Sustained 150 round bust through a KAC SR15 with full auto lower.
Sustained 150 round bust through a KAC SR15 with full auto lower.
Regular readers of the website may have noticed a certain piece of gear popping up in pictures for the most part of this year. The multi cam plate carrier seen in most gun test reviews is a product of High Com Security. HCS very kindly sent me the PC and the rifle plates inside it, for testing and evaluation. I have had it since last winter and have been heavily using it over the past months. This review is the first part in what will be an ongoing longer term test and review. Since buying armor is not sexy and can be a considerable investment for most gun owners, I will be wearing and using the PC and armor heavily to report on how it stands up. I hope this will help decide for some of you who are on the fence about getting armor since I think everyone who can, should have it just as much as a gun for personal protection.
If you don’t know about HCS, I will post the blurb from their website to get you filled in since they can explain it better than I.
“At HighCom we design, develop, test, manufacturer, and distribute body armor and personal protective equipment including more than two dozen NIJ compliant hard and soft armor products.
We are in business for one simple reason to protect lives from bullets and bombs. For nearly two decades, HighCom has helped to save countless lives by supplying critical security products and personal protective equipment (PPE) to America’s federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and military branches.
We stand behind our armor and are proud to say that our products are manufactured in the United States. We are constantly striving to produce armor solutions that far exceed our customer’s expectations. We know lives depend on our commitment to excellence which is why we are constantly developing innovative armor solutions.”
The carrier that HighCom sent me is the Trooper APC is Multicam and it has been excellent. The first thing I did after getting it together, was to bend over and touch toes, do some pushups, roll around on ground like and idiot and generally see if i had the full range of movement I would have with wearing anything. I did. This is the first PC I have tried that I feel like nothing about it hinders my movement. Is it comfortable? Yes. As comfortable as any of these things can be. Nothing grinds against you or sticks juts into any body parts. Sitting in a car is comfortable, laying prone is comfortable, climbing up ladders and through windows is no problem. Yes, the plates were inside the carrier during all this.
The carrier itself is made well with good stitching. Usually some of the lesser quality stuff will have some of the sub par sewing to bust and come loose. This has held up., I have sweated in it and its been soaked in rain and been in the sun for long hours and the material and colors have had no degrading.
The shoulder straps are the first I have ever used that actually felt comfortable and I could stand. Usually they dig into me and I detest them but not these. They have no imapct on shouldering a carbine/rifle for me either. The shoulder straps have a good range of adjustment to fit even the most hideous of mutant bodies.
One thing I really like is the plates go into a different pocket than the soft armor. The soft armor goes in through the bottom. The plates insert through a nice tight sealing velcro seem pouch through the top of the carrier. I really like this. The cumber bun of the carrier is familiar to anyone who has ever used a PC. Adjustable in the read and velcroed in the front for attaching under the front flap. The side of the cumber-bun will accept soft armor and the side SAPI plates for protecting you from broadsides.
Once I got the carrier fitted, I started adding a few things to it for use. I like to avoid putting a lot of stuff on my PC. I like the option of using it almost bare and putting on a chest right or TAP over it if need be. For this test, I added pouches right onto the PC to test out the strength of the stitching while I used it heavily this year. In this case, I have a double mag shingle, three pistol mag pouches and a IFAK that moves from it to a chest rig depending.
Obviously you can, and most likely will, add more stuff for whatever requirements you may have. Wearing the PC while shooting and moving around is easy and comfortable after a minute of two of getting used to the weight.
The plates ( front and rear) are the Guardian 4SAs7 model. This is a Level IV stand alone plate. You can use soft armor for a back up, (and certainly more is always better!) but this level is made to work on its own. You can also buy soft armor from HCS to add to your carrier in addition to the plates if you want it and can afford it. For those who choose to pass on soft armor for whatever reasons , you can still have more peace of mind with stand alone plates. If there is any true peace of mind that comes with the thoughts of being shot anyways.
I prefer this cut of plate but they offer various styles and types. This plate has the side angles at the top for better movement in the arms and shoulder and is curved for the body.
The 4SAS7 plates are a really great deal. Getting stand alone plates at a reasonable deal is like finding some mythological beast. It is hard to say what “enough” body armor is. Any sane person would want as much as possible, n0 matter the cost or weight but that is just not practical or feasible for most of us. If your work place doesn’t give you armor and you have to buy it yourself, this is a great deal and a a level of protection that may go a long way towards making you feel safer while offering real, serious ballistic protection up to serious rifle rounds. Plates give a peace of mind you don’t have from soft armor that will stop a pistol round, stand alone hard armor will stop most of the common threat rifle rounds. To me that is priceless.
