View Full Version : What about Ithica?

Bennett Richards
October 23, 1999, 11:00 PM
One brand of shotgun I seldom see discussed here is Ithica. Are they decent defense weapons? How do they compare with the Mossberg and Remington shotguns in a defense-grade weapon?



October 24, 1999, 08:57 AM
T believe the main reason you don't see many Ithacas discussed is that the company has gone under several times. Each time it has been resurected by a different set of owners. I've got two Ithacas in the safe and I really like them. They are more hunting weapons though. The downward ejection is a plus when out in the weather and doesn't throw empty hulls across a lefthanded shooter's line of sight. I don't have the left hand safety, though Ithaca did offer one several years ago. The one thing I don't care for is that they feel "clunky" or loose when handling. The forearm doesn't feel as though it is tightly attached to the action bars. it is though, they just have that looseness built in (at least on all of the Ithacas that I've seen)
One thing to be aware of when buying Ithaca barrels is that they changed how they mount so you must know the serial number cutoff (don't have it handy at the moment) and the serial number of your receiver or you may buy the wrong barrel.
Quite a few prisons and police depts. issued the Ithaca in years gone by also.
All in all it was/is a good shotgun, only it was superceded by the Remington more or less in police dept circles starting in the mid to late 60s.

October 24, 1999, 09:05 AM
Another item against turning it into a combat shotgun is the way the barrel attaches to the magazine tube. The barrel screws into a magazine nut on the end of the magazine tube, effectively making it very difficult to add an extended tube for additional round capacity. Also aftermarket parts are not as readily available for the Ithaca.
Basically it was a case of Remingtion and Mossberg being in the right place at the right time when combat shotgunning came of age.
If you want an excellent read on combat shotguns I highly recommend The World's Fighting Shotguns by Thomas F.Swearengen. Occassionly one hears or reads a segment that a second volume is being worked on. I hope so as this book is a must read for combat shotugn affectionatos.

B Shipley
October 24, 1999, 11:16 PM
Jim Cirillo used a sawed off model 37 on stakeout duty. I read his book and some mag articles where he mentioned how he and his partner layed down a a wall of buckshot with them against a couple perps, all by virtue of the lack of a disconnector. Seemed to work for him. KY imports has some with 20" barrels, but most are probably hunting guns.

Bennett Richards
October 24, 1999, 11:33 PM
From what I understand, the later Ithicas will no longer slam-fire. The bottom ejector also seems problematic if you wish to fire over cover.


October 25, 1999, 01:34 AM
I've got an old Ithaca Model 37 and like it quite a bit. Parts and accessories are nearly non-existant, but I really like the action design. With the exception of the previously mentioned rattling forarm, it feels very solid. It's weight is about half that of a Mossberg 590A1.

I was looking for one a while back, also. I was able to locate a few "riot" Model 37's with, side folding bayonet, 7-round mag tubes, and 18 inch barrels, but the dealer wanted a bit more than I wanted to pay for a LE/military retiree ($500).

I know the Marine Corp and the SEAL (duckbilled model '37, AKA "Sweet Lips") teams used the model 37 during Viet Nam, so you figure it had to be pretty decent in that role.

If you want a cheap Ithaca knock-off that appears pretty well built, check out the Brolin Arms YL-12. It is Chinese made, has a 18-inch barrel, 7 round mag tube, and cost is about $130 on sale. Sadly, the barrels are not interchangeable, the Chinese version uses an unthreaded set of lugs to attach, whereas Ithaca used interrupted threads.

December 22, 2005, 08:26 PM
Does anyone know how to tell the age and value of ithica double barrel shotguns
there doesn't appear to be any serial numbers, but there is an engraving of a hunting dog in a marsh
and it says ithica gun co. ithica NY

December 22, 2005, 11:11 PM
check a "Dixie Gun Works " catalog, tehy have S/n for the doubles.
S/n should be on the upper or lower tangs.

