrel length. 
  • This makes them lighter and better suited for close-quarters use. 
  • They are slower to reload typically, and malfunctions can take extra time to deal with it. 

This is a 1,000-foot view of bullpups, but with this, in mind, we go back to our first question. What’s the best weapon for bullpup use?

I think shotguns make the most sense as a bullpup, especially if you don’t want to take the NFA route. 

Tavor Shotgun vs stocked shotgun
Tavor Shotgun vs stocked shotgun

Shotguns are close quarter’s guns, and bullpups are shorter and more maneuverable. A lighter shotgun is a faster-moving shotgun with less weight to sling around as you maneuver around walls and through doorways. 

Reloading is more difficult, but shotguns aren’t high volume weapons. Shotguns aren’t suppressive weapons, and their power gives you an excellent chance at a one-stop shot.

86% of shots fired by a shotgun that hit their target stopped it in one shot according to a study done by Greg Ellifritz. 

12ga Shotgun Shells, Opened (L to R: Bird, Buck, Slug)
While getting shot with birdshot won’t be a good day, getting shot with buck or slugs will end your day.

This leads us to the KS7 by KelTec. As far as I can tell, the KS7 is the most traditional shotgun in bullpup form.

The TS-12, the DP-12, the SRM 1216, and even the original KSG are all bullpup shotguns, but they tend to stray from convention. 

The KS7 is a bullpup, pump-action shotgun that feeds from a standard tube magazine. Shotguns are simple weapons, and keeping things simple tends to keep them reliable.

KS7 side front
KelTec KS7

Forgoing the larger capacity magazines, the KSG, TS 12, and DP 12 have also gives you a much lighter and slimmer weapon. 

Down and Dirty with the KS7 

The KS7 derives its name from its seven-round capacity. Seven rounds of 12 gauge is a substantial amount of ammo for a shotgun this size. The KS7 is efficient in its size, which lends itself to being a more effective shotgun. 

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It has a unique appearance that incorporates a Cold War Era carry handle that doubles as both a sighting system and a place to mount accessories. Carry handles are silly these days, but it turns out to be pretty handy for mounting lights. 

KS7 options
Carry handle doubles as a mounting platform

While the high visibility sight system is nice, the ability to mount accessories to it is the main draw to me.

By accessories, I mean flashlights, and maybe a laser. Mounting lights to a pump-action shotgun is difficult in a standard configuration and even more so on a bullpup. 

Mounting a light to the pump isn’t possible, it’s just too small. Plus, like any pump mounted light, you’d run into the issue of a moving light while working the action.

Mounting your light to the carrying handle allows it to remain in place, but still be very easy to access. 

The sight deserves some praise. It’s bright green and very easy to see. It’s a fiber optic, but instead of being your traditional dot, it is a triangle that’s massive and hard to miss.

Surprisingly good sight for a shotgun

It catches the eye when mounting the gun and makes it quicker to get on target. 

The KS7 also sports a rear sling point, and for a front sling point, you’ll need to attach an M-LOK sling adapter attachment.

I used a Vicker’s One Sling from Blue Force Gear and got creative with it. The 1-inch wide sling fit perfectly through the M-LOK slots. 

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The Defensive Angle 

Of all the bullpup shotguns currently, accessible the KS7 is the best suited for defensive use. It’s light and fast, and roughly the same length as a Mossberg Shockwave.

Shockwave 590M (5)
Mossberg Shockwave 590M

The KS7 is built to be a defensive shotgun, and it’s most certainly not designed with hunting in mind! 

If you are asking me if I’d retire my Mossberg 590A1 and replace it with the KS7, I might say maybe.

Mossberg 590A1
Mossberg 590A1

This is not a knock against the KS7 in any way, but it’s a tall order to ask if I would replace a weapon I know like the back of my hand with something relatively new. 

Hell, I feel the same way about my Benelli M4, and that’s a much more expensive weapon. In time, with enough ammo downrange, I could come to trust the weapon as much as my Mossberg. 

Benelli M4 (4)
Benelli M4

A short, pump-action shotgun with a capacity of 7+1 rounds is an excellent home defense weapon.

Besides the benefit of a bullpup shotgun, the KS7 is also affordable, very affordable. It’s in line with most tactical models of the 870 and 500/590 series. 

Can I Add an Optic? 

I like red dots on shotguns, and at first glance, you can’t just slap one on. However, the KS7 manual states the carrying handle can be replaced by an aftermarket KSG rail.

