Bates And Dittus
The black rifle or shotgun itself is not the only news out there. I think the coolest area of accessories for the AR is the 37mm launcher. While a number of companies either make or import them, the models from Bates and Dittus (batesanddittus.com) are my favorites to date.
Their recently introduced UBL (Under Barrel Launcher)-37 exudes quality manufacture, and has some promising tactical applications as well as being just plain fun. For those of you unfamiliar with 37mm launchers they are the standard diameter used by civilian law enforcement and the rounds are propelled by black powder rather than the smokeless powder used in the military 40mm rounds-there are no HE 37mm rounds available. Point of order here-37mm launchers are totally legal for civilians to own, as long as you are in possession of ONLY smoke and flare rounds.
If you possess LE rounds that shoot a projectile designed to cause less lethal physical harm-tear gas, stingball or wooden baton rounds then the launcher becomes a “destructive device” according to ATF. Any 37mm launcher can shoot the smaller and cheaper 26.5mm maritime signaling rounds through an adapter system, which is an excellent option. The UBL-37 attaches to any M4 or AR15 carbine that features a lower Picatinny Rail on the bottom of the forend by means of a two-sided rail clamp. Barrel style does not matter.
The UBL-37 is unique because it has a full-length strip of rail on the top and bottom of the barrel that allows for optional equipment to be directly mounted to it such as a bipod, lights or sights. Operation is similar to the M203 launcher but due to the solid steel construction the UBL-37 weighs in at a pound more (4lbs 11oz total) than a 203. The manual of arms for the UBL-37 is very similar to the M203 with the exception of a cocking lever and the rotating safety lever on the right side. The cocking lever is on the right side, above the trigger guard and is pulled to the rear for cocking.
This feature could allow a civilian LE operator to have one mounted on his entry weapon, loaded with a bean bag round, but uncocked. If during the entry a less lethal close response is needed then the launcher can be cocked and fired. Between the manual cocking feature and the smooth double action trigger, an accidental discharge isn’t likely. The UBL-37 is what I would describe as a “long action” launcher compared a standard M203, as the length of the civilian 37mm rounds vary greatly, with those such as “knee knocker” wood baton rounds measuring nearly 8 inches in length (depending on brand).
I have mounted a Lasermax™ UniMax ( lasermax.com) green laser on the top rail of the UBL for separate aiming. While this doesn’t provide for longer distance sighting like a military M204 sight, it does the trick for close range riot control rounds. Most 37mm flare or “breaker” (read that “fireworks”) round measure around 4 inches. At an MSRP of $429, the Bates and Dittus UBL-37 gives you solid American made quality. Speaking of solid, here is a tip. Use the lightest M4 you can find to mount it on, and only add the smallest of optics, such as a SIG mini-red dot (sigsauer.com) to save weight.
Whether you use this for law enforcement, ranch defense along the border, nostalgic former military reasons or just for fun, you are sure to get some attention. Watch for a shoulder stock adaptor for increased versatility of the UBL-37 in the future.
About the Author: Scott Wagner is a 32-year law enforcement veteran. Currently a police sergeant in Baltimore, Ohio, he spent 20 years with the Union County Ohio Sheriff's Office as a Reserve Deputy where he worked patrol, training and SWAT, and was the assistant SWAT team leader and a team sniper. Wagner has been a state-certified police firearms, fitness and defensive tactics instructor for 26 years, and has been a criminal justice professor and police academy commander for 20 years at a community college in the Midwest.He is the author of the Gun Digest books, "Tactical Shotguns,", "Own the Night—A Guide to Tactical Lights and Laser Sights," and Survival Guns.
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