The New Ithaca® Model 37 Defense Gun™: A Classic 12 Gauge Pump Action Powerhouse

The New Ithaca® Model 37 Defense Gun™ A Classic 12 Gauge Pump Action Powerhouse

The pump shotgun is far from dead, and possesses many advantages over the semi-auto shotgun or the double barrel shotgun (Vice President Biden’s vast firearms and tactical expertise aside) for defense of home, RV or property.

While there are good defense shotguns made by companies like Remington ®, Mossberg® and Wilson Combat®, the Ithaca Model 37 12 gauge Defense Gun is the one pump-gun that has turned out to be a real standout for me.

Alive and well in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the new Ithaca Gun Company not only makes the venerable Model 37 pump shotgun in a wide variety of models and grades, but has also taken to producing an excellent 1911 with all the bells and whistles most folks could want.  The best part of Ithaca is the fact that all their products are made right here in the Ithaca plant.

What killed the original Ithaca gun company was the expense of machining and manufacturing, using early 20th Century methodology in combination with late 20th Century labor rates.  The new Ithaca solved that by investing in CNC machinery, combined with traditional care in terms of quality and production.  I toured their plant two years ago and was very impressed.  In the midst of the new CNC manufacturing process was a traditional hot bluing shed out back, and a drying kiln for their beautiful black walnut stocks obtained from the local Amish community.

But what makes the Model 37 itself great home defense choice?  For one thing, with AR15’s and other semi-auto rifles in short supply and subject to being banned in certain locales, pump shot guns like the five shot (4+1) Model 37 with Walnut stock and rust resistant matte finish, are currently off the radar in terms of the government and the many regular citizens seeking long guns for home defense.  Shotgun ammo is currently more readily available than 5.56mm ammo since it doesn’t appear that Homeland Security is currently interested in buying billions of rounds of shotgun ammo, so the new shotgun owner may be able to actually locate some.  The Ithaca digests any 2 ¾ inch or 3 inch loads (shot or slug).

My Model 37 is the basic model 12 gauge (20 gauge is available) with a 3 inch chamber sporting beautiful oil finished Black Walnut stocks, a fixed cylinder bore choke, and sling swivel mounts that are currently affixed with an OD green military canvas carry sling.  Although the receiver is machined from a solid block of steel, the Defense gun weighs in at an easy swinging seven pounds.  Many modern tactical shotguns have turned into gear-overburdened behemoths. Don’t get me wrong, mounting a light or laser sight on a defensive shotgun (and that can be done on the Ithaca) can be a plus, but it is not essential, especially for home or property defense situations.

The Model 37 is unique among pump guns (with the exception of a Turkish made copy) in that there is no side ejection port.  Ejection, loading and feeding take place through the port on the bottom of the receiver, thus ejection is straight down.  It also means only one entry point for dirt and gunk.

The Model 37, even in its least expensive Defense Gun guise, cycles as smoothly as a precision sewing machine.  It snaps to the shoulder and is very quick on target, something that cannot be said of its more portly modern relatives.  When I let some of my fellow deputies test mine a couple of years ago, they asked, “why can’t we have these?”  Unfortunately, shotgun choice was beyond my control. The safety is a pushbutton cross-bolt at the rear of the trigger guard which cannot be activated unless the gun is cocked.

If you don’t like the traditional walnut stocks, fixed or side folding black synthetic versions are available, as well as a 20.5 inch barrel option (I like the 18.5-inch version best for close quarter maneuvering).  If you want more precision than the bright brass bead sight offers, adjustable fiber optics sights are available as an option. Want more rounds on tap?  A 7+1 capacity tube can be had.

The basic Defense gun has an MSRP of $685.  While there are defensive shotguns that cost less, there are none that exude the quality and the effectiveness of design as this modern American success story.

Explore Related Topics:

29 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. “The Model 37 is unique among pump guns (with the exception of a Turkish made copy) in that there is no side ejection port.” The Browning BPS is a bottom ejector, which makes it a great shotgun for the duck blind, as well as for the home defense reasons given above. I have used the BPS for years and it is my favorite all-around shotgun that is safe and reliable in all shooting environments.

    1. I like the winchester 600 Jr. it has a short strok pump, and it it fast loading. I used it a turkey shoots and won every time, it is Very accurate at 30 yards.

      1. That was supposed to be a mossberg 600 Jr.

  2. Please compare it with the Mossberg semi 930 xps blackwater version that has 7+1

  3. Hmmm….looks like my Model 10 without the “corn cobb” slide handle. The LAPD has used Ithaca’s model 37 for years, and still does.

    If you look inside, you will see a modified Remington Model 10 action, with a better designed “flapper” that slaps the incoming round into the loading path while at the same time slaps the empty case out the bottom of the receiver.

    Too bad it’s not a quick-take down like my Remington. Just turn the magazine tube and my Model 10 breaks in half for easy storage (for a field gun with a 28 inch barrel.)

    Nice shotgun, but I’ll stick with my Model 500 built to Marine Corps specs.

  4. What do you think? Is a 12 gauge too much for inside of your house? On the off change, never to happen, you miss the bad guy, b/c he hit the deck, you trip, get knocked back…what happens to the round/shot going thru the sheet rock into the adjoining room? Know rifle round it out, for this reason. Thanks.



    1. semi autos do not have the sound of the pump and are more prone to jamming, which will really be a very bad day for you. While you stand there wondering what happened the intruder rushes you, takes your semi auto and beats you over the head with it! Then uses it to kill your wife and children. Stick with a pump to be sure!

