Ithaca! Ithaca! Hmm…doesn’t have quite the same ring (or connotation) as Attica! Attica! did in Dog Day Afternoon, but we may soon b. hearing chants of Ithaca! Ithaca! from shotgun aficionados across the country because Ithaca (the gun manufacturer) has risen from the ashes to once again produce the Model 37 Defense, the storied shotgun of police and military fame.
In pickups, you got your Chevy, your Ford, and your Dodge fanboys. In shotguns, it’s the Remmington Wingmaster 870. the Mossberg 930 Special Purpose, and the venerable Ithaca Model 37 If you believe the old timers, neither the Wingmaster nor the Mossberg can hold a candle to the reliability and durability of the Ithaca M37 Defense Shotgun.
Ithaca is a company that’s been through the ringer over the last couple of decades. The good news, though is that the New Ithaca has been reborn with owners seemingly focused on quality, reliability, and American-manufacturing. I’ve not yet gotten to shoot an Ithaca, but given my recent experiences with the newly-discovered end-of-useful-life state of my Wingmaster 870, I’m seriously looking about for a replacement, and the Ithaca has jumped to the top of my “gotta check this out” list.
What’s unique about the Ithaca: it’s pump action features a radically different design than either the Wingmaster or the Mossberg. The spent shells eject from the bottom of the gun (in the same port where you load them). Forget the advantages for lefties (I’m ambidextrous and regularly practice with both hands, just for fun), the advantages of not having anything flying across half your field of vision should be huge.
Then too is the storied reliability of the Ithaca. Having just been through some less-than-wonderful experiences with my worn-out Wingmaster, reliability is a really appealing thing to ponder right now. Couple that with the facts Ithaca makes every part, down to the last screw in the good ol’ U.S. of A. and that they’ve released a couple of models tuned to the needs of the self-defense user, and I’m eager to have a look-see.
You see, while virtually any shotgun can be pressed into service as a better-than-most option for home defense, not all shotguns are created equal. On the wishlist of anybody contemplating an ideal shotgun for home use would be a barrel optimized for either slugs or buckshot, a shorter barrel for maneuverability, a longer magazine for extra, chambered rounds, and a “don’t need to worry about it” philosophy when it comes to reliability.
Word on the street is that Ithaca has all that in spades. They offer the Model 37 in a home defense/police/military configuration with a barrel with no-choke/no rifling (ideal for slugs/buckshot) a 5-shot or 9-shot magazine, and polymer or walnut stock/foregrip combos. Nice. And from what I see, the pricing doesn’t look out of whack with what I’d expect to pay for the competition.
In an age where every other thing I buy seems to come with a “Made in CHINA” stamp by default, it’s kind of refreshing to find a manufacturer not outsourcing any part of their product abroad. I’m eager to get my hands on one of these, and as soon as I do, I’ll be reviewing the gun, right alongside an 870, to see if the scuttlebutt has it right.