I went on a bit of a bullpup kick this summer. I’ve always liked the form function of the bullpup, but most of them are — to be blunt — kinda crappy. The Steyr AUG is certainly cool in a 1980s action movie sort of way, but the trigger is awful. The FN2000 was a major malfunction waiting to happen. The Tavor is better, but it’s clunky and heavy, especially the shotgun version. The Springfield Hellion, or should I say the VHS-2 the Croatians use, ain’t too bad, but it’s ridiculously expensive. However, the P-90 and PS-90 (while not bullpups in the strictest sense) were excellent weapons. The bottom eject made for fewer malfunctions — in fact, I cannot remember the full-auto P-90 I fired in the ’90s, nor my civilian PS-90 ever having a malfunction of any kind. I even once ran a magazine with a loose/broken feed lip in the PS-90 and it worked.

I’ve never been a big rifle guy. Or a “big rifle” guy. The M-16 and M-4 in the military were fine: light, low-recoil, and easy to shoot, but even those I found just didn’t point naturally for me. All of the shitty weapons above (plus the superb P-90) did. They transition from target to target well, the recoil is more manageable, and they’re much more easy to use indoors.

I didn’t even know Kel-Tec was doing anything other than their venerable SUB-2000 series, so when I saw an RDB on the wall at a local gun store, I played with it — then found it for a realistic price online. (Markup on these at the LGS seem to be about $200 or so.) So for $700, I had a new rifle on the way.

First up — it’s Kel-Tec. There’s going to be a lot of plastic with their “alligator pattern” on the grip. It looks primitive. It works well. I’ve run a P-32 pistol from Kel-Tec for years as my “oh, shit!” gun and never had a malfunction, and the alligator grip texture keeps the little banger in place.

The official picture from the Kel-Tec website.

The stock is metal, and has a double layer over where the breech is so you don’t lose your face in a malfunction. The buttpad is a thin layer of rubber and does just fine absorbing recoil. The forward grip has a little give on mine, but it doesn’t feel chintzy. The barrel on mine is 16″ (the “Defender” variant), and the total length is 27ish inches. It weighs 7 lbs., so about on par with my AR-15. It uses STANAG magazines, so there’s compatibility with weapons like the AR-15. It is chambered in 5.56mm/.223 rem. and uses a short stroke gas piston system to cycle. PMAGs work just fine in it.

The weapon is dead simple inside — a bolt assembly that sits around the piston rod. When it fires, the bolt travels to the back on the weapon and drops the spent round through an ejection port behind the magazine before traveling forward to pick up the next round.. It expected this to be a point of failure; I was wrong. The trigger on bullpups is usualy awful. The RDB has a smooth pull with a bit of take up and a 5ish pound release. It’s as good as most out of the box ARs. The gas system is easy to access and adjust. There’s a couple of sling points on the front of the handgrip, on the top of the buttstock, and two points on the sides of the receiver/grip assembly. There’s a Pic-rail on the top for optics and flip up sights. I added a pair of UTG cheap pop-ups that worked without adjustment, and the Strikefire off of my AR pistol that needed a lot of drop on the point of aim to get sighted in.

So how does it run? I had no issues with 55 grain ammunition, but Hornady Black 75gr jammed up pretty spectacularly, with two rounds getting caught in the breech. Pulling the magazine and running the charging handle cleared it without issue, and a quick adjustment of the gas block has allowed it to run everything from 55gr to 79gr without malfunction for 1200 rounds. Most of the rifle stays clean but the area around the gas block and the rod are pretty dirty.

Accuracy is solid, with similar groups made between the RDB and a H-Bar AR for comparison. A recent trip out (in the pouring rain, no less) saw the RDB plant shot after show on a frying pan hung from a tree at 50 yards using the Strikefire red dot. Reliability was flawless since the gas was adjusted. Recoil is negligible, and certainly less than the H-Bar. The weapon’s balance allows for great controllability: it moves from target to target naturally, and sights in very quickly.

That’s it. Fully taken down, save for trigger internals.

Takedown is simple. Two pins release the grip/receiver, from the barrel assembly. Pull the barrel assembly up a bit, or rotate the grip down and the barrel and bolt assemblies come right out. Putting it back together is just as easy, although sometimes getting the bolt face to lock requires a bit of wiggling. Wear over the thousand plus rounds has been minimal on the finish of the bolt and other friction points. Kel-Tec did a good job on this thing.


So…is it worth it. A loud and unqualified yes. The MSRP is about $900 and yes, it’s worth it. Is it better than an AR? I think so, but your mileage may vary. The trigger is good, the balance is superb, it’s light and the size makes for an easy to use weapon.