      1. A semi auto has a loud metallic, Much louder then a pump. I’ll stick to the semi auto

  6. How does it compare to the Mossberg 500 which can digest everything. Just use rifled slugs and your good.

    1. rifled slugs for in home defense??? you really do want to kill your neighbor. At 10-15 ft in your home a slug will go right thru your intruder and your walls and into the house next door. I use #1 shot, slightly smaller than 00 but lots more of them.

      1. Whats wrong with the 00 buck 9 pellet?

  7. M37 is one of my all time favorites. Mine is OLD and can be RAPIDLY fired to empty by jacking the slide back & forth with trigger pulled back. Not very ‘tactical’ but sure is FUN! Bottom eject puts fired hull at your feet and eliminates ejection port on side of receiver – a potential ‘dirt/mud/assorted crap funnel’ in the woods.

  8. I like my model 12 winchester. Shure, it ejects out the side, but in a panic situation I can hold the trigger and as it slides into battery it fires. I don’t have to release and squeze each time I put a shell in the chamber. It’s an original mfgd gun by Winchester.

  9. I’ve had a model 37 59 yrs. in 16 gauge, the shotgun came with a modified choke, I later had the shotgun shipped back to Ithaca and a full choke vent rib barrel installed. The Blue quail of West Texas were too tough!!! While working as a police officer I had the receiver chromed and a pistol grip installed. Have the original stock and full choke barrel, though I cut off the modified barrel to 18.5. This is one great shotgun!!!.

  10. I owned an Ithaca Model 37 Featherweight back in the mid-50’s. It was a deer hunters dream,especialy the bottom eject. It was a pleasure to carry all day. I became disabled and turned it over to my oldest son. He still has it, loved it, and it is now retired. What stories it could tell,50 yrs. later.
    Glad to hear it is back.

  11. I have owned my Model 37 12 guage since 1976. Use it for deer, trap/skeet shooting and especially home protection. The best features are the bottom load/ejection, lightness, quick/easy swivel, never jammed, barrel change in less than 5 seconds. I currently use a 30″ full choke barrel for hunting (double 00 buck magnum and slug) and a 20″ open choke (double 00 buck magnmum only) for home protection. Remarkably, the Model 37 has a moderate kick and less than most other 12 guages. I believe I will stay with my Ithica.

  12. I’m looking for a home defense pump shotgun. This one sounds like it would work. Wondering if the 20 gauge would be a better choice for the wife to use?

  13. From what I recall, one of the reasons many departments got away from the M37 was it’s ‘slam fire’ capability. Liability issues. Also, it can’t easily be loaded in the tactical manner of dropping a round into the ejection port. Other than that, the I-Thacka is a great shotgun!

    1. “From what I recall, one of the reasons many departments got away from the M37 was it’s ‘slam fire’ capability.”

      That was a piss-poor excuse, seeing as how Ithaca had readily-available service parts to install a disconnector into the ‘slam fire’-capable guns.

  14. Sorry, I’m sure the Ithica Model 37 is a terrific shotgun as many here have attested, but for me the Remington Model 870 is my choice for home defense. That and my Colt Combat Commander model 1911, (built in 1951). I love both of these weapons, and they have never failed me.

  15. I have owned a model 37 since 1987. Love the gun. I own and have owned many other shotguns through the years. Was able to harvest 33 pheasants and 150 ducks with a Charles Daly semi auto .20 gauge this past season. For home defense any reliable shotgun is a devastating weapon in the hands of some one well versed in its use.

  16. Any shotgun is good but safety is the main thing. Never grab a gun unless you are sure you need to and are willing to use it.
    I am 71 years old and have had guns most of my life. It is real easy to make a mistake and injure or kill yourself or a friend.
    I have a 16 gage two piper in my place. Two shots in a house and you have two days to reload.

  17. Is the safety on the Ithaca, as well as other brands besides Mossberg, more difficult to use for a left-handed person? I recently bought a Mossberg 500 specifically for its dependability and because the safety is centered on the top of the tang. My wife is left-handed and I assumed the tang safety would be easier for her.

    1. “Is the safety on the Ithaca, as well as other brands besides Mossberg, more difficult to use for a left-handed person?”

      A ‘righty’ uses the trigger finger, while a ‘lefty’ can use the thumb to press the cross-bolt safety on the Model 37.

      However; if my memory serves me correctly, the original Ithaca-based Ithaca Gun Company had a Left Hand’er safety button available for retrofit. Don’t know about the “new guys” here, though.

      1. Answered my own question: :-)

        Left Hand Safety All Gauges
        Part # 370031-LH

  18. I have a small wife that has arthritis in her hands. I purchasd the sig p238 for her and she loves it. I also think it is ideal for pocket carry and I’am waiting for mine to come in so we can get our concealed permints. But would like something for home and rv defence. What would be somthing you would suggest that she could handle, do they make a 410 pump. I do not think she could shoot the Judge because of her hand size and arthritis.thank you

  19. NO! Stick with the tactical Remington 1100 semi-auto. I have put 1000’s of rounds through mine using 3″ mag buckshot without 1 jam… fast as you can pull the trigger, right out to basting through their car windows as they’re running away……..makes them easy to identify and they’ll never come back later to threaten you!

  20. I just purchased the Wetherby PA459 12 ga tactical. Nice piece, even if it made in Turkey…

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Get a Gravatar! Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.

All comments will be reviewed by the Delta Defense team before posting. If your comment is in poor taste, or contains profanity or racial slurs, it will not be posted.