Field Assessment: Kel-Tec RDB Defender

In this review, we take a look at the Kel-Tec RDB Defender, a 5.56 bullpup rifle that was built for defense but was recently used for hunting on a trip south.

So before we get into the Kel-Tec RDB Defender, let me anticipate that the defender for hunting can be viewed as a choice that goes outside the box. I know bullpup rifles are not a common choice for going into the woods or open fields of Texas, but I did just that and here I am supposed to tell the story.

I seem to be in Texas every month at this time of my life. I’ve been once a month now in 2021 and there’s no stopping this train. If I could get the rest of my family on board I would seriously consider moving. Not only are there endless opportunities for hunting, but there are also great people and great weather. Since I can’t move, I just make myself a very frequent visitor.

In late 2020, I had the opportunity to take the Kel-Tec RFB Hunter to Texas for a pig hunt and found it to be a very capable .308 rifle. As I mentioned in this review, it was my first time taking a bullpup for a spin in a hunting application. One of the things I found most beneficial was the compact size of the rifle compared to the extended length of the barrel. After taking the RFB Hunter for a spin, I thought I’d give the RDB Defender a spin.

The Kel-Tec RDB Defender is a compact bullpup rifle with a chamber of 5.56 x 45. The rifle was developed with the design elements of RDB and RDB Survival in mind to create this lightweight rifle. The defender comes standard with aluminum, MLOK handguards, collapsible buttocks, and 16-inch pencil profile barrel. The total length of this rifle was the draw for me and was only 27 inches. I mentioned this point in my review of the RFB Hunter, but having a compact rifle when hunting pigs is something to appreciate. There are plenty of entrances and exits as well as scanning the landscape with the thermoscopes, which becomes easier with a shorter rifle.

This rifle was great fun shooting and I think it’s a good option for someone who wants to play in the bullpup room. Rifles chambered in 5.56 are usually better for smaller wildlife and predators, but are an absolute option for pigs. I love taking rifles that are versatile, and a larger caliber is not always the best use for the game you are following.

One such time was a coyote hunt in 2019 that happened to call in a really beautiful gray fox. Had I hunted Creedmoor with a larger caliber like the .308 or 6.5, I would have run the risk of ruining the fur. Fortunately, I was on the hunt with a 5.56 and got away with a perfectly intact full body mount of the fox.

Something like the Kel-Tec RDB Defender is a great multi-purpose rifle for your South Texas hunting antics that combines reliability with a compact and lightweight frame. For more information on the Kel-Tec RDB Defender, visit

Full specifications

CALIBER – .223Rem / 5.56x45mm


MAGAZINE CAPACITY – 20 or any AR15 magazine



TWIST RATE – 1: 7in

TRIGGER PULL – 4.5 – 5.5 lbs


MSRP – $ 1300

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