Evaluation the Kel-Tec KSG and the UTAS UTS-15

October 7, 2016

Many comparisons between the Kel-Tec KSG and UTAS UTS-15 have been written, however, I wanted to provide an unbiased opinion in this review. Consequently, this review has not been biased in any way by any manufacturer’s resources. I purchased both guns and am not getting paid to write this review.

Now that I have made that disclaimer, let’s look at the Kel-Tec KSG vs. the UTAS UTS_15.

There are numerous alternatives available for domestic protection. I happen to believe that shotguns, are the extremely versatile . There are many extraordinary styles of shotguns as well as an extensive variety of ammo. This bullpup design works particularly nicely for home protection because of the lightweight, shorter design, and potential to outfit it with the lighting and sights of your desire (if you even actually need a sight with a 12 gauge). You don’t have to worry about a long gun barrel announcing your location or impeding your progress through the house this design. These shotguns have two magazine tubes, which allow the owner to fill each tube with your personal choice of ammo for any given situation. Every owner, however, should spend time practicing with a particular weapon platform to be comfortable with how the weapon works. In a high tension situation, nothing replaces practice. Don’t load it with more than one kind of ammo, if you plan on just firing a few rounds and then storing it behind the bedroom door. If you don’t plan to spend time practicing and mastering either of these weapons, you don’t need to worry about choosing the right ammo for a particular situation. These two bullpup shotguns are popular choices with the consumer, Hollywood and regulation enforcement because their design stands out from the traditional shotgun layout.

UTAS UTS-15

The UTAS-UTS-15 is a bullpup design shotgun manufactured from polymer and steel. It has chambers for three” magnum shells. The gun comes in a cardboard container and includes a thorough owner’s manual and a take-down device.

Sights from the factory have to be purchased separately. Other options which are offered with it are: it can be outfitted with a Beretta style screw-in barrel extension and a door-breach (otherwise known as a tactical choke) and/or it can contain a laser/light combo. It’s integrated into the forend and the on/off switch is positioned above your index finger if you’re a “righty”. “Lefties” might have a harder time reaching the switch. I chose for the laser/light combo and am satisfied with the overall performance and simplicity of use. The Kel-Tec does not provide this option, thus, I’m not reviewing that part of the gun.

It is pretty easy to Load the UTAS. Flip the door down, on either side of the top of the weapon and push the follower into the magazine and feed the shells in. The last shell stays in the port.  It might take a while to get used to that. As soon as the magazine tube is full fully close the port door so the plunger will set the shells up for feeding into the chamber. set the selector switch to feed from either one of the tubes, or just leave it to feed from both tubes, alternately

To get  the feel of how the gun handled, we loaded it with Federal target ¾” shells for the first shots. The bolt release is a smooth button located at the bottom of the butt stock , which is a little awkward and hard to find. It’s placed on the bottom of the butt inventory close to the back of the stock. it is a easy button that, with gloves on, is pretty difficult to locate. You put round into the chamber through the standard technique.

Notice that your firing hand is not really close to the trigger mechanism. Some feel the door covering the chamber, that is held closed with a magnet, is a nuisance but I have not had any issues with it.

The process becomes easier as soon as you’ve got your hand back on the grip. Rotate the safety switch into the fire position similar to the AR platform design.  This gun does not come with sights, so I bought a Bushnell TRS-25 crimson dot site and mounted it atop the gun with a ½” riser in the top rail. It is easy and fast to get a great sight picture, when you get it put together.

This shotgun is not for those who won’t work to rack another round. If you don’t engage to the rear stop of the forend, you may possibly short-stroke the gun and fail to chamber the subsequent round. You need to be deliberate, and it will provide you wit a “bang” each every time you rack a round. Spent shells are ejected out the right side and this gun will send them pretty far. For those that are left-handed, this could be an issue Firing is reliable and easy. The trigger is smooth and steady all the way to the break point. One of the benefits of taking classes is learning how to train so you can test some of what is being discussed here today.

You can manually adjust the the UTS-.15 magazine selector to block off both of the feed tubes. Leave it centered and the gun will automatically draws from each tube, alternating back and forth automatically between the tubes until the ammunition is spent.

The gun is pretty straightforward  and doesn’t require a lot of of  new learning once you master the deliberate racking. there wasn’t a large mastering curve other than the gun disturbing that you deliberately rack it.  Unloaded, the gun weighs 6.9 pounds and does not feel heavy or slow to manipulate.

