Ye Olde Tactical: A Vintage Riot Shotgun w/ Nydar 47 Optic

All that is tactical is not necessarily new…and this shotgun is a perfect example. It was put together by a Tucson police officer in the late 1940s or early 1950s, and has all the elements of a very modern “tactical” combat shotgun. It is a Remington Model 11 semiauto shotgun (a licensed copy of the Browning Auto-5). It is fitted with a Parsons 2-round magazine extension (for a total of 7+1 capacity), a barrel from a Remington 11R (20″ cylinder choke) and a Nydar Model 47 reflex sight.

That Nydar sight is a really cool example of an early optical sight, developed form aircraft gunnery sights used during World War Two. It uses no batteries, and reflects an aiming circle into a large front lens. By modern standards it is a pretty dim reticle, but it was absolutely state of the art in the late 1940s, and allowed the same sort of rapid both-eyes-open shooting that modern red dot sights do.

Thanks to Bear Arms in Scottsdale AZ for access to this very cool shotgun!

10 Comments

    • Great!
      Please tell us more about reflex sight theory and history. Maybe even explain a reflex sight as installed in a World War 2 fighter plane.

  1. 1) If you have to shoot more than eight rounds of buck, you are in over your head. A quick retreat rather than reloading would seem to be called for 2) Semi-auto shotgun firing buck = Hand-held Claymore

    • Mmmmm… I dunno about the efficacy of any shotgun matching a Claymore. Of course, and awful lot of people assume it does, but the actual performance thereof…?

      I’ve reached a conclusion from observation and a lot of reading on the issue, which is that the “tactical shotgun” is not the panacea many think it is. You need training, presence of mind, and a lot of practice to be effective with one. Tuition few people are willing to pay for, with time or money.

      That said, the psychological effect is not to be discounted. Family friend was a cop, and his remark about the shotgun was that it served more effectively as a persuader than anything else he carried. Men would cheerfully resist him who were merely faced with an M1 carbine or a Remington semi-auto rifle, but if they witnessed him pulling out the Thompson SMG or a shotgun, they’d usually quiet right down.

      Which makes no sense, but there you are: Something about a shotgun’s wounding potential will terrify even the most hardened criminal.

      Similarly, in Iraq? People would breeze right by the truck armed with an M240 or the guards armed with M16/M4 rifles, and piss their pants when confronted with someone carrying a handgun. Why? Because, under the old regime, everybody had longarms, but the guys who carried pistols openly had full license to kill. And used it. Someone had a pistol out, someone else was going to die–So went the thinking.

      • I think the shotgun thing primarily comes down to folklore; folks will have heard about people eating hits from a pistol and keeping going, criminals may even have seen this firsthand. But the only stories you ever hear about people surviving shotgun blasts inevitably involve “rocksalt” or birdshot at extended ranges. Everybody’s heard of 50 Cent, nobody’s heard about a guy who ate a charge of double-aught at twenty feet and kept going

  2. Shotguns gained a reputation as a sure-fire “fight stopper” loaded with double aught buckshot. The wound ballistics of a shotgun are mighty horrendous, and pretty much end any “stopping power” discussion. Shotguns are relatively inexpensive, even cheap, in comparison to other police weapons or civilian firearms. They were therefore widely carried, and even ubiquitous.

    In a tactical role, the shotgun is what was taken to an immediately expected pistol fight. They are only good for brief duration, low-round count gun fights, not for extended engagements. Eventually, police decided that the very many pellets, each with a lawyer and liability attached, was unsuitable. The FBI began issuing slug loads only, and many police departments followed suit. I think that the FBI only does familiarization training and nothing else with them.

    Popular lore and pop culture, film, television, fiction, etc. etc. exaggerate the power of shotguns. The muzzle of a shotgun is mighty big and very intimidating. So shotguns did, and in many quarters still do, exert an attention-getting presence. This was consciously employed by street-savvy cops, prison guards, bodyguard details (I’m thinking Federal Marshalls particularly here…).

  3. J.M. Davis Museum has a similarly equipped Browning long-recoil action shotgun, can’t remember if it’s a Remington or an FN.

  4. The Nydar sight picture reminds me of the Leica SBOOI ‘brightline’ finder for 50mm lenses on the Leica III series rangefinder cameras. With the 1:1 aspect, both eyes open makes for blazing fast framing with the ‘floating’ lines. The Leica M series is much more ergonomic with better lenses, but the III with an SBOOI is just fun.

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