One universal truth about Kel-Tec is that they are constantly innovating. Not long ago, Kel-Tec introduced the P50, a futuristic-looking pistol chambered in 5.6×28 and utilizing the fifty-round P90 magazines. Following the success of the P50, the R50, similar to the P50 but with a folding stock and sixteen-inch barrel, was introduced. Along with that came the R50 Defender, a short-barreled rifle based on the R50, and that is what we have in for review.

This is a very interesting-looking rifle that has proven to be reliable and accurate. The R50 Defender ships with two magazines. It has plenty of Picatinny Rail on the top and bottom and a standard A2 birdcage flash hider. The stock folds to the left or right by pulling down just a bit and folding it in the direction you choose.

Kel-Tec includes minimalistic sights that were adequate, but to truly get the best from this SBR, an optic is ideal. I opted for the Meprolight M22 reflex sight. The fiber optics provide illumination by day and premium Swiss-made tritium vials by night, which will perform in any lighting condition without the need for batteries.

The lever to open the SBR to swap magazines is just below the quick-detach sling point. The trigger broke just over five pounds with a bit of take-up and overtravel. Note the AR-style charging handle.

The magazine sits between the upper and lower; while a bit unconventional, it proved reliable with a myriad of ammunition.

The R50 Defender has an ambidextrous safety just in front of the lever to open the SBR for mag swap.

Aside from the Meprolight M22, I suppressed the SBR throughout most of the review. I started with the Liberty Suppressors Centurion, which is reviewed here. While that can worked fine, I tried the B&T Rotex X reviewed here. It worked a little better since the Rotex X QDs to the A2 flash hider and is a dedicated 5.56 can. The R50 is top eject, but the brass flies out at roughly a forty-five-degree angle. When running the rifle, consider the optic placement, or if you are wearing a hat and crowd the ejection port, you may get some brass bouncing off your hat brim.

3 rounds at 30 yards with Meprolight R22 reflex sight from a rest.


While some may like this R50 Defender and some may not care for it, there is little doubt Kel-Tec is an innovator. I can appreciate that on several levels. As they push the envelope, developing some very interesting and practical firearms, other manufacturers have to take notice. Everything I have reviewed for them in the past has been reliable and, at the very least, interesting.

After about 300 various rounds downrange without any malfunctions, failures, or misfeeds, I am satisfied with the R50 Defender. Everyone who shot commented right away on the fun factor. While the little SBR is fun to run, it would also serve very well as a home defense/self-defense firearm. With very little to no recoil, a good trigger, and plenty of rail to add accessories, you can upfit this rifle as you see fit. You have two more options for this platform to avoid NFA paperwork: the P50, pistol, and R50 rifle. With that said, I believe if you are going to use this as a home defense firearm, a silencer is an excellent idea due to the 5.7×28 being obnoxious, especially indoors. Suppose you are going through the trouble of getting a can; you might as well file for the short-barreled rifle while you are at it. The SBR holds the most value for home defense or a truck gun due to its small footprint and true stock over a folding brace. Whichever way you decide to go, the P50/R50 line would serve you well in multiple facets.











TWIST: 1:7″


MSRP: $815

By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

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