Ithaca M37 Twenty Gauge Waterfowl Shotgun
The Ithaca M37 Waterfowl 20 gauge with a 28 inch barrel is about a 7 pound shotgun with a crisp 3-3/4 pound trigger pull. It is about the slickest slide action I've ever tested, compliments of the Ithaca Perma-Guard nitriding process. It feels like a well broken-in, slicked up super-shucker right out of the box. By comparison, most pumps are plagued with a goodly amount of annoying slide drag.
On the heavy side for a twenty gauge, the M37 is nicely, neutrally balanced and consequently a soft shooter. As you would expect from the made in USA M37 line, the barrel is made from 4140 chrome-moly steel and the receiver and trigger guard are also all-steel. The ventilated rib barrel is threaded to the receiver and the rib lugs are integral to the barrel, not soldered on. This is known as the “Ithaca Solderless Barrel System.” The bottom eject means no gas can come close to the shooter's face and you'll not be beaning fellow hunters with your ejected hulls.
The short version of the description of this gun is a very low maintenance, highly corrosion resistant version of the fundamental John Browning slide-action design, with the added bonus of extra lubricity from the Perma-Guard nitriding process. It was originally available in 12 gauge only; this 20 gauge offering expands the line. The tested gun is matte finished, with a camo version soon to be released. It comes with a trio of Briley chokes, with the Full choke printing refreshingly dense patterns at 40 yards using Federal 1 ounce #7-1/2 lead shot field loads.
The solid synthetic stock with a thick forearm adds about a half pound of weight over the walnut stocked M37 Featherlight 20 gauge guns with vent rib barrels. (And a pound of ugly. -Editor) Those looking for a lighter gun yet can opt for the plain or “field barrel” Featherlight 20 gauge Model 37. For decoying ducks, casual clays, or stationary shooting, this heavier version may be preferable to the Featherlight, as it is softer shooting in concert with its additional weight.
It is a pleasure to test a repeating shotgun that actually has an excellent trigger right out of the box, something that seems increasingly rare. While Ithaca has buried their Perma-Guard treated parts for over two months with no signs of corrosion, that's beyond the scope of a gun review, so there are no Ithacas buried inn my back yard. Since its introduction, the Ithaca Perma-Guard has been universally praised and there is no denying how impressively slick and smooth this repeater operates.
Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.