Kel-Tec KSG Shotgun video

When Kel-Tec announced the KSG shotgun, I was skeptical. I didn’t think the gun would work right, and I really had my reservations about the gun. I did have a chance to play with one yesterday and today at SHOT, and I discovered something that I really don’t like that makes the gun a poor choice for home defense – in fact, it’s something that could get you killed if you used this gun. The trigger doesn’t reset. If you pull the trigger, and then run the slide while still holding the trigger to the rear like you would on a Remington 870 or a Mossberg, the trigger will simply go dead. We actually tried this on several models and it was the same on each demo gun. Here’s video of me demonstrating what happens.

To bring the gun back online after this malfunction, you’d have to run the action again, which would eject a perfectly good round in an action combat situation. Imagine that in a home defense situation – you shoot one shot, run the action on your gun, and nothing happens. This is actually a major design flaw, and I’m really surprised that Kel-Tec would let something like that slip by.

Because of this defect in the design of the Kel-Tec shotgun, I cannot recommend this to anyone who would consider it seriously for home defense. Yes, it’s a neat toy, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it when there are plenty of proven shotguns that don’t have a dangerous design flaw built in to them.


  1. Since it’ll be five years before we see any on store shelves; I’m sure that Kel-Tec will have it worked out. It makes me angry that they already have two or three other very cool guns that you can’t buy and now they’ve introduced this one. I’m a big Kel-Tec fan, but they’ve jumped the shark for me.

  2. Wow. That’s some pretty serious Fail, Kel-Tec. Again I have to say… I think Kel-Tec is run by clever R&D-minded people who have some pretty dramatic shortcomings when it comes to marketing and production… and now I guess we should add practical product testing to that list.

  3. I assume you could have heard it if the hammer fell again when the gun was back in battery, Model 1897 style? On the video, it’s hard to tell.

      1. That would instantly turn this from a FAIL to a WIN. I might actually buy one if it lacks a disconnecter.

        1. Yeah, that would make it fire more than one time with one pull of the trigger. Double-plus-uncool. Disconnector is in there for legal as well as safety and reliability reasons.

  4. Caleb, did you speak with a Kel-Tec rep at the show about it? Did they have any comment (e.g. “it’s a bug” or “it’s a feature” or just “we’ll take it back to HQ and talk with them about it and get back to you”)?

    1. Going to have to second this question – was this apparent defect brought to the attention of those manning the KelTec booth?

  5. Wonder if this could be a side-effect of the firing pin being removed for display at SHOT?

      1. In which case if you and your company weren’t complete tards, you would mention this to convention goers so they wouldn’t immediately slam your product.

        I still have a feeling the pin has nothing to do with it. If you watch the latest video of the KSG being emptied, you can actually see the guy firing it have to rack it once because he killed the trigger.

        1. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with the firing pin being removed.

          Also, to answer the other question, no the gun does NOT slamfire Winchester ’97 style. Basically, if you hold the trigger to the rear and run the action, the trigger does and you have to dump a live round on the deck to get it going.

  6. I’m going to join in the calls for a bit more information before I condemn KelTec. This *IS* a serious bug if it’s in their production model, but I’d like to hear from them first about it before I write this off for good.

    I appreciate the information as it’s better to know these things ahead of time (and if this is truly the case would be a deal breaker for me), but I’d also like to see a bit more investigation before we declare KelTec to be a rebranded Jennings.

  7. Flaw? Am I the only one who resets the trigger while on the rearward stroke of pumping the action? It always felt the natural time to do it.

    As far as slam-firing goes, how is that an advantage? Although a fan of the Ithaca 37, I never saw how slam-firing was a plus other than to say “hey watch this” on the range.

      1. That is a little different.
        Still, can’t it be adapted to, like using a gun with a longer trigger reset or different pull?

        Not trying to defend it because I don’t plan on buying one as soon as they come out anyway, but is it really that bad?

        1. On one hand it is a training issue but on the other hand I can see how under stress you might forget and thus render yourself unable to defend yourself.

  8. I’ll join the “Bet they have it fixed before it goes to market” crowd.
    Will not be placing any bets on when that will be, though…

  9. This makes me sad, as I was excited about this product. That being said, if they fix it vs. it’s a feature rout, it still stays on the shopping list…

  10. It would also be nice if you didn’t have to remove your hand from the gun to select between magazines. Not a deal breaker like the trigger behavior is, but I’d just rather not.

    A long time ago, I handled the “crossfire” pump .223 rifle/12 Ga. Shotgun. An interesting idea with totally flawed execution… Hope this turns out better.

  11. I’m thinking whats going on here is that the KSG lacks a disconnect, but unlike the 1897 and 37 it also lacks (for lack of a more appropriate term) an auto sear and essentially has a simple single action trigger. Thus when the trigger is held down and the action cycled the hammer never locks into anything and simply rides the bolt forward. This seems like a pretty simple thing to fix but at the same time this seems to me like trigger systems 101, something Kel-Tec never should have let happen.

