Bullpup Shotguns: Do They Make Sense?

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Bullpup Shotguns: Do They Make Sense?

These days when I browse the shops, among the few modern tactical firearms readily available in any number are shotguns. Some of them don’t really look like shotguns!

They are something called a bullpup. Some love the idea, some do not, and the individual must decide if they are willing to invest the time and effort to master the type.

This is a shotgun that the user should immerse themself in and learn the nuances of the design and operation if they are to deploy the shotgun for personal defense.

Bullpup shotguns are unconventional in appearance, while the base or skeletal structures are conventional shotguns, either a pump-action or a self-loading action.

Bullpup Shotgun Design

With a bullpup design, the receiver is behind the shooter’s cheek, the barrel is under the cheek and forward, and a tangent trigger system allows a pistol grip to fire the shotgun.

As may be expected, the balance is different from a standard shotgun, and even more different when fully-loaded. As an example, the Kel-Tec KSG is seven pounds unloaded and 8.5 pounds loaded.

The shotgun holds a formidable 14 shells! It is manageable for fast movement, however, and you do not notice the gun getting lighter as the shells are expended.

The KSG is a pump-action shotgun with two guide rails operating the action for added smoothness. If it is based on any other shotgun, it would be the Ithaca 37 with its downward ejection.

The KSG feeds from twin tubular magazines. The magazines feed independently. A lever operates as a stop-switch between magazines.

Choose which magazine you wish to load and move the lever to cover the other magazine. Load the shells as you would any other tubular-magazine shotgun.

When the magazines are fully-loaded, move the selector switch to cover one magazine, then load the other. This selector also acts as a safety, blocking both magazines if the lever is in the middle position.

The KSG’s unique magazines are a bit slower to load than a standard pump shotgun’s single magazine. With 14 shells on tap, this is hardly a consideration.

Consider the KSG’s formidable payload and compare this to a conventional shotgun with an extended magazine tube at nine shells max, and you see that the bullpup makes things possible we perhaps would have thought not possible just a few years ago.

The KSG is fast, very fast, for those that practice. I mounted a TRUGLO red dot on my personal example and began to shred targets from the seven to the 25-yard line.

A combination of Federal, Fiocchi, Remington and Winchester buckshot and slugs never failed. Recoil isn’t as strong as you would think, perhaps less than a conventional shotgun.

Kel-Tec KSG
Perhaps the most successful bullpup shotgun is the Kel-Tec KSG.

Advantage of Bullpup Shotguns

Bullpup shotguns typically have plenty of rail for mounting optics, lasers and sights. This isn’t true of many conventional shotguns.

A 30mm red dot from TRUGLO is affordable and allows very fast work at all ranges. Shoot with both eyes open and hit the target!

The bullpup self-loading shotguns offer excellent control. These usually have a detachable magazine. Excellent speed and reliability are possible.

Don’t hose the target down with buckshot, fire at a slower cadence in practice and switch from one target to the other and you will be armed with a formidable combination.

With bullpup shotguns, keep the hand forward and press the forend into the shoulder. A vertical foregrip is a reasonable choice and offers some shooters better control.

Kel-Tec KSG
The KSG is unconventional in performance, but handles well.

Practice and Maintenance

You must learn maintenance with these shotguns. The usual bullpup action is encased in a shell that contains a more or less conventional shotgun in an unconventional format.

The bullpup isn’t for everyone. There is fun, even novelty, in the bullpup shotgun. For those willing to master the type, the short profile and fast handling in tight quarters make it an excellent choice.

The primary difference in the bullpup is that it must be handled and aimed like a rifle, the natural point of the shotgun isn’t the same when the bullpup treatment is added.

I am not certain this is a good thing, as the shotgun is based on handling for combat performance while the rifle is based on marksmanship. Some shooters prefer AR-15 stocks.

They are immersed in the rifle and also immerse themselves in training with the shotgun. Commonality of weapons in fit and feel is fine and the shooter that practices relentlessly will master the weapon.

There is nothing as versatile as the shotgun. Shotguns, for the most part, feed from tubular magazines.

The pump and self-loading shotguns feed from the tubular magazine under the barrel and even the Kel-Tec KSG feeds from twin tubular magazines.

A drawback to combat shotguns has been the relatively low capacity.

While conversions to a 10-round drum exist, the ability to quickly use a detachable magazine has been deemed desirable, but seldom has the need been met.

Seven and eight-round extended magazines are about it.

TriStar Bullpup shotgun
TriStar’s line of bullpup shotguns handle well and make a formidable home defense choice.

Other Factors to Consider

Finally, we have shotguns fitted with a removable magazine that seems to be reliable and the KSG with integral high capacity.

Be certain to master manipulating the safety selector, trigger, magazine release and bolt stop.

The choices of modern shotguns, such as the SRM 1216, is a broad choice, and with some very good choices, you may choose the perfect bullpup shotgun.

These are innovations well worth your time and effort to explore.

What do you think of the Kel-Tec KSG and other bullpup shotguns? Let us know in the comments below!

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