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The Inland MFG. Model 37 Trench Shotgun Review

 

 

I first spotted the Inland M37 shotgun when on the Inland facebook page around SHOT show earlier this year.  I was intrigued instantly.  So when I got to the NRA 2016  show, I made sure the Inland booth was one of the first places I stopped at.  I wanted to see that M37 in the worst way. I was not let down.  After just a few minutes of handling it, I asked for a T&E sample.  After a month or so, the demo gun showed up.

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The “trench gun “and police “riot guns” have  taken off as collectibles over the decades.  The Winchester Model97 being an example that is really hard to find these days.  Finding original examples can be pretty tough.  The combat shotguns stayed in military service a long time.  From before WW1  to the Vietnam war all the way  until recently.  Some are well known like the M97 mentioned above , some are not as well known, like the Remington 7188 full auto shotgun.

The Ithaca M37 is an example that is well known by casual firearms historians as a police or riot model and sporting weapon of high quality.   The Ithaca as a military “trench gun” is likely not as well known by many. The action of the shotgun would look familiar to a lot of hunters out there.  Though the first thing you may think when seeing its action is the Mossberg 500, it and the 500 are really a simplified version of the most excellent Remington Model 31  shotgun. The M31 itself an evolution from the M17. The Model 17 designed by no less than John Browning himself.

The M31 is in my opinion  one of the smoothest pump action shotguns of its time.  Replaced by the cheaper to make and sell M870, the M31 action lived on in its ancestors.  If you are a fan of smooth as silk shotgun actions, tracking down a M31 is a must. I consider the new Model 37 to be as smooth as the M31and I don’t give that compliment out often. If ever.

The M37 has been one of those  martial  shotguns talked about, and sometimes seen in places like the American Rifleman and other places that reflect back on US service arms, but not really seen very often. Thanks to Inland MFG and Ithaca, we can now own one of the more rare trenchguns from US military history.

The Inland M37 Trench Shotgun all-American-made combat shotgun is faithful to the original from its bead sight, Parkerized finish, oiled stock, and ventilated hand guard to its hard-to-miss bayonet lug that fits the long 1917 bayonet.

The Inland M37 Trench shotgun is manufactured in a joint effort with the Ithaca Gun Company, Upper Sandusky, OH.  The original steps of shotgun manufacture that was originally used by Ithaca during WWII has been carefully duplicated utilizing modern technology and CNC machining which yields components that are precise and accurately reproduced.

The Inland M 37 is based on the original Ithaca Model 37 Trench Gun which was a variation of the Browning Model 17 and features the following”:

Gauge: .12 gauge / 3″ Chamber

Magazine capacity:4+1

Barrel length: 20″

Total length: 38.5″

Barrel Choke: Cylinder Choke .730

Action: Manual Pump, Bottom Load & Ejection

Weight: 6.7 lb

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The new Model 37 combat shotgun is first class in my opinion. They really did it right.   After using it for several months I find it really hard to put it down.  Hundreds of rounds have went through the gun this summer without a problem. Birdshot, 00Buck, 4BK, slugs, you name it.  The solid walnut stock really helping make it bearable to shoot the stiffer loads.  Being use to tactical shotguns of modern times with their synthetic stocks, I dreaded testing.  It is still a 12, but wood stock goes a long way towards a healthy shoulder.

The Model 37 is a combat shotgun so testing was done with combat and police loads.  Target below  was fired with low recoil OO buck from 25 yards standing with no support. This was a bit of a warm up for the real test, to get a feel for possible recoil.  Much relief was felt by all at how the gun managed to tame recoil a bit.

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Above is a target with 3 slugs fired from 50 yards.  No the gun did not fling them to the left.  After two test rounds, the shooter got a little flinchy on the trigger.   Shooting a 3″ magnum slug round from sitting is hard. Hard and painful. I sure  did not want to do it, and we only had 5 rounds anyway.  Even as much as the heavier solid wood stock helped, it can’t help that much.    With some one more willing to eat the recoil and hold steady ,the M37 would likely hold all 3 slugs in the head of the Q target at 50 yards.

With that done, we got serious about testing the shotgun for pattern at usual distances using a variety of shot and police buck loads.  The target below was one round of OO Buck at 25 yards.  The large hole is from the wad hitting the target.

