Kel-Tec Adds New Bullpups to Kennel with RDB and M43

Kel-Tec RDBSHOT Show 2014 saw Kel-Tec add two new bullpups to their lineup that already includes the KSG shotgun and RFB in 7.62 NATO.  Their latest offerings, the RDB and M43, bring the 5.56 caliber into the mix with standard AR-15 magazine compatibility.  Built around the same steel frame and downward-ejecting, rotating bolt, piston operated bullpup action, the two are essentially the same firearm – albeit dressed in radically different furniture.

The RDB (for Rifle, Downward-ejecting, Bullpup) looks like something you would expect to come out of the Kel-Tec labs, wit its polymer furniture and familiar styling.  This is the tactical model, featuring a picatinny rail for mounting your favorite optics and/or irons.  The lightweight tactical RDB, with its aluminum and polymer parts, tips the scales at just 7 pounds.

The sheet metal and wood of the M43 adds a pound to the weight of the rifle but also adds considerable style – for better or for worse, depending on who you ask.  Considered beautiful by some and hideous by others, the M43 is supposed to have 1943 aesthetics, perhaps conjuring visions of early Soviet-era weapons.  Foregoing the picatinny rail, this model features folding iron sights with separate apertures for 100, 300 and 500 meters.

Kel-Tec M43On both models, the safety selector and bolt catch are accessible on both sides of the firearm, as are sling attachment points.  The magazine release is on the front of the magazine well, directly behind the pistol grip.  Despite the similarity in position and operation to that of the Tavor SAR, the magazine release on the samples on hand at SHOT were not as ergonomic as the Tavor’s and the magazines did not always drop away freely.  The overall length of the RDB is 27.4″ while the M43 is about an inch shorter.  Both rifles feature a 17.4″ barrel with a 1×28 thread that, along with the short-stroke adjustable gas piston system, should allow for easy operation with a suppressor.

Given the downward ejection chute and fully ambidextrous controls, the RDB and M43 should be easy to use for both left- and right-handed shooters.  The operating handle may also be moved from side to side, making this ambidextrous as well, albeit with a little work.

A Kel-Tec rep also said that they are looking at adding more calibers to the RDB line, including 6.5 Grendel, .300 Blackout, 9mm and a 7.62×39 version that accepts AK-47 magazines.  The retail price tag for the first 5.56 models is expected to be around $2000 – several hundred dollars higher for the M43 – and they will supposedly be hitting shelves in late 2014 but, with some of the availability issues of other Kel-Tec firearms, it might be a while before you get one in your hands.

Find more pictures of the Kel-Tec RDB and M43 in the GunLink NSSF SHOT Show Discussion forum.


3 Responses to Kel-Tec Adds New Bullpups to Kennel with RDB and M43

  • aaron says:

    Does charge handle reciprocate?

  • GunLinkBlog says:

    Yes, the charging handle on the current models will cycle with the bolt. As far as we know, there is no last round hold-open but you can lock the bolt to the rear by moving the charging handle into a notch after pulling it back.

    Rumor has it that they are working on a way to keep the handle from reciprocating with the bolt.

  • anon says:

    they look great but i would be amazed if they ever get into the hands of regular folks. just look at all of the other cool guns they come up with that you never see at your LGS


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