The RDB – 1200 Rounds Later
Last October I found an RDB at my local gun store; 4 of them to be exact. I have been reading about them on /k/ for a few months and seeing reviews and, despite Kel-Tek’s reputation, I thought it was a really interesting gun and apparently they were rare at the time. I picked it up for $1100 out the door, a good price for the time (pre-election), but not so great now. Initially, the gun really impressed me; almost no recoil impulse due to the adjustable gas system, downward ejection means anyone could shoot it (don’t use it for 9 hole, however), and the overall length was so compact you could move it freely even in the smallest of vehicles. With an EOTech on it, I could hit steel at 100 yards one-handed; it was perfectly balanced on the grip with a full 30 round mag. The trigger was actually very, very good. The trigger weight is 4.5 pounds with maybe a little more travel distance than you would want, but still miles ahead of other bullpups. I enjoyed the gun so much I decided to try to 3D model my own hand-guards for it to create my own MA5C, but more on that later.
At the 600 round mark, the ejector pin walked out while firing and bent as you can see below. This left the gun inoperable, so I looked up the issue and apparently early RDBs had this problem fairly frequently. I contacted Kel-Tek and they sent me a new one free of charge. They claimed the original pins were not thick enough and this new one would work just fine. The gun ran fine after that aside from a minor hick-up I didn’t notice until recently. One of the retaining collars for a takedown pin actually popped out at some point and I hadn’t noticed, so the pin wasn’t totally secure. It wasn’t really a problem because it never fully walked out, but it moved more than it should have and wasn’t secure when taking down the rifle.
At 1000 rounds the firing pin broke. The tip of the firing pin actually broke as shown below. Never, at all, under any circumstances, should a firing pin break within even 5,000 rounds. Angry that I had to talk to Kel-Tek again, I spoke to some others who knew more about machining than I did and they told me it was an issue of treating and that the firing pin was probably brittle. This may speak of Kel-Tek’s manufacturing processes when it comes to making their rifles, as they are a plastics company first, and foremost. Kel-Tek sent me another free of charge and again, I had a functioning rifle.
I had hoped I was done with the problems this gun had brought me, but again, at 1200 rounds, the ejector pin walked out just as it had 600 rounds ago. Not only that but while trying to strip the paint from the gun (do not try to spray paint when it’s humid out) the water used to rinse it off actually rusted the screws holding it together and part of the trigger springs. That is just unacceptable. At this point, I was fairly angry and disappointed in Kel-Tek. I contacted them to voice my issues and they told me to send the gun in for a full upgrade because “there had been many improvements since the serial number series I bought was released”. I sent it in, they fixed it, and they sent it back within a week. Good turn around time, but I shouldn’t have had to send it in in the first place. I haven’t had a chance to take it out and make sure it works since I got it back, but I’ll be heading out here soon to make sure it does what it should: shoot.
Would I buy this gun again knowing what I know? Not right now. Would I buy this gun in a year or two when the issues get worked out? Maybe. I bought the gun because I wanted a bullpup that both looked cool and didn’t face many of the problems that more popular versions did like mushy triggers and bad ejection. Kel-Tek solved these problems but introduced their own. The RDB is a very cool gun and I have plans for it in the future, such as the aforementioned MA5C handguard and top rail (I’ll make a post when it happens), but at this point, I would much rather have the money I spent for it than the headaches it has caused.