The days of scum bags only using .25s and .38special snub noses revolvers are over. If you have a gun , and master it and you are serious about your personal protection I can not imagine why you would not have armor if you could possible afford it. I know it costs money, but it will be more useful to you than those 3 stripped lowers or that 3rd glock and 8 inch barreled .44mag wheelgun that sets in the safe. I know some one out there is thinking of how many Mosins they could buy for the price of a PC and armor, but if you take your safety and this world seriously consider getting some armor of some type at some point. Every time I watch the news and see cities being burned and looted I am glad I have spent them on all the armor I have accumulated over the years.
I you are looking for some armor to protect your body from being shot by who knows what, go check out HighCom Security. You can find about anything you want armor wise and that can hook you up with a carrier to put it in. If you don’t like their carrier options, the plates will still fit in any other brand and they are great plates at a great price. Youtube is lousy with destructive testing of the HCS plates if you want to see if the proof is in the pudding before you buy. We even have some HCS plates being shot on video here. You can find those videos using the search bar. I know armor sits around most of the time and you could buy a gun with that money and all that, but it IS important if you really understand the world is a dangerous place and getting worse by the minute. If you take your safety and responsibility seriously and don’t have body armor for yourself or a family member(s), now is a good time to start thinking about it.
A special note for everyone reading this post the change over to our new website. Like a handful of other older articles, the pictures in this one got lost in the change over. And sad to say, I deleted most of the pictures from my computer since I did not think I would ever need them again.. yeah I know.. I have managed to scavenge some from various places like the FB page and tried to fill in the blank spots with at least something so you can at the very least see the gun. Some of the target pictures are probably miss matched because I can’t remember which was which after 2 years. I apologize for that. The rest I just left blank because I would seem to look insane if I just put random nonsense pictures in that spot where a pic of a target was supposed to be . I will post a bunch of the left over facebook only pictures and stuff from instagram at the bottom since they were never taken for the purpose of fitting in the article review. Sorry again.
I first spotted the Inland M37 shotgun when on the Inland facebook page around SHOT show earlier this year. I was intrigued instantly. So when I got to the NRA 2016 show, I made sure the Inland booth was one of the first places I stopped at. I wanted to see that M37 in the worst way. I was not let down. After just a few minutes of handling it, I asked for a T&E sample. After a month or so, the demo gun showed up.
The “trench gun “and police “riot guns” have taken off as collectibles over the decades. The Winchester Model97 being an example that is really hard to find these days. Finding original examples can be pretty tough. The combat shotguns stayed in military service a long time. From before WW1 to the Vietnam war all the way until recently. Some are well known like the M97 mentioned above , some are not as well known, like the Remington 7188 full auto shotgun.
The Ithaca M37 is an example that is well known by casual firearms historians as a police or riot model and sporting weapon of high quality. The Ithaca as a military “trench gun” is likely not as well known by many. The action of the shotgun would look familiar to a lot of hunters out there. Though the first thing you may think when seeing its action is the Mossberg 500, it and the 500 are really a simplified version of the most excellent Remington Model 31 shotgun. The M31 itself an evolution from the M17. The Model 17 designed by no less than John Browning himself.
The M31 is in my opinion one of the smoothest pump action shotguns of its time. Replaced by the cheaper to make and sell M870, the M31 action lived on in its ancestors. If you are a fan of smooth as silk shotgun actions, tracking down a M31 is a must. I consider the new Model 37 to be as smooth as the M31and I don’t give that compliment out often. If ever.
The M37 has been one of those martial shotguns talked about, and sometimes seen in places like the American Rifleman and other places that reflect back on US service arms, but not really seen very often. Thanks to Inland MFG and Ithaca, we can now own one of the more rare trenchguns from US military history.
“The Inland M37 Trench Shotgun all-American-made combat shotgun is faithful to the original from its bead sight, Parkerized finish, oiled stock, and ventilated hand guard to its hard-to-miss bayonet lug that fits the long 1917 bayonet.
The Inland M37 Trench shotgun is manufactured in a joint effort with the Ithaca Gun Company, Upper Sandusky, OH. The original steps of shotgun manufacture that was originally used by Ithaca during WWII has been carefully duplicated utilizing modern technology and CNC machining which yields components that are precise and accurately reproduced.
The Inland M 37 is based on the original Ithaca Model 37 Trench Gun which was a variation of the Browning Model 17 and features the following”:
Gauge: .12 gauge / 3″ Chamber
Barrel length: 20″
Total length: 38.5″
Barrel Choke: Cylinder Choke .730
Action: Manual Pump, Bottom Load & Ejection
Weight: 6.7 lb
The new Model 37 combat shotgun is first class in my opinion. They really did it right. After using it for several months I find it really hard to put it down. Hundreds of rounds have went through the gun this summer without a problem. Birdshot, 00Buck, 4BK, slugs, you name it. The solid walnut stock really helping make it bearable to shoot the stiffer loads. Being use to tactical shotguns of modern times with their synthetic stocks, I dreaded testing. It is still a 12, but wood stock goes a long way towards a healthy shoulder.
