By Irwin Greenstein, Shotgun Life
The clock is ticking to buy one of only 200 Ithaca Model 37 pumps custom built to commemorate the American icon’s 75th anniversary.
The newly minted 75th Anniversary Model 37 exemplifies Ithaca’s limited-edition tribute shotguns released during the remainder of the year, including the rare Larrabee, which honors the Sousa-grade Knickerbocker trap guns introduced in 1922 with approximately 11 new, exquisite replicas.
Ithaca’s Model 37 celebratory classic acknowledges its achievement as the longest production run on the planet for a pump shotgun — exceeding the Winchester Model 12. The distinction for the Model 37 is hard-earned given the company’s frequent changes in ownership during its history. Today, Ithaca has returned to its glory days with the current management team, based in Ohio, operating the factory at maximum capacity to satisfy demand for the various Model 37 adaptations that include the Deerslayer, Featherlight, Trap Model, Turkey Slayer, Model 37 Waterfowl and the sweet 28 Gauge.
Throughout its 75 years the Model 37 remained steadfast to its initial 1915 design by John Browning and John Pedersen, who originally retailed their lean 20-gauge pump as the Remington Model 17. The Model 17 was manufactured from 1921 through 1933 — selling approximately 73,000.
But it was after World War I that the Ithaca Gun Company picked up expired Model 17 patents in order to build a pump that would compete against the best-selling Winchester Model 12. Enter the Ithaca Model 37 with its bottom ejector port, which remains a hallmark of the shotgun.
Operating out of their factory in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, the team at Ithaca burned the midnight oil to create a special Model 37 worthy of the 75th anniversary milestone. The decision was made to distinguish the gun with 24-karat gold ornamentation on a blued, steel receiver along with other gold touches. You’ll see laser-engraved banners, birds and commemorative wording complemented by gold external screws, trigger, shell stop and bolt release.
“We wanted to do something classy,” said Ithaca’s Mike Farrell.
Following the Ithaca credo, the shotgun is manufactured entirely on-site with 100-percent American-made parts.
The 75th Anniversary Model 37 is only available in 12 gauge and will be delivered with Triple A Grade wood and a 28-inch barrel as standard. The price is $1,975. A customer can send their measurements for their special-order 75th Anniversary shotgun, but that will cost extra. For collectors, the guns are stamped with a unique serial-number such as M371275-1, where M37 refers to the model, 12 is the gauge, 75 is the anniversary designation and 1 is the number in the production sequence.
Expect the commemorative edition to share the core engineering attributes of the Model 37 including 4+1 shell capacity, a receiver machined from a single block of steel, the Solderless Barrel System in which the rib is attached to the barrel by way of the stanchions that are machined into the barrel instead of being soldered, barrel threaded into the receiver, lengthened forcing cone to reduce recoil and shot deformation, crisp 4-6 pound trigger pull, 3-inch chambers and three Briley screw-in chokes.
In conjunction with the 75th Anniversary Model 37, Ithaca will start shipping the beautiful Sousa Grade Larrabee trap gun that was previewed in January at the Shot Show.
During their heyday, the Knick and its predecessor Flues model were perhaps the best trap guns available. The Larrabee moniker pays homage to Ithaca master machinist Roger Larrabee who reverse-engineered an original Knick single-barrel trap gun. The Sousa grade represents the trap guns Ithaca crafted around 1919 for the illustrious bandmaster, composer and trapshooter, John Phillip Sousa. It featured full-coverage scrolls and the famous gold mermaid.
Designed by Frank Knickerbocker in 1921, the Knick started shipping in early 1922 with iterations of the trap legend persisting through 1982, when production stopped at approximately 5,700. However, fewer than 15 Sousa-grade guns were built between 1922 and 1937. Today, a single-barrel, Sousa-grade Knick is extremely valuable. As the Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values reports, the gun’s “Extreme rarity precludes pricing.”
Ithaca’s new Sousa-grade Knick is likely to enjoy the same rarified stature as the original. The Larrabees will be equipped with 30, 32 or 34-inch barrels. Each Larrabee is assembled by hand. American engraver Bill Mains will personally apply the medium-style scroll and 24-karat gold birds and dogs on the blued receiver. The shotgun features upgraded wood with stocks individually carved and checkered by Ithaca craftsmen. The price is about $30,000.