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Old July 13, 2013, 09:57 PM   #1
Clevinger
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Review of Ithaca 37 Featherlight from Ohio Factory

I am mainly a Benelli guy for shotguns, but I wanted to get an old school pump shotgun for turkey, deer (slugs), and maybe even home defense. I have a fondness for the older pump guns with wood stocks, and after looking at different modern options settled on the Ithaca 37 Featherlight.

Immediately on inspecting them you see the attention to detail that they are paying at the new Ohio plant. The fit and finish is excellent. Right out of the box the action was very, very smooth. It's a little heavier than the older models (about 7.6 pounds) due to the thicker barrel and chokes. It came with three Briley chokes: an improved cylinder, a modified, and full choke. The chokes fit perfectly flush with the barrel.

I took it out and ran 20 target loads, 10 4 buckshot loads, 5 00 buckshot loads, and 10 turkey loads through it. It functioned perfectly and was a joy to shoot. With the bottom ejection the shells are right at your feet when you are done shooting, which is nice.

I have a lot of respect for Remington Wingmasters and other modern pump shotguns, but I truly think Ithaca out of Ohio is making a special shotgun right now. I hope they are successful because I might be a repeat customer in the future. It's great to support a classic model of high quality and American jobs at the same time.


Last edited by Clevinger; July 14, 2013 at 11:33 AM.
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Old July 14, 2013, 05:27 AM   #2
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If:

[a] I could (easily) *buy* a new M37 that was...

[b] ... was identical to my early-eighties (M&P) DSPS guns but ...

[c] ... was threaded for choke tubes ...

... I'd be a very Happy Bunny, *indeed*.

I love my old Ithacas but they are "tired" and parts are awkward and expensive to buy. However, the thought of a gun identical to my favourite M37 DSPS but *without* reliability issues makes me dribble.

Regards,

Mark.

P.S. I *have* managed to sort out my gun's main problem - a *huge* number of FTExes - but, I think, my FTF problems may need the services of a welder or the purchase of some expensive spares. (One of my gun buddies keeps suggesting that "it's time to hang that old relic over the mantlepiece". I don't *fink* so...)
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Old July 14, 2013, 06:15 AM   #3
Nickel Plated
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I believe you could build one if you wanted. Not a pareticularly cheap proposition, but doable. Buy a standard hunting featherlight. Swap the barrel with a non-vent-rib smoothbore barrel (Ithaca sells them as spares) chop it to the desired length. And swap the stock and pump for ones off a Home Defense Ithaca. Then parkerize all the metal parts if the polished blue isn't correct enough for you.
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Old July 14, 2013, 06:43 AM   #4
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Sorry, I hadn't realised that I'd omitted to fill in my location.

The problem is that we don't have an Ithaca dealer in the UK. Or, indeed, many Ithaca *guns*, either.

Regards,

Mark.
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:35 AM   #5
drcook
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Mark,

please start a thread on your "failure to feed" issue. I restore and build Ithacas from scratch (parts) and happened onto a couple issues and their fixes that might help solve your problem

dc
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Old July 14, 2013, 09:59 AM   #6
Clevinger
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I'd like to add praise for Evoshield. I use one of these for practicing shooting heavier loads. They are awesome for recoil reduction and fit very well...


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Old July 14, 2013, 10:02 AM   #7
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OK, Dave. Wilco.

Clevinger: I forgot to say how nice your gun looks. One day, I *must* make it across The Pond; I'm looking forward to walking into a gunshop *crammed* with Ithacas.

Regards,

Mark.
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Old July 14, 2013, 10:17 AM   #8
Herr Walther
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Ithaca M37 is the only shotgun I've ever owned. 20ga and 12 ga.
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Old July 14, 2013, 10:27 AM   #9
drcook
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I had a NIB 20 I sold in a fit of madness a few years ago. Who knew NIB ones would escalate to the price they are going for today. I also had an old 20 that got sold off.

I need to get another 20ga gun. Actually 2. I ran across a gun with a 24" VR barrel and screw in choke tubes. I could use that as a basis for a superlative gun for my wife or daughter.

I need one for myself to hunt with, when I swap off from my 16ga guns, just to have one. I think a late 40's, up through early 60's (before the barrel thread change over at ser nbr 855,000) with 26 or 28 in barrel, choked mod would be superb.

Actually a 26" barrel would be the best. I could even take a 28" choked full, have it shortened to 26" and install some choke tubes.