December 23, 2005, 09:15 AM
Thanks I will look into it - Still can locate any numbers on the gun though.
Happy Holidays.

December 23, 2005, 09:34 AM
A while back SOG was selling police trade in M37's for $199. They were the 5 shot model.
Also, Ithica used to make a 10ga SA called the Mag-10, the police model was called the "Road Blocker". My uncle used to carry one when he was a Sheriffs Deputy in Maine back in the late 70's. I remeber he wasn't very happy with it because it only held three rds.

December 23, 2005, 10:10 AM
The Ithaca 37 and subsequent models have been discussed here several times.

The model 37 is a solid well made gun, equal to or surpassing the venerated 870 in quality. It suffers from being a dated design and having limited options such as add ons and easily interchangeable barrels.

It is/was a throwback to a time when guns were mostly made and finished by hand by craftsmen. It was a original Remington design that was superseded by the Remington 31 which was in turn replaced by the 870.

Nothing wrong with them, they will give several generations of faithfull service if cared for. The deerslayer model would make a great HD gun.

December 23, 2005, 08:56 PM
I picked up an ithaca mag 10 deluxe this fall and really like it. I got to use it for turkey hunting It's not much of a home defense gun though having a 32 inch barrel and being 54 inches overall in length.


December 23, 2005, 09:49 PM
I like the Mag-10. They made a defense version. They run well, but don't like to get the trigger group dirty or they start to hang up. In cold weather the only lube I use is lighter fluid and everything is silky.

December 23, 2005, 10:35 PM
I had heard that they could have problems in cold weather but it's nice to have a fix for it. I'm adding a pic below if anyone is interested. I would actually like to get ahold of one of the defense versions just to have the set



January 4, 2006, 03:27 PM

Does anyone know how to tell the age and value of ithica double barrel shotguns?

the serial number is 288521,there is also an engraving of a hunting dog in a marsh. and it says ithica gun co. ithica NY

I need to sell it for my dad - THANKS

January 4, 2006, 03:52 PM

These guys have a forum with ID and value help. Nice shooters.

January 4, 2006, 07:53 PM
I have visited the Ithaca plant in both Ithaca, NY and their later address in King Ferry,NY a few miles North of Ithaca. They have always been a pretty much handcrafted shotgun. All of the machining was done by hand in various fixtures without the aid of a CNC machines. I have also personally seen their "version" of an experimental 2 action bar Model 37. Ithaca's opinion was it wasn't necessary for functioning and stuck with the single action bar. There is virtually no stamped parts in an Ithaca shotgun and they machine the entire action from a solid block of steel and whittle it down to very light weight.
The rights to the 10 guage was ultimatly bought out by Remington and are still produced today.
The double barrel model, with the "dogs in the marsh" sounds like a Ithaca NID, which too was a fine shotgun.
Ithaca's final location was to relocate to the City of Auburn, NY which is about 11 miles from me. I go there often and pass by the "factory" just to see if there is any activity. The last time I went by, all there was at the location was a Van marked Ithaca Guns and no sign of anyone or activity.
I would hope some company would pick up the pieces and re-create the old Model 37, but it seems doubtful at this time. It is really too bad, they have had their financial problems and just couldn't get past them. I suspect it was because they had too many costs and overhead in making a handcrafted shotgun in a world of stamped parts and totaly automated machining. Ithaca shotguns were always more expensive than Remingtons and Mossbergs and several others, but you sure got your money's worth. It is too bad, they chose to try to produce quality in a world of Wal Mart shoppers expecting quality products at bargan basement prices. I think we are all a little guilty for their demise for not realizing quality has a price.

