Ithaca Shotgun Serial Numbers

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Ithaca Model 37
Place of originUnited States
Production history
DesignerJohn Browning, Harry Howland
ManufacturerIthaca Gun Company
Industrias Marcati
VariantsBataan Modelo 71, Ithaca Model 87
Barrel length13 inches (330 mm) to
30 inches (760 mm)
Cartridge12, 16, 20, or 28 gauge
ActionManually operated, pump-action
Feed system4, 5, or 7-round tubular magazine (riot, standard, and extended tube versions)

The Ithaca 37 is a pump-action shotgun made in large numbers for the civilian, military, and police markets. It utilizes a novel combination ejection/loading port on the bottom of the gun which leaves the sides closed to the elements. Since shotshells load and eject from the bottom, operation of the gun is equally convenient for both right and left hand shooters. This makes the gun popular with left-handed shooters. The Model 37 is considered one of the most durable and reliable shotguns ever produced.


The Ithaca 37 is based on a 1915 patent by the famous firearms designer John Browning, initially marketed as the Remington Model 17. The Model 17 was a 20-gauge of trim proportions, which Remington later redesigned and refined into the popular side-ejecting Remington Model 31. The Model 31 would eventually be replaced in production by the Remington 870 which was less expensive to manufacture.

Following the First World War, the Ithaca Gun Company was searching for a pump-action shotgun to produce, primarily to compete with the ubiquitous Winchester Model 1912. They settled on waiting for Remington Model 17 patents to expire. After gearing for production of the Ithaca Model 33, they discovered a Pedersen patent that would not expire until 1937; along with the introduction date, they changed the model designation from 33 to 37.

With the depression dragging on and war looming on the horizon, it was possibly the worst time to introduce a sporting arm. Many sporting arms ceased production entirely during the same period. While Ithaca did produce some shotguns for military use during the war, they also produced M1911 pistols and M3 submachine guns.

After World War II, Ithaca resumed production of the Model 37. Made in many different models, the Ithaca 37 has the longest production run for a pump-action shotgun in history, surpassing that of the Winchester Model 12 that had originally inspired Ithaca to produce pump-action shotguns. Ithaca has suffered many setbacks in its history, changing hands numerous times. At one time, the Ithaca 37 was renamed the Model 87, although it was soon changed back in one of many ownership changes. Production paused in 2005 when Ithaca once again changed hands. Production has resumed in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

According to an article by the Ithaca Times dated June 11th, 2003, the one-millionth model 37 was produced in 1968, and as of 2003, more than 2,000,000 model 37's have been produced. The Ithaca 37 is the only pre-World War II shotgun still in production today, and the current production model 37's made in Upper Sandusky, Ohio are considered to be among the highest quality shotguns on the market.



The Model 37 was used by the United States armed forces in World War II, the Korean War, and especially the Vietnam War, where it gained a great reputation for reliability in the jungles of Vietnam. The largest single users outside the US Military were the New York City Police Department in 2 versions- 13' barrel with forend hand-strap for the Emergency Service Unit and 18' barrel for the Highway Patrol and in a short-lived program spanning from the late 1970s to early 1980s by designated low crime precinct solo patrol officers; and the Los Angeles Police Department. The Ithaca was issued by the LAPD beginning in the 1940's and remained in service until the late 1990's. Along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, numerous other users include military, police, security agencies, and prisons around the world. The Ithaca 37 remains a popular choice among civilians for both sport and personal protection. The Model 37 featherlight was commonly seen in the hands of farmers and hunters in the midwestern United States.


Loading the Ithaca 37 involves inserting shotshells of the proper gauge through the loading/ejection port in the bottom of the receiver and pushing them forward into the magazine until retained by the shell stop. The slide release is pressed and the slide retracted completely then pushed forward.Pulling the trigger fires the gun and releases the slide for reloading. On most models up to 1975, a second sear was installed that would drop the hammer as soon the gun went into battery if the trigger was in a depressed condition. Thus, holding the trigger down allowed the gun to fire the instant a new round is cycled into the chamber without requiring the trigger to be released; this feature was called 'slam-fire'. Otherwise, the model 37 operates in much the same way as other pump-action shotguns.


There are versions too numerous to mention. Here are some popular models:

  • S-prefix: were manufactured for a 1962 United States military contract. S-prefixed serial numbers ran from approximately 1,000 to 23,000 with 'U.S.' on the receiver and 'P' proof markings on the barrel and receiver. The guns have a Parkerized finish with a 20 inches (51 cm) barrel and plain stock with plastic butt plate and no sling swivels. A few later contracts produced smaller numbers of guns with sling swivels and serial numbers in the high 900,000 range. Some had 'duckbill spreader' shot diverters for use by United States Navy SEALs. Others were fitted with a ventilated handguard and bayonet adapter. New bayonets were manufactured by General Cutlery, Inc. and Canada Arsenal, Ltd.[1]
  • Ultralite: an aluminum receiver variation.
  • Deerslayer: a version with a shortened barrel and rifle-style sighting system.
  • DSPS: for Deerslayer Police Special. A military and police version
  • Stakeout: short version with a 13 inches (330 mm) barrel and pistol grip stock, which was notable for being the signature weapon for Ricardo Tubbs, Philip Michael Thomas' character on Miami Vice as well as being the secondary weapon of Corporal Hicks in Aliens (although it was technically a modified hunting variant) and Aliens: Colonial Marines, where it has the words 'no fate' carved into the top, a reference to Michael Biehn's role in The Terminator. Because of its barrel length and overall length, this model is classified as a National Firearms Act 'any other weapon' and must be registered with ATF.
  • 28 Gauge: 28 gauge model built on traditional size 28 gauge receiver.[2]
  • Defense: an affordable 12 or 20 gauge model built for home defense purposes. 18.5' barrel with 5-round capacity or 20' barrel with 8-round capacity. Essentially the same as the Model 37 M&P's used by military and police for many years.

Argentinian variants[edit]

Ithaca Shotgun Serial Numbers

An unlicensed, near identical copy known as the Bataan Modelo 71 is manufactured by the Argentinian firm Industrias Marcati.[3][4][5]

See also[edit]

Ithaca Shotgun Serial Numbers


  1. ^Canfield, Bruce N. American Rifleman (March 2002) pp. 44-47 & 92-95
  2. ^[1][dead link]
  3. ^'Archived copy'. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. Retrieved 2011-06-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^'Archived copy'. Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2011-06-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^'Archived copy'. Archived from the original on 2012-04-05. Retrieved 2011-06-19.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)


Ithaca Shotgun Serial Numbers

  • Fawcett, Bill. Hunters & Shooters, An Oral History of the U.S. Navy SEALS in Vietnam. NY: Avon Books, 1995. ISBN0-380-72166-X, pp. 79–80, especially.
  • Snyder, Walter C. Ithaca Featherlight Repeaters, The Best Gun Going. NC: Cook and Uline Pub, 1998. ISBN0-9629469-1-5
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