Ithaca Model 37 Featherweight

In a small wooden building on the banks of Fall Creek in 1883, Ithaca Gun Co. of Ithaca, N.Y., began a long history of firearm manufacturing. Ithaca saw many difficult times, with the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s being especially hard economically, resulting in several changes of ownership. Despite those difficulties, Ithaca Gun Co. was aggressively reorganized during the 1990s. Although the venerable company had built rifles, pistols, blackpowder guns and double-barrel, break-actions and autoloading shotguns over the years, the new company focused exclusively on the Model 37 pump-action shotgun.
First offered in 1937, the all-steel Featherlight is an improvement on the basic Remington Model 17 shotgun design. It won acclaim by virtue of being about a pound lighter than its nearest competitor. Rather than reducing weight through the use of alloys, the steel-receivered Model 37 employs a clever design that uses as few operating parts as possible. Also, these parts are lightened wherever possible.
Unlike most of its pump-action contemporaries, the Ithaca Model 37’s bolt locks into its stressed steel receiver. Rather than locking into a barrel extension as with other designs, the Model 37’s bolt locks by tipping up into a recess in the rear and locking directly into the receiver.
A notable design feature of the Model 37 is its bottom ejection port. This is helpful in keeping dirt and debris out of the action and has made the shotgun a favorite for many left-handed shooters. It also protects the shooter’s face in the event of a catastrophic case head failure by venting gases downward.
Model 37 Featherlight shotguns have been made in 20-, 16- and 12-ga. model variations including a 20-ga. Ultra Featherlight with an aluminum receiver, New Classic, Deluxe Vent Rib, English, Skeet, Trap, Sporting Clays, Turkeyslayer, Waterfowler and Youth models. Other model variations included the Deerslayer and Deerslayer II (the latter of which has a fixed/threaded barrel). Ithaca also produced shotguns for military use in the mid- to latter half of the 20th century. It built trench, riot and training Model 37s for the U.S. government. Also, riot models were available to civilians and police. Barrel lengths range from 20" for the riot gun, to 30" for the trap or duck guns.

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