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Reviews : Arsenal

Ithaca M37 Shotgun and M1911 Pistol

New management resurrects the Ithaca brand with two excellent tactical firearms.

February 07, 2012  |  by Scott Smith - Also by this author

Ithaca's M1911 pistol is custom built with exquisite hardwood stocks, checkering, fitted barrel and bushing, and frame. Photo: Scott Smith
Ithaca's M1911 pistol is custom built with exquisite hardwood stocks, checkering, fitted barrel and bushing, and frame. Photo: Scott Smith

Both M37s shot tight patterns with the 00 buckshot loads out to 15 yards. Beyond that range, the pellets were off target, and that becomes a liability issue in law

At distances out to 25 yards, both M37s offered more than adequate accuracy. When I took my time from the bench, I was able to shoot sub-two-inch groups. Offhand firing as quickly as I acquired a sight picture, my five-shot groups were never larger than six inches. For a smooth bore shotgun, this is good accuracy.

While the standard Pachmayr Decelerator does a good job taming the 12-gauge, the recoil-reducing stock of the five-shot Defense Gun was even more impressive. I am far from recoil sensitive, but 12-gauge shotguns can wear me out. The modified ATI stock that Ithaca uses makes shooting the M37 feel like shooting a 20-gauge.

I made one adjustment to the eight-shot M37, adding an XS 24/7 Big Dot sight. I feel that a tritium sight for a duty weapon is almost always a must. Tritium sights allow you to see the sight in the worst lighting conditions.

Cocked and Locked

If your agency is looking for a new handgun, you may want to consider the Ithaca M1911. While some of the younger generation may wonder why a shotgun maker is producing handguns, it should be noted that Ithaca built 1911 pistols and M3 "Grease Guns" for the military during World War II.

The new Ithaca M1911 is a far cry from the M1911A1 built for the military in the 1940s. This new M1911 is a testament to modern technology and machining. My test and evaluation Ithaca 1911 is factory stock, and it rivals any of the custom 1911s in my collection for fit and finish.

Ithaca's 1911 features cocobolo stocks secured by hex head screws, while the front strap and mainspring housing are checkered for a solid grip. An extended thumb safety makes taking your pistol on and off safe easy. Other features include a perfectly fitted beavertail, hand-fitted barrel/bushing dovetailed front sight, and adjustable combat-style rear sight. The front sight is pinned to the flattened slide to ensure it will not move during even the hardest use.

I found the factory trigger on the Ithaca 1911 to be excellent, about five pounds crisp. Thanks to the tool steel hammer and sear, this fine trigger will last the lifetime of the pistol. The lightened aluminum trigger is smooth, and reset and take-up are minimal.

The frame-to-slide fit on the Ithaca 1911 was tight with no play. This tight fit ensures years of durability even under hard use and will keep the dirt and grime out of the rails. A few drops of oil will keep the pistol running as smooth as silk.

Ithaca hand fits the barrel and bushing to extract the most accuracy out of the pistol. Once you remove the front of the two-piece guide rod (with supplied wrench), the bushing can be removed without using a bushing wrench. This is a sign of a properly fitted bushing; many shops fit the bushing so tightly you must use a wrench, which affects the reliability of a duty pistol should it get "dry." There needs to be a smidge of play in the fit without being sloppy; otherwise accuracy suffers.

The other part of the barrel that must be properly fitted is the lug area and the swinging link. The 1911 needs to lock securely when in battery, yet have enough movement that the link moves freely when cycling. These fits combined with the bushing fit when properly executed make the 1911 match accurate, and duty reliable.

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Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Alan @ 2/14/2012 12:24 PM

I like it. I loved hunting with my grandad's 37 years ago.

Joe @ 6/3/2013 11:26 PM

I salute your admiration for the M37 Ithaca. I too hold it in deep respect. Only one comment brings me to question this article. How is it that the fixed barrel is tremendously better than the older generation. Since 1959 the Ithaca Deerslayer with a dismountable barrel has been the standard for decades before the intro of fully rifles shotgun barrels and mounted optics. I take your last comment with a grain of salt considering the targeted large vital area of the whitetail deer and black bear and normal hunting distances.

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