    1. Ditto.

      Ithaca made 37’s in three versions – the original (Which does not really slam fire; it has a secondary sear.), a disconnect trigger design, and this style with a simple sear that will allow the hammer to follow the bolt without firing.

      Sometimes it helps to be over 40!!

  12. Interesting, I re-watched the early KSG testing videos, and everyone there shooting was very deliberate about getting their finger off the trigger when pumping.

    Now we might know why.

    I hope this gets addressed before the production model, if it doesn’t, well, that’s a big deal.

  13. Dude it’s a prototype. Don’t go bashing it until it’s on store shelves. I bet they were well aware of and planned to fix this defect long before they brought the gun to SHOT.

  14. I wonder what the loaded weight is going to be with 14 1 slugs, it could be a bear. I know my 7 1 mossberg can feel rather heavy as it is.

    Also, according to this article I found on cheaper than dirt, Kel-Tec says the prototypes need some work and the trigger issue will be resolved before they go to market.

    1. Watch the video in your link again… He fires the 8 shots, then has to switch the load barrel, then fires another 7 rounds. at no point was a live round ejected.

  15. The KelTec rep I spoke to specifically stated that the “LEO” model was designed to be capable of slam firing and that the civilian models on display at the SHOT show were behaving as intentionally designed.

    This is not a defect or a prototype issue, it is behaving as designed.

    I stumbled upon this issue playing with it and initially told the rep “this demo model is broken, the trigger didn’t reset” and he answered me with the information provided above.

  16. Noticed this too. Got the same “LEO models will slam fire, civilian models will reset when the trigger is released” excuse. Never managed to find the elusive “civilian model” at either of their booths.

  17. I’ve trained on the pump shotgun with three different police outfits, and NONE of them permitted slam-fire in ANY situation, including the one which issued Ithaca 37s.

    If you talk to police gun training people, you will NOT find ANY who advocate training in any sort of slam/fan/bump firing mode of any issued weapon.

    We learn to double-tap, which is a partial restriction of the reset of the trigger, but that’s as far as it goes.

    If you just MUST have the ability to spew shotgun fire at that very-slightly advanced rate, modify your own gun, but don’t pan a company for refusing to produce weapons that are pre-modified for a very questionable firing practice.

    1. You misunderstand. I think that slamfiring the gun would be dangerous and stupid, which is why the Kel-Tec reps saying that the LEO models will slamfire makes me facepalm.

      Read the post again. The trigger on the Kel-Tec DOES NOT RESET if you run the action while holding the trigger to the rear. That means if you try to operate this gun like you would operate a Remington 870 or Mossberg 500, you’ll get a “click” instead of a “bang” and have to rack a live round out of the action to get the gun back in the fight. That’s dangerous and poor manufacturing.

  18. Relax people. You’re acting like the gun is already in production and they are on shelves “as is”. I know someone that was at SHOT that also spoke with a rep and were told that it wasn’t going to be sold with the trigger operating that way.

    Everyone has their undies in a bunch over this, it’s unbelievable. If you go to a gunshop and the KSG is like the pre-production sample then fine. The derision is justified. But NOT until then.

    1. Well, there were three or four guns on the floor at SHOT.

      If, and I do mean IF Kel-Tec fixes this, then I will happily retract my statement.

    2. I agree that Kel-Tec likely won’t sell them this way but I will defend getting my panties in a bunch over this. We noticed the lack of sear reset on the first day and got three different stories from three different Kel-Tec reps. It is pretty obvious that Kel-Tec was not prepared to deal with this question and even by day four they were still giving conflicting answers on this depending on who you talked to. One would think that given the number of people who noticed this issue that they would have come up with a unified answer for their reps to give, especially given that this was their big reveal for the show.

  19. ktwm
    Grand Poobah

    Life is worth

    Posts: 1975
    Gender: male

    Re: Trigger Reset glitch?
    Reply #26 – Today at 13:24:02
    Quote from Lurker38 on Today at 11:37:24:
    The only person from KT who regularly posts here is kwtm. I’m pretty sure he is off, recuperating from a week in Vegas. I’m sure he will be along at some point to clear things up.

    Just got home late last night. I’ll be back in the office on Tuesday.

    All the KSG’s at SHOT were prototypes. The one in the Law enforcement booth was setup to slam-fire, and also had a different pump lock switch. But that does not mean it was a Law enforcement “feature” (probably just a communication misunderstanding since it was in the law-enforcement area).

    One of the reasons we go to these shows and show off new designs months before they go into production is to get a WHOLE LOT of user feedback, from those in the industry….and we got plenty of it. By the third and fourth day we were allready telling people that the trigger will function differently than it was in the guns at SHOT they were playing with.

    The trigger reset issue will get “fixed”, and the pump lock switch will be easier to get to (like on the KSG in the LE booth). But there are more improvements that will likely make it into the production models as well.

  20. The above is from the KTOG forum not able to post a link just google it not hard to find

  21. Regarding Kel-Tec triggers, I’m disappointed with my new Kel-Tec PF9 in that its trigger has to completely reset forward or it will fail to fire on the next pull. Woe to me if I accidentally revert to my Glock trigger habits.

