Vintage LAPD Ithaca M37 Shotgun Lottery

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Ithaca Model 37 shotguns have a long and loyal following by scattergun fans across the country. The Browning-designed M37’s classic styling and legendary dependability have collectors and shooters alike on the hunt for good specimens on auction sites like Gunsamerica.com.

In past decades, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) both issued and retired the Ithaca workhorses presumably in favor of shiny new patrol carbines or Remington 870’s. It’s a bit sad to think of those veteran guns being put out to pasture without some sort of ceremony or send off.

Well, not so fast. A few years ago the LAPD held a lottery: any interested officer of a certain vintage could apply for the chance to purchase and own one of the classic guns, complete with LAPD markings. The one caveat was that each officer must have gone through the academy during a time when the Ithaca shotgun was being utilized. Seems like a fair deal.

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Police Story

From the Ithaca Model 37 Wikipedia Page:

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 the Los Angeles Police Department. Along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, numerous other users include military, police, security agencies, and prisons. The Ithaca 37 was a popular choice among civilians for both sport and personal protection. The Ithaca model 37 feather light was commonly seen in the hands of farmers in the Midwestern United States. With higher prices for new Ithacas and decreasing availability compared to the Mossberg 500 and Remington 870, use of the Ithaca 37 continues to decline. Interestingly, Ithaca’s loss of market share was hastened by competition from a copy of the shotgun. Chinese copies of the Ithaca 37 have been imported recently. Additionally, the supply of used civilian and departmental shotguns has been a steady competitor.

If those old guns could talk.

Be safe LAPD.

Thanks E.B.



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • BattleshipGrey

    While in one way the lottery idea for past or present LEO’s is cool, it’s just one step above chopping the guns up for scrap. I wish more departments would auction or sell off unused guns to the general public. They could even specify that you must undergo a background check. But everyone is so concerned about liability that too few (if any) departments do it.

    • PK

      Agreed on all points, and it’s a damned shame. It is what it is, however, and in today’s extremely litigious society, I can see the reasoning. If agencies refuse sales of surplus for “gun control” reasons, however, a simple solution is to oppose funding increases with that as a reason.

      Complaining over budgetary issues and simultaneously paying to destroy items which could easily help to raise money for the department has always struck me as absurd.

      • Stan Darsh

        I believe it was Honolulu PD that recently destroyed around $500,000 worth of 3rd generation S&W 5906 including ones that were NIB ‘for gun control’ all while complaining of the need for a big budget increase.

        • Cattoo

          I didn’t know they were the 5906. Bummer those are near my favorite model.

    • Bill

      I’ve never heard of a local or state agency “scrapping” duty guns, and very few do it to seized and forfeited guns, though there have been some symbolic gestures. Current and obsolete guns are invariably traded in on new gear. One close agency was able to outfit their entire dept with new pistols, mags, leather and other goodies from trading in one original Thompson SMG.

      • Longhaired Redneck

        The very left-leaning Seattle city council recently voted in favor of scrapping current duty weapons upon purchase of replacements. They are probably going to a new weapon system, because reference was made to include destruction of all unissued weapons in the inventory to comply with this mandate.

        • Volk

          Hawaii police also destroyed a large number of old handguns and long arms recently.

        • Bill

          That would be one of those symbolic gestures. Duty guns are like police cars, the typical agency tries to stretch their service life as long as possible, and then stretch them some more by trading them in. The flaw in that analogy is that police cars, and taxi cabs (which are often old police cars), often have features that normal humans can’t get from a dealer in the way of options, including the ability to be instantly slammed from Drive to Reverse while still going 30 MPH forwards.

    • Cattoo

      Seattle PD is going to or did scrap hundreds of old service pistols. And in these times of no cash the city would rather throw away the money then sell to citizens legal to own firearms.

  • DW

    CMP lacks shotgun for their 3 gun program right? And bam! Solution!

    • Pete – TFB Writer

      You win the Internet for today.

