The Kel-Tec RDB Semi Automatic Rifle: The Ultimate AR-15 Alternative?

The Kel-Tec RDB Semi Automatic Rifle: The Ultimate AR-15 Alternative?

Kyle Mizokami


In the world of semi-automatic rifles, the AR-15 dominates but is not dominant in features. The Kel-Tec RDB is a worthy alternative to the AR platform, especially for left-handers and those who just want something different.

The AR-15 series of weapons reign supreme as the dominant semi-automatic rifle platform in America. Despite this, there are a number of useful alternatives that a gun owner could use to break out of the pack and carry something different and unique. The Kel-Tec RDB, one of the few bullpup rifles on the market, has all the standard features of an AR-15 and then some.

One of the obvious features of the RDB rifle over its contemporaries is the bullpup layout. Bullpup military-style rifles become popular in the 1980s, as several Western countries adopted them in the shift from 7.62 to 5.56-millimeter rifles. The British Army traded in its standard configuration L1A1 7.62-millimeter battle rifles for the new SA80 5.56-millimeter assault rifle, while both Austria and Australia similarly moved on from a 7.62 rifle to the 5.56 caliber Steyr AUG.

The bullpup configuration is generally acknowledged as one that places the rifle’s moving parts, including piston, chamber, bolt, and magazine well behind the trigger. These parts are so far to the rear they are typically in the buttstock, greatly shortening the overall length of the rifle. As a result, the British SA80 has a barrel 20.4 inches long while the rifle itself is just 30.5 inches. That’s approximately six inches longer than the barrel of the U.S. Military’s M4A1 carbine. The extra length allows gas pressure from the burning gunpowder to act longer on the bullet, giving it greater velocity and therefore slightly longer range.  The M16 series weapon with a 20-inch barrel, the M16A2, is 39 inches long.

The result is a weapon that is both handier and more compact–particularly useful in urban combat situations where narrow hallways and doorways may restrict how readily a soldier can point his weapon. At the same time, the longer barrel length and range allows for longer range engagements in open, rolling country.

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