The Ordnance Group is a premier manufacturer of a wide variety of 37mm, single-shot launchers for civilian and law enforcement use. With manufacturing facilities based in Florida, it has introduced a number of very innovative launching systems, the most interesting of which are those that are able to attach to Picatinny railing on AR-15 forends. These rail-mounted launchers create a very good imitation of M203 military 40mm under-barrel grenade launchers, which found fame on the battlefields in Vietnam. So, when you own one of these, you are actually holding a piece of history in your hands.
The new TAC-D Pivot is one of the most innovative launchers I have seen and is unique among civilian and law enforcement launchers for several reasons. When Ordnance Group owner and founder Ed Dittus called to tell me about the new launcher, I was eager to get my hands on a test sample. Ed provided one in short order, and I must say that it was even better than he described.
Before I go on, let me provide some info to those who are not familiar with 37mm, single-shot launchers for civilian purchase. Basically, 37mm, single-shot launchers can be purchased legally online or from a gun store without a background check in jurisdictions where there are no local regulations for anyone age 21 or older without a criminal record. These launchers are legal when used by civilians with non-impact ammunition such as signaling flares, bird-bomb fireworks rounds, tear-gas rounds or smoke rounds. Here is the funny and important part: If you use these launchers with law-enforcement, 37mm impact rounds (such as bean-bag, wood-baton or stingball rounds), then your launcher becomes a “destructive device” in the eyes of the ATF. This strikes me as odd. The federal government would rather have you defend yourself with a lethal 12-gauge shotgun than with a less-than-lethal, 37mm riot-control impact round. Note that you can purchase an Ordnance Group 37mm-to-12-gauge conversion shell for firing 12-gauge flares and blank rounds. But if you use these 12-gauge impact or standard lethal rounds from your launcher rather that an actual shotgun without registering it as a destructive device, you are in violation of federal law. All the information you need to keep you legal can be found here.
The TAC-D Pivot arrived in an 8 x 12-inch, compact, three-compartment nylon shoulder pack. Knowing that I requested the TAC-D Pivot (which comes standard as an under-barrel model) with the included stand-alone conversion kit, I thought that some of the parts must be missing. Wrong. Everything was in the pack: the under-barrel launcher, the M4 shoulder stock and AR-15 pistol grip. All the tools needed to attach those parts, as well as the under-barrel rail adaptor, were in there too.
The reason everything fits in that small pouch is that the barrel of the Pivot 37 is only 6 inches long, making it one compact and easy-to-handle launcher. It is an ideal size for a survival kit for bug-out, camping or boating. Originally, these civilian launchers were developed for boat defense against off-shore pirates in international waters where firearms are illegal.
The Tac-D Pivot is constructed of 4140 hardened steel and 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum. The under-barrel pivot weighs only 2 pounds, 5 ounces, and the stand-alone model with stock and pistol grip attached is only 3 pounds, 11 ounces. This light weight is really important if you want to attach the Tac-D Pivot to your M4 while still keeping it maneuverable.
I unpacked the kit and attached the M4 carbine stock and pistol grip in a matter of minutes to the Tac-D Pivot. As the name “Pivot” implies, the launcher barrel pivots out toward the right for loading and unloading with a push of a large button on the right side of the frame above the barrel. This makes for much more convenient loading and unloading than models that slide the barrel forward for loading because the breech of the Pivot stays in easy reach rather than moving away from the user. To close the action for loading or securing, rotate the barrel back in. Then, pull it firmly down toward the receiver, locking it in place. It is very easy and very ingenious.
Speaking of the barrel, the ribbed forward grip is machined as part of the barrel itself and is not subject to breakage as a polymer grip covering would be. On the underside of the barrel is a section of Picatinny railing to which one could attach a vertical foregrip. The feel and operation of the Tac-D Pivot is excellent as is, and I am concerned that if you add a foregrip, you might slow the operation of the barrel mechanism. That rail is better used for adding a micro-laser sight, which is really handy for under-barrel mounting.
Atop the receiver is another section of rail for sighting equipment, which runs to the forward hinge area. Like the lower rail section, one could mount an optic to this rail, but I would not. The optic just adds more bulk and weight and is not a necessary addition — even for law enforcement — for a short-range weapon such as this. Instead, I mounted a set of Diamondhead folding tactical sights. The sights are very compact when folded and give an excellent field of view for the Tac-D Pivot.
I really like the operation of the Tac-D Pivot in terms of safety and efficiency. The operating controls are on the right side of the receiver and consist of a manual rotating safety lever and a separate cocking lever, which must be pulled to fire the Tac-D. The separate cocking lever allows one to keep the Tac-D loaded safely with a live round of one’s choice, which means the Tac-D Pivot can be brought into action quickly.
I took the Tac-D Pivot to my police department’s firearms qualification to determine its suitability as an impact-munition launcher for our agency. As our department’s certified impact-munitions instructor, I had some 5.5-inch wood-baton rounds to test in it.
I have fired a number of launchers before, and due to the low speed and power of the black-powder-propelled 37mm rounds, I had never needed to wear hearing protection when firing the longer-barreled models outdoors. When I touched off the first test round without hearing protection, I quickly realized that with a 6-inch launcher, the muzzle was much closer to my face, and my left ear ended up ringing. I wore my electronic ear protectors after that.
Here are two things I noticed with the Tac-D Pivot while firing. The first was that the Diamondhead sights were ideally mated to the launcher and delivered the rounds accurately on target. The second thing I noticed was that there appeared to be little difference in the velocity of rounds fired from this launcher compared to the same rounds fired from 12-inch-barreled models.
I also test-fired a couple of smoke rounds legal for civilian use and some 26.5mm parachute flares using the adaptor for firing them from the 37mm bore. They traveled just as far and fast as the same rounds fired from longer-barreled launchers. The entire test was very impressive, so much so that my chief, who had been against impact munitions just a few years ago, authorized their purchase and deployment. All test rounds fired without a hitch.
I did my test-firing with the M4 stock slightly extended, which gave the Tac-D Pivot an overall length of 19 inches. Fully closed, the overall length is 18 inches. It would be entirely possible to fire it easily with only one hand due to its excellent balance.
So, what kind of rounds can you get for the Tac-D Pivot that might be useful for survival? Through its Exotic Ammo website, Ordnance Group also has surplus CN tear-gas rounds, 37mm concussion rounds for animal control, flares, a huge variety of smoke rounds and various firework-type rounds. I think there is quite a good range of utility with ammo of this type for use in certain situations that seem to be presenting themselves these days.
The Ordnance Group Tac-D Pivot 37 is a fine piece of survival equipment. One will be riding in the front seat of my cruiser with bean-bag rounds at the ready. It will be used to intervene in situations where we might be able to give an impact round a try to bring someone under control when a Taser or firearm may not be the first or best choice.
The under-barrel Tac-D Pivot 37 is currently on sale for $349. The regular price is $379. Upgrading to the stand-alone conversion kit increases the price to $469, but it is well worth it considering what you get.