Even if you’re a crack pistol shot, shotguns remain by far the most effective choice for home defense. This is particularly true when buckshot loads are used. Aiming doesn’t require pinpoint precision—you’re not firing just one, but a whole handful of lethal projectiles—increasing your chances of hitting the target even if your aim is slightly off.

Another good reason to defend your home with a shotgun is that shot pellets are less likely to penetrate walls to wound, or even kill, a person in another room. When it comes to indoor combat, shotguns are hard to beat.

I don’t think it’s chauvinistic to suggest shotguns are a particularly good choice for women when an intruder breaks through the door. Even women who are excellent marksmen with rifles or handguns are more likely to survive a home invasion with a shotgun in their hands. But one problem women find with shotguns is that their stocks are typically designed with burly men in mind. Their ergonomics aren’t quite right for female gunners, making the guns feel awkward in a woman’s hands.

In December 2008, Ithaca began designing a Model 37 stock expressly with women in mind. The Ladies Stock Project was launched after a firearm instructor complained that no manufacturer offered an off-the-shelf shotgun designed to fit female shooters.

The new Model 37 Featherlight, with a Ladies Stock, features a unique drop at the comb, drop at the heel, cast pitch, and toe-out configuration. The gun’s ergonomics are specifically designed to fit women and make it more comfortable for them to shoot. It is offered in 20 gauge only.

The comb was raised to help women position their cheek correctly on the stock. Drop at the comb was critical, as this controlled the horizontal position of a shooter’s eye relative to the axis of the bore. Drop at the heel was less important. However, having the comb more nearly parallel with the ground reduced perceived recoil.

Women’s shoulders move slightly out from top to bottom—a common cause of bruising in new female shooters. In spite of women’s narrower shoulders, Ithaca found the distance between their eyes and a narrower nose bridge meant females require
as much cast as male shooters do.

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