The Kel-Tec .223 RDB

| Out Of The Box |
This New Bullpup Packs Performance
In A Little Package

By J.B. Wood

Well, they’ve done it again. With the genius of George Kellgren and the expertise of Tobias Obermeit, Kel-Tec has produced a neat .223 bullpup called the Model RDB. It’s a nice encore to their previous .308 forward-ejector, and those who prefer the 5.56/.223 will welcome it.

This one is simpler and lighter, and ejection of the fired cases is downward at the rear. During the test-firing, it put three of the cases neatly in my open shirt pocket! I buttoned the pocket. The 20-round polymer magazine is by MagPul, excellent. Any standard AR-type magazine will fit, but non-original mags should always be tested for function.

One I tried out was a nice 30-round aluminum-body magazine from Brownells, and it worked perfectly. The magazine catch on the RDB is a beautiful design. It’s not a button, but an easily-operated lever at the front of the magazine well. The entirely internal bolt stays open after the last shot. The bolt release has tabs on both sides.

The manual safety is also ambidextrous, with levers well-placed at the top of the pistol-grip. (Up for safe, down to fire.) The bolt retraction handle is of generous length for a good hold, and spring-loaded to lie flat. The handle is easily installed on either side of the receiver. While we’re at the front, note the short, well-designed muzzlebrake at the barrel end.

On the underside, forward of the trigger, there’s a 9-inch standard rail for mounting a light, laser or vertical foregrip. On top, a 10-inch rail will take a red-dot sight, a scope, or what I chose: a set of MagPul fully-adjustable open sights. Both front and rear fold down, and flip up into position at the touch of a lever.


The Kel-Tec .223 RDB is a bullpup design and an extremely compact
package for a full-power rifle at a total overall length of 27.3 inches.


When pulled out for use, the bolt handle has generous proportions. Unlike
most bullpups, the RDB ejects out the bottom, and most controls are on either side.


The manual safety at the top of the handgrip is shown here on safe.
Present on both sides for right- or left-hand use, it is easy to use.


The rifle is ambidextrous, although the charging handle must be reversed
manually for left-hand users. Picatinny rails are provided at 12 and 6 o’clock for
your choice of sights and accessories.

In general, bullpup designs often have a long linkage ending in a terrible trigger pull. Well, not this time! On my RDB the take-up is so small it is barely noticeable, then a clean let-off, with an average of just less than 5 pounds. In guns of this type, it is the best trigger pull I have ever encountered.

At the Big Tree range I tried the RDB at 25 yards, standing, and no rest. I was using Black Hills ammo, some older, remanufactured rounds in the blue box. The functioning was perfect. Groups averaged around 4 inches, well-centered in the 8-inch black of Champion VisiShot targets.

Because everything is compacted toward the rear, bullpup designs often seem a bit fat and heavy. The RDB gets good marks in both categories. It weighs just 7 pounds, and the maximum width is 2.05 inches. The over-all length, from the muzzle to the rubber butt-piece, is 27.4 inches. Barrel is 17.4 inches, or 18.4 to the front of the flash-hider/brake.

The handling qualities of the RDB are superb. Firing from belt level—no sights—it was fun bouncing some cans. The firing system is gas/piston with a rotating bolt head. For a high-quality bullpup with these features, the retail quoted is reasonable: $1,272.73. It can probably be found for a little less.

Black Hills Ammunition
3050 Eglin St.
Rapid City, SD 57703
(605) 348-5150

Champion Traps & Targets
1 ATK Way
Anoka, MN 55303
(800) 635-7656

Maker: Kel-Tec Ind.,
P.O. Box 236009,
Cocoa, FL 32923,
(321) 631-0068,

Action type: Gas-operated, self loading
Caliber: 5.56/.223
Capacity: 20 (AR-15 magazines)
Barrel length: 17.3 inches, (1:7-inch twist)
Overall length: 27.3 inches
Weight: 7.1 pounds
Finish: Matte black
Sights: None, Picatinny rail provided
Stock: Polymer
Price: $1,272

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