Ithaca releases Phoenix O/U and Single Barrel Trap Models

After several years of development and testing, Ithaca Gun Company of Ohio released their Phoenix O/U and single barrel trap models at the 2012 SHOT Show In Las Vegas. Along with the much-anticipated Phoenix O/U, Ithaca has expanded their 1911 handgun line, their Model 37 Tactical and Home Defense Models, introduced a very limited Sousa Grade Phoenix, and is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Model 37 this year with a commemorative model. They have also hugely expanded their dealer network which you'll be hearing about soon.

It was three years ago, at the SHOT Show in Orlando, where Ithaca first displayed the Phoenix prototype O/U. In 2010, we shot pre-production examples in Las Vegas. Since then, the Phoenix has gone to Argentina for high volume testing and several slight changes have been the result, including mechanical triggers.

Ithaca Gun Company's roots go back to 1883, when Ithaca shotgun production started. Ithaca introduced their single barrel trap gun in 1914, the Flues Model Single Barrel Trap. In 1922, it was replaced by a new model designed by Frank Knickerbocker, affectionately known as the Knick. As documented by noted firearms historians Ned Schwing and Walter Snyder, the “Knick” was the gun of choice of champion shooters for many years, winning the Grand National several times. The Knick was in continuous production until 1988, with the Grade 7, the $1000 grade of 1936, the $2000 grade of 1952, the $3000 grade of 1965 and the $5000 grade model of 1974. These were some of the most impressive trap guns ever produced. Today, a used $5000 grade SBT model regularly fetches $10,000 and up. The price more than doubles for a new in the box SBT, if you can find one.
From the championship spirit of the Knick rises the new Ithaca Phoenix O/U, this is the first new American mass-produced O/U shotgun released in over 30 years, since the recently discontinued Ruger Red Label made its debut. It takes a long time to introduce a new vertical double; the folks at Ithaca have been torture testing their prototypes for some time now to try to get them to break. According to Ithaca, the contouring on top of the Phoenix receiver and mono-block has been taken from the classic single shot Knickerbocker. The Phoenix also gets its top bolt from the Knick.

At the muzzle, the barrels are free floating with a dovetail joint. At the breech end, the barrels are fastened to the mono-block without the use of soldering or brazing. Each barrel is threaded at the end and drawn tight to the mono-block by recessed sleeve nuts. This method eliminates any potential distortion to the barrels and provides 100% reliability to the joint. No heat is applied to the Phoenix barrel set; this Ithaca "solderless" technology is why they are able to show that their barrels are the straightest shotgun barrels possible with no warping during manufacture and no restraightening after brazing.

The box lock has a rack of three massive lugs at the bottom of the mono block that precisely lock up with three mating grooves in the Phoenix's receiver. For maximum strength and durability, the combined area of the mating surfaces of these lugs exceed that of the typical hook shaped lug found in conventional box lock double barrel actions.

The Phoenix has a manual safety that incorporates a pendulum type barrel selector. The riggers are factory set to 3.5 - 4 lbs. With a 30" barrel set, the Phoenix weighs approximately 8.5 lbs. This combination along with barrel forcing cones of 1.5 degrees are designed to give the Phoenix low recoil and keeps the barrels on target for an instant second shot. The trigger assembly on the Phoenix drops out quickly with the removal of just two screws. The Ithacas I shot were soft shooters, swung smoothly and steadily and had excellent triggers. It is apparent that the Phoenix is designed to be an O/U that can take high-volume shooting with no hiccups. The metal-working experts at Ithaca have high-precision equipment along with tool and die making expertise, all that is being brought to bear on this new model that promises to be the most precisely, uniformly made O/U shotgun ever made in the United States.

The wait is over and Ithaca is accepting orders for the Phoenix and the single barrel trap models right now. The Phoenix starts at $2500 retail, exactly as targeted three years ago. Expect a full review of a production Ithaca Phoenix in the very near future.


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Copyright 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All Rights Reserved.

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