At SHOT Show 2018, arms company Kel-Tec showcased a self-loading bullpup rifle with a claim to being a survival weapon. The rifle itself did not appear from scratch; it was based on the company's previous developments, in particular the RDB and RDB-C rifles. Since there are no materials on our resource about any of the aforementioned samples, we will get acquainted with all three at once, especially since there are no fundamental differences in the design of the weapon.
"Correct bullpup" of RDB, RDB-C and RDB-S rifles
All rifles are made in a bullpup layout, it seems that this is nothing new for several decades and you will not surprise anyone, but the manufacturer emphasizes that it is his weapon that is the best example of how the bullpup layout should be implemented.
The layout itself has both a number of advantages for hand-held firearms, in particular rifles, and a number of disadvantages. The advantages are quite obvious and noticeable even to a person far from the world of weapons. First of all, the main advantage of the layout is the size of the weapon, which is much smaller than that of rifles in the classic layout. This gives the right, we can talk about the greater maneuverability of a fighter in cramped conditions, plus less space occupied during transportation and storage, which is also a plus.
The second obvious advantage is the greater stability of the weapon when firing. Often there is an opinion about the layout of bullpup as a layout of weapon assemblies unsuitable for accurate automatic fire. The main argument in this is usually the change in the balance of the weapon as the number of cartridges in the store decreases. What happens in practice? In practice, the weapon is conditionally held by the barrel, since the holding handle is located under the breech of the barrel, and the forend covers most of it. In this case, the entire bolt group moves in line with the shooter's shoulder. The result of this is a very high stability of the weapon in comparison with the classical layout, even with automatic, even with continuous automatic fire. And the balance changes by itself, only this is absolutely not felt and does not affect the effectiveness of the fire.
With the advantages that are inherent in the whole weapon in the bullpup layout, it seems to be over. All this is in the RDB rifles. Let's move on to the disadvantages and see why the manufacturer calls its weapon "Right Done Bullpup" (RDB).
In the domestic segment of the Internet, it is generally accepted that the main drawback of the bullpup layout is the inconvenient location of the weapon store. Of course, there is such a flaw in the layout, but here you need to make an allowance for habit. I am more than sure that for a person who has used a weapon in such an arrangement all his life, the location of the store in the "classic" will also be inconvenient at first. Among the many minor drawbacks of this layout, it should rather be noted that the sights should be on high racks for easy aiming, which will cling to everything from branches to clothing. Folding sights are not a panacea, since they still need to be expanded to bring the weapon into combat readiness. But this applies to military weapons, for civilian use this is not such a significant nuance.
A big disadvantage is that the spent cartridge case is ejected at a very close distance from the shooter's face. So many models in which it is not possible to change the side for ejection of spent cartridges become inconvenient for left-handers, and also of little use in situations where you need to change your shoulder for firing, for example, in case of injury or when shooting from behind cover. The weapon in which the change of side for the ejection of spent cartridges is implemented most often requires incomplete disassembly for this procedure, which is also not a way out of the situation.
The designers of the Kel-Tec company have eliminated this shortcoming in their weapons. In RDB rifles, spent cartridges are ejected downward, behind the magazine. It is this feature of the weapon that gives the right to call the rifle "correct bullpup".
The decision to eject spent cartridges down is completely not new, but no one pretends to have a new look in this matter. More interesting, but at the same time more complex, is the design implemented in the domestic TKB-0146 assault rifle, where the spent cartridge case is thrown forward along a tube parallel to the barrel, pushed by the bolt group.
We got acquainted with the main feature of the weapon, you can proceed to acquaintance directly with the rifle models themselves.
Rifle Kel-Tec RDB
The appearance of the weapon is quite interesting and recognizable. The only thing that confuses is the number of elements connecting the entire structure. Of course, you don't need to unscrew every screw for maintenance, but assembly and disassembly has its own unpleasant features.
Conventionally, the weapon can be divided into two parts, the upper one in which the barrel and the bolt group are installed and the lower one with the trigger mechanism, and the plastic forend can also be noted separately. The whole structure is held together by 4 large pins, which stand out from the rest with their size. For incomplete disassembly of the weapon, it is necessary to disconnect the fore-end by pulling out the first pin, counting from the muzzle. After disengaging the forend, the remaining three pins are pulled out and the weapon is split in two for service.
It is noteworthy that the pins are not completely removed, but remain in the weapon, at least while it is new, over time they begin to be removed completely, which means there is a chance of losing them. This happens due to the fact that it is not easy to remove the pins without improvised means, they are removed with effort and often additional devices are used for this from what was at hand. So it seems that this is not the manufacturer's fault, it all depends on how carefully the weapon will be handled. But if you look from the other side, it seems to be obvious that if the pins are knocked out with a screwdriver with a tapping on its handle, then this will inevitably lead to, albeit insignificant, damage to the fasteners, which could have been foreseen.
The rifle automatics is built around the removal of powder gases from the barrel bore with the barrel bore locking when the bolt is turned by 7 stops. The piston is a steel tube welded into the bolt carrier, inside this piston tube there is a return spring on the guide. This solution has its pitfalls, since the spring can overheat during intense firing with all the unpleasant moments that result from this, but since we are talking about a self-loading rifle, and not about an assault rifle or machine gun, such a problem is apparently not observed. At least no one complained about that.
