The “Roaring Twenties” gave birth to many things but one of the most interesting to me was the “Ithaca Auto & Burglar” hand gun. It was a 20 guage double barrel shotgun with a pistol grip and 10 inch barrels, first manufactured in 1921. (Even though the photo says 1920.)



Pictured above, in figure 1 is a “Model A” with factory holster and in figure 2 are (what I now believe to be) 2 types of the “Model B” version. The unofficial “Model A” version was manufactured from 1921 until 1925. The “Model B” version, was designed in 1925 to accept 2 3/4 inch shells and the barrel length increased to 12.2 inches. It was manufactured until federal law banned them in 1934. Including both Models, about 4000 units were made. Neither was ever referred to by Ithaca as Model “A” or “B”; this designation was given by the public.

The “Auto Burglar” enjoyed a great deal of popularity, even encouragement by law enforcement officials. Truck drivers, who were frequently hi-jacked during the period, particularly liked it.

There was one fatal flaw though. There were entirely too many criminals being eradicated by this little “Blue Steel Magic Wand”. Politically, its days were numbered and in 1934, the death bell sounded for one of Ithaca’s greatest contributions to self defense. If you happen to have one of these little beauties, make sure you have the proper A.T.F. paperwork to go with it. If there is no paperwork, it’s very possible the gun has never been registered and as such is illegal. The rub comes in that it can’t be registered and made legal. If the serial number is run, and it hasn’t been registered, you will be held for the authorities and your gun will be confiscated. What happens to you is questionable.

After the tragedy in Arizona, the same ilk who banned the “Auto & Burglar”, though their names will now be different, will be making political hay in an attempt to permanently disarm the people. I’m not a big Rev. Al Sharpton fan, but he quoted one of his parishioners on WLS Radio one morning and it seemed there was a note of admiration in his voice.

“Reverend, I’m saved, sanctified, Blood bought, born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. But if somebody busts through my door, I’m gonna drop him where he stands.”

If you are Conservative or Liberal, try to remember it was not this little Granny Lady that committed the carnage in Arizona or at Fort Hood or any of the other places of tragedy we have had to endure through the past years. They were whack jobs, and guns were just the weapon they used. If guns had been denied them, they would just have chosen another perhaps more deadly one.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Freedom is not free, and it is not “Just another word for nothing left to lose.” (Me & Bobby McGee) It comes at a price and sometimes a dear one... and there will always be those who want to extract that payment. By the Grace of God, may there always be those who are willing to pay it.

Happy Trails, God Bless. John

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.


