Building off the success of the earlier Rifle Downward-ejecting Bullpup, or RDB, rifle design Kel-Tec unveiled a new variant for 2020, The RDB Defender. The Defender features a blend of the original RDB layout with the lighter weight of the RDB Survival model into one package. Its key features include a 16” pencil-profile barrel, adjustable butt, and the inclusion of a new aluminum M-LOK handguard.
Chambered in 5.56x45 mm NATO, the RDB Defender has the same basic controls as the previous tactical version of the RDB. The safety selectors are ambidextrous as well as the bolt and magazine release. The bolt and magazine release are located behind the pistol grip around the magazine-well. A Picatinny rail sits on top of the receiver to allow the mounting of sights and accessories like the previous version as well.
The RDB defender does have some key differences, with the first being a slightly shorter and lighter barrel. The Defender’s barrel is 16” versus the 17” barrel present on the normal model and has a slimmer profile to reduce weight. The barrel’s twist rate is 1:7” and comes with an attached A2 style flash-hider. Another key difference of the Defender is the collapsible buttstock. On the original RDB, the butt is at a fixed length with no option for adjustment.
On the Defender, the butt can be adjusted for length-of-pull by pressing a tab hidden on the underside of the butt piece. The butt on the Defender is also smaller in profile than the original RDB and lacks the rubber molding and sling swivel. Another feature of the Defender is the inclusion of an aluminum M-LOK compatible handguard in place of the polymer Zytel handguard found on the original RDB.
This handguard has M-LOK slots on the sides, bottom and 45-degree positions in-between to allow the attachment of rail segments or other accessories. Despite the handguard’s metal construction, the Defender’s entire weight is 6.7 lbs. unloaded versus the 7 lbs. of the original version. It is also slightly shorter than the original adding to the design’s compact nature. The defender is compatible with AR-15 style magazines and has a suggested retail price starting at $1,072. For more information on the RDB Defender visit keltecweapons.com.