Want a 7.62x51mm NATO caliber semi-auto rifle but don't want the hefty 44-inch long boat oar that is the FAL series? Well Kel-Tec has listened and given the people what they want- a .308-bullpup rifle that is just 26-inches long. We are not making this up.
The .308 Winchester/7.62x51mm NATO round was developed to replace the venerable 30.06 caliber in the US military after WWII. The hearty cartridge has almost all of the same power as the 'aught-six, while coming in a half-inch shorter and imparting a good bit less felt recoil on the user's shoulder. The problem with the caliber though, is that most semi-auto rifles that are chambered for it are brutes. The FN-designed FAL series, the Spanish/German CETME/HK3, and the US M14/Springfield M1A rifles all go large. The smallest available on the market is the Springfield SOCOM, which uses a 16-inch barrel to give the user a 37.5-inch gun that still weighs in at 8.8-pounds unloaded.
The FAL is a great gun and was called the "Free World's Right Arm" as they were adopted by scores of countries in the 1950s-70s. BUT they are just super long and rather unwieldy.
Kel-Tec decided to go smaller.
The most obvious signal that something is altogether different with the Kel Tec RFB is the bullpup stock that places the trigger group of the rifle as far forward as possible-- therefore pushing the action further into the buttstock area and shortening the overall profile dramatically. With this Kel-Tec brings a 26-inch long carbine while still having an 18-inch barrel. For those who want a full-sized barrel, the "Hunter" model offers a 24-inch one while still coming in at 31-inches overall. This is radically different when you compare the barrels of the popular 7.62mm rifles out there
- Kel Tec Hunter: 24-inch barrel, Overall length 31-inches
- CEMTME Sporter: 16.5-inch barrel, Overall length 37.75-inches
- Century Arms FAL G1: 21-inch barrel, Overall length 43.25-inches
- Springfield M1A Standard: 22-inch barrel, Overall length 44.33-inches
Kel Tec RFB carbine with suppressor. Note that without it, the overall length is only 26-inches from muzzle crown to butt. Picture from Kel Tec's site.
Using a rather interesting version of a short-stroke gas piston action, the RFB ejects rounds forward out of an ejection chute above the barrel. (RFB stands for Rifle, Forward-ejecting Bullpup) While ejection chutes have proven problematic on rifles in the past (just look up the S&W Model 1940!), Kel-Tec seems to have worked out the bugs enough to get this one off the drawing board. The neatest thing about the design is that it allows the gun to be fully ambi, without lefties worrying about getting a face full of hot brass.
We are excited about the gas piston, as some of the best rifles of all time, including the M-1 Garand and M1918 BAR, utilized similar systems, often seen as more reliable than gas-impingement methods (such as used on the M16/AR15). The gun also comes standard with a threaded barrel (5/8x24 TPI) for various muzzle crown accessories and Mil-Spec Picatinny rail for optics. The magazine well accepts standard metric FAL style 10 and 20 round magazines--, which are still some of the best deals on surplus mag market with some tens of millions made.
The bad part, MSRP is $ 1880.00. This is about online with the Springfield rifles, but 3x the price of US-built sporters made from imported parts kits such as the various FALs and CETMEs. Still, it's shortest 308 in the game.