The Model 37 is a combat shotgun so testing was done with combat and police loads. Target below was fired with low recoil OO buck from 25 yards standing with no support. This was a bit of a warm up for the real test, to get a feel for possible recoil. Much relief was felt by all at how the gun managed to tame recoil a bit.
Above is a target with 3 slugs fired from 50 yards. After two test rounds, the shooter got a little flinchy on the trigger. Shooting a 3″ magnum slug round from sitting is hard. Hard and painful. I sure did not want to do it, and we only had 5 rounds anyway. Even as much as the heavier solid wood stock helped, it can’t help that much. With some one more willing to eat the recoil and hold steady ,the M37 would likely hold all 3 slugs in the head of the Q target at 50 yards.
With that done, we got serious about testing the shotgun for pattern at usual distances using a variety of shot and police buck loads. The target below was one round of OO Buck at 25 yards. The large hole is from the wad hitting the target.
The next target shows a second and third shot into the same zone. Again, large holes are from wad hitting and punching through the cardboard.
Target below shows hits from 4BK from 25 yards out. The 4BK was fired into the upper chest. Bottom circled group is from standard OO Buck round fired from 35 yards. The “40 yards was written in error.
The next target is OO Buck from 50 yards out. Two rounds were fired at the target off hand standing. I know a lot of people, experts and average Joes have all kinds of things to say about what the best shotgun load is for whatever distance. Obviously it’s best to test the shotgun out with each load to determine what you want to use, in whatever situation, before generally deciding. I think if I were a full convert to the tactical shotgun as a general purpose tool I would trust this one with OO buck to make a 50 yard shot if background was not a concern. We do have video of me knocking down a steel popper plate from 60 yards with the OO buck round. Once it is uploaded I will insert it into this post.
As promised here is the video of buck fired from 50 yards. Camera lens and angle makes it look much closer but it is indeed 50 yards
The short riot/trench shotgun is a pleasure to handle. It’s fast and easy to work with and the slick action is as fast as lightning. The original M37s would indeed “slam fire” but this one will not. As I understand it, this was done at the request of Inland when having the guns put together for them by Ithaca prior to the converting to “trench gun.” I know some will gripe about this, but let it go. It’s a fact of modern America that lawyers and sue happy anti-gun activists would salivate at trying to prove the gun defective in court. For those who do not know,” slamfire” refers to the lack of a disconnector in the originals that lets the hammer fall as long as you hold the trigger back. Just like the M12 and M97 etc
The gun does have the infamous “barrel shroud”! Not to be confused with the shoulder thing that goes up. The ventilated shroud functions as the bayonet lug and sling swivel as well. It marginally protects the hands from being burned by a hot barrel. It will work for a while, but heat will transfer after enough rounds. I think no one other than a liberal can deny it looks cool. Sad to say I don’t have a bayonet to mount for your gratification. The front sling swivel is nice. Very big and tough. You can attach about anything you want to the front and rear. I originally mounted a USGI leather sling to the gun as seen in pictures, but went to the M1 cotton sling for easier use.
The Model 37 ejects and feeds from the bottom. Handy for both left and right handed users. It can take a bit to get used to if you have only ever used the M87o or most other pump shotguns out there. The gun kicks out the empties with enough force to send them about 20 yards if you turn the gun sideways while operating the action . So no worries about any fired case getting hung up.
Pictured above, I fired that gun while wearing a WW2 belt with M1911 , holster and mag pouch with a Pacific Canvas& Leather WW2 shotgun shell pouch I purchased only to be used with the M37 for the full experience. The shotshell canvas pouch holds a dozen rounds in loops in two rows.
When the gun is empty, reach down and open the flap and strip rounds out of the loops to load into the gun.
I have seen some old timers turn the gun upside down and tuck it under the firing arm while loading to maintain solid control over the weapon while moving. So I tried it out. Please no comments about how Chris Costa says to load a shotgun. I am aware. Process and gear used for nostalgia purposes only.
When loaded, got back to making it empty again.
Inland MFG has really been on a role the last few years. The M1 Carbine I tested earlier this year was a faithful reproduction that was beautifully done. The M1911A1 made by the same company equally impressed me, and you know how hard it is for a company to impress me with a 1911 if their name isn’t colt. The Model 37 is another hit with me. Inland has turned into one of mt favorite gun companies in recent times. All of us have seen a rise in demand for “retro” guns in the last ten years and while several companies make Ar15 retro models, few have offered quality reproductions of the weapons commonly used in WW2 and after leading to the AR15.
