Tag Archives: Retro

It Came from The Vault Part 1

Our posts on the website have been scarce over the last few months. From family health issues, the change over for the website itself, winter weather making it harder to be outside for testing and a normal pause between new products coming into our hands as well as some laziness.    To get up something that may be interesting while between T&E products I thought I would talk about a few odds and ends from my personal hoard and give a few words for each item.

First up we have here a Marbles vintage gun cleaning kit in its metal box.  One of the higher end kits from its day, the rod was well made with a wooden handle and cam wit various attachments for a wide variety of bore sizes.

Inside you can see the metal tabs that hold each brush or jag in its place. The tiny cardboard box still retains the original patches and the small plastic bottle is cold blue to restore any dings you may have put on your firearm. The original solvent/oil bottles is sadly missing so I substituted a period metal bottle of military bore solvent until I can source the correct bottle.

As you can see above, the kit was very nice and is superior to the cheap plastic box kits on the market today. Even the black insert for holding the components is metal. It is very well made .  A kit like this on the market today would likely be expensive if  made to the same quality.  A time long gone now in a world of kydex, plastic and MIM. Below is the kit pictured with some other items from a shooting world now long gone.

Finally ,  an advert for the kit.

As testament to never knowing what you can turn up at garage sales of little old ladies after their husband passes away, is two vintage boxes of .22LR.  One is JC Higgins and the other Sears brand.  The ammo is hard enough to find in modern times. When I saw these two I had to buy them as I am a sucker vintage shooting world items.

Continuing on the topic of vintage gun cleaning. Below is a full , never opened can of military bore solvent.  Made from before the EPA banning of the active chemical that used to make  Hoppes actually effective.  When you hear old timers speak of the smell of Hoppes, that chemical is what they smelled.  Now long gone, anyone who tells you they love the smell of hoppes, has no idea they are just repeating something from down the decades and have never really smelt the sweat cloying odor of the chemical now missing from Hoppes.  Said chemical being the only think that made it effective at removing copper and powder fouling.  Now its barely useful as a dip to clean off you brushes.   If you find older bore solvent buy it and try it out. Then you will know what the big deal used to be about with Hoppes.

I found this can of solvent for 5 bucks at a consignment store. It pays to always take a minute to look.

Next up is a War of Northern Aggression canon ball from a battle. Found in a farmer’s filed in  north eastern WV  and turned over to a EOD specialist who recognized it as solid shot, he then gave it to me as the war of Northern Aggression has always been one of my hobbies.   I would tell you the area and county, but the farmer would not be pleased with the onslaught of metal detectors that could pop up if enough people saw it.

Here we have something that was once plentiful and easy to find when in the 1980s when I was still young.  Now they are hard to find, expensive and not safe to eat. At all.  It’s two MCI ratios. Otherwise known as “C-rations.”  None of the contents are safe to eat save the coffee , sugar and gun.  I keep these for display with the rest of my Vietnam War collection.  I have taken out a can of crackers to show those curious how a can looks.

Continuing with the Vietnam war theme. below are two Colt 20 round M16 mags in the famous Chieu Hoi bags.   These plastic bags offered some protection from the elements and once discarded, they would hopefully be found by a PAVN or Viet Cong soldier  who would read the printed message on the bag and  “rally to the southern government” or  surrender.  The bags tell possible defectors to come in with your hands  up with the bag and you will be accepted by the SVN gov.  Stats exist some where over how effective this was, but it did work at least a few times.

Speaking of the South Viets,  Below is a M1 steel helmet painted for the LLDB, the South VN Special Forces troops. The painting is of the same image as one of the shoulder patch worn by the LLDB.  A tiger jumping  with a white silk parachute in the back ground with three lightening bolts.  This all painted over the classic VN tiger stripe pattern.

Below is a recent acquisition of  mine. It is a full can of Korean war era US Cal. 30 blanks.  Made for the M1919 type machine guns in metal links.  The can holds the full 250 rounds.

The condition of the can is very gratifying.

Last up is a vintage can of weapons grease. Used for the M1 and M14 among other things.  An old gentleman who was a friend of my Father, gave this to me over 20 years ago. He brought it out of the service with him even further back still. He passed away only about 2 years after giving this to me.  It is still in excellent condition and I have never opened it.

As you can probably guess, I am a collector and a bit of a hoarder when it comes to vintage shooting paraphernalia and military odds and ends. If you enjoyed this, let me know here or on our facebook page and I will showcase more of my ever increasing hoard of interesting items of all type.   Now that SHOT 2017 is over, the website being finished in its move  and personal life calming down, normal posting should resume.

If you have not seen it yet, be sure to check out Daniel Watters excellent 5.56 timeline resource that we are now proud to be the home for.

 

The Inland MFG. Model 37 Trench Shotgun Review

 

 

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.

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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

Magazine capacity:4+1

Barrel length: 20″

Total length: 38.5″

Barrel Choke: Cylinder Choke .730

Action: Manual Pump, Bottom Load & Ejection

Weight: 6.7 lb

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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.

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Above is a target with 3 slugs fired from 50 yards.  No the gun did not fling them to the left.  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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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When the gun is empty, reach down and open the flap and strip rounds out of the loops to load into the gun.

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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.

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When loaded, got back to making it empty again.

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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.

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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.

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Two M231 Port Firing Weapons Or How Bad Can You Want Something Complete?

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!.

oijoijSo 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.

sdfsdfEveryone 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.

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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.

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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.

More Colt Nostalgia

I am always on the lookout for  Colt stuff.  Over the years I have gathered a nice little collection of colt parts and assorted collectables.  Two of the nicest items in my collection I like to keep with the SP-1 since they are from the same time period and  are rather hard to find. Both are new in unissued condition.

First up is a genuine colt M-7 bayonet with scabbard.  It was never used and has no marks, scratches or damage.

Everyone seems to have or did have a M7 laying around at one point. Then a few years ago the  interest in them soared for reasons I do  not know. I assume it is over the  explosion in the interest in all things “retro” related to the M16  from the 601 to the 603 series.  This was given to me by a dear friend after  I helped him get something he needed badly.

Next up is my personal favorite item in my collection. It is a unused Colt marked bipod that at one time would have been issued to the infantry to be used for the M16 in full auto fire from the prone.  Not only is it in perfect conditon, but so is its carrying case.

Of course clamping this simple piece of kit to a barrel would destroy in hopes of real accuracy, but that is not the point.  it is still a very nice bit of colts history to own though. One neat thing about its carrying case is it has a pouch on the front for the then issued sectional cleaning kit.  A modern kit will not fit in the space provided on the case because  the more modern sections are longer then the older VN era kits.

Finally is a poster/add from the early 90s. I bought this when I was coming up on the twilight of my teenage years. It could be purchased though the mail only since this is a few years before the internet. At least it was a few years from everyone having it and colt sure did not have a website at the time anyways.  I can not remember if it was made because of the growing popularity of the cowboy action shooting or because of a re issue of some special edition SSA.  But, at any rate here it is for your enjoyment and a look at how much of a packrat I am about throwing gun related stuff away.