I was sent the Kel-tec RDB Rifle (5.56 NATO caliber Rear Downward Eject Bullpup) for initial review in February of 2018. They were fully aware that I was in no way promising a positive review, however they also gave me the option to purchase instead of sending it back (for a discounted rate). I say this so that everyone has full disclosure getting this in for review.
Ergonomics: It’s a bull-pup. For those that haven’t handled one of these, you really should try it. This design of rifle is extremely well balanced, also allowing you to have a 16″+ barrel length with still being under 30″ overall length (27.3″ or 693 mm overall). If you wanted an AR-15 or AK-47 in this overall length you give up about 4-10″ of barrel and if a stock is desired then you are in legal SBR territory. That being said, this rifle is a bit heavy… 6.7 lb or 3 kg unloaded. Loaded it has some weight, about 2 lb more than my competition AR-15.
This is completely ambidextrous, charging handle can be swapped with no tools except a bullet and the safety selector is on both sides. Safety selector is easy to reach and very positive to manipulate. Mag release is a push paddle behind the grip. Only issues with the magazine release is that one person had it ejecting mags when they flexed back their hand, and with winter gloves I would sometimes hit it as well. I found for myself that a change in grip fixed the issue. The downward ejection is awesome for right-handed and left-handed use. Only one problem I have found, for women well-endowed, is that the brass can bounce back up into the receiver. I haven’t found any easy fix for this one…
So Ergonomics: 8 out of 10 (took points away for difficulty in clearing malfunctions and the amount of polymer built up in areas that don’t serve an actual function)
Rounds So Far: 2,520. Have only had 2 failures. One was ammunition related and the other was of a design issue that was resolved as soon as I reread the manual. The ammo issue that came up was a round that was out of spec. I stopped when I heard a click, attempted to pull back charging handle. No go. Charging handle literally would not go back further than 2″. Unloaded rifle, attempted to mortar the rifle. No effect. Disassembly occurred and I took the rifle home (very carefully, still a live round in chamber!) and then placed it on the ground in a safe area. I put 3 armor plates stacked 6″ from the barrel with the plates angled away from me, also had eye and ear protection on. Using my nylon hammer, I swung one solid hit on the charging handle to open the action. Disabled the live round and measured it, found the brass to be several millimeters out of spec.
Other issue is a lot more complicated, it would seem that the charging handle stops rearward when the bolt-hold open activates on an empty magazine. There is a button that will allow the bolt to easily release, once there is another loaded magazine or the rifle is completely empty. Without using this button, if feels like the action is jammed and difficult to work the charging handle.
I am very impressed with this rifle. The stock trigger is the best of any bull-pup that I have ever used without upgrade. The way that they designed the hammer to allow the brass to eject rearward is ingenious. All brass ejected down into a neat pile that the reloader in me was very happy with. My only gripe that I truly have is the amount of polymer in the build, especially in the front hand-guard. There is a company that makes a 7075 aluminum one with M-Lok that I want to get to smooth out the fore-end and reduce it’s bulk.
Overall, I am extremely impressed with this rifle. I have opted to purchase and am looking forward to doing modifications to the trigger, charging handle and hand-guard to make it suit me better in the future. Will keep everyone updated.
The optic is the new NcSTAR Advance Dual Optic 3-9×42 Riflescope w/ Flip Up Red Dot that I will be posting the review on later.