90th IDPG Reviews


IMA 81mm Mortar Review

Chris Guska

For those of you in the market for a Dummy/Display 81mm mortar, I hope this article can answer a few of your questions before you order. I have included my order history, detailed photos, as well as my personal opinion on International Military Antiques, IMA –USA www.ima-usa.com 81mm Display Mortar that they have for sale. Bear in mind that these are my personal opinions, experiences, and photos. The photos are pretty clear cut, and you can make your own decision based on them. My opinions and experiences are colorful, if you don’t like them, what I have to say, or how I say it, too bad, look somewhere else.

Hopefully this article will provide you with the information you want or need, which IMA doesn’t provide in their photos. Some of the descriptions and photos on their site leave much to be desired by the collector and re-enactor. I’m going to try and cover those details which they should be addressing.

Price Breakdown/Order Information:
1 x M1 81mm Display Mortar: U.S. WWII (XL8101) = $1,099.00
Sub-Total: $1,099.00
United Parcel Service (1 x 137.5lbs) (Ground): $65.26
UPS Tracking # 1Z0823810348151651
Total: $1,164.26
Date Ordered: Wednesday, 28 February, 2007
Credit Card Posted: Thursday, 1 March, 2007
Item was shipped by IMA on 12 March, 2007 Via UPS Ground.
Delivered on 14 March,2007


I ordered the 81mm mortar on 2/28/2007. During the ordering process, it was stated that it would take a couple of days to pack and ship the item. My credit card was charged the day after I ordered (bear in mind that I ordered on-line, via their E-commerce engine, after business hours. Charging a card is usually a sign that the order has been processed, and will be shipped soon. So, I excitedly waited over the weekend, plus a couple of days for them to pack it up, plus a couple of days for it to arrive by UPS, from NJ to Ohio, which takes 2-3 days according to UPS. Well, a week and a half later, no mortar… hmm, I wonder where it’s at.

Well, I was mistaken in making the assumption that it was promptly shipped 2 or 3 business days, not including the weekend of course, which would have made it 4 or 5 days after I ordered. IMA's definition of a "couple of days", the meaning of which is understood by most people to be 2, was actually 11. IMA shipped it on 3/12/2007. How hard is it to go into the warehouse, put the mortar in a box, and put a shipping label on it, ESPECIALLY after I just gave them $1,164.26. Additionally I'm assuming that UPS comes daily, or UPS comes to their store/warehouse to pick up rather than IMA having to schlep all kinds of orders to the local UPS store like many people have to. Annoyance level +1.

Once it was boxed up and UPS got it, it was on my doorstep in 2 days. Great Job UPS!

Not as much can be said for IMA. They finally got around to putting the mortar in the box and giving it to UPS 11 days after they charged my card and received payment! That’s really shady. Take my money when you send out the product, or within a short timeframe. NOT two business weeks.

Enough of the back story, now to the mortar.

The Mortar:

As to be expected, the mortar was in surplus condition, being covered in some cosmoline and grease. It was generally sticky, dirty and nasty, like any piece of surplus equipment is. No big deal. Here it is in my buddy’s basement, awaiting restoration, with a stack of restored, or awaiting to be restored m43 rounds… Note, the mortar doesn’t come with any rounds, the m4 sight, or sight case. What you get is, a surplus condition bipod, baseplate, and barrel with new made basecup welded on.

These are not US production M1 81mm Mortars. They are rumored to be French 1950's production, but are most certainly European production Brandt Model 29 31’s. The US production mortars differ from these by the pattern of the traverse and elevation screws as well as casting numbers and markings on all major components.

The baseplate was in good condition, no major dings, dents or rust.  The paint was in surprisingly good shape, wasn’t chipped or really abused.  It looked like it was repainted before it was put in arsenal storage.  The baseplate retained the leather wrapping for the handle, but was missing the data plate.  OK, no big deal.  I didn’t pay the extra 100$ for the "hand-select - stick it in my butt so I feel like I got the best one fee"


Detail of where the baseplate data tag was-


The bipod was in serviceable order.  No rust to be found.  All the gears and cranks worked properly.  The threading on the main screws was very clean and bright, with no rust, and was well greased.  The cross level bubble was broken.  Additionally one of the retaining screws for the legs was frozen/stripped, which is only a problem if you want to completely disassemble the bipod down to the components for stripping/repainting.  Additionally, the dataplate on the bipod was missing.  See above "hand-select" comments.


