When KelTec first released the KSG 12-gauge pump-action back in 2011, it caused a paradigm shift in defensive shotguns that other manufacturers have been striving to duplicate. The KSG is a bullpup design, meaning, the action and ejection port are located behind the trigger. Its most notable features are the two magazine tubes instead of just one. The result is a defensive shotgun that is more compact with double the ammunition capacity.
A version chambered in .410 bore has been a steadily requested by customers since the KSG series launched in 2011.
In the years since its launch, KelTec has received steady customer requests for a KSG model chambered in .410 bore. This year that request was granted in the form of the KSG410. Here are a few reasons .410 fans should take a closer look at this new pump gun.
Dual Magazine Capacity & Flexibility
This gun’s two magazine tubes, and the increased ammunition capacity they provide, are not the only defining feature of this platform. But they drive the most curiosity so let's talk about them first. Like other pump shotguns, the KSG410's magazine tubes are situated under the barrel. Removable caps provide access to the magazine springs and white polymer followers if needed. The left and right tube have a pair of vents, located between the forend and the receiver, which serve as witness holes so as to see if there are rounds in the magazines.
The end caps for the dual magazine tubes are distinctly visible below the muzzle of the 18.5” barrel.
When loaded with 3" long .410-bore shells, this KSG will hold five rounds in each tube plus one in the chamber (5+5+1) for a total capacity of 11-rounds. When using shorter 2.5" shells, the magazines can hold two more rounds each (7+7+1) for a total ammunition capacity of 15 rounds. Ammunition is loaded into the shotgun via the combination loading and ejection port located under the shoulder stock.
This port has a 3-position magazine selector lever which conveniently “points” to provide both visible and tactile indication of which magazine is being accessed. When the lever is set to the left, the left tube can be loaded and will feed into the chamber when the forend is cycled. The lever swings to the right to access the right tube. When the lever is centered, or pointing straight down, both tubes are blocked from loading or feeding ammunition.
This version of the KSG can hold up to 11 rounds of 3” shells or 15 rounds of 2.5” shells
In addition to the increased ammunition capacity, the dual magazines allow the KSG410 to be loaded with two different kinds of .410 shells at the same time. In a more rural setting where this gun may be called upon for pest control as well as home defense, one tube can be filled with 2.5" birdshot loads while the other holds 3" buckshot rounds. This allows the KSG to change roles with the flip of a switch instead of unloading and reloading different cartridges.
A look inside the loading and ejection port with the magazine selector lever set in the central position to block the shells from loading into the chamber.
Just in case you are wondering how much heavier this .410 becomes when fully loaded, I broke out the ol' digital postal scale to check. Filling the gun with 11 rounds of the Winchester 3" buckshot tested (see below) adds 11 oz. of weight while 15 rounds of the Hornady’s Triple Defense specialty load weigh in at 11.6 oz. By comparison, 15 rounds of 2.75" 12-gauge buckshot weigh about twice as much.
Compact Bullpup Configuration
A typical 18.5" to 20" barrel defensive pump-action shotgun with a shoulder stock is around 40" long and weighs about 7 lbs. This includes .410-bore models like the Mossberg 590 7-Shot.
The author found the KSG410’s compact 26.1” length and bullpup style weight distribution made this shotgun quick handling and comfortable to use.
Because a bullpup configuration places the action behind the trigger, the KSG410 still has an 18.5" barrel but a compact overall length of 26.1". The extensive use of polymer components and parts scaled down to fit the slim .410 shell means this model weighs 5 lbs. 6.7 oz., unloaded. But the gun feels even lighter and handier because the heaviest part, the receiver, rests against the shoulder instead of out in front of the shooting hand. These design choices, along with a slim, textured pistol grip, make the KSG410 quick handling, nicely balanced and a good fit for a variety of body shapes and experience levels.
Straight Forward Operations
Yes, it's true that KSG shotguns look like sci-fi blasters straight out of central casting. This may be off-putting to some enthusiasts because it may seem like they are too different to be easy to use. But the KSG was intended for use as a combat shotgun for military and law enforcement applications. So even though some of the controls and features look different, they are still straight forward and easy to master in their operations.
The controls are a different from sporting shotguns but intuitive to use.
The carry handle of the KSG410 has a trench across the top fitted with a bright green triangular fiber optic front sight. To either side of the handle are three MLOK slots which can be used to mount flashlights and other accessories. The pump-action fore-end, or slide, has an utterly familiar back-and-forth movement. However, the fore-end rests much closer to the trigger guard than some sporting models making it easier to reach and cycle.
Pressing two takedown pins out of the receiver allow the KSG410 to be quickly broken down into four major components for routine cleaning.
The slide release is a push-forward, ambidextrous lever mounted to the front of the trigger guard. The square-button thumb safety is located just above the pistol grip. The polymer trigger's pull was smooth and broke cleanly with 5 lbs. 1 oz. of trigger pull. This gun's shoulder stock is ported to support a sling and capped off with a soft rubber recoil pad.
Optics Rail Available
A couple of years ago I was a bit skeptical when I picked up a prototype of a defensive shotgun fitted with a micro red-dot optic. I was already sold on the idea of these sighting systems for carry pistols but was unsure if the technology was a good fit for scatterguns. Soon I was regularly ringing steel targets with 12 gauge slugs at 100 yards using the red dot, a feat I would struggle with using a traditional bead sight.
