Iran nukes Israel. A volcano launches Yellowstone into the ionosphere. Washington’s leadership vacuum finally euthanizes our wheezing economy. Sandy’s heir apparent washes the Eastern seaboard into the Atlantic Ocean.
It doesn’t require a great deal of imagination to conjure a realistic mechanism for anarchy. The common denominator is that something stops those ubiquitous great big trucks from rolling.
Thirty-six hours later, the only things left for sale at the supermarket are fabric softener and toothpaste. Two days after that, your local mayor is sporting a freshly minted Mohawk haircut and screaming down the street looting the neighborhood on a stolen Harley.
While the world still holds certain ambiguities, this is a sure sign of the coming apocalypse. For this story to have a happy ending, you and your family have to make it to Uncle Dave’s place in the country—and leave right now. You get your spouse, kids, and dog into the minivan along with three flats of bottled water and a couple cases of MREs. The Glock and spare magazines go into the center console.
You hesitate in front of the gun safe before turning off the lights. That motorcycle- borne ex-public servant seemed awfully intense and there’s a lot of interstate between you and Dave’s. You’ll need something a bit more serious than a handgun to guarantee your peace of mind for this trip. What is the perfect tool for the job?
If you are forced to move in a crisis, the first question is what sort of firearm to pack. Food, clothes, and medical gear are great, but if you cannot defend them, you just devoted all your prep gear and effort to some thug with a bigger stick and fewer scruples.
The ideal bug-out weapon would be lightweight, reliable, and effective out to 600 meters or more. This rifle would accept any reasonable tactical accessories and use a commonly available and inexpensive magazine. It should be sufficiently powerful as to punch through car doors and light barrier material with aplomb. It would also be adequately compact and maneuverable, to facilitate ready operation in and around vehicles.
Add that it would look like it was pilfered out of the small arms locker on the Death Star, and you have the Kel-Tec RFB .308 in a nutshell.
WEIRD, BUT A GOOD KIND OF WEIRD
Maneuvering with a weapon inside and around a vehicle while under pressure can drive you to distraction. The obvious solution to designing an automatic rifle with space considerations in mind is to move the action behind the pistol grip.
The term bullpup has obscure origins. The concept wherein the action of a firearm is oriented behind the trigger mechanism dates back to the early 20th century. The Steyr AUG, British SA-80, FN 2000, and French FAMAS, as well as the Israeli TAR-21, all took advantage of this layout to produce assault rifles with a respectable barrel length in an extremely compact envelope.
The Achilles heel of the design has always been ejection hassles and lousy triggers. A specific problem with bullpup weapons is that, when configured for right-handed operation, they typically eject hot brass into the operator’s face if fired from the left side. The Kel-Tec RFB .308 addresses the physics of this problem brilliantly.
A WHOLE JAR OF AWESOMESAUCE
RFB stands for Rifle, Forward-Ejecting Bullpup. The RFB employs an ingenious dual extractor system that ejects its rounds forward into a pressed steel ejection tube. After about five rounds have been fired, empty cases start to spill out the front of the rifle.
An odd side effect of this system is that, when you empty a magazine, the last cartridge case remains secured to the bolt face by the aforementioned twin extractors. Dropping the bolt on an empty chamber releases the last fired case into the feed chute. In a sea of firearm designs that do things pretty much the same way, it is simply fascinating to see it done so differently.
The bore and chamber are chrome lined, and overall workmanship on the test piece is perfect. The top rail is long enough for any reasonable optics, and an optional quad rail screws directly onto the barrel for lights and lasers. The charging handle is readily reversible, and the safety is fully ambidextrous.
The RFB uses any standard metric FAL magazines, and magazine changes are fast and intuitive. Bullpup triggers are typically mushier than their more conventional counterparts based on the unavoidable necessity of a long mechanical linkage connecting the trigger with the action.
In the case of the RFB, it is simply well executed. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the trigger pull on the test rifle was a bit over six pounds and was indistinguishable from that of more conventional weapons.
This unconventional design is nicely sealed against the elements, but it does make it a bit of a chore to clear the rifle visually. To do so involves locking the action open and then peering into the open magazine well from the bottom. Recoil is fairly spunky, as this is a bantamweight rifle firing battle rifle cartridges, but it’s still tolerable.
The center of gravity on a bullpup rifle is markedly farther to the rear than on a FAL or M-4. While this can seem a bit unnatural to an operator jaded to more conventional designs, the resulting weapon is compact and effective.
It is a challenge not to fall headlong for this rifle. The weight of the .308 rifle is comparable to its full-figured 5.56mm counterparts, and the compact envelope makes the weapon eminently maneuverable.
While we could endlessly debate gun control, the definition of marriage, and the necessity of spending cuts, no one will dispute the reality that a 7.62x51mm round means not having to say you’re sorry at most any reasonable range. And when compared to other high-end specialty tactical iron, the Kel-Tec RFB is actually quite reasonably priced.
The baddest weapon on the planet is dead weight if you cannot hit anything with it. Top the RFB off with a Holosight from EOTech and a magnifier, and you have the perfect bug-out package. With the magnifier in place, the gun can accurately and reliably reach out to 400 meters or more. Slap the magnifier clear, and the holographic reticle and unimpeded field of view make for a CQB package par excellence.
After I figured out the gas system, the RFB gobbled up everything I fed it. Cheap steel-cased Russian ammo zipped through the rifle like grass through an incontinent goat. Winchester ball ammo yielded tighter groups with a great deal less fouling.
Winchester’s PDX-1 is expensive but indisputably effective. Nickel-plated cases ensure reliable feeding and facilitate long-term storage. Low flash powders preserve your night vision and cut down on your visible signature at night. Dual-core bonded bullets provide deep penetration and explosive energy transfer for targets both behind cover and in the open.
Managing a legitimate crisis can be terrifying, particularly if you are responsible for your family’s safety. However, short of having your own armored personnel carrier, there is little better to bring peace of mind in a pinch than a big-bore bullpup battle rifle that looks meaner than a Star Wars blaster.
If you have to pack the brood into the family minivan and strike out for greener pastures, personal security should not be such a big concern when you’ve got a tricked-out RFB on board.
Lightweight, maneuverable, and refreshingly original, the RFB upholds the standard of innovation that defines Kel- Tec. Add some proper glass and premium ammo, and you have a full can of guaranteed thug repellent.