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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.

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  1. The venerable historic Ithaca Model 37 is a classic American pump shotgun in
    league with both Winchester’s “hammer” Model 1897 (1897-1957), and Model
    12 “hammerless”, and of course the Remington Model 870 Wingmaster. These
    along with the Mossberg Model 500 were perhaps the top five pump shotguns
    ever manufactured in America. Remember the Ithaca Model 37 was used for
    decades by both the LAPD and L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. Also by the NYPD
    and numerous law enforcement agencies and the military. I’m glad a classic
    has been reborn. Note: Like the Winchester Model 97 the Ithaca Model 37
    is a John M. Browning design. The latter is simply a revamped Remington
    Model 17. Lou Smith of Ithaca Gun Co. bought up the Remington 17 patent
    and re-designated in the Model 37 in 1937.

  2. I have a pre 1960 37 that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve took a fair share of pheasants with it and it stands ready with #1 buckshot for home defense. Now if they will make a Mag10 roadblocker.

  3. I too am something of an M37 fanboy, though I choose an 870 over it with some reluctance due to the difficulty of removing the M37’s bolt, which must come out the rear of the receiver with the buttstock removed.

    I’ve been hearing rumors of Ithaca’s return to the marketplace for years.

    Something I notice immediately is that they have altered the cap at the front of the magazine tube and it no longer attaches to the barrel with that wedge-shaped steel bit. Has anyone examined one? Particularly, on the 4+1 models, the mag tube does not appear to be attached to the barrel at all, and on the 8+1 models, the tube is attached but the parts appear to be different. I am curious about whether there are other differences also.

  4. Add me as a M37 “fanboi”.

    Grew up with a 97 Winchester, got spoiled by shuck-fire.

    Now own a M37 DSPS 22″ 8 shot, and it’s Parkerized .. and that was as-built.

    I scored that in a pawn-shop for $150 (!) back in ’90 when Desert Shield had everyone in the military was scrambling in case the sh*t hit the fan in the Sandbox. (there was no way I’d trust an M16 alone for what my mission might have been)

    It’s funny how all that “spaghetti western” stuff came back. I can still shuck-fire a full tube *from the hip*…. at a rolling 5 gallon can and bounce it on each shot at 100 feet.

  5. it makes me dang mad when people talk about gun companies and dont include ithaca gun company in their talk or article or what have you they talk about good old american guns & companies they had better include ithaca. 1953 is when it started for my family model 37 feather light 16 ga and it.s still going strong and now along with 14 more of 37,s i guess u could say i luv ithaca p.s.1 vintage 1911#43 to

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