That would make a great rabbit gun. Sometimes I just go to do some walking, and the lighter the gun the better.

Now with Clevinger reporting on this, a lot of you that were on the fence can see why there are some folks really big on Ithaca and why we gave such a glowing review of their practices and procedures after we went on the tour of the Ithaca factory.

The folks at Ithaca really are trying to build a top of the line firearm.
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Old July 14, 2013, 10:46 AM   #10
Herr Walther
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My 20 was improved cylinder, 28" barrel. That was bought for me as a birthday present in '77.

I do wish I still had it. It was stolen during a PCS move while in the Air Force.
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Old July 14, 2013, 11:27 AM   #11
Clevinger
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I did this review because a lot of people are familiar with the Ithaca 37s of old and their vaunted history. Yet, when I was researching a pump to buy I found very few people who had experience with the ones produced by the Ohio plant.

I wouldn't buy an American made product just because it's American made. Yet, give me a high quality American product and I will go for it every time.

I have a lot of respect for the approach Ithaca's management in Ohio is taking.
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Old July 14, 2013, 11:35 AM   #12
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Quote:
there are some folks really big on Ithaca
For example, *me*.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NHEl2unHnKQ

Notice, Dave, that the first round I loaded after the Dead Man's Click failed to fire.

I've not done *extensive* testing but I *do* know that pulling back on the forend gets you a "click" whereas pushing forward gives a "bang". Since there's a lot of wear on the end of the bolt-carrier's rear projection, I'm assuming that I'll have to get a welder friend to "build up and file back", as it were.

Regards,

Mark.
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Old July 14, 2013, 11:50 AM   #13
drcook
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Do you mean this part ?



These are a dime a dozen here in the states. You can also buy new ones from Ithaca. All you have to do is know whether you are buying for a 2 3/4" or a 3" gun.


Now with that said, how old is yours, round count, etc. Have you had the gun resprung ? It is really had to wear out an Ithaca. The springs on the other hand can cause a lot of malfunctions.
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Old July 14, 2013, 01:23 PM   #14
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Yep, that's the part. Also, the corresponding projection on the action release is worn. They're both worn enough that the bolt-carrier is pushed to one side when the forend is pulled. (It all works fine when unlocked, though, as I demonstrated in the film. )

As for age, it's a 1982 gun. Round count? No idea...

Of course, using it for PSG means that it gets a fair bit of hard use - when I first had it, I attended a safety course and, after a 40-plate stage, thirty years of accumulated brown gunk liquified and ran out from under the rear sight.

As for the springs, I had a *lot* of trouble with FTEx but Ithaca finally relented and allowed me to buy parts direct from them. I bought a whole load of non-pressure-bearing parts including extractors and springs. I also bought a new left-hand shell-stop spring.

After fitting the parts, it no longer has extraction failures.

Regards,

Mark.

P.S. Sorry for the thread hi-jack, Clevinger.
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Old July 14, 2013, 01:51 PM   #15
Clevinger
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Quote:
P.S. Sorry for the thread hi-jack, Clevinger.

No problem whatsoever. You have an Ithaca issue to discuss; this is as good a place as any.

Some of the best conversations on here start one place and end someplace completely different.
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Old July 14, 2013, 01:53 PM   #16
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Quote:
P.S. Sorry for the thread hi-jack, Clevinger.
If you measure yours, (do you have a mic or dial caliper) that reads in inches ? If not, I can convert, but if you measure I can then measure some of mine and I will tell you how much wear you have, or if the actual wear is inside the receiver.

Another way to trouble shoot your gun, is if you have an acquaintance that has one, borrow his parts and see if the malfunction goes away.

here is the part at another vendor, these are actually fresh Ithaca parts (for the most part)

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/Manufact...028.htm?page=2

and yes they do ship internationally

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/FAQ.htm#FAQ4

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/Foreign-Orders.htm
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Old July 14, 2013, 02:36 PM   #17
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Ah, o'course. I have two *identical* guns. I should've thought of swapping 'em out, *m'self*.

I assume that swapping "slides" is OK, Dave? I was told that swapping *bolts* should only be done if a head-space check was also performed.

I never thought that the *reciever* could be at fault. (I hope not...)

Yes, I have measuring equipment. I'll have a faff sometime in the coming week.

Finally, here's another "likkle problem" that I've been having: the rear sight is loose in the dovetails and tends to move about as I shoot and load the gun. Is there an easy fix? I don't want to pein the reciever or anything like that. I *was* thinking of drilling a tapping a hole for a grub-screw into the top of the rear-sight that would grip the bottom of the dovetail slot. Waddaya fink of *that* idea, Dave?

