Ithaca Model 37 Combat Shotgun

The Ithaca Model 37 shotgun came into U.S. service during World War II, but in limited quantities since Ithaca was focused on production of the M1911A1 .45 cal. automatic pistol. It was the Vietnam War that made the Ithica 37 an important combat shotgun. At that time, available stocks of older shotguns were depleted and new sources were needed. Approximately 25,000 of the plain riot gun version of the Ithaca 37 were ordered by DoD based on proven reliability and available production capacity.

Vietnam SEALs in LSSC (Light SEAL Support Craft), with Ithaca 37 Combat Shotgun
Vietnam SEALs in LSSC (Light SEAL Support Craft), Ithaca 37 Combat Shotgun at left.

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Use of the Ithaca Model 37 in Vietnam

Capt. Robert Kermen, USNR, Brown Water Navy in Vietnam, with Ithaca 37 used to destroy mines
Capt. Robert Kermen, USNR, Brown Water Navy in Vietnam, with Ithaca 37 used to destroy mines.

The Ithaca Model 37 combat shotguns used in Viet Nam were riot guns with 18-inch barrels or trench guns with 20-inch barrels, with wood stocks and forearms and parkerized metal parts. The point man of a SEAL team or the bow sentry of other craft would carry an Ithaca 37. It had plenty of firepower in a small package, with a disconnector mode that allowed one trigger pull to discharge a full magazine as fast as the forearm can be cycled.

Description of the Ithaca Model 37 Shotgun

Ithaca Model 37 Shotgun

The Ithaca Model 37 shotgun was introduced in 1937, based on a design originally patented by John M. Browning in 1915, with both loading and ejection through the same bottom port. The Model 37 is known for its light weight and easy handling by left and right handed shooters.

A cross-bolt, push button type manual safety is located at the back end of the trigger guard. The forearm latch (bolt release) is at the right front of the trigger guard.

The trench gun model had a ventilated heat shield over the barrel and an adapter for the M1917 bayonet or, later, the M7 bayonet used with the M16 series rifles. Swivels for attachment of standard military web slings are provided.

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