Review text and images by Mark 'Blondie' Ormerod.

By now I expect that everyone is familiar with the concept behind Tokyo Marui’s pump action shotguns but for the uninitiated here’s a brief overview. There are currently 5 models all employing the same internals and concept – the first three being shotguns - the SPAS 12, M3 Super 90 and the M3 Shorty (which TM snappily label as “M3 Super 90 Custom/Short Barrel and Pistol Grip Model”). The later two models are basically M203 launchers containing a shotgun mechanism with a highly shortened barrel. They all employ a unique system with 3 separate barrels and hop-ups housed inside the body. These are fed from a magazine which looks like a fake shotgun shell holding 30 rounds (the shells for all models are identical and interchangeable – red for shotguns and green for the M203’s) – thus giving the user 10 shots.

The SPAS was the first model on the market closely followed by the original full sized Super 90. Soon after the Super 90 was released a number of suppliers began to offer a “custom” version – which was essentially the Super 90 with the excess outer barrel length chopped off. Smokey’s custom gun shop also offered a replacement rear grip – and for a price you could obtain a compact shotgun ideal for CQB or carry as a backup. TM spotted this gap in the market – and released the M3 shorty. It was identical to the original except with a much shorter barrel and in my mind an awful “pistol grip”. Interestingly both M3’s are completely identical inside – even down to the internal barrel length. All that extra length in the original’s outer barrel isn’t being put to any use whatsoever ! In my opinion, although I’m sure there are others who disagree – the SPAS is too bulky and heavy whilst the standard M3 is pointlessly long and also bulky thanks to the oversized stock. I wanted a compact light package both for fast paced play where speed is preferably to firepower and to sling on my back as a backup. There are times in thick undergrowth in summer when I really need something small, light and compact. The M3 with a minor modification is it.

One of the “myth’s” that is perpetuated regarding the TM shotguns is that they’re low powered, in accurate and un-skirmishable. We’ll quickly lay this one to rest before moving on – power wise they throw out around 300 FPS and are constituently accurate with a similar range to a standard Marui AEG. The fact that you’re firing 3 rounds with a grouping of about ½ a foot means that one is more than likely to hit what you’re aiming at. They’re also a quiet gun especially compared to AEG’s and GBB’s so your quarry is less likely to hear the shot (and duck!) or be able to locate you from the report. They are absolutely lethal not to mention painful to be on the receiving end of in CQB as well. I’ve happily skirmished with mine both in Woodland and Urban environments extremely successfully – and despite having a range of excellent AEG’s to choose from the majority of my play is with my M3. The hop is fixed – but unlike some other fixed hop units it is consistent. It performs best with 0.2 or 0.25 BB’s and offers very consistent grouping and accuracy.

In the box you get the M3, a single shell, a speed loader (which you should file under “B1N” right away), a cleaning rod and the usual Manual – which in this case is for the standard M3 with a supplement covering the Shorty. Hand loading the mags is possible – but you’re much better off investing in the Tokyo Marui pistol or M4 magazine style speed loaders instead. They make this a breeze. So onto the disadvantages – trademarks are absent and thankfully the Tokyo Marui, Japan lettering is small. Internally should anything break you’ll be looking at buying a new M3 as parts and the ability to fit them are extremely scarce. The same is true of internal upgrades – although barrels and more powerful springs can be bought we’ve yet to meet anyone who has actually fitted one. Putting a heavier spring in this would make it a beast to pump – and I’m not sure it really needs anymore umph - if you skirmish with a standard one all day you’ll probably be a little sore as it is.

The shells slide singly into a compartment on the bottom of the gun. A catch opens the cover flap – if you do this quickly the loaded shell will fall out of the compartment for a faster reload. There is also a working safety catch which prevents the gun being either cocked or fired.

Aside from the god awful grip (which we’ll talk about replacing later) externally the build quality is good – although the fake ejector port handle does have a tendency to snap and fall off. On both the models I’ve owned the rubberised finish on the pump has shown a tendency to wear and shed some of its coating with use. Its worth keeping the front sight screw tightened as well as that can come loose with time. The standard sights are black and unadorned out of the box and I’ve chosen to remedy this by applying a little white paint to make target acquisition easier. There are few external upgrades out there – although some makes of real steel heat shield fit (I fitted one but it increased the weight too much for my liking), a RIS replacement for the front grip – which I suspect might not be too comfy for pumping the gun – and 2 different grips. The first is the one we’re looking at here - the second is an extending M4-alike stock – which for me would have added a little too much bulk for my requirements.

Aside from being horrific to look at the standard grip is bulky and uncomfortable – although to be fair to Tokyo Marui it is the same design as found on some real-steel Benellis. Thankfully, Smokey’s manufacturer a replacement and it’s a doddle to fit. (This grip has been copied by other aftermarket parts makers so should be easy to find).

First off the bolt at the back of the grip is removed with the correctly sized hex screw and slipped off. If you compare the internals of the two grips you’ll see the original is designed for a ridged protrusion whilst the Smokey’s one isn’t. You simply need to file away the ridges on the protrusion for about one inch. Slide the replacement over, tighten the bolt and you’re done. It’s a much smoother, comfy and aesthetically pleasing addition.

I mentioned earlier in the review that I normally operate with the M3 slung across my back. Following a little investigating I came across the KM shotgun sling. I chose this as it offers 2 distinct advantages. Firstly it comes with integral shell holders – a series of tight elasticated loops which grip your spare shells (up to 9) very firmly indeed. A nice way to stop them both getting dropped and keeping reloads close to hand in combat. The second is that it features 2 quick release clips. If I’m ducking into a trench or about to go through some thick undergrowth I can drop the sling off instantly to stop it getting tangled. I simply measured it up for size, adjusted the length then dropped a couple of stitches into it to stop it coming undone and it was good to go. So there you have it – the TM M3 Shorty. Get rid of the awful grip and you’ve got a superb compact package ready to go. A lack of upgrades and externals may put some people off it – but given its performance out of the box this shouldn’t be a worry. The 3 round shot really can’t be underestimated – and of course there’s no gas or batteries to worry about. It’s simply not true that’s it un-skirmishable – and aside from providing me with an excellent backup I’ve happily used it as my primary weapon on innumerable occasions.

Model : Tokyo Marui M3 Super 90 Custom/Short Barrel and Pistol Grip Model
Weight : 1500 grams
Length : 640 mm
Power : 300FPS 6mm 0.2g temperature independent
Capacity : 30 rounds – 10 x 3
Hop : Fixed

Mark 'Blondie' Ormerod.

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