January 5, 2006, 02:31 PM
My first shotgun purchase came down to an Ithaca Model 37 and a Rem 870 Wingmaster. Both were older guns (early 80s), both were excellent quality. I preferred the fit and finish of the Wingmaster - which I purchased - a little more. The Model 37 had a loose forearm, which others have mentioned, and that felt "off" to me; just personal preference there. The Ithaca's action also felt different - less robust, but more smooth. Hard to explain. Could've been just those two examples, I suppose. It really was a toss-up, though. Hard to decide. Incidentally, I ultimately went with the Remington due to the excellent reliability record and general outstanding quality over the years; Ithaca's multiple demises and resurrections were the only point against it. Plus I loved my Remington rifle, so some amount of brand loyalty was involved also.

But if I was in a position to buy another pump gun, I wouldn't hesitate to buy a 37 - I've read nothing but positive things on this board and elsewhere; my only question is this - does the 37 only take 2 3/4" shells, or 3" as well? I don't remember if the barrel was stamped on the one I looked at.

January 5, 2006, 07:34 PM
from what i have read the 37 like most of the older shotguns, is a john browning design,

January 6, 2006, 04:30 PM
I own a model 37 12 guage and it is a fine shotgun. It does have a bit of a kick. Never had a problem with it. Action is very smooth and I like the bottom eject. The forearm isn't as wobbly/noisy as a Mossburg and feels better. Only problem is, they went out of business, so now parts/accessories are hard to come by. If your looking for a good used/shooting shotty, at a reasonable price, you might try one.
It is a JMB design originally.

January 7, 2006, 01:59 PM
The Remington Model 17 (20ga), designed by JMB, was the progenitor of the Ithaca 37.

The Remington Model 17 was ALSO the progenitor of the Remington Model 31...it is basically a side-ejecting 12 ga Model 17.

* * * * * * *

Browning's Model 17 patents had expired by the time Ithaca decided to build a pump.

Ithaca designers basically just scaled up the Model 17. HOWEVER, one of the design goals was a LIGHTWEIGHT gun. Therefore, some parts are not as beefy as JMB had intended.

You can see this if you compare a 12 ga Remington 31 next to a 12 ga Ithaca 37.

The Remington 31 outclassed all other pumps in durability testing in WWII (the Winchester Model 12 was second).

This is not to say the 37 is not durable...it is one of the most durable designs around!

* * * * * * *

The next owner of Ithaca (pray God there is one) will I hope have the resources to procure new CNC tooling. While I love my 37s, and willingly paid more to get all-steel, all-machined shotguns, a major factor in that higher price is hand labor and old tooling (as was mentioned).

I do however have a Chinese 37 knock-off with dual action bars(!) that cost me the princely sum of $90. There's nothing like cheap (slave?) labor to lower a gun's price.

The 37 just can't compete with stamped part shotguns like 870s and 500s.

However, with new production methods, perhaps the old gal can make a comeback...I am personally waiting for a CNC-machined all-stainless Ithaca 37 with black walnut furniture...I may be waiting a long time.

* * * * * * * * *

I've read nothing but positive things on this board and elsewhere; my only question is this - does the 37 only take 2 3/4" shells, or 3" as well?

37s up to a certain point (70s? relying on memory) only took 2 3/4"; the 37 was then modified to handle 3" shells

January 7, 2006, 04:00 PM
Quote mjolnir
I am personally waiting for a CNC-machined all-stainless Ithaca 37 with black walnut furniture...I may be waiting a long time.

Sign me up! However we may be waiting a loooooooog time as all the hard goods from Ithica have been auctioned. No buyers are on the horizon as far as I can tell.

