It is said that a 40mm grenade launcher is one of the most versatile useless things you can buy. You can fire all sorts of different types of munitions out of one, if you can get your hands on them. Smoke, star clusters, parachute flares, CS gas, shotgun shells, beehives, etc, etc.
A “beehive” or “hive” round uses multiple smaller projectiles for antipersonnel use. A beehive round for an 105mm artillery might disperse 8000 flechettes. We are going to be looking at something a little bit smaller. This round fires 18 .22 long rifle rounds from a 40mm launcher.
I’ve read debate on if various rounds were technically “canister” rounds, or “beehive” rounds. To me, there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason why a round would be called one and not the other. There is no consistent pattern between various designs.
At one point the military tried a “bee hive” round for the 40mm that fired 45 flechettes. This was replaced with a buckshot shell as that turned out to be more effective against targets.
I’d been wanting to get a hive round for my M203 even before I had the M203, but I had not seen any in stock anywhere. But to be fair, I only really looked around once a year or so. I finally found one for sale online and $425 + Tax + S&H later I had it.
I was rather underwhelmed when I got it. Now I knew that I was going to be getting this for novelty purposes and would likely only fire it once or twice a year, mainly to show off to other people. But it kinda sucks.
First, what is it and how does it work?
It has 18 bores, and uses a large pistol primer to drive an internal firing pin to fire off the 18 .22 LR rounds with in.
The anodizing on the aluminum is spotty in appearance, and the bores are very rough. I figured they were dirty from a test fire, but no, it looks like they were just drilled roughly.
The plate that acts as the firing pin is made from stainless steel. It also was not deburred so it is covered sharp edges and rough metal at the edges. There was a chamfer on the inside that was cut after the part was anodized leaving bare aluminum. Lots of chatter marks in that rough cut.
Quite frankly, this is a simple design. I understand that there is extremely low demand for something like this, so the price is going to reflect the very low volume of sales. But I know that if there was any substantial amount of demand for these we would see for them sale on Wish for $20 each shipped from China.
It feels like I paid a premium price for an item manufactured with lower the quality than a Happy Meal toy.
But the important question is, “Does it work?”
I’ve read people posting online that the 18 round hive should not be used in a M203 due to the excessive recoil could damage the M203 launcher. That only the 8 or 9 round hives should be used in a M203.
I’m sure you are reacting with, “Excessive recoil? It is a .22! .22 has negligible recoil.” Well. . . 18 times negligible can add up.
I decided I’d fire it side by side with a 12 gauge round to see how the recoil felt.
I think the people who claim the recoil on this might damage your launcher don’t know what they are talking about. This certainly has less felt recoil than the 12 gauge or a standard 40mm chalk round.
I’m going to be writing about the Trijicon MRO, so I was playing around with it today. I threw it on the M203 stand alone mount and tried using that for aiming the 12 gauge shotshell. I found my impact was very low and right. Only 2 pellets hit the target. So I aimed high left for the hive round. In the video below you can see the two pellet impacts on the target before the hive round is fired.
It was a little slow to insert this hive round into the chamber. It would have been nice if there was more of a chamfer or radius to the nose of it.
It is very disappointing to see that almost all the 22 rounds impact the target sideways. At first I thought the bores might be oversized, but this might just be because they are smoothbores.
A rod is necessary to push out the spent .22 cases. I keep one in my range bag (which I forgot to bring with me).
My concern when using this round is hang fires and .22 rounds that don’t go off. .22 long rifle is very reliable for what it is, but it certainly isn’t 100% reliable. If a round doesn’t go off, I’m not likely to know until after I have disassembled this adaptor and rodded out the cases.
I really wanted one of these rounds and now I have one. Yet I don’t feel it is worth $425. I wouldn’t suggest buying one. For $425 I would have expected it to be a piece of metal art instead of rough surfaces, burrs, and weirdly discolored anodizing. It would be nice to see steel used for the bores, and I would have at least liked to have seen a reamed bore instead of just drilled. Preferable it would have been even better had they been rifled.
Some might say, “Why complain, shooting .22 is cheap.” But when you look at the price of 18 .22 rounds along with a large pistol primer, that is comparable to the cost of a cheap shotgun shell. It is much quicker and easier to fire 12 gauge out of my M203 than to load and unload this hive round.
Still, I have the round now, and I’ll use it occasionally. It will probably spend most of its time sitting on my desk as something to show off to people.
Perhaps someday I’ll make my own. I’d turn the body from stainless steel and rifle the bores. There are some lower capacity .22 hive rounds for the 40mm with rifled bores. Also now someone came up with a 4 shot .410 hive round. Still, having to use a pistol primer to actuate it really slows down the reloading. I’ll probably stick to 12 gauge and chalk rounds for plinking. The XM 18-22 is fun, but I feel it is a poor value.