PROS:

      • Bullpup design
      • optional incorporated laser/light combo
      • lightweight
      • smooth to load
      • Shell count easily considered through magazine ports
      • optional screw-in barrel extension
      • flip up pinnacle cowl permits for smooth failure clearing
      • AR fashion safety switch
      • easy unmarried device (included) area stripping

CONS:

      • expensive for a shotgun
      • terrible place for bolt release
      • Doesn’t include the cool case made for it
      • No sights covered
      • No place to dangle a light if you don’t opt for the UTAS
      • version
      • right aspect ejection port
      • Controls aren’t ambidextrous

KSG

The KSG is made of polymer and steel with a bullpup design. As opposed to the UTAS, the feed tubes are underneath the barrel. It will shoot just about any ammo you feed it but it is chambered for 3” magnum shells. The ships in a cardboard box, which incorporates owner’s manual, simple sling and sling strap retainer/tensioners.

Kel-Tec provides a wide variety of accessories for this gun. Notably, a compensator and choke tube adapter are available . KSG has also addressed my 3 gripes regarding this gun: the kydex cheek rest, extended butt pad and a handstop.

KSG Loading /Ejection Port

We fired the same Federal target loads to get a feel for how this gun handled. It was relatively difficult to load the KSG as the magazine tubes are positioned inside the ejection port and they load from the bottom of the gun. The handiest manner to get to them is to flip the gun upside down. You have to push the feed tube selector transfer needs to be pushed to the side to start filling one of the tubes. s soon as that side is loaded, then  you need to  adjust it again so that you can begin filling the other tube. This is just not really reload friendly. There  is a catch in there that has a tendency to pinch my finger each time I pushed a shell in.  You can see in the photo that the serrated shell stops positioned vertically. Finally. I did get a round into the exposed chamber rather than the magazine tube when the slide was in rear orientation. The owner’s manual says to ensure the forend is locked forward to load. I think loading this gun takes a lot of work.

After I finished loading, it was time to rack it by pressing down the bolt on the small lever in front of the trigger guard. The bolt is without difficulty.  Now we’re set. The safety button is centered on the top of the pistol grip. It can only engage when the round has been chambered. I don’t really like this because the purpose of safety is to prevent an AD and it seems like this creates a real possibility of an AD.

Similar to the UTAS, this gun does not ship with sights.. So, I mounted a Bushnell TRS-25 on this gun too. The top rail at the KSG begins at the end of the barrel and ends just even with the trigger assembly so it does not extend the length of the gun. This created a very short sight radius for me, because the sight (and any flip-up rear sight) was far from my ocular nerve. It’s not perfect, in my opinion as it doesn’t feel natural. No matter how tight I tried to mount the TRS-25, it rattled a little. I swapped it  thinking that maybe the mount was the trouble but, it wasn’t.  The top rail on the KSG didn’t allow me to tighten the sight down and take the slack out of it.

Of note is that the out-of-the-box cheek rest is metal. On a cold morning, my face quickly pulled away from that cold metal.  Very uncomfortable (unless you’re a bearded operator seal sniper ranger). Pulling the trigger is easy and reliable. The gun goes bang as expected. This gun did not have the same quick-stoke problem as as with the UTSA-15.The butt stock is narrow and short, putting a lot of energy into a small contact patch with your shoulder, a feature I really dislike. The butt-pad is 4.5” tall X 2” wide X ¼” thick. Which caused me to feel more recoil than with the UTAS. The UTAS, by way of contrast is 5” X 1 ½” X 1”. Generally, the smaller the contact space, the greater the concentration of the recoil. The pad’s thickness may have had more to do with recoil absorption than with the actual length and width. It became painful as I fired the last few rounds and I wanted to simply stop. I did test out three shotguns that day though, so my shoulder may have already been sore by the time I got to this gun. However, this gun was far more painful than either of the other weapons had been and I alternated between all 3 through the day. Kel-Tec offers an optional extended butt-pad for an additional $45. I highly recommend spending the extra money to help with the recoil. I wished, at this point, I had a wadded up towel or anything to absorb the jolt.

While firing, I notice another annoying feature of this gun. Hot exhaust and gun powder shot out of the discharge port, where the spent shells drop from the bottom and also where you load the gun, and sprayed all over my wrist whilst firing. This happened primarily when firing the target rounds, however it also happened with less intensity with other forms of ammo. Even with shooting gloves on, my wrist took a lot of abuse.

The racking mechanism was a little puzzling.  Several times, as I was firing, I heard a ‘click’ and no bang. I racked the gun again in an attempt to reload the chamber. Another hollow ‘click’. I then found out that the first magazine was empty. To choose the other tube, you need to let go of the trigger and grip, hunt for the selector switch which protrudes slightly from the release port Snap it to the other side, then move your hand back into firing mode. Then you want to rack it again to chamber another round. Even when I racked what should have been the first round in the next tube, I still go a hollow ‘click’ and had to rack it yet again. If you are trying to defend yourself from an attacker, this would result in a severe panic situation, ditching the gun and looking for any other weapon at your disposal , provided you haven’t already been killed or critically wounded. Even if you did get the following round ready, you’ve now racked the gun almost 4 times and had to let go of the bang switch to select the next tube. Not an ideal situation in my book.