The bolt cocking handle is folding, also attached to a part made of a tube. This part has an oblique cut and is worn over the piston tube, remains stationary when firing, can be located both on the right and on the left side of the weapon.
The rest of the controls are sparse and are located in their usual places. So above the handle for holding, you can find a fuse switch, duplicated on both sides, while the store is held by a spring-loaded key in front of its receiver.
Sights are mounted on a short mounting bar above the barrel. Standard sights are folding. Due to the small distance between the whole and the front sight, it is possible to predict not the most outstanding results in shooting even at medium distances, which can be corrected by a more difficult sighting device.
The total length of the weapon is 693 millimeters with a barrel length of 439 millimeters. The mass of the rifle is 3 kilograms excluding the weight of ammunition and sighting devices. The weapon is fed from detachable magazines with a capacity of 20 rounds 5, 56x45, however, all magazines compatible with the AR-15 can be used. The price on the manufacturer's website is $ 1275.
Rifle Kel-Tec RDB-C
If the previous rifle fit into the idea of a conventional weapon, despite the layout, then the Kel-Tec RDB-C looks somewhat different, although by and large it is all a weapon too, with minor differences.
The most important difference, which immediately catches the eye, is the absence of a pistol grip, the decision is somewhat strange, since the convenience of holding is clearly incomparable even close, nevertheless, it is as it is. Perhaps the lack of a pistol grip is the result of circumvention of bans in some individual states.
In addition to this change, other weapon controls have also been affected. So the safety switch is now located at the base of the safety bracket and is a button that moves perpendicular to the weapon. The method of removing the magazine has also changed, now, in order to change the magazine, you need to press the rounded button on the right side of the weapon, located behind the magazine. In principle, if you practice, it is unlikely that the new method will cause inconvenience. The folding handle for cocking the shutter remained unchanged, which can still be moved to any side of the weapon convenient for the shooter. Sights are still mounted on a relatively short mounting bar above the barrel. In addition, the flame arrester has disappeared, a protective sleeve is screwed in its place, so that, in principle, another most suitable one can be installed. You also need to pay attention to the number of pins connecting the two parts of the weapon, there are 3 of them.
The main difference from the previous model of the rifle in the Kel-Tec RDB-C is the longer barrel. Its length is already 520 millimeters, which could not but affect other weight and size characteristics of the weapon. The total length of the rifle increased to 771.5 millimeters, the weight increased to 3.1 kilograms excluding cartridges and sights. The standard magazine for weapons was a magazine with a capacity of 10 rounds, but compatibility with magazines from the AR-15 was retained. Oddly enough, but the price tag on the manufacturer's website is the same $ 1275.
Kel-Tec RDB-S Survival Rifle
Finally, we come to this year's novelty - the Kel-Tec RDB-S survival rifle. This weapon is based on the Kel-Tec RDB-C but also has differences that, according to the manufacturer, should make this rifle ideal for survival in case of unforeseen circumstances.
The most important and reasonable difference of this weapon from previous models is the presence of non-removable folding sighting devices. So the folding rear sight is installed in front of the mounting bar for additional sighting devices, and the front sight is on the barrel of the weapon. The controls remained similar to the Kel-Tec RDB-C, but now the weapon has a retractable stock, which is fixed with a key hidden in the bottom of the stock itself. It is unlikely that this was done for a more convenient operation of the weapon; rather, it is a step to reduce its dimensions during transportation and storage.
The pins connecting parts of the weapon returned in full, now there are 4 of them again - 1 for the forend and three for connecting the upper and lower parts of the weapon.
The rifle barrel is the shortest of all three models - 409 millimeters, the total length of the weapon with a folded stock is 663 millimeters. Weight has been significantly reduced to 2, 27 kilograms without cartridges. The rifle is fed from detachable box magazines with a capacity of 10 rounds 5, 56x45, but backward compatibility with magazines from AR-15 and its derivatives is preserved.
A little personal reasoning instead of a conclusion
The idea of using a weapon chambered for 5, 56x45 as a means of survival seems rather strange. Situations, of course, can be different and most scenarios cannot be fully prepared, nevertheless, firearms, if a person is in the wild, as a result of an aircraft accident or for some other reason, will be used mainly for hunting and to protect against animals who decide to hunt for the person himself. With all these tasks, a 12-gauge gun with cartridges even with the shortest barrel copes very successfully. The ideal weapon would, of course, be a combined one, but if there is a choice, then it would be wiser to give preference to a gun rather than a rifle, but this is just my opinion.
In general, the Kel-Tec company managed to make a compact and at the same time effective weapon, devoid of the main problem of the bullpup layout. One can argue that the weapon can "refuse" when firing in an inverted position, but, firstly, the cartridge case is not thrown out under its own weight, and secondly, it is very difficult to imagine a reasonable situation when you have to shoot, holding the weapon upside down. The rifle will definitely find its buyer, but how it will show itself depends only on what quality the mass sample will be, the design itself has already been worked out for years in other models of weapons, it is impossible to do something wrong in it, you can only do badly.