Much has been written and said about this comparison. I wasn’t sure that more needed to be said or written about the subject since there are many outlets that have done this very comparison. However, I decided to do this a little differently. I wanted no influence from either manufacturer. So, I put my money where my mouth is and I bought these guns off the shelf with money I earned. Therefore, everything you’re about to see and read has not been influenced whatsoever from any manufacturer’s sources. Now, that is not to say that I’m influenced on any other day with any other gun or any gear I review, on the contrary, I write for you, the audience, hoping that I bring some integrity to the process. I hope that I am able to bring to you an unbiased opinion every time I write these reviews. Here’s something else that hopefully adds to my credibility; I’m not getting paid a single cent to write this article.
So, without boring you any further, let’s get to the comparison.
First off, let’s discuss why we’re even doing this review. There are many choices out there for home defense. I happen to think that shotguns, as a category, are the most versatile weapons available. There is a wide variety of ammo available, and many different types of shotguns. I think this bullpup design lends itself particularly well to the home defense purpose due to the light weight and shorter overall design of the weapon, and in the ability to outfit it with lights and sights of your choice (if you even really need a sight with a 12 gauge). The bullpup design allows the user to move tactically through a house if necessary without the problems of a really long barrel impeding your progress, or announcing your location prematurely. I also believe that since the shotgun has such a wide variety of ammo available, that in particular, these shotguns having two magazine tubes, allows the user to set up each tube with a specific type of ammo that can be chosen for use depending on the situation one might find themselves in. That, however, requires that the user put in many hours of practice with a particular weapon platform and thoroughly understand how the weapon works. Nothing beats practice and muscle memory in a high adrenaline situation. If you plan to buy one of these and simply load it, fire a few rounds through it and then prop it up behind your bedroom door, then I would not recommend loading it with more than one type of ammo. Taking that decision out of the stressful situation might save your life if you aren’t going to dedicate many hours of practice mastering either of these weapons platforms. I also chose these shotguns because of their popularity with the consumer, Hollywood and law enforcement, along with the fact that their unique design as a bullpup makes them stand out against the conventional shotgun design.
As mentioned above, this is a bullpup design shotgun made of polymer and steel. Most of the outside surfaces you will touch are made from polymer. It is chambered for 3” magnum shells and will run just about anything you feed it. The gun comes in a cardboard box. Included in the box is the well written and organized owner’s manual and a take-down tool.
The unit does not include sights from the factory, those must be purchased separately. There are a few other options that are offered with it. The laser/light combo is nice. It is integrated into the forend and the on/off switch is located above your index finger if you’re a “righty”, otherwise, “lefties” might have a more difficult time reaching the switch. It can also be outfitted with a Beretta style screw-in barrel extension, and a door-breach (UTAS calls it a ‘tactical’) choke. I did opt for the laser/light combo and am happy with the performance and ease of use. However, since the Kel-Tec does not offer this as an option, I am not, for the purposes of comparison, reviewing the use or utility of that part of the gun.
Loading the UTAS is a relatively easy process. There is a door on either side of the top. Flip the door down, then push the follower into the magazine and start feeding the shells in. It is a little deceptive, as the last shell actually stays in the port, it doesn’t get pushed into the magazine. It took me a little while to get used to that. Once the magazine tube is filled to the desired capacity, slapping the port door closed causes the plunger to apply pressure and set the shells up for feeding into the chamber. You can set the selector switch to feed from either tube, or leave it in the middle to feed from each tube. It will alternate back and forth automatically.
It was decided that the first shots should just be to get a feel for the way the gun handles and fires. We loaded it up with Federal target 2 3/4” shells. Reaching for the bolt release is somewhat awkward. It’s located on the bottom of the butt stock near the back of the stock. It is a smooth button that, with gloves on, is pretty hard to locate. Without gloves it’s a little more tactile, but still in an awkward location. Once depressed, you can then rack a round into the chamber through the normal/usual method. However, this usually leaves you with a round in the chamber and your strong hand nowhere near the trigger mechanism. Some have complained that the door covering the chamber is problematic since it is held in place with a magnet. To date I have experienced zero issues related to how that door and closure is designed.
Once you have your strong hand relocated back where it belongs on the grip, things get progressively better. For right-handers, the safety switch is easily manipulated with your strong hand thumb, rotating it into the fire position akin to an AR platform design. Since this gun does not ship with sights, I bought a Bushnell TRS-25 red dot site and mounted it atop the gun with a ½” riser on the built in top rail. Once set up properly, it is easy and quick to obtain a good sight picture.
Racking another round has to be deliberate. This shotgun does not suffer lazy people. If you don’t make a positive engagement to the rear stop of the forend, you will likely short-stroke the gun and fail to chamber the next round. Many complaints have been aired about this, but in my experience, I found that you just had to be deliberate, and it responded with a satisfying “bang” each and every time you rack a round. It ejects the spent shells out the right side and does a fair job of flinging them afar. For lefties, the right side ejection port may be an issue, but my friend is a lefty and he didn’t have any complaints about firing it and getting hot brass flung at him. Firing is predictable and smooth. The trigger is smooth and consistent all the way to the break point.
The UTS-15 magazine selector can be manually manipulated to block off either of the feed tubes. As mentioned previously, if you leave it centered, the gun automatically draws from both tubes, alternating automatically as it depletes the available ammunition.
The gun is easy to handle and manipulate overall, there wasn’t a huge learning curve aside from the gun demanding that you deliberately rack it. The weight of it (unloaded) is also an easy 6.9 pounds overall, so I didn’t feel it was heavy or sluggish to manipulate.
- Bullpup design
- Optional integrated laser/light combo
- Easy to load
- Shell count easily viewed through magazine ports
- Optional screw-in barrel extension
- Flip up top cover allows for easy failure clearing
- AR Style safety switch
- Easy single tool (included) field stripping
- Expensive for a shotgun
- Poor location for bolt release
- Doesn’t come with the cool case made for it
- No sights included
- No place to hang a light if you don’t opt for the UTAS version
- Right side ejection port
- Controls are not ambidextrous
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