The carry handle, with its fiber optic front sight, can be traded out for the KelTec optics rail shown here.
More recently I had the opportunity to evaluate the Taurus Judge Home Defender long barrel revolver and the Rossi Brawler single-shot pistol, both of which can be fitted with red dots and fire .410 shells. In short, I'm finding micro red dot optics and defensive .410s to be a great fit for each other because the red dots are so quick and intuitive to use in most lighting conditions.
For those who prefer the simplicity and reliability of the KSG410's carry handle, carry on and enjoy. But if you want to switch to an optic, KelTec offers the KSG410-1473 Picatinny optics rail kit ($42.50). It replaces the carry handle and installs in about five minutes using the provided hardware and tools.
The .410 Bore’s Performance
Before diving into the range test we should take a moment to address KelTec's somewhat optimistic marketing for this shotgun. At one point their materials stated that the KSG410 was a no-recoil option, then changed the listings to say the gun is “virtually ‘recoilless’.” The felt recoil produced by .410-bore shotguns is moderate or even modest when compared to the stout recoil generated by lightweight 12-gauge combat shotguns stoked with defense-grade buckshot. To those big burly guys who spend their time running simulators with 12-gauge pump guns, the KSG410's recoil is downright feathery.
But for small-frame shooters, ammunition selection plays a role in managing the KSG410’s recoil levels. I've found the sporting birdshot and personal protection 2.5" shells keep the recoil to levels suitable for most shooter sizes and experience levels in this gun. The harder hitting 3" defensive loads can move the recoil up into the 20-gauge shotgun range, depending on the load fired. For those who are recoil sensitive, the 2.5" shells may be a better fit.
The KSG410 was tested with a mix of sporting and defensive loads in 2.5”and 3” shell lengths. It operated reliably with all ammunition tested.
KelTec also lists the KSG410 as a good fit for plinking and hunting. As of this writing, .410-bore shells are generally more expensive that other gauges, which is not cost effective for casual plinking. In regard to hunting, this gun’s 18.5" barrel has a fixed Cylinder-Bore choke, meaning, no constriction at the muzzle. This allows shot patterns, especially birdshot loads favored for small game and upland bird hunting, to spread more quickly than longer barrels and those fitted with Modified or Full chokes. Shot spreading apart is a useful feature of shotgun shells, but too much spread too soon means too few shot pellets may hit the intended target to be effective.
In other words, the KSG410 is a dedicated defensive shotgun just like the 12-gauge KSG models despite the smaller .410-bore shell it fires. If you want to go pheasant hunting or shoot sporting clays, this is not the optimal shotgun configuration for those activities. However, if you are looking for a low-recoil option for pests of the no-legged, four-legged and two-legged varieties, the KSG410 is a top notch fit. To learn more about defensive .410-bore shell options, follow this link.
To check this gun's patterning, it was fired into Birchwood Casey Dirty Bird 12"x18" silhouette targets at a distance of 7 yards. It reliably fed, fired and ejected all of the ammunition tested. The controls took a bit of getting used to but also operated smoothly and properly.
For pest control purposes, I tried out two of Winchester's AA 2.5" shells filled with 1/2-oz. lead birdshot payloads at a listed velocity of 1,200-fps. One shell was filled with fine #9 shot pellets and the other with larger #7 1/2 size pellets. The #9 shot produced a 10" pattern, as shown in this photo.
The pattern for the #7 1/2 shot pellet load opened up to 12". Based on these patterns, either pellet size will get the job done.
The popularity of the Taurus Judge .45 Colt/.410 revolver has inspired some ammunition makers to develop mixed payload defensive loads. Among them is the 2.5" Hornady Critical Defense Triple Threat shell. It fires a single .41-cal. 115-gr. FTX lead slug followed by two 65-gr., .35-cal. lead balls. In this case the projectiles punched out a 2.94" pattern.
Some of the most common and effective defensive loads for .410 bores are the 3" shells loaded with buckshot. For this test, Winchester's Super X shell that fires five un-plated pieces of lead 000 buckshot was used. The resulting pattern was 1.70" in size.
The long awaited KelTec KSG410 is a purpose-built, low-recoil defensive shotgun which successfully blends compact size, pump-action reliability and an impressive ammunition capacity. It's a handy package that can serve as a trunk gun, around-the-property utility shotgun or as a home defense pump action. Loaded with .410 bore birdshot it's a great fit for close-range pest control. And, with the right ammunition, it puts more projectiles down range per trigger pull than a handgun, while doing so without the sometimes punishing recoil of larger gauge shotguns. The KSG410 is competitively priced at $495. For more information, visit keltecweapons.com.
Model: KSG410, OD Green Furniture with Carry Handle
Action: Pump-Action Shotgun
Caliber: .410 bore, 3" or 2.5" Shells
Sight: Fiber Optic Front
Overall Length: 26.1"
Length of Pull (LOP): 13"
Weight: 5 lbs. 6.7 oz., Unloaded
Capacity: 5+5+1 3" Shells; 7+7+1 2.5" Shells
Choke: Fixed Cylinder
Trigger Pull: 5 lbs. 1 oz. (as tested)
Accessories: Owner's Manual
KelTec KSG410 Picatinny Optics Rail Kit (KSG410-1473) $42.50