January 8, 2006, 08:47 AM
I can't "verify" if Ithaca's equipment was in fact auctioned off or not, but I do know they used the equipment as collateral for their last loan. I would guess that it is entirely possible that the Bank in fact finally auctioned off the equipment to mitigate their losses. I have my doubts if Ithaca will ever come back to life, even under another manufacturer. Browning probably wouldn't buy the rights as they already produce a bottom ejecting model, Mossberg would have no reason because they sell all they can make, why take on a "loosing" brand. Same with Remington, they have all the business they need with the 870 even though Illion is only 100 miles or so up the road. I doubt that Winchester would be up to another model of pump because their 1200 isn't that popular. Smith and Wesson might be a good place to look, they have always been known for quality guns and we all know they ain't cheap.My best hope would be Ruger, as they could investment cast many of the parts and re create the 37 much more cheaply than Ithaca could hand machine all of the parts. Lets keep hoping someone pulls the Ithaca 37 out of the Trash Bin. I am not gonna hold my breath though.

January 8, 2006, 02:08 PM
Ruger4570-"I can't "verify" if Ithaca's equipment was in fact auctioned off or not, but I do know they used the equipment as collateral for their last loan."


125-year-old company sold off at auction

By Anne Gleason / The Citizen
Wednesday, November 30, 2005 9:35 AM EST

AUBURN - Some came to Tuesday's auction looking for parts, but others came to bid farewell to a 125-year-old company they say was known for high-quality guns not often found anymore.

It was a sad day for many gun enthusiasts as the venerable Ithaca Gun Co. sold off equipment in its going-out-of-business liquidation auction.

“I just love Ithaca Gun. There's a lot of history,” said Louis Proulx of Auburn. “It's too bad. It shouldn't have went down. I came to look and to see it go and say goodbye.”

The company, which was founded in 1880 in Ithaca, moved to King Ferry in the 1980s. In April, it moved to Allen Street in Auburn, in anticipation of a sale to a Rhode Island investor. When that sale fell through around Memorial Day, Ithaca Gun closed its doors.

At the time, the company owed several hundred thousand dollars to various creditors, including Cayuga County. Cayuga County planning and economic development director David Miller said the company has since paid off its roughly $150,000 debt to the county.

On Tuesday, people picked through the remains of the long-standing company.

“People who grew up here own these guns and hunted with them as did their fathers before them,” said Gerard Marco, an area gunsmith. “Ithaca Gun provided high-quality, inexpensive shotguns for the masses.”

Ithaca Gun moved to King Ferry under new ownership in the 1980s, after encountering fiscal trouble and an expensive environmental cleanup in Ithaca. It went bankrupt and was bought by a group of investors in 1995.

This is the company's third failure.

It was diffficult for Robert Neill, who owned the company between 1986 and 1995, to watch the remainders of the company being auctioned off so cheaply.

“It's terrible,” Neill said. “Ithaca was a wonderful gun company.”

Neill, a World War II veteran, said the company was one of two firms making revolvers for WWII officers. As a soldier, Neill wasn't given an Ithaca Gun firearm during the war, but he was an avid hunter and used the guns for hunting at home.

Marco called the company historic. Among its patrons were John Philip Sousa and Annie Oakley. But Ithaca Gun, he said, was a one-gun company. Part of its problem was that it couldn't compete with the larger national and foreign markets.

“They had to struggle so hard just to survive in a different market,” he said.

Others also believe the company was mishandled as it changed hands.

Norm Wightman, who worked as the sales manager at the company in 2003, said it was a shame to see the company in the position it's in, but he wasn't yet ready to rule out a comeback.

“Ithaca Gun is one tough name,” Wightman said. “I'm a firm believer in the company, and it's not over till it's over. It has experienced some bad luck in the past and seemed to weather it.”

Wightman said the company made an “all-purpose shotgun” like no other gun.

The guns were lightweight and had high-level accuracy, he said.

“The Ithaca Gun name certainly deserves to be re-established,” he said. “It has a real knack of getting into your blood and that shows in the quality of their firearms.”

Don Thornton, a gunsmith from Liverpool who attended the auction Tuesday, said virtually all the hunters in his family owned Ithaca Gun firearms.

Thornton said he was glad his father wasn't there to see the going-out-of-business auction.

“He'd cry,” Thornton said.

Staff writer Anne Gleason can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 248 or at [email protected]

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