KSG KS7 Shotgun First Impressions

What we think of the new bullpup 12 ga. shotgun before hitting the range.

keltec ks7 shotgun
The Kel-Tec KS7 is a lightweight bullpup shotgun has an overall length of 26.1 inches.Kel-Tec

The folks at Kel-Tec were kind enough to send me one of their KS7 shotguns for review, and it just arrived. I've been messing with it for two days, which is to say that I've been performing dry fire drills all over the house and reloading drills with dummy shells.

I’ve also been taking it apart, putting it back together, and attaching and detaching a bunch of different things to the little shotgun.

I shot the KS7 back at SHOT Show 2019 when Kel Tec had it on the range for Industry Day. We were running 12 gauge 2-3/4” birdshot and the recoil was perfectly manageable—but I want to try a bunch of things.

man aiming keltec ks7 shotgun
The new KS7 is a lighter version of the KSG with the same arrangement of components but only one magazine tube instead of the KSGs dual tubes, which reduces capacity to seven shells, but makes for an incredibly light and nimble shotgun.Joseph Albanese

Cruising around the Internet after learning the KS7 was on its way, I’ve found a lot of complaints about the recoil from the shotgun, with pretty much any ammunition. Well, when you have a 5.9 lbs. gun (2 lbs. lighter than the KSG) with a 12 gauge bore, you’re going to feel it quite a bit more than you would with a heavy Mossberg 500 or Remington 870, and it’s a pump gun with a very inline design, so yeah, all that recoil is heading right back to the shooter.

It’s not like this hasn’t been addressed before. The company’s KSG received the same complaints when it was released—that it kicked too hard, that the slide was poorly designed, and that there were cycling issues. Later iterations of the KSG fixed the cycling issues, and shooters learned to either put a recoil pad on the KSG, switch to some low-recoil defense ammunition or 1.75” shells, or both.

kel-tec-ks7 shotgun in green
Here’s the KS7 in green. It’s also available in tan in addition to all black.Kel-Tec

Yes, the KSG is a bit heavier because it’s sporting an extra magazine tube and a bigger housing to wrap around all three .5” tubes, but I have a feeling the recoil will be fine. I have a few 3” turkey loads in the ammo box, so I will find out.

I’ve also heard that, while its big brother functions very well with 1.75” Aguila Minishells or Federal Shorty Shotshells, the KS7 doesn’t feed them reliably. I cycled three mag tubes full of the shorty shells (the gun holds 11+1 with 1.75” shells by the way) without any kind of binding or failure to pick up a round. Granted, that’s not the same as ejecting empty hulls and cycling during live fire, but it’s a good sign.

kel-tec-ks7 shotgun in tan
The Kel-Tec KS7 Shotgun in tan.Kel-Tec

As for accessories…I'm kind of fond of the big goofy plastic carry handle/aiming platform, mostly because of how it makes the gun look. The M-LOK slots on the carry handle and the slide give the gun a sort of FN SPAS-12 look, which to me gives it a sort of Plasma Rifle from Aliens feel, which I dig.

The handle is completely polymer with a triangular fiber optic green front sight and a sort of striated black tab as a rear sight (you line up the top with the bottom of the triangle as far as I can tell) and it adds no weight to the gun, just size and height. That might not sound significant, but it almost doubles the height of the gun.

I’ve removed it, and its remarkable how much smaller the gun feels without it attached. At home defense ranges, you honestly probably don’t even need that front sight—I felt like I could use the top of the barrel clamp as rudimentary aiming device if I wanted—and that’s something else I will try out.

Kel-Tec KS7 and the Kel-Tec KSG
The Kel-Tec KS7 is quite similar in appearance and operation as the KSG (bottom) but much slimmer and lighter.Kel-Tec

My Internet sleuthing has also informed me that the top rail from the KSG should fit the KS7, so that’s something else I want to try. I have a feeling the KS7 with a simple red dot will be perfect.

A gun light or laser sight (or a combo unit) can be easily attached to either side of the carry handle, and it will be more low profile if you use an M-LOK unit instead of a rail section, but either will work.

The M-LOK slots on the slide seem to be more decorative, but I’m going to see if I can attach a light to one of them without it being in the way. There isn’t much real estate on the slide, but the redesign from Kel-Tec fixes everything that was wrong with the slide handle on the KSG.

On the KS7 there is a perfectly adequate front and rear hand-stop, so you feel secure that your support hand won’t slip in front of the short muzzle while cycling without adding anything and without a hand strap.

However, a lot of people found they liked running the KSG with a short vertical foregrip or an angled foregrip attached to the rail on the slide handle, which is not an option on the KS7. Not a deal-breaker, but a bit of a minus.

The overall feel of the gun is...well, it does kind of feel like a toy. When the gun is empty, racking it sounds like racking an airsoft shotgun. The light weight also makes it feel more plastic-y than it really ise. The slide assembly, carry handle, buttstock, and the pistol grip are all polymer, but the mag tube, receiver, and of course, barrel are steel.

I’m going to bring my slip-on Limbsaver pad from my KSG along to the range just in case the KS7’s bite is a bit sharper that I think it will be and tools to swap out the carry handle with the top rail (if it fits), a wide variety of ammo, and see what I can see. Be back with an update soon!