PROS:

      • Bullpup layout
      • Feels short(26 inches in usual duration)
      • lightweight
      • Bolt release is in a first rate (acquainted) area
      • incorporated sling mounting points
      • smooth field stripping
      • lower Picatinny rail

CONS:

      • short site radius
      • points of interest are a fair distance from the attention
      • steel cheek plate
      • manual magazine selector
      • should be flipped upside down to load
      • Doesn’t come with the cool case made for it
      • No sights protected
      • Finicky safety transfer
      • now not ambidextrous
      • stock seems adjustable, however it’s no longer
      • decrease Picatinny rail is polymer
      • No stop preventing your hand from slipping off into the road of hearth!
      • Kicks like a mule
      • My wrist hurts
      • couldn’t tighten up site on pinnacle rail

Shot Tests

As mentioned above, we used the Federal target loads. Our 2nd shot assessments were with Federal personal defense buckshot. those are 2 ¾” shells packed with 34 #4 copper plated buckshot with a muzzle speed of 1,100FPS. These proved to be reliable and accurate in both guns.Recoil was about the same as with the target shells.  Finally, we used Herter’s 1 ounce slugs to see how they’d handle. Each gun did a first rate job of dealing with the heavy lead and was very accurate. The KSG’s slug shots hit low and left. That is not a fault of the shotgun but rather due to the TRS-25 red dot now not being correctly sighted for middle. The shot group is good, despite the fact that I experienced a little muzzle rise because I was trying not to take the pain in my shoulder. The shots would have been tighter from a shooting bench, otherwise. The same slugs being shot from the UTAS were in a much tighter group because I could manipulate the muzzle better as the recoil was not as bad.

With the UTAS you need to be careful not to short stroke it to rack the subsequent round, This just took a little getting used to and by time I racked the second magazine,  I had it mastered. for my part, I did think this is as much of a problem as some people have made it out to be. It simply takes getting used to a different weapons platform. Alternatively, regardless of how in many times I shot the KSG, I could not master anticipating the last round in the a magazine before the gun clicked and required me to manipulate the tube selector switch. That’s a deal break for me. I don’t need to have to spend  a lot time getting used to a weapons platform  and still have to compensate for its shortcomings. To me, the Kel-Tec feels like it still needs work.

I  still wanted to give the Kel-Tec a truthful evaluation, despite my personal beliefs. We placed identical rounds downrange at the same distances in both guns.

BUCKSHOT Tests

Federal Premium Home Defense Buckshot:

I desired to get a realistic pattern from 10 yards with ammo you would use to guard your property with. The UTAS and KSG both fired a respectable, tight pattern at that distance because the shells are loaded with pellets, the pattern was likely close to 13” in diameter, but 99% of these pellets hit the silhouette of the target. The KSG hit slightly left because  the crimson dot was not completely sighted in  rather than the bore being out of alignment. It patterned just as efficiently as the UTSA-15 did. The Federal ammo showed good predictability in either gun, and both guns ran thru round after round trouble trouble free.

1” SLUG tests

Subsequently,  I wanted to use 1” slugs. I used some Herter’s 1 ounce slugs for these test. These are 2 ¾” shells with rifled slugs having a muzzle velocity of 1,400 fps.There was more recoil felt firing these from both guns. The same as before,  it was more evident with the KSG. Each guns ran through them without an issue. Once more, the low-leftish pattern of the KSG is not a fault of the gun, but rather it was the reddot’s alignment.

Both weapons shot the slugs very well with no trouble. Both are deadly loaded with slugs at the distance of 10 yards we had been using.

CONCLUSIONS

Both of these guns are effective domestic defense platforms. Each isgoing to require that the consumer spend range time making sure she or he is familiar with the controls and loading, in addition to ensuring you’re familiar with the way the gun handles.

For me, I personally preferred the UTAS. The design was better. The KSG asks the purchaser to spend the same money, however then to make the gunwork effectively, the consumer needs to add on a butt-pad, cheek rest, hand stop and be gentler with the lower rail. In my view, these things should have already been taken into consideration and designed into the gun before being sold. After about 10 shots, I knew that the butt-pad was not enough to harness the recoil. And in one cold, I knew that the cheek rest was not comfortable. I don’t know hat Kel-Tec’s reasoning is for these shortcomings, but I stand by my evaluation.  The UTAS is not without it’s shortcomings, as it requires some work to fire and rack the gun. The sling mounts rattle and I hate that bolt release button on the UTAS. It’s in a horrible place and you need to hunt for it.

Initially, I was partial to the KSG. It’s good looking, shor and best of all it’s made in America. It just doesn’t hit the mark. I can only describe it as, not complete. So, there you have got it. In my humble opinion, the UTAS wins.