Regards,

Mark.

P.S. I really wish that this forum had a "reply-with-quote" button like all the other forums do.
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Old July 14, 2013, 03:24 PM   #18
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I tighten up sights in dovetails using shim stock made from pop (soda) or beer cans. The aluminum is pretty thin. If too thick, easy to sand down, if too thin, stack 2 layers. Cut a little bigger and fold the ends over and then tap in, then carefully cut away the tabs on the sides. Even scissors will cut the thin aluminum.

The shim stock goes under the sight in the dovetail, the purpose is to shove it up and make it tight again.

With an Ithaca 37, without the barrel in place, depth mic down from the face of the receiver to the bolt face. That is the dimension you need to go off of. Then if another bolt is within .001'ish, you are good to go. With Ithacas, they lock into the receiver of course. So if the face of one bolt is in the same place as another bolt, no head space issue.

They have to lock up securely, of course, but once you run through an Ithaca and do some measuring and look at how it is designed, it will make sense to you.

My gunsmith buddy told me you can make a poor man's go no-go gage from a shell and a piece of masking tape. Put tape over the end of if it closes easily, there might be a loose chamber/head space issue.
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Old July 14, 2013, 03:46 PM   #19
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Sorry you're having issues Chaos, hope they get sorted
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Old July 15, 2013, 12:20 AM   #20
CaptainChaos
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DRCook: All understood. And *thanks*, Dave.

Scrumbag: G'day. Looks like another hot one, today.

Yeah, the M37's not on *top* form, but *everything* I use seems to fall a part, eventually. (You did *read* my username, right?)

Regards,

Mark.
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Old July 21, 2013, 02:15 AM   #21
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It seems that the bolt carriers were *not* the problem; comparing my two identical guns showed no real difference.

However, the action release levers *did* look different. It was clear that one was much more worn than the other. So, I swapped the two trigger groups in their entirety and the problem has gone away.

Yesterday, at our practice session, I had not a single FTF or FTEx. *Wonderful*...

Thanks, Dave.

Regards,

Mark.
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Old July 22, 2013, 11:08 AM   #22
johnwilliamson062
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Quote:
I'm looking forward to walking into a gunshop *crammed* with Ithacas.
I am in Ohio and I have never seen such a shop
I have seen a few guns including new production around here though. They have all been REALLY nice. After my Mossberg flop I looked at them, but they are pricey(I still have the non-functional Mossberg as I just get angry every time I think about sending it back and dealing with their CS again).

If I was going to spend that type of money on a pump I would look very hard at an Ithaca.
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Old July 22, 2013, 11:38 AM   #23
CaptainChaos
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Quote:
I am in Ohio and I have never seen such a shop
Whaaaa? Now you've *really* burst my bubble.

Yeah, but, but, but - your pawn shops must be chock-a-block with them, *surely*?

Quote:
I have seen a few guns including new production around here though. They have all been REALLY nice.
I wouldn't expect any less of an Ithaca.

Quote:
If I was going to spend that type of money on a pump I would look very hard at an Ithaca.
As would I.

Actually, I fanced a Mossberg 590 or something just complete the "set" (WM 870, M37 DSPS, Higgins M20), but I've not bought one so far.

Regards,

Mark.
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Old July 24, 2013, 06:01 PM   #24
drcook
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Quote:
However, the action release levers *did* look different
it will probably cost more to ship the part, than the part itself

http://www.gunpartscorp.com/Manufact...028.htm?page=3

if you find a trigger group on your side of the lake, don't forget there was a product revision around the early 60's and the trigger group was slightly changed. a trigger group is a trigger group though. 1 for a 16 is the same as a 12 or a 20.
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Old July 25, 2013, 12:30 AM   #25
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Dave,

I had a bit if trouble spotting the part - I assume that it's the "slide stop", part #27.

I think I'll get my gun-buddy to weld it for me - he does *excellent* work for others.

Here's yet *another* question, Dave: let's assume that I *do* get it "extended", how much free play should we allow when the action is locked. Even when locked and working correctly, there's quite a bit of slack.

Is there an advantage - or *disadvantage* - in building the slide stop up to allow less "sloppiness"?

Thanks, again, for your advice - it felt really *good* having a gun that *always* went "bang!" when I pulled the trigger...

Regards,

Mark.

P.S. I've not addressed the rear-sight problem, yet.
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