Bullpups are a fun topic to debate over. Length, ergonomics, practicality, we could argue for days about it!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Your hand is not slipping in front of the barrel unless you are a major idiot.
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.
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.
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.
It’s a handy feature, and one I haven’t seen on a shotgun before.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
Prices accurate at time of writing
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Barrel Length: 18.5 inches
- Overall Length: 26.1 inches
- Weight: 5.9 pounds
- Capacity: 7+1
- Caliber: 12 gauge 3 Inch chamber
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.
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.
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.
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!