2020 Shotgun of the Year: Kel-Tec KS7

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posted on February 18, 2020
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At the end of last year, American Rifleman editors and contributors got together and discussed the guns, ammunition, optics and gear that emerged from the marketplace throughout 2019. From these conversations emerge the Golden Bullseye award winners for 2020, and such has it gone since the first Golden Bullseye awards decades ago. For more details on the criteria considered in selecting a Golden-Bullseye award winner, check our list below. The winner of our 2020 Golden Bullseye Award for Shotgun of the Year goes to the Kel-Tec KS7.

Of course, before the KS7, Kel-Tec offered its KSG bullpup, which featured twin magazine tubes below a single barrel that expanded magazine capacity and gave owners the ability to switch between the tubes at will, allowing different shotshells to be loaded into each tube for different uses. The company even expanded its KSG offerings with an expanded-capacity version in the form of the KSG-25. All of this extra magazine capacity, though, came at the expense of added weight. To solve this, Kel-Tec launched its KS7 in 2019, which dropped magazine capacity by retaining only a single tube instead of the two found on the KSG. The KS7 retains the bullpup design from the KSG, providing owners with a short, handy defensive tool loaded with potent 12-gauge shotshells. Here's what American Rifleman Field Editor B. Gil Horman had to say about the platform:

At the range, the KS7 was test-fired with sporting- and defense-grade 12-ga. shells manufactured by Remington, Winchester and Hornady. Although Kel-Tec’s tendency to leave visible mold marks on its gun stocks can be distracting at times, the company carefully smoothed out the action, trigger and controls for clean, easy operation. There were no malfunctions in the course of testing, and the gun reliably fed, fired and ejected every shell. This gun directs recoil straight back into the shoulder in order to minimize muzzle rise. It was manageable with all loads fired, but the felt recoil with full-power loads was not for the faint of heart. If you’re already comfortable with 12-ga. shotguns, then the KS7 will be a good fit.

At the time of this writing, the market is replete with non-NFA 12-ga. firearms, including the Mossberg 590 Shockwave and the Remington Tac-14. These Raptor-grip scatterguns are popular because of their Hollywood cosmetics and compact just-over-26" size. The KS7 is just as compact and cool to look at, but it’s much easier to work with. The pistol-grip, bullpup configuration allows for an 18.5" barrel, seven-plus-one ammunition capacity and it can be shouldered for more precise, aimed shots.

The KS7 may not offer as much firepower as the 14-round, dual-magazine-tube KSG (and certainly not as much as the 24-round KSG-25), but it is a more practical configuration for those in search of a trunk gun, a backpacking shotgun for protection against dangerous game or a handy home-defense option.

You can read the full review here.

To qualify for consideration for a Golden Bullseye Award, a product must have been:

  • Recently introduced and available to consumers prior to the selection of the Golden Bullseye Awards;
  • Used/tested by a staff member or regular contributor to the magazine and/or affiliated media;
  • Reliable in the field, meeting or exceeding the evaluator’s expectations;
  • Innovative in design and function;
  • Readily perceived as a value to the purchaser; and
  • Styled in a manner befitting the shooting and hunting industry and, perhaps more importantly, its enthusiasts.
“Selected by a six-member committee consisting of editors, graphic designers and veteran NRA Publications staff, [these products] epitomize what NRA members seek in their shooting and hunting equipment—outstanding performance, innovation and value," said Doug Hamlin, executive director of NRA Publications. "Congratulations to those who have created the industry’s best new products.”

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