Most gun companies regularly offer new models, but only rarely do these designs represent a total departure from the familiar. There are "new" model 1911s, new ARs, new bolt-action rifles and new pump shotguns, but functionally they are similar in design and layout. Only rarely does a firearm come along that is something completely new â€“ and revolutionary.
Kel-Tec offered up one of those rare out-of-the-box products with its original KSG, a pump shotgun that defied the traditional rounded-receiver, single-magazine-tube design that has been a hallmark of pump shotguns ever since Winchester offered up the Model 1912. It only took a century, but we're learning to rethink the pump shotgun.
Kel-Tec's new KSG-25 is an update to the original KSG. Both guns feature an arrow-straight profile with an in-line barrel, receiver and stock, and both have dual selectable magazine tubes that run from the receiver to the end of the barrel. In case you're wondering, that means 20 rounds of three-inch ammo (10 in each tube) or 24 rounds of 2¾-inch, 12-gauge ammunition. With one more round in the chamber you're looking at an additional 2½ pounds of weight in ammo when the KSG 25 is topped-off, which brings the Kel-Tec from 9¼ pounds unloaded to over 11½ pounds with a full belly.
Not Your Daddy's Bird Gun
All that firepower may seem like a lot, but this is not a gun you'll likely be chasing roosters in the fields of South Dakota with. It's a defensive platform that's ideal for home defense. In fact, that added weight is less of a liability and more of a benefit when you're running through heavy slug or buckshot loads.
As someone who grew up in the state of Ohio when slug-loaded shotguns were the tool of choice for deer, I can be the first to testify that a seven-pound, pump 12-gauge firing lead slugs is a battering ram of a gun that doesn't lend itself to rapidly aimed follow-up shots or long practice sessions on the range. At 11-plus, the KSG-25 is well-suited to the task for which it was designed. Anything lighter would be abusive soon after firing a dozen magnum buckshot loads.
Loading the KSG-25 requires sliding shells into the tubes from the open port at the bottom of the receiver. Empty shells are ejected downward through the large ejection port, which helps prevent empties from being tossed all over the range and leaves a nice, neat pile of smoking hulls for easy cleanup.
The downside of a pump shotgun with such a cavernous capacity is that you'll spend considerable time topping this gun off, but when you do, you'll be able to shoot for ages. There's a mag tube selector that allows you to switch between loads in an instant, and the crossbolt safety is similar to what you'd expect to find on other pump guns. It's easy to access from either side and offers a very clear status indicator. There are also witness holes fore and aft in the magazine tube so that you can keep track of how much firepower you have on-tap.
Don't expect to see the traditional sight bead for fixing on a target with this beast. Instead, Kel-Tec added top rails to allow for mounting AR-style optics, and there's also a rail on the forearm for mounting vertical grips and the like. The pistol grip is large and provides a comfortable hold on the gun, while the butt is outfitted with a large, comfortable rubber recoil pad with a large footprint that is designed to help soak-up that kick.
Overall length of the KSG-25 is 38 inches, which is right in line with traditional short-barreled defensive pump shotguns. But, thanks to the Kel-Tec's design team, the barrels are 30 inches to increase velocity and reduce muzzle blast and flash.
On the range, this gun is manageable with one-ounce lead slugs at 1,600 feet per second (fps), thanks in part to its weight and the durable recoil pad. Step down to Remington's Gun Club 1 1/8-ounce target loads and recoil is minimal and it's possible, while running through the KSG-25's seemingly bottomless magazine, to stay on target shot after shot.
Favorable Design Features
It's easy to forget that the gray metal stock is actually the shotgun's receiver, which utilizes a bottom-feeding/bottom-ejection design that is reminiscent of Browning's BPS design complete with twin elevator bars that snatch the next shot from the tubular magazine and feed it into the chamber.
Loading the shotgun is fast and relatively easy once you learn the basic operation, although unloading those extra-long magazine tubes once you've fed them to full capacity can take a while. Ports in the front and rear of the magazine tube keep the shooter abreast of the number of shells in the tube. The tube selector is easy to operate and snaps in place with an audible, positive click. In case you don't want to carry this 11-plus-pound shotgun everywhere you go, there's a nylon sling included with mounting hardware. The sling attaches to the stock and either of two points on the left and right of the forward point of the magazine tubes.
As previously mentioned the KSG-25 works well with light-recoiling target loads should you choose to break clays at the skeet range (and leave everyone on your squad with a story to tell when they arrive at home) or hunt upland game, but there are two primary purposes for this gun — home defense and fun at the range. For the former application, it is extremely well-suited thanks to its top rail that allows for multiple sight/optics setups, easy-to-use controls and its immense capacity. It's simply hard to beat the joy of shooting everything from steel targets to leftover Halloween pumpkins with the Kel-Tec.
Despite its tough looks, the KSG-25 is really well thought-out. The bolt release is well positioned on the front of the triggerguard, the safety is easy to access, and the vertical front grip offers excellent control.
During range testing, the gun grouped a bit high and left on average, but the beauty of the sight design is that you can adjust point of impact just as you would with a carbine. The cylinder choke constriction worked well with everything from light target loads to slugs, and throughout the test there was only one failure, which was my own fault. In the midst of a 10-shot firing session, I short-stroked the gun just one time.
Overall, no one will ever mistake this scattergun for a Winchester 21, but the fun factor with the Kel-Tec is as high as its magazine capacity. That same capacity is additional piece of mind for home defense.
Kel-Tec KSG-25 Shotgun
Type: Pump action
Chamber 2¾, 3 in.
Capacity: 24+1 (2¾ in.)
Barrel Length: 30.5 in.
Overall Length: 38 in.
Sights: Magpul MBUS (front) and flip-up sights (rear)
Pull Length: 13 in.
Drop at Comb: 0 in.
Drop at Heel: 0 in.
Weight: 9 lbs., 4 oz.
Stock: Black synthetic
Finish: Matte black
Manufacturer: Kel-Tec, Keltecweapons.com
Load: Remington Gun Club 1 1/8-ounce #7.5
Average Pellet Count: 390
Top Left 30: 17
Top Left 21¼: 46
Top Right 30: 12
Top Right 21¼: 39
Bottom Left 30: 8
Bottom Left 21 ¼: 39
Bottom Right 30: 9
Bottom Right 21 ¼: 31
21¼-inch Inner Circle: 155 (40%)
30-inch Outer Circle: 46 (12%)
Total Hits: 201 (52%)
Point of Aim:
1.4 inches right of center
2.7 inches low of center