September 27, 2023
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The Kel-Tec KS7 is a lightweight, single-tube, pump-action shotgun with futuristic looks and high-performance features. Designer Ryan Williams gave us the scoop on his creation. After which, he handed each of us a shotgun and issued a challenge as he pointed at the cases of shells stacked in the corner of the room. He wanted us to try and shoot the gun so much that we would break it. Challenge accepted! I really enjoyed putting the KS7 to the test and was impressed by the confidence Williams had in his gun. Frankly, all the Kel-Tec engineers present at the event showed they really cared about delivering a quality, functional product. They listened to my feedback and answered all the questions I had in a very personal manner. One of the engineers told me that Kel-Tec is such a close-knit operation that if a gun he designed comes in for service and the customer service department can’t resolve the problem, they just walk the gun over to his building and he personally fixes it. Doesn’t get any better than that!
Over the next several days, I shot over 500 rounds through the KS7. I blew clays out of the sky, hammered steel poppers, and ran it through 1,000 yards of steel reaction targets spread over the High Bar Homestead shooting complex. During the event, the Wyoming weather was great — for testing the function of firearms. We shot in high wind, blinding snow, slick mud, and subzero temperatures. Spoiler alert: I tried my best but didn’t succeed in breaking the KS7. It excelled at every test I put it through. Kel-Tec produces many firearms with futuristic designs, but the new KS7 tops the list. It has such a unique look that new shooters, jaded consumers, and screen writers will gravitate to it. The KS7’s bullpup configuration was new to me, so I was curious as to how such a shotgun would point and handle. At the range, I picked a black KS7 off the table, loaded it with slugs, and put it to my shoulder. It felt great. The AR-type grip is natural, and the pump itself is close to your body where all your power lies. After shooting the Kel-Tec, a typical pump shotgun feels like a telephone pole.
The bright green fiber-optic sight is one of the standout features of the gun and increases its hit ratio. The sight is triangular-shaped and protected in a channel forward of the carrying handle. It sits at AR-15 sight height above the bore, which is perfect for eye alignment. Even in harsh sun, the fiber optic stands out against all types of targets. I liked the delta shape and found that I could easily put the peak of the triangle on the exact spot on the target I wanted to shoot. The pistol grip is a perfect fit for my hand. The molded-in geometry resembles the armor plates of a crocodile and facilitates a sure grip, even in the winter conditions we endured. Holding, pointing, and aiming the gun will come naturally to anyone who has handled an AR-15.
The KS7 has a narrow profile that carries easily and would be right at home tucked in behind the seat of a pickup or in the back of a closet. Tube-fed guns are much more compact than magazine-fed guns, which is an important factor in maneuverability and concealment. My first three shots to check point of impact (POI) were slow and deliberate. They cut a single, ragged hole over the x-ring at 12 yards. Seeing that the KS7 was on target, I quickly transitioned to the two pairs of steel targets that sprawled on either side of the paper target and emptied the gun at them as fast as I could pump it. It pounded the paint off the center of each target. The KS7 is very customizable, and there are different length tube extensions and barrels. On some specimens, the carry handle had been swapped out with a Picatinny rail. One sported a holographic sight, another a red dot, and one had only Magpul MBUS sights. Ammunition used included buckshot, slugs, and birdshot. I was pleased all ran without a hitch.
The safety and pump release are intuitive, and the bullpup configuration was really fast and fun to shoot. After lunch, we gathered to shoot skeet. I have friends that shoot clays competitively with very fancy and expensive traditional shotguns. Those guns are about as opposite as it gets from the KS7. The shotgun was more than up to the task of busting clays. When they launched the first bird, I tracked it with my eyes as I shouldered the gun. The green triangle of the fiber optic appeared on the target as if by magic. There was a rewarding burst of orange dust that blew away on the icy wind as the bird shattered. I had similar results for another dozen or so in a row as I emptied the tube and my pockets of shells. It’s a little nerve racking to step out and shoot clays in front of 20 or so industry professionals, especially with an untested firearm, but the KS7 made me look like a pro.
Once we exhausted the supply of clay pigeons, the range master pointed out a handful of steel targets he had placed on the opposite ridge 120 yards away. There was a case of slugs on the table, so I loaded up the KS7 that was sporting the MBUS sights on it, laid down in the snow, pulled the shotgun tight into my shoulder, and squeezed off a round like I was shooting a fancy bolt gun at 1,000-yard targets. Adjusting my hold after my first shot hit a bit low, I ran through a half-dozen boxes of slugs and became very happy with the consistency of hits the KS7 made all the way across the valley on the 8-inch steel. There was a stack of Aguila mini slugs on the table, too. Williams had told us that the shotgun was designed around 2¾- and 3-inch shells, so function was not guaranteed with the minis, but I ran three tubes full without a hiccup.
The highlight of the trip was using the pump gun in a course of fire called “Daly’s Draw.” It’s a 200-yard run starting at the bottom of a twisting and turning ravine. A steel course like this is as much fun as you can have at a range with a firearm. At the buzzer, I knocked down the first popper, then took off at a sprint. The next target appeared around the first corner. I instinctively raised the lightweight shotgun with one hand and knocked the target flat. The KS7 smoked the targets as fast as I could find them. The best compliment I can give the gun was that I hardly noticed it; I just looked at the targets, the green dot appeared, and they fell at the shot. The ergonomics are spot on, and it functioned splendidly.
I shot the course five times. With a dozen or so targets and only 7 shells in the gun, I got very good at reloading on the fly. I found that I could load fastest by keeping my strong hold on the pistol grip with my right hand, then using my left hand to retrieve shells from my coat pocket and shove them up into the loading port. After a couple of passes on the course, I could do it without even breaking stride. I really like the Kel-Tec KS7 for several reasons, the first being it was 100-percent reliable. It pointed intuitively and was easy to shoot well. The controls are ambidextrous and ergonomic. The bullpup’s short overall length and lightweight design make it very fast to shoulder and much handier to maneuver than a typical pump shotgun. It’s very customizable with different length barrels, M-LOK attachments, mag tube extensions, and rails. All this helps fit the gun to the shooter and to the task at hand.
Kel-Tec KS7 Shotgun
- Type: Bullpup Shotgun
- Chamber: 12 Gauge
- Capacity: 6+1 rds.
- Overall Length: 26.1 in.
- Weight: 5 lbs., 14.4 oz.
- Barrel Length: 18.5 in.
- Finish: Parkerized
- Trigger: 5 lbs.
- Sights: Green fiber optic
- MSRP: $530
- Contact: Kel-Tec
The article was originally published in Scattergun magazine. You can find a copy on OSGnesstand.com. If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at FirearmsNews@Outdoorsg.com.