American Rifleman | Kel-Tec RDB: A Unique Bullpup Rifle Design
by Guy J. Sagi –
Wednesday December 9, 2020
To say the Kel-Tec’s RPV is an unusual take on a bullpup is an understatement. The gun’s initials – which stand for rifle, downward-ejecting bullpup – tell only part of the story. It was a huge hit at the NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits in 2014, where it was first introduced to enthusiasts.
Bullpup designs have traditionally been thrown upwards or compromised ambidextrous use by tossing empty shells to one side or the other. In this rifle they leave the magazine well and head towards the ground. The piston driven RPV is semi-automatic and uses a short stroke gas operating system.
Versatility is the key to the weapon and includes a regulator on the barrel that allows owners to adjust the pressure that is removed when cycling (for suppression work or when using light loads). It is also modular in design and consists of four assembly groups – bolt group, barrel group, handle group, and the receiver group that houses the serialized component. H&K style push pins allow quick and easy disassembly for maintenance, repair or replacement. Two ejectors on the bolt ensure operation from unconventional shooting positions, even upside down.
All four versions available today are housed in the 5.56 NATO, have a 1/7 “rifle, have a top rail for optics, and accept standard AR-15 magazines. This is a great benefit for enthusiasts who already have one own a modern sport rifle.
Last year, the Kel-Tec RDB was the seventh most popular semi-automatic poplar rifle on sale on GunBroker.com. It’s also gaining traction because it was number 8 in 2018.
With the company’s introduction of the new Defender RDB model, you can expect it to climb the rankings in this year’s totals. Its barrel is 16.1 “long, its buttocks are adjustable, and it comes with an M-LOK compatible aluminum handguard. MSRP is $ 1,072-1,142, depending on the option.
The RDB Defender version has the same barrel, but comes with a folding visor and no pistol grip. The price varies between $ 1,036 and $ 1,108.
If you’re looking for pigs or want to fill a label on opening day, the Hunter model may be better for you. With a sleek front end, 20.5-inch barrel, and pivot pin at the front, expect $ 930 to $ 1,002.
And finally, the RDB 17 has a 17.3-inch barrel. It has a Zytel front end, pitatinny on the bottom for accessories, and an MSRP of $ 930.