Every single Kel-Tec rifle I have ever dealt with and owned has been a real treat and a good refresh with something totally off the wall. I love Kel-Tec for that, bringing something totally different to the table that still works with everything else you already own. How nice!
Most affordable .223/5.56 out of the box ready bullpup currently out there. So if you can’t justify the costs of a Tavor or X95, this is a good (great) compromise. With that being said, I see a lot of unfair reviews on YouTube, specifically. I will get into that later, though.
Let’s start off by saying that this rifle has a tooless adjustable gas setting, factory set for M193 55-gr. 5.56×45mm NATO ammunition. If you are unfamiliar with how to deal with a rifle that has these sorts of settings, you’re going to have a bad time if you like to run steel cased ammunition, reloads, or frequently change types of ammunition. However – if you have lots of experience with adjustable gas settings on past rifles, you should be okay with it. The biggest complaints I see with this rifle is that it’s not properly running so-and-so type of ammo, then lo and behold they read their manual and took the time to learn the gas settings and BAM it’s running great. So, take your time, and learn about your gun.
With that being said, I DID NOT touch the gas settings when I acquired it — I left it as-is, and it has been that way ever since. And so far, reliability wise? I’ve fired at least 1000 rounds through this already and I have NEVER had a single hiccup. Although I should mention I don’t use reloads, and typically never do. 99% of the time I am running store-bought factory ammo unless I picked up dirt cheap reloads from a friend I trust enough which is extremely rare. Anyway, I so far have tried American Eagle, IMI, PMC and Winchester. I’ve tried FMJ’s and hollow points in both 5.56 and .223 with no issues, it liked it all the same and didn’t have a preference to anything. Again, throughout all of this, I did not touch the gas settings not once since acquiring it. Left that gas settings as-is out of the box. I did this on purpose to see how much it can handle before the settings need to really be played with. And so far I haven’t had to.
For magazines I’ve used a mixed batch of Magpul, Hexmag and some Daniel Defense magazines I had lying around. Again, it did not have a specific preference, no feed issues, blocks, jams and the bolt locked open on the last round every time.
So how does it shoot? It’s awesome. Where to begin…
The trigger is decently smooth and crisp with a nice, predictable, easy break. It’s not the best in the world, it’s not horrible, but it’s definitely good. It’s not particularly heavy, either. I think it’s fine the way it is.
The recoil is controllable (even more so with an adjustable gas setting), allowing you to quickly rapid fire accurately, and switch between targets swiftly. It is very manageable and well-balanced. If you wanted to take your support hand and throw it behind your back and shoot with just your trigger hand, you could. I am very pleased with how easy it is to move the rifle, but that’s the whole point of a bullpup, and it definitely hit the mark there.
More specific things about the rifle:
- Non-reciprocating bolt handle, that is ambidextrous. It is spring loaded so it folds down out of the way when not in use. How neat!
- Ambidextrous safety lever found on both sides of the receiver. Pretty easy to roll forward with your thumb to firing position, although it will be easier to use a free finger (like your trigger finger) to engage the safety.
- Magazine lever, a bit similar to the first gen Tavor, except less noodle-like. Right in front of the magazine well you can easily find and push to allow the mag to free-fall. Also ambidextrous.
- Trigger pull is 4lbs.
- Bolt release lever is right underneath the cheek rest area, directly above the magazine well. It is found on both sides and can be ambidextrous
- Downward case ejection. For modified weaver stance shooters – wear full length pants and avoid shorts. Or stand plain weaver, whatever you choose. Although it’s amazing for shooting while standing and moving, benching is not so fun. I got three hot brass kisses burned onto my forearm while trying to dial in my optic.
- Although I did notice the bolt face was extremely similar to an AR15’s. Seven lugs that push the gasses to rotate the bolt head to extract and pull the next round up. I found two plungers on the bottom edge of the bolt head that looks like they contribute to the downward ejection, which most likely aids in reliability of cycling and ejecting rounds. Neat-o!
- Long-stroke, piston driven with adjustable gas settings to improve reliability and adjust recoil.
- Threaded barrel, to add a suppressor. This is where I can see needing an adjustable gas system will apply the most.
- 17″ barrel with 1:7 twist rate
- Polymer shell, Kel-Tec’s favorite. I personally don’t mind polymer on certain rifles and applications. I can overlook that here as well.
- Rubber buttstock that is removable with a short length of pull
Proof that the rifle is user friendly, the above GIF I was ill with the flu and I could still handle it very well despite feeling half dead. Gun is so good you can shoot it while sick and still have a good time.
I should also mention the sound, if I had better sound equipment to capture the sound I would upload it just to have you listen to it. It does not give off a sharp, loud, metallic sound like you would expect a 5.56 to do. No, it sounds more like a boom instead of a pew and then it reverberates, it’s actually quite alien/sci-fi like. Running this suppressed would definitely be an awesome treat.
I do want to talk about the heat distribution real quick. You saw both the GIF’s above to show that we were both burst firing it pretty often throughout the day. It handled the heat well and it did not seem to affect it. I did but a Magpul AFG grip on it, but I could not feel any heat distribution in that area that could affect my ability to shoot bare-handed. If you can tell just a little bit in the last GIF, my scope mount loosened up. Brought it back to the bench and tightened the screws, and it happened again. Upon further examination, the heat rises straight up onto the picatinny rail, which in turn, heated up the scope mount and loosened the screws. Keep this in mind if you decide to mount any optic. I try to avoid Loctite as most often as I can, but in this case, it had to be done. The mount is now glued to the screws of the optic (not the rails!). And it hasn’t happened again.
You’re probably going to ask me about accuracy. Honestly I did not do a serious paper test. I winged it just to get the scope on target so I could hit our steel targets we had setup further up the hill, one at 50 yards, the other at 100 yards. I could switch back and forth and hit both back to back just fine and effortlessly. So, I will rate it as decent. I have though, looked up through other sources online that it is not in fact much of a tack driver, but it can get okay groupings. It will be able to hit center mass but it is by no means a precision type rifle. I do believe this because of the way it is made and overall has been put together – rifles that fall in this category are usually true in their nature accuracy wise and all run about the same. It gets the job done.
So far this rifle has treated me very well other than get getting burned by brass at the bench and my scope trying to runaway.
Overall I would recommend this rifle to anyone who is looking for something unique and extremely enjoyable to shoot. This gun delivers fun and it is really a nice treat from your typical run of the mill guns.
**Edit: I did not find any abnormal wear and tear, or any strange noises or loose parts, nothing like that. It is holding up just fine and still looks and handles like new, other than being a little dirty.