Tavor Shotgun shooting!
Tavor TS12 with Sig Sauer Romeo5

A company called Hi-Tech Customs makes a Mil-Spec rail that will replace the carry handle. 


KelTec did an excellent job of taking criticism from the KSG and incorporating improvements into the KS7.

This includes the pump, which has a larger integrated handguard.

KS7 boom
Handstop for your safety

Your hand is not slipping in front of the barrel unless you are a major idiot.

safety meeting
Putting your hand in front of a shotgun is what some would call a “self-correcting problem”

The downside to that big handguard is the pain it causes my thumb. I have to be positive; my thumb is not resting against the guard in any way. If it is, the recoil comes back and smacks me in the thumb. 

Wrap your thumb up and around the pump, not alongside it. I would like to see an M-LOK slot on the bottom of the pump so you could attach a forward grip, but alas, no such luck. 

The safety is positioned right above the pistol grip and is a larger square cross-bolt safety. It’s a straight forward design that is functional and ergonomic.

KS7 controls
“S” For “Safe”

The pump release is in front of the trigger guard, and it is ambidextrous. 

It’s also reachable with your trigger finger, and all you have to do is pull it downwards. 

Both the pistol grip and pump are textured and comfortable. The pistol grip looks and feels like the PMR 30 grip, but a bit thinner. Both the grip and pump use the Gator texture KelTec seems to love. 

Loading the gun is tricky. You will likely get pinched here or there when loading the weapon.

The loading port is a little thin, but I may also have large thumbs that make it more challenging.

KS7 trigger
KS7 pump release

These are nitpicking more than anything else, but I feel like I have to let you fine folks know. 

The tube is interesting. Along the tube is a series of cuts that allow you to see inside of it. These cuts also allow you to see the bright white follower. These cuts act as a quick means to check your ammo supply. 

Only two of those cuts are visible with the pump fully forward, and those let you know when you only have a few rounds left.

KS7 side front (2)
Witness holes on a shotgun, cool.

It’s a handy feature, and one I haven’t seen on a shotgun before. 

Range Time with the KS7

I adore shotguns, and I hated having to wait to get to the range with the KS7.

When I finally went, I was loaded for bear.

I took buckshot, birdshot, and slugs with the idea of getting down and dirty for a good long day. 

When I review a gun, I like to shoot numerous drills with it and use a timer to get results. I started with birdshot to get warmed up and used clay pigeons as targets at ten yards.

I started with a simple mount and shoot drill, also known as a snap drill. 

It’s a simple test of speed and your ability to get lead on target. The KS7 is so short and light that the gun flys up, and because the weight is the rear and center of the gun, there is no momentum that carries the gun off target. 

After a few warm-up drills, I was averaging less than one second. Swapping to multiple targets placed two yards apart on the berm, I got an average of less than 1.5 seconds. 

KS7 boom

I hooked up a few chest sized targets and loaded buckshot into the gun. I repeated single snap drills and then moved to transitions. The recoil was obviously a little more intense, but my times didn’t suffer. 

Even with buckshot, I was averaging less than a second on my snap drills and less than one and a half seconds on my transition drills. I was also keeping every round on target and ripping apart the thoracic cavity. 

The bullpup design makes it simpler to get onto a target and to transition between targets. A lighter design and the short nature of the gun make it exceptionally maneuverable.

KS7 cool guy pic

The big green triangle was also eye-catching and quick on target. 

Reloading this gun is an entirely different beast from a standard shotgun. It can be done quickly, but it went against all the muscle memory I have with a standard shotgun. 

With the Benelli M4, I could do the drill in 4 seconds. With the KS7, it took 7 seconds. I’m not sure if I’ll ever get it as fast as a standard shotgun, but I know I can cut that time down with practice. 

Patterning and Accuracy 

The high viz front sight is dead on with the KS7. The trick is to line up the front sight with a small rear tab on the back of the carry handle. It works perfectly for buckshot and the gun patterns about as well as you expect from standard buckshot. 

My testing was done with Olin Military Spec buckshot. Here are my 5, 10, and 15-yard patterns. 

KS7 5 yard
Buckshot KS7 5 yard
KS7 10 yards
Buckshot KS7 10 yards
KS7 15 yards
Buckshot KS7 15 yards

For fun, I loaded up a round of Federal FliteControl buckshot to see what it would do.

I backed off to 15 yards and got one solid hole in my target Flitecontrol is great, but that surprised me.

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ks7 fc
KS7 Flitecontrol Buckshot 15 yards

I used another round from the same box and tossed it into the Benelli M4 and let it fly. 