  • kcbuck: StormCloud601:
    So what’s the rub here? If you have one of these (hand held shotguns) do you need a collector’s license to hold and have or your not allowed to own one "what-so-ever"? Were original owner’s grandfathered from the new regulations?
    Normally, when new codes are adopted previous structures, products, or equipment are grandfathered (exempt) and only new structures, products, or equipment made or constructed thereafter, need to comply.
  • StormCloud601: KC, as I understand it, these guns could be registered at the time of the law being enacted. However those that were not registered at that time can not be registered now. They are considered illegal like a sawed off shotgun and are treated as such. Sorry I wasn’t clear and I may be mistaken but that’s what I gathered from my research. John
  • kcbuck: Thank-you, I get it now.... Sometimes a little slow on the down take.
  • perlhaqr: So, I’m very much not a lawyer, but if you had one of these, and didn’t possess NFA paperwork on it, you *might* be able to get away with having a barrel made that would bring it up to the legal minimums (18 inch barrel, measured from the breechface, best to go at least 18.25 inches, and 26 inches overall length, again, 26.25 inches is your best bet) and then, having a shotgun which was originally made in this pistol grip only configuration, applying to the ATF to make an AOW (Any Other Weapon) out of it, at which point you’d put the original barrel back on.
    I’d sell the barrel to a friend, though, so you can’t be charged with constructive possession in the interim.
    Again, I’m not a lawyer. If you had one of these and wanted to do anything of the sort, I’d recommend hiring a good one. Remember, the ATF has killed people in the past over NFA violations, so, the stakes are high enough to warrant proper attention to detail.
  • kcbuck: I really don’t believe that the ATF or any other law enforcement agency goes out there to kill people. Do you? I believe its the law breakers option to be taken dead or alive, which the ATF has no control over but has the ability to obligh them. You just can’t walk away from this type of situation....
  • mikee: The surviving Branch Davidians won their lawsuit against the feds for the ATF raid on their compound - a raid based on the supposed possession by the Davidians of fully automatic firearms, without the proper paperwork.
  • kcbuck: I don’t really think that ATF went in there expecting it to turn out the way it did. If they would have surrendered their illegal weapons and not fired upon the ATF things would have turned out differently. However, once they fired upon the ATF, they couldn’t just walk away and say "never mind". The law has to be enforced, despite the possible end results which they brough upon themselves. They were the element of their own destruction....
  • Mark Matis: For kcbuck:
    As far as I have been able to find out, NONE of the weapons in the possession of the Branch Davidians were anything like what was alleged in the warrant. Furthermore, the front door to the compound, which would have shown which direction shots were fired, conveniently disappeared. Obviously David Koresh must have been resurrected and absconded with it!
  • kcbuck: Oh I see it was an ATF Hit Squad and the Branch Davidians were just innocent bystanders minding their on business.... I think not.
  • Mike Bruscell: Between 1972-1992 I worked for a major police department on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We had two of these Auto & Burglars in the armory in the early 70’s. I had the privilege of taking one out on stakeout and what a beauty it was. Never got to shoot it, but it was fun to handle, nonetheless. I think they made about 1500 of these total, between 1921-1925, so this weapon was about 50 years old when I took it out on the streets, but it was a primo condition. I don’t know whether the P.D. still has them, however. Hopefully, over the years the armorers were smart enough and knowledgeable enough to keep them. Great memory, that!
  • kcbuck: Anyone out there have one for sale????
  • makeithot: That is a work of art first time I have ever seen one thanks for posting the picture
  • kcbuck: Yeah, I would love to own one of those too.
  • medhist: I have a model A as its called. It has the grip spur. I live in Canada so Im pretty sure it cannot be imported back into the USA. If any of the members have a Canadian FAC and are interested in purchasing it, it is for sale. Its been in my gun safe since 1981.
  • Arizona Mike: It is a restricted weapon according to the BATFE. You need to have the "tax stamp" from the FEDS to legally own it.
    In ggod condition it is worth over $500 to a collector. It is also a good shooter but use only LOW BASE shot shells as it was not designed to handle today’s shot loads. Get it checked by a competent gunsmith for safety before firing it.
  • gunman1104: Since this firearm is over 50 years old, it may be considered an antique or curio and be exempted. Check the ATF field office using a public phone. You never know!
  • nate44: My education continues. I had never heard of this beauty. It’s a shame they were banned. They would be very useful in todays environment!
  • SPIDEY: I just seen one of the B models on an auction site that sold for $2480. This was the first time I’d ever seen or heard of one. I looked it up on wikki an they’re very rare.
  • Brian: Good to see the pics are getting used, lol.
    Just seeing the article. thanks for it, i know there aren’t alot around anymore. These 2 are still in the safe.
  • StormCloud601: It’s nice to know where these little jewels are and that you are pleased with the article.
  • 1914mauser: Thank you for posting this. I have an "A" model with a decal on the bottom that reads "Califorina Highway Patrol #xxxx" It is a handful to shoot and yes I have the paperwork for it. I wish I had a holster for it.
  • 1914mauser: P.S. I believe both the examples you have pictured are both "B" models.
  • StormCloud601: 1914mauser. At first glance they do appear to be Model Bs since they both have the same grip. I originally had a picture that had the classic Model A grip but it became unavailable. I’m not happy with the picture but it was the only one I could find with the two Models side by side, Judging by the barrel length, I believe the one on the left is indeed a Model A.
  • 1914mauser: Ok, I own an "A" model and the one on the left does not look like the one I have. Also a recent Julia auction had both models listed and you can clearly see there are differences between the 2 models. I think these are both "B" models with different barrel lengths.
  • Brian: Just a little heads up, these 2 exact guns will be going up for auction this fall, through James D. Julia Auctions.
  • Jim: So are the laws the same today? I read sometime back that the Auto Burglar could be registered.
  • Brian: Yep, & these 2 have all the paperwork with them. They are classified as AOW & cost $5 a piece to change them into your name.
  • StormCloud601: 1914mauser, I defer to your expertise. I am not an expert and as I said I was going by the barrel lengths since I could no longer get a photo of the A & B side by side. By the grip to me they both, as you suggest, are Bs. I hate I had to change the picture because I think the A is so much more beautiful than the B. Although I think the B would be easier to handle when shooting. Having never shot either I’ll have to stand aside and let more knowledgeable minds take the lead.
  • StormCloud601: 1914mauser, thank you so much for the photo. I think it completes the article.
  • Jimmy: What’s the value on these?
  • 1914mauser: Nothing if not registered. Registered in decent condition around 5K.
  • Bob: Beautiful firearm. Read earlier that Cuba has free medical services and a complete welfare system. If things are so wonderful in a socialist society, why are they fleeing to the USA?
  • OSS: I know where one of these were...on the bottom of the trigger guard was
    Al Capone
  • StormCloud601: OSS, thank you for that bit of info. I find it highly likely that he had one of these and that he had it engraved fits his style. 8^)

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