Ithaca Model 37
Sporting / Security / Law Enforcement / Combat Shotgun
The Ithaca Model 37 pump-action shotgun is still in service after nearly a century.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Ithaca Model 37 (M37) has proven a hugely popular pump-action slide shotgun since its introduction in 1937 (still in production today, 2013). The product was based on design work begun in 1933 and related to expiring Remington Arms Company patents which delayed its official entry until 1937. The shotgun was intended to counter the success of several Remington and Winchester designs and borrowed from the work of John Moses Browing and John Pedersen in the original Remington Model 17 of 1917 (refined in 1931 as the Remington Model 31). When World War 2 came to American in late-1941, Ithaca shelved additional production of their Model 37 to contribute to manufacture of existing pistols and submachine guns for the war effort. It was only after the war that production of Model 37s would resume.
Outwardly, the Model 37 was of a refined, clean design with a seemingly featureless receiver housing the action. The firearm could be fitted with a full shoulder stock (standard) or tactical pistol grip (security and military). The barrel was completely exposed ahead of the receiver with the tubular magazine affixed under and partially shrouded by the pump-action slide (available in ribbed, rifled or plain forms). One of the unique design elements of the Model 37 was its utilization of a port under the receiver (just ahead of the trigger group) that doubled as both the loading port and ejection port. In this way, the operator simply fed shells into the magazine as normal and used the pump-action slide to introduced a new shell into the chamber while, at the same time, ejecting any spent shell casings within - all through the same port. This allowed the weapon to be technologically simpler than other competing shotgun designs and eased maintenance work to an extent. Additionally, the firearm did not favor left- or right-handed shooters and was thusly truly ambidextrous. Beyond this distinction, Ithaca Model 37 was more or less a very conventional pump-action slide shotgun - easy to operate and handle.
The Model 37 became available in numerous production models during its impressive run - the longest of any pump-action slide shotgun in history - which allowed for it to appear with varying barrel lengths as well as differing caliber forms (12- 16-, 20- and 28-gauge). Argentina took on local-license production of the Model 37 as the "Bataan Modelo 71" in 1971 while others manufactured it - whether legally and illegally - on their own terms.
One of the most famous (and identifiable) Model 37 production forms became the "Stakeout" edition which incorporated the aforementioned tactical pistol grip and 13-inch barrel for an extremely compact form. This version was made primarily available to law enforcement and security groups while proving exceedingly popular many Hollywood-produced television shows and motion pictures - no doubt due to its unique and imposing appearance.
The primary civilian-marketed sporting/hunting model is the Model 37 "Featherlight" featuring a full wooden shoulder stock with smooth wooden slide. The receiver comes in steel or aluminum construction with black walnut furniture. The Featherlight is available in 12-, 16-, 20- and 28-gauge forms.