I got a much wider pattern with the M4, a pattern I would expect at this range, even with Flitecontrol. The KS7 seems like it has a barrel built for Flitecontrol. 

KS7 benelli fc
Benelli M4 Flitecontrol Buckshot 15 yards

One impressive feature of the gun is how smooth the action and pump are. They are slop free and a real joy to activate.

I’m surprised at how smooth the gun is for such a unique design, at such a low price. 

What About Slugs? 

Ehh, they work but tend to land far right on the target, about six inches to the right of my point of aim.

The big front sight that’s great for buckshot is a bit tougher to use with slugs. It’s most certainly not a slug gun, and I’d stick to buckshot with it. 

KS7 slug 15 yards
KS7 slug 15 yards

If you were to toss on better sights or a red dot, it might be a bit better at throwing big chunks of lead downrange. The trigger is far from bad, it’s a bit spongy, but light. 


Here is where all the AR 15 people can tune out. The KS7 is no poodle shooter, and the lightweight design ensures you feel the gun’s recoil.

The best thing you can do is learn proper recoil mitigation with a shotgun and practice it. 

Just for fun, if you want to call it that, I fired off seven rounds in 3.59 seconds with standard buckshot from the low ready. It’s not too brutal with proper technique. 

KS7 chilling
pew *clack, clack* pew

Today I fired a total of 250 rounds of birdshot, and 50 rounds of buckshot, and ten slugs, and I’m just a little bruised. 

KelTec KS7 Specs & Features


  • Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
  • Overall Length: 26.1 inches
  • Weight: 5.9 pounds
  • Capacity: 7+1 
  • Caliber: 12 gauge 3 Inch chamber


  • Bullpup design
  • Carry handle
  • 3in chamber
  • Pump Action
  • Fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight
  • Picatinny rail
  • Manual safety
  • Polymer frame and stock
  • Comes with a modified choke tube

By the Numbers 

Reliability – 5/5 

It’s a pump-action shotgun. It’s hard to screw up to be honest. I mean, it doesn’t work with mini shells, but they don’t count anyway. 

angry comments

Accuracy – 4/5 

It gets perfect marks for use with buck and birdshot, but it’s not great with slugs. Again slugs aren’t my main concern with a shotgun. 

Ergonomics – 4/5 

Everything about the gun is well placed and easily accessible. The controls are completely ambidextrous, and that’s a nice touch. The only downside is trying to load the gun in a tactical manner. 

Looks – 5/5 

I honestly love the looks of the gun. It has a futuristic, but old school appeal to it. I think it’s neat, to be honest. 

Starship Troopers
Bullpup with a carry handle and had a shotgun. Just saying.

Customization – 2/5

There is some stuff out there, but very little so far. The gun is rather new. However, with parts commonality with the KSG, the KS7 likely stands a good chance at being quite customizable in the future. 

Overall – 4/5 

The KS7 is a great gun, one that is surprisingly well made for the price. I am honestly surprised at how well made and smooth the gun is.

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It’s better than it has any right to be. It’s also fun to shoot, short and lightweight, and it’s everything a shotgun should be. 


The KelTec KS7 is a great little bullpup shotgun, and it takes all the features that would typically require a tax stamp and makes it available to everyone. The KS7 is light and short, smaller than a TAC 14 or a Shockwave, and you get a stock and a much more shootable weapon. 

KelTec has surprised me with the KS7, and I’m curious to see what they do next.

What do you guys think? Is the KelTec KS7 for you? Let us know below. For some more classical shotguns, take a look at the Best Tactical Shotguns!

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13 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Sam Profio

    Dear Travis,
    I noted that you stated that you cannot shoot mini-shells in the KS7. I know the manual says not shorter than 2.75" but the gun shop said it would shoot minis and sold me a box. Some sites on line state you can use them too. Please comment.

    I wanted to use minis for two reasons...you can have more shells loaded and my wife will use it. The lesser recoil will help her.

    Thank you, Sam.

    March 14, 2023 1:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Thank you for a great article on the ks7. I used to get in and out of vehicles with a rifle for a living and must say am very impressed with the ks7. Bought one and am slowly setting it up for back country bird and deer hunting. Yes deer hunting. It's got a long enough barrel that I intend on using it in the big woods and rough country I hunt in. If you walk a lot, the lower weight and more manouverable size will save your days. A shotgun with an 18 " barrel is more than enough to be accurate out to 100 yards with a dot on a 12" target. I've taken 6 deer this way via ground stalking and one from a stand and expect that the ks7 will perform similarly. I own an rfb and AR's as well, but I prefer the thump and clean kill a 12 guage provides. Kel TEC could certainly have provided better sling mount options is my one complaint. Thanks again to everyone with constructive thoughts on the site.