  22. Not only the fact that they are not on the shelf yet, but how many times are you going to need or have the chance to rapid fire in a in a home defense situation. Don’t know about you but I shoot then take cover. Speaking from experience. Relax folks were not bird hunting here.

    1. What you talking about – not needing rapid fire in home defense – maybe you feel a flint lock would be sufficiently fast – are you sharing what you are smoking fool?

  23. Kel-Tec sent me an email saying the trigger failure mentioned about was not in the regular production gun and did not need to be corrected. Supposedly, the guns at the show did not have some of the parts installed? Anyway, whatever the reason given above, Kel-Tech assured me it would not be a problem on any gun I purchased.

  24. Cool looking shot gun I must of missed something because don’t all pump shotguns have a sears device in them now so when you work the action it doesn’t automatically fire again while holding the trigger back just like the remington 870 and mossberg 500.

  25. Brad is right. If you hold the trigger while racking the slide. ANY pump gun will NOT FIRE!!!! You have to “Fire” RELEASE THE TRIGGER, rack the slide, Fire. RELEASE THE TRIGGER, Rack….etc, etc…

    Has ANYONE complaining about this ACTUALLY SHOT a Pump Gun?????????

    1. I am thoroughly amazed at how many people think I want the gun to slamfire. I don’t. What I want the gun to do, what a Remington 870 or a Mossberg 590 does is “reset”. When the trigger is held to the rear while the action is cycled, when you release the trigger the gun should be ready to fire again. The Kel-Tec didn’t do that.

      Next time, read before you comment.

      1. Where or who from did you “learn” to hold the trigger back while you are cycling the action? That’s a bad habit to say the least. I have used both models you mentioned and did not ever think about not releasing the trigger. They are not full auto after all. Weather or not they will reset like that is irrelevant because not ALL will. Only hold down the trigger if the weapon is full auto,

        1. I think you’re getting excited over nothing Matt. The only reason we noticed it is because racking with the trigger held is part of the series of function checks that I do with used pump shotguns which we resell or after disassembly and cleaning. Doing so checks to make sure the disconnector is properly engaging the hammer to prevent slam firing when racking with the trigger held, and that once the trigger is released the sear properly engages the hammer to allow the gun to fire normally. This test is ESSENTIAL to determining the proper and safe function of ANY modern shotgun.

          Now, what if you ended up in a SHTF situation and you rack the slide too quickly and don’t release the trigger fast enough? You state above that “You have to “Fire” RELEASE THE TRIGGER, rack the slide, Fire. RELEASE THE TRIGGER, Rack”…that is categorically NOT true. You do NOT have to release the trigger before racking. You can rack a modern shotgun with the trigger held back and it will not fire…when you release the trigger the disconnect will allow the hammer to engage the sear and THEN you can pull the trigger and fire again. The Kel-Tec salesbots at SHOT were claiming that some of the guns were LE models that would slam fire and some were civilian models that would not but NONE of the guns Kel-Tec had on display would fire after releasing the trigger so there were limited possibilities:

          1. There was no disconnect on the civilian version and it MUST be racked with the boogerhook off the boomswitch…meaning that if you accidentally had your finger on the trigger you had to eject a live round to continue shooting. That is simply BAD design.

          2. Kel-Tec was blowing smoke up all of our asses and will (hopefully) take care of this issue.

          I think the whole thing is overblown and I’m sure Kel-Tec will have this worked out quickly. These were pre-production weapons and likely more focus was placed on getting feed system issues worked out than anything else. Not everyone who mans a booth at SHOT for a company is intimately familiar with firearms in general and less so with early prototype weapons. I think Kel-Tec’s biggest mistake was not keeping the KSG display under the auspices of people who were VERY familiar with it and having ONE person answer the difficult questions. I think more grist has been made of this than needed because of all the conflicting statements made by Kel-Tec reps than by any actual issues with the design itself which is NOT finalized.

  26. Let me be the first to put everyones minds at ease. Check out – KelTec is aware of the issue and it will be resolved prior to the KSG hitting shelves. Other cool changes are to be made as well.

    A few of the changes that have been announced:

    •Trigger reset problem resolved
    •Pump lock switch to allow the trigger finger to activate the pump lock without reaching in front of the trigger guard
    •Hand-stop to prevent sliding your hand in front of the barrel
    •Indicator holes on the magazine tubes so you can see when you’re running low on rounds
    •Availability of a breacher attachment
    •Single point sling mount.

    – Hope this sets it straight.

  27. And, hey, look, Kel-Tec went and fixed the problem:

    1. Trigger reset. This will be adjusted in the production model so that you can hold the trigger down, pump back and forward, release, and then re-pull the trigger to fire the next round. No worrying about the trigger going dead, and no Pump-firing if you hold the trigger down.

    Never would have guessed that would happen…

    1. Old news is old. I posted that link on my Facebook a month ago when Kel-Tec first announced that they were going to do the sensible thing and un-ass the trigger.

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