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The next target shows a second  and third shot into the same zone.   Again, large holes are from wad hitting and punching through the cardboard.

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Target below shows hits from  4BK from 25 yards out. The 4BK was fired into the upper chest.  Bottom  circled group is from standard OO Buck round fired from 35 yards.   The “40 yards was written in error.

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The next target is  OO Buck from 50 yards out.  Two rounds were fired at the target  off hand standing. I know a lot of people, experts and average Joes have all kinds of things to say about what the best shotgun load is for whatever distance. Obviously it’s best to test the shotgun out with each load to determine what you want to use, in whatever situation, before generally deciding.  I think if I were a full convert to the tactical shotgun as a general purpose tool I would trust this one with OO buck to make a 50 yard shot if background was not a concern.  We do have video of me knocking down a steel popper plate from 60 yards with the OO buck round.  Once it is uploaded I will insert it into this post.

 

As promised here is the video of buck fired from 50 yards.  Camera  lens and angle makes it look much closer but it is indeed 50 yards

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The short riot/trench shotgun is a pleasure to handle. It’s fast and easy to work with and the slick action is as fast as lightning.   The original M37s would indeed “slam fire”  but this one will not.  As I understand it, this was done at the request of Inland when having the guns put together for them by Ithaca prior to the converting to “trench gun.”  I know some will gripe about this, but let it go. It’s a fact of modern America that lawyers and sue happy anti-gun activists would salivate at trying to prove the gun defective in court.    For those who do not know,” slamfire” refers to the lack of a disconnector in the originals that lets the hammer fall as long as you hold the trigger back. Just like the M12 and M97 etc

The gun does have the infamous “barrel shroud”!  Not to be confused with the shoulder thing that goes up.   The  ventilated shroud functions as the bayonet lug and sling swivel as well.  It marginally protects the hands from being burned by a hot barrel.  It will work for a while, but heat will transfer after enough rounds.   I think no one  other than a liberal can deny it looks cool.  Sad to say I don’t  have a bayonet to mount  for your gratification. The front sling swivel is nice. Very  big and tough.  You can attach about anything you want to the front and rear. I originally mounted a USGI leather sling to the gun as seen in pictures, but went to the  M1 cotton sling for easier use.

The Model 37 ejects and feeds from the bottom.  Handy for both left and right handed users. It can take a bit to get used  to if you have only ever used the M87o or most other pump shotguns out there.  The gun kicks out the empties with enough force to send them about 20 yards if you turn the gun sideways while operating the action . So no worries about any fired case getting hung up.

Pictured above, I fired that gun while wearing a WW2 belt with M1911 , holster  and mag pouch with a Pacific Canvas& Leather  WW2 shotgun shell pouch I purchased only to be used with the M37  for the full experience.  The shotshell canvas pouch holds a dozen rounds in loops in two rows.

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When the gun is empty, reach down and open the flap and strip rounds out of the loops to load into the gun.

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I have  seen some old timers turn the gun upside down and tuck it under the firing arm while loading to maintain solid control over the weapon while moving.  So I tried it out.  Please no comments about how Chris Costa says to load a shotgun. I am aware.  Process and gear used for nostalgia purposes only.

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When loaded, got back to making it empty again.

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Inland MFG has really been on a role the last few years.  The M1 Carbine I tested earlier this year was a faithful reproduction that was beautifully done. The M1911A1 made by the same company equally impressed me, and you know how hard it is for a company to impress me with a 1911 if their name isn’t colt.  The Model 37 is another hit with me.  Inland has turned into one of mt favorite gun companies in recent times.  All of us have seen a rise in demand for “retro” guns in the last ten years and while several companies make Ar15 retro models, few have offered quality reproductions of the weapons commonly used in WW2 and after leading to the AR15.

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Inland has gone a long way to meet that market of retro and nostalgia.  Now that easy M1s from the CMP are about to be gone and the M1 carbines being  long gone, prices  for originals are continuing to sky rocket. Repro guns are a great choice for those who want one of the old firearms but can’t afford or can’t find and original. Or just to have one to use hard without hurting the value.

Hopefully  Inland will keep expanding its line and one day we can buy a M1903A3 or A4  new production.  I would like to see  Inland produce a faithful M1911 to join the M1911A1 already in production.

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