Inland Manufacturing released the M37 Trench Shotgun in 2016. The M37, made by Ithaca Gun Company exclusively for Inland Manufacturing, is a dedicated re-creation of the original Ithaca 37 Shotgun. This shotgun was used by U.S. servicemen throughout WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
Inland Manufacturing, LLC, was formed in 2013 and focuses primarily on reproducing iconic firearms from the WWII era. Some of their products include 1911’s handguns and historical variations of the M1 Carbine. Just like Ithaca, Inland makes all of their firearms right here in the United States, and the M37 Trench Shotgun is their latest offering for 2016.
The Inland M37 Trench Shotgun ships from the factory in a simple cardboard box and with a user’s manual. Even so, the M37 itself is a good looking gun. It has very pretty ‘Oil Finished Walnut’ furniture and a matte black Parkerized finish. Also, it is a 12 gauge pump-action, with a 20 inch smooth bore barrel, and the M37 can accept 2 3/4 inch and 3 inch shells. The choke on the barrel is Fixed Cylinder Bore (.73 inches). Furthermore, the front sight is a simple bead, and it has no rear sight. It has a 4+1 shot capacity, a 4.5 lb trigger, and a total weight of 6.7 lbs. And finally, the Inland M37 Trench Shotgun has an MSRP of $1259.
Perhaps the most striking features of the M37 Trench Shotgun are the M1917 Bayonet Lug and the 15 inch heat shield on top of the barrel. However, another noteworthy characteristic of the M37 is that it loads and ejects shells from the bottom. This quality makes it uniquely suitable for ambidextrous use.
I began to have some fun with the Inland M37 out in the desert, and the first box of shells through it was Federal “Classic Field Load,” 7 ½ shot, 1 1/8 oz. Loading the four shells into the magazine tube was smooth and easy. Upon shooting the M37 I was immediately reminded of the potent recoil of a 12 gauge shotgun. With just a simple polymer butt plate, recoil is felt in full force. Despite the recoil, emptying five shells as fast as I could was a bunch of fun. However, I must say I am not a big fan of the heat shield which I found to be uncomfortable on your fingers unless I kept them low on the pump.
I fired three different bird shot loads for field testing. Also tested were three different buckshot loads, and two different sabot slug loads. I checked the spread at seven yards with bird shot loads from Winchester and Monarch, and buckshot loads from Winchester, Remington, and ‘military grade’ ammo from Olin Corporation. In order to test slugs from Hornady and Remington, I fired a three shot grouping at 15 yards from a rest. While the slugs are accurate enough to around seventy five yards, maybe more, the bead sight makes shooting accurately at distance a challenge.
The Inland M37 Shotgun ate up the first box of 25 Federal shells without a problem. Next I fired Winchester ‘Upland Shotshells.’ Upon extraction of the seventh shell the extractor somehow jumped the rim of the shell, resulting in a failure to extract with a partially extracted casing. Fortunately, this was remedied by re-chambering the casing, utilizing the action release lever and pulling the fore end rearward. This successfully extracted and ejected the shell casing. The M37 performed excellently for the remainder of shooting, and the results of the shooting are as follows.
Winchester ammunition had the best centered spread of the two bird shot loads tested. Nevertheless, the Monarch shells performed well enough. I did not test the spread of the Federal shells because I fired those on a separate shooting occasion and did not record the data.
The buckshot patterns were all fairly similar. Surprisingly, the military grade buckshot from Olin Corporation had the best centered spread of the three. However, any of them would do the trick.
The slug patterns were deadly as well. Two out of three Hornady slugs landed right on top of each other, albeit high and left of my point of aim. While I wouldn’t want to take the M37 deer hunting, it could be done out to 25 yards quite easily, even with the lone bead sight.
Of course this wouldn’t be the United States if there weren’t some perfectly good food destroyed for entertainment. So for fun two watermelons were sacrificed to the gun gods, and as you might expect from 7 yards the buckshot annihilated the watermelon. Unfortunately, I failed to capture a good picture of this process. I was able to get a few better pictures of the slug destroying the watermelon, which when firing from 15 yards the destruction of the other watermelon was absolute.
Shooting the Inland M37 Trench Shotgun at watermelons was awesome. Nonetheless, the MSRP certainly makes it a niche firearm. If you or one of your loved ones once carried this shotgun in the services, or you are a reenactor, collector, or history buff you may rejoice with this new offering from Inland. Otherwise, it is unlikely to be considered worthwhile for the average person. Although the M37 could be used for defense or hunting, there are other guns in the market that are well suited to the those tasks and at a fraction of the price.
In conclusion, shooting the M37 Trench Shotgun was a lot of fun. This iconic firearm has served the United States on the front lines during major wars and conflicts in the 20th century. It is also a powerful, simple, inelegant, and beautiful firearm all at the same time.