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SHOT 2014 — Kel-Tec’s New Bullpups the M43 and RDB

Earlier in January someone leaked a product sheet for two new Kel-Tec bullpup rifles named the RDB and M43. I heard Kel-Tec was pretty ticked off about the leak, but the flier circulated the gun blogs quickly. I wondered if maybe Kel-Tec was mad because the rifles didn’t exist, but sure enough, Kel-Tec unveiled prototypes of the M43 and RDB at SHOT Show 2014. Both rifles operate on an adjustable short-stroke gas piston system and are chambered for 5.56mm NATO/.223 Remington. Both bullpups have a longer bolt travel than you are more likely used to, but this helps with controlling full-auto versions. Three of the awesome features that jump out of both the M43 and RDB are the downward ejection, fully interchangeable parts between the bullpups and 100 percent ambidextrous controls. Both feature a 17.5-inch barrel with a ½x28 thread ready for a muzzle brake or suppressor.

Picture shows two bullpup rifles from Kel-Tec at the SHOT Show 2014.
Kel-Tec unveiled prototypes of the M43 and RDB at SHOT Show 2014.
Picture shows Kel-Tec's M43 bullpup rifle with wood furniture.
The M43 has folding sights and a wood pistol grip and handguard with vented top heat shield.
The differences in the two are the furniture. The RDB—which Kel-Tec says stands for Rifle Downward Ejecting Bullpup— is polymer with a Picatinny accessory rail and top and bottom and the M43 has folding sights and a wood pistol grip and handguard with vented top heat shield. Kel-Tec called the M43 the “collector’s edition.” Both accept standard AR-15 magazines. In fact, the RDB had a Magpul PMag inserted.

The RDB is 27.4 inches long, while the M43 is 26.2 inches overall. The weight on the RDB is about seven pounds, with the M43 is one pound heavier. Kel-Tec expects the rifles to retail for $1900 to $2000.

The leaked flier says the RDB and M43 will start shipping in late 2014 with 6.5 Grendel and 7.62x39mm not soon to follow (I added that part myself).

Picture shows a Kel-Tec rep holding the all black, polymer RDB prototype bullpup rifle.
The RDB is polymer with a Picatinny accessory rail and top and bottom.
Kel-Tec has again given us two new guns we are desperate to get our hands on. However, I don’t advise you to hold your breath.

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Comments (9)

  1. Hello CheaperThanDirt, I was wondering if you or anyone have any new information regarding the KelTec RDB, such as performance, upgrades and availability? Most video reviews and performance tests for the RDB were conducted in 2014/ 2015 and the rifles for those tests were the prototype RDB’s, yet I haven’t seen any performance tests on any finished production versions for 2016 or 2017. I do know that the U.S. Corrections Special Operations Units have adopted the KelTec RDB and the KSG as noted on their videos, but again I haven’t seen any videos for tests of any finished productions of the RDB.

    1. Steve, I just had dinner last night at the NRA Show with Kel-Tec’s Director of Marketing. I’ll hit him up for info this weekend. ~Dave Dolbee

  2. i’ve been looking and comparing price,quality, reliability and customer service. i was considering a kel tec product. i don’t know if it’s because of personal biasis towards kel tec but, it’s not looking godd for kel tec. i’ve bought a ksg from them. i’m satisfied with the performance, luckily, so far i haven’t had to contact customer service. i bought a few isreali products in the past, and had top notch customer service and support. pricing is very similar between the tavor and rdb bullpups. my choice would be, hands down, the tavor, it’s battle proven and very reliable. the rdb and frb, in my opinion, would be a very schetchy “battle rifle”. they would probably be best suited for plinking.

  3. I have a P-32 and had a P-9 and never had a jam with either. I like the looks of the new bullpups but the 2K price will keep most away.

  4. @AR, I have a SU-16 and a SUB2000 and have had zero problems with jams. I haven’t heard many complaints about their rifles generally. The pistols generally have poor feed ramps and require some buffing and fluffing before they feed properly – but they’re super cheap so I don’t know if it’s fair to expect “brand name” finish out of the box.

    1. Like most subcompact pistols (notably compact 1911’s like our ‘Jam City’ Kimber Ultra Carry II), after about a thousand rounds, you have to replace the mainspring. We’ve put 800 rounds through my wife’s p-11, and I don’t recall it jamming once. Granted, I polished the feed ramp myself when I first got it, but my only complaint with the Keltec is the horrible trigger, not the reliability.

  5. The collector edition with the wood furniture puts me in mind of an AK-47. It would be great to see this in the AK 7.62×39 caliber.

    I’m glad to see the bullpup design get some traction. It does take the eye a bit to get used to it but once it does it’s easy to see all the benefits. I would imagine a next gen bullpup to be some kind of transformer so it can some moving or folding parts which would make it into a long gun or back to the short bullpup config in a short amount of time. Seconds in fact.

  6. So we can expect that $2000 MSRP to be about a $2500-$3000 street price given the inability of KT’s production to keep up with demand.

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