  • Major Tom

    Personally if I were to go for old vintage shotguns I’d have to go for the M1897 Trenchgun. Yes I know the Ithaca M37 is very similar but that’s just how I’d roll.

    • codfilet

      Another alternative: The Hi-Standard K120 Riot Gun. It even has “Riot Gun” stamped on the barrel-how un-PC is that?

      • Billy Jack

        There should be a vending machine full of them near every riot.

  • Deanimator

    A seven shot Model 37 DS/PS was my first modern firearm. I bought it from a probably defunct gun store in Harvey, IL in the 1970s.

    It got me through some tense times in college, and accompanied me to Korea in 1980. I taught the Korean civilian guards at Camp Howze to use their newly issued shotguns, after giving a slamfire demo with the Ithaca.

    I haven’t fired it in years, and the finish is looking a little rough. The shell stop probably needs some work as well. Now that Ithaca is in Upper Sandusky, OH, I may send it there for a refurb.

  • roguetechie

    It was actually designed by two men both of whom are titans of firearms design. JM Browning and John Pedersen. In several key ways the firearms world of today is much more affected by Pederson than Browning. I say that because it was Pedersen whose epic treatise on tolerances and mass production made it possible for parts to be made in multiple factories scattered across the nation to come together into complete firearms without extensive hand fitting.

  • Bill

    Slam firing a 37 rocks. Literally.

    • Juanito Ibañez

      Not all Model 37s could be “slam fired” — some have trigger/sear disconnectors installed from the factory.

  • Captain Obvious

    Our department used the Hi-Standard riot guns but I’ve seen a few of the Ithaca 37s in my career.

    • Phil Elliott

      Same here!

  • Andrew Dubya

    I have a Portland, OR S&W 3000. 870 clone but damn it`s superior to most if not all 870s I`ve shot.

  • Andrew Dubya

    I have a S&W 3000 from the Portland, OR district. Absolutely adore it, it`s an 870 clone but IMHO it`s far superior to just about any 870 out there.

    • Juanito Ibañez

      One way the S&W 3000 was better than the Remington 870 was that in case a shell jumped the shell stop, the 3000 need only be pumped to clear, while the 870 required manual reinsertion of the shell back into the magazine tube, otherwise the 870 was jammed solid!

      Later model 870s were equipped with a modified shell lifter which allowed it to be cleared in the same manner as the 3000 – which, BTW, was manufactured for S&W by the Japanese arms manufacturer Howa Machinery Company Ltd., which also produced the selective-fire AR-18 and semi-auto-only AR-180 5.56mm rifles under a license from ArmaLite Inc.

  • If they are making them as good as they used to they are really good shotguns. The only thing to be aware of is when racking a 37 you can’t do it gently. If you do or short stroke it they will jam and it’s not easy to clear.

  • mazkact

    In the Dragnet clip Friday is muzzle sweeping Gannon something fierce.

  • Boogur T. Wang

    Ejection out the bottom. I carried one in VN on occasion.

  • uisconfruzed

    OK, WHERE DO I GET MINE?!?

  • jcitizen

    AH! Paper shells – them was the days!

  • Matt Wilder

    Us vintage Remington shotgun buffs all know the 37 is nothing but a cheap copy of the Remington Model 17! All they did was wait for the patents to expire before copying it!

    All joking aside, though I wouldn’t trade my Model 17 for anything, I definitely wouldn’t mind having one of these Model 37 Ithacas as well. After all, the only thing right Ithaca brought to the table was making the design available in 12 gauge. After all, the Model 17 as a police model was only available in 20 gauge, which we can all agree is pretty anemic for most police work. These LAPD Ithaca guns are therefore awesome.

  • Cottersay

    Since I was a kid in the ’60’s, I always considered the Ithaca as THE pump shotgun, bar none. (The Win 1897 pump by JMB came in as a very close 2nd, though!). Yea, I’m old.