ARTV: The Kel-Tec Story

posted on July 28, 2021

Watch the video segment above to learn the history if Kel-Tec, and see how it continues to innovate from this behind-the-scenes look from a 2019 feature.

Since its entry into the firearms market in 1995, Kel-Tec Weapons has made a name for itself as a developer and manufacturer of some fairly interesting firearms designs. The company was founded in 1991 by its current owner and chief engineer, George Kellgren, a Swedish-born designer who had worked with Husqvarna and Swedish Interdynamics AB before coming to the United States in 1979. Kellgren then worked on several interesting firearms projects for Intratec and Grendel before founding Kel-Tec.

George Kellgren, Kel-Tec CEO, owner and founder, as seen in the earlier years of his career with a prototype firearm. 

Kel-Tec's first entry into the firearm market was a semi-automatic, polymer-framed, 10-round capacity 9 mm concealed carry handgun called the P-11. This design was soon downscaled into a .32 ACP pocket pistol version, the P-32, to compete with the Seecamp LWS. Since those early days and first handgun designs, Kel-Tec's product pool has grown to include interesting rifles and shotguns as well as pistols.

A schematic of the Kel-Tec P11.

One such design is the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 folding 9 mm carbine. With a light polymer housing, grip-housed magazine, and charging handle located on the duffer tube, the SUB-2000 has several features that separate it from other common 9 mm rifles on the market. However, the most unique and unusual feature of the SUB-2000 is its ability to be folded in half for easier stowage. The carbine can then be quickly unfolded and made ready for use without having to use tools.

Firing the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 9 mm carbine.

Just about every firearm Kel-Tec designs has some strange quirk worked into its design. This typically is not due to compiled market research, but largely due the designer's fancy. Since many of Kel-Tec's designs are original, the company not only designs a lot of its parts for scratch, but machines them in house as well. Another prime example Kel-Tec's innovation is the KSG bullpup shotgun. With a pump action, futuristic look, 15-shell capacity dual tubes and compact size, the KSG has become a very popular defensive shotgun since its release.

Rows of CNC machines as seen on the Kel-Tec factory floor in Cocoa, Fla.

Another project that was highlighted during this trip, but wasn't quite in full swing production at the time in 2019 is the Rifle Downward-ejection Bullpup, or RDB for short. Based slightly off some of the concepts of the earlier, and more complex, Kel-Tec RFB bullpup rifle chambered in .308 Win., the RDB was designed to be more cost effective, lighter and and easier to produce design due to its 5.56x45 mm NATO cambering. At the time this video was first released, the RDB was only begining to enter full-scale production. Since then, like many other Kel-Tec projects, it has gained popularity and a following in the tactical and defensive market.     

Firing the Kel-Tec RDB 5.56x45 mm NATO bullpup rifle.

To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST.


Eotech Launches Anti
Eotech Launches Anti

EOTech Launches Anti-Counterfeit Measures

EOTech has launched a campaign targeting those who create and sell illegal copies of its military sighting systems.

The .405 Winchester: History and Performance

Now largely a forgotten footnote in cartridge development, the .405 Winchester was once the most powerful rimmed cartridge capable of use in a lever-action rifle and was a favorite of Theodore Roosevelt.

Colt Mustang .380 ACP: The Pocket-Size 1911

Based off the classic 1911 design, the small Colt Mustang chambered in .380 ACP is easily concealable and shares the same classic look in its tiny frame.

NRA Reschedules The Annual Members' Meeting

The NRA has rescheduled its Annual Members' Meeting to occur on Oct. 2, 2021 in Charlotte, NC.

The Men And Guns Of D-Day: 101st Airborne Division

Watch this segment of American Rifleman Television "The Men And Guns Of D-Day" to learn more about the men of the 101st Airborne Division, their stories and the firearms they used during "The Great Crusade."

Pat Garrett's Pistol Sells for Highest Price in History

The Colt Single Action Army revolver used by Pat Garrett to kill Billy The Kid sold at auction from Bonhams for more than $6 million dollars, in what is probably the highest price ever paid for a civilian firearm.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.