    January 15, 2023 3:13 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Can you put a drum on the ks7

    October 25, 2022 9:01 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rodney Jewell

    Do they make a vertical grip for the KS-7? If so where can I get one. I believe it would be a lot better to hold onto and faster on the pump if they make one.

    July 7, 2022 11:39 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    As a military vet I have shot a variety of shot guns to include the M4 and for home defense in close quarters combat there is no better shotgun than the KS7. The light weight 7 +1 more than does the job. The short barrel eliminates someone reaching for the barrel in a struggle.

    May 21, 2022 8:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I am well pleased with my KS7. Especially like the fiber optic sight. And I have had success with the mini shells. You can load like 12 in the tube. It pays to keep it lubed to insure smooth function. Loading the magazine tube can be a challenge till you get the hang of it. In my opinion, this is a great little shotgun. The price has increased substantially since this article was written, but then what hasn't? Right now, they are selling in the $600.00 range.

    May 20, 2022 7:34 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Good review overall and no flames from me. But like others below mine eats minishells and minislugs with no problem. But KT will never tell you that.

    Mine was a bit rough in the function dept' when I first got it because the bolt wouldn't lock closed. I was going to send it back to the mothership but decided before I boxed it up, and I was within minutes of doing so and KT was sending me a prepaid mailer, manhandle the slide. I did so and the bolt locked in place, did it a few more times and then it would lock closed when the slide was gently run forward. The trigger also benefited from use. It was pretty bad out of the box. One night I cycled the action maybe a few hundred times and dry fired it a bunch too. What was previously rough became much much smoother and that includes the trigger. It's still not a match trigger (Hey! It's a shotgun!), but it's much better than it was.

    I couldn't use the green open sight, so replaced it with the KT rail ($40 as opposed to >$100 for the Hi-Tech) and made the height correct for me. Now it's perfect. Yeah, it's not for wingshooting. For it's intended use though it's really good. I had to choose between the KS7 and the KSG tactical (NFA item) and obviously the KS7 won out. It's less complex and no waiting for it to be released from ATF jail, much less expensive, and I detest vertical foregrips which the KSG Tac' version has and can't be removed.

    It's a surprisingly nice shotgun. Maybe not as smooth as my long gone Deerslayer of 50 years ago whos design it uses, but it pretty good for a shotgun that isn't made out of walnut and machined steel.

    KelTec needs to bevel the mag tube before assembly though. I've heard of others, not just mine being close to impossible to load. There is the left shell catch that presses down on the shell forcing it into the sharp edge of the mag tube. But bevel the hard to get at mag tube and that solves the problem. A minute with a die grinder before assembling the mag tube would fix it.

    August 14, 2020 10:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    My KS7's click-clack has dissuaded more than a couple of people in downtown Denver, whilst "hanging out," at my buddies bar. Menacing looks are a plus too. Utilized before Mayor Dippy's curfew order of 30 May 20.

    June 1, 2020 11:48 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Good review, thanks. My KS7 eats mini shells all day long and the recoil with the minis is very manageable. Getting 11 rounds in the tube mag is pretty cool as well.

    May 25, 2020 12:58 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    You indicated it dislikes mini sheels, I find it fires them well, with a tad less recoil. For home defense that may or may not be an issue. You can also upgrade w/ hi-tech custom muzzle break which is a big improvement. But overall your review was right on.

    May 24, 2020 4:39 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    mine was an early model and needed some new version parts to properly feed and eject, but on the + side it eats mini shells like they were peanuts! On the down side, unlike yours, my carry handle sights were WAY off left and down. I did some dremel hacking on the front mounting point and got it on on target. To fix elevation i made a ghost ring rear sight.
    IMHO it would make a great factory change to give it a rear sight like an AR sight but with a ghost ring.

    May 24, 2020 4:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Love my KS7. I have a LOT of Kel-Tec firearms and have never been disappointed with them. Nice folks, made in the USA and a lifetime warranty. They make innovative firearms that we want (sometimes before we know we want them). What's not to like?

    May 24, 2020 3:34 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I thought it was a good review, no angry comments here.. I doubt I’ll trade my Current shotgun for it, but it looks like a good shotgun for what it’s intended for.. thanks for the review.. Happy Memorial Day... Aco 3/505 PIR, Robert McCallum

    May 24, 2020 3:30 pm
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