Note again, the missing data plate:


The tube is actually very well done.  It appears to have been an original tube that was bandsaw cut from the original cup.  A new cup was made and welded on.  The cup itself has some kind of black oxide finish on it, no paint.  It’s a nice and crisp turning, with no markings or stampings on it.  It fits properly into the socket in the baseplate and appears to be well made.   The weld looks to be a good quality weld, nice tight bead, clean, no spatter or bad spots.  The barrel is pinned in 2 places, once approx 8 or 10 inches from the top, just far enough down that an m43 round will drop in with the fuse just sticking out which is kind of nice.  The second pin is further down crossing the bore.  Both pins were inserted by drilling holes in the tube the same size as the pins to be inserted, and were then welded in, and the welds ground flush.  The grinding wasn’t too aggressive, as it didn’t gouge the barrel or the surrounding area.  I was surprised, as I found it to be pretty well done, and to exceed my expectations.  Other mortars I have seen have had the pins crudely welded in, with lots of splatter inside the tube.  This tube, unlike other, does not have a hole cut in it the size of the bore or larger.  In fact, it has no hole cut in it, so it’s a pretty nice/convincing display tube.

Repeat photo, but shows the detail on the basecup reasonably well.  I will probably replace it with a better photo in the future.


The dovetail on the bipod does fit the USGI M4 sight - the sight is not included with the mortar.


I'm 110% glad that I didn’t pay the extra money for the hand select. If I paid the extra $100 for the hand-select, and received a product in similar condition or without dataplates, I would have been kind of pissed.  If I received one that had data plates on it and they were foreign data plates, which chances are they would have been, it simply would have been one more thing for me to remove and try and replace.

All in all, I'm not disappointed, and do feel that I got my money's worth, especially seeing the prices 60mm mortars are going for currently, or what it would have cost me to put a dummy mortar together.  Additionally, the shipping cost was very reasonable, considering that the complete mortar weighs 137.5 pounds. 

IMA offers a parts kit for 100$ less ($999), that does not have a new basecup welded on the tube.  It’s just a cut tube, bipod and baseplate.  The extra 100$ is totally worth it for the basecup and weld job.  Basecups are available from mg34.com for 250$ or from Ordnance Research for an unknown amount. 

What disappoints me is that it took 2 weeks to put my order in a box.  I'm a patient guy, but, don’t take my money, then screw around for 2 weeks.

In April of 2007 I decided to be a good customer and post a review of their mortar.
I rated their product 4 stars, commenting on the excellent tube, and good overall condition.  I did note the lack of data plates and the broken sight level, and that it took them 11 days to pack and ship the tube, but was overall satisfied with my purchase.
My review was removed by IMA. 
Draw your own conclusion.

There are additional photos on this website of this mortar restored and repainted to USGI Style.

Summary Pros / Cons

Is the only 81mm mortar kit/dummy currently available on the market (Hayes Otoupalek is supposedly importing a container full, but who knows when those will be available, and at what price)
The kit is serviceable
There was no major rust or corrosion issues
All cranks/levers/adjustments functioned properly and were not damaged
The kit is similar in style to USGI
The new basecup is very nicely done.
The weld job on the tube is not amateur
The tube does not have any holes drilled or torch cut in it like many other tubes
The pins across the tube are very nicely done, drilled holes, pins inserted and welded, welds ground flush on the outside.

Took them 2 weeks to put it in a box and tell UPS to come pick it up.
Bipod Cross level was broken.
One screw was stripped/seized.
Dataplates were removed.
Deleted my honest and detailed review of their product.

Summary- There’s not a whole lot I can say bad about the mortar itself, its military surplus, I’m perfectly fine with the cross level bubble being shattered, its easily replaced, and the one screw that was stripped, no big deal as I don’t plan on totally disassembling it into parts.  The dataplates, I had no expectation of it coming with US dataplates, it would have been nice if it did, but I’m glad it didn’t come with foreign plates on it.  My major complaints are with IMA’s slow shipping, and their shady practice of removing customer reviews if they even remotely criticize them.



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