Inland has gone a long way to meet that market of retro and nostalgia. Now that easy M1s from the CMP are about to be gone and the M1 carbines being long gone, prices for originals are continuing to sky rocket. Repro guns are a great choice for those who want one of the old firearms but can’t afford or can’t find and original. Or just to have one to use hard without hurting the value.
Hopefully Inland will keep expanding its line and one day we can buy a M1903A3 or A4 new production. I would like to see Inland produce a faithful M1911 to join the M1911A1 already in production.
About 10 years ago the ARFCOM retro forum had not become the price driving monster it would end up. During that time it was still still possible to find some pretty rare parts on ebay and various places. Some of those parts could be made into a full weapon minus the lower of course. That is the goal for most of the retro builders. Ideally they want all original parts they can get to finish the gun. A lot of people manage to piece together a gun by finding all the correct parts. Obviously I am leaving out the full auto lower, but when I say all, I mean everything but that lower and whatever other parts that would risk crossing the absurd rules.
What really sticks in the craw for a lot of people, is getting 90% there. Ewww that has to burn! You get something super rare and cool and you just can not wait to post pics of it all over place at the gun prom! But. You just can’t. Get. It. All! So what do you do? Give up? Sell it all off to some other guy who still has a hope of finishing it up?
Nope. You go online and find some one who knows a guy who knows a guy and just have the parts you need made from scratch of course!.
So now we come down to the “rest of the story”. The two guns shown are of course Colt M231 post firing weapons. An oddball from a period of time where the military wanted to have something to fire from the side holes of a Bradley. You can look up the details yourself but it basically a M16 simplified down and with a really high cyclic rate meant to be used from the Bradley. There are a few variants of it but one in particular more or less stands as the standard model as far as looks and recognition goes. A guy who ended up becoming a dear friend came on the retro forum one day after ending up with a hand full of M231 parts from some auction and wanted to finish it up as it was not something being done at the time. He was really stuck on a couple of parts that seemed to be impossible to find and was out of options or ideas. I happened to wonder into that thread and after seeing the almost finished weapon, really got hot to see it completed.
I contacted my friend who is a skilled machinist about the possibility of making that part for the arfcommer. After some emails and back and forth the project was on its way.
The major hold up for the arfcom retro guy was the gas block that was also that part that hooked into the vehicle. No one could find measurements or even a picture to show it from all angles and sides. Some found some specs some where and I sent it on to my machinist friend. Just using pictures found online that no one took for the purposed of making a copy of it and eye balling it, my friend came up with a plan. Below is a picture of a real one and the fake one made up by my friend, who has made an appearance on this website a few times over the years.
Everyone has heard of the 10 foot rule or some version of it. Well most will agree that if you have never handled a M231 yourself and even if you did you likely never cared, this copy would most likely pass the 10 inch test for anyone other than people very , very familiar with it
You can see the places where the fake , faked it. Mostly this is a result of making a copy from pictures.
In this case, the length of the barrel gives it away. The real M231 upper has a slightly shorter barrel. The longer 16 inch barrel is used as the variant with stock, makes for a legal carbine. Real M231 upper with shorter than 16 inch barrel is a “Pistol” so as not to have to get into NFA laws.
The machining to make that gas block took a few months and trial and error. Some experimenting had to be done with the gas system and gas tube. A gas tube had to be cut down by the machinist and a one of a kind gas system made. We tested fired it one night and it was feeling of real accomplishment.
The gas block above is pictured in the white. The machine shop my friend worked at did not have an ability to park’ it and the owner received and and sent it off to be finished in the appropriate shade for retro looks.
it was a lot of effort to pull this off. I did not mention that I and my friend live in Ky and the owner close to the other end of the country so much phone calls and emails , shipping and a lot of effort by guys on Arfcom retro forum went into getting this thing together. It tunred out pretty good I have to say.
Of course it was all kind of a waste because a month or two after it was all completely a real completely M231 came up for auction on gun broker and the owner of the M231 bought the complete upper. If he had only waited ! It was all worth it regardless. things were learned, some one worked on something at work he was not supposed to. life long friends were made and some esoteric M16 retro parts skyrocketed on ebay ever after. Good times had by all.
Bellow I am posting some more picture of the oddities M231 parts. Most are the major parts that are a hang up for any one pondering putting one together. At the time, I recall some other machinist was making copies of some of these parts.
Today we have a guest post from sporadic contributor and quasi-Looserounds member “CJ”, about his favorite topic.