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View Full Version : Ithaca 37 Reliability Chronicles / Slam-Fire


Badger Arms
April 11, 2002, 09:46 PM
Just thought I'd share this with the board. I've been considering selling off some of my Ithaca 37's. I went into the safe and found 8 of them... think that's all I have. Anyhow, I went through and cycled them all with proving rounds. I remembered that one of them had a malfunction. Sure enough, it was my DS Police Special. Here's how the malfunction was manifesting itself:

I would load 4 rounds in the mag, one in the chamber. When I cycled the gun REALLY fast, the first round in the magazine would eject with the round being thrown from the chamber! ACK! The gun would then have an empty chamber. Let me explain, these proving rounds I use are reloaded cartridges minus the live primer and powder. Cheaper than snap-caps and has the same balance as a live shell.

Anyhow, here's what I came up with as possible problems.
1) I am short stroking the gun.
2) Shell stop is improperly timed and letting shells go early.
3) "Feeding Forks" are not coming down quickly enough and therefore aren't grabbing the round being fed early enough.

Well, while I was fiddling with another gun, I noticed that it rattled. I knew that rattle, it was the feeding forks. That rattle annoys me, but I also noticed that my problem gun did not rattle. Hmmmm. Sure enough, the forks were tight in there, VERY tight. I thought, what the heck and swapped them out. The feeding problem follwed the tight feeding forks. Eureka! I bent the forks in and now the gun functions fine. Not only does it now function fine, it also is much smoother. I'll take it out next weekend and put it through its paces.

Here's what I figured was happening. The tight forks were binding on the side of the receiver. This, I knew. This friction combined with the increased force required to throw a full-weight shell out combined to create a "Phantom" stop at the end of the stroke. When I was stroking the gun this fast, the little bump at the end was not enough to complete the feeding cycle. What I learned was that the Ithaca 37 has to be stroked smartly and completely to be reliable. While I was unable to repeat the malfunction once I cleaned, lubed, and adjusted the forks, it is a problem I bet could still happen in a tense situation.

Finally, I figured out how to best tell the difference between a slam-fire Ithaca and an "LA Cop Saver" version without a disconnector. To check this, clear the weapon and then move the slide forward about 2/3 closed. At this point, if you press the slide release on the right front of the trigger guard, you'll hear a click if there is a disconnector. It's not enough that the hammer just follows the bolt forward. Sometimes this is mistaken for a disconnector gun but it really only serves to prevent the gun from firing in certain circumstances. BTW, a disconnector is a post on the side of the hammer that engages the slide stop. When the slide is moved forward with your finger on the trigger, this disconnector releases the hammer to fire the gun again. Without the disconnector, there is nothing to catch the hammer and it merely rides the slide home. It acts much like the auto-sear on an M-16.