Ithaca 37 forensics

SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 MemberPosts: 81 Member
Hi everybody. Sorry I been awhile. Anyways, I'm looking for some input on a Ithaca 37. It's at the shop at a good price, a 20 gauge with a polychoke. A guy is interested in buying it because it appears mint, but In my humble opinion it's been refinished. Just looking for some confirmation. In my experience, most all factory original polishing and bluing will show that the stampings on the barrel will be ever so slightly swaged out to indicate that it was polished and then stamped. A refinishing job will show evidence of the lettering being wiped clean even to the surface of the surrounding steel. Which this gun definitely shows evidence of. The 37s have the serial # stamped on the front edge of the receiver as well as the barrel and the two do not seem to look the same, as that part of the receiver would not have received the same treatment with a polishing wheel. But the kicker that could end the discussion is the slide action bar. I cannot tell if this is a rough cast part, or else a part that saw heavy pitting and then was sand-blasted and then reblued. I've seen some pretty rough casting on gun parts that can fool you in that regard. I don't know enough about the good old 37 to know what the action bar was constructed of. So to all you Ithaca buffs, are your action bars cast or machined? Thanks
Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days

Replies

  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,802 Senior Member
    Hi everybody. Sorry I been awhile. Anyways, I'm looking for some input on a Ithaca 37. It's at the shop at a good price, a 20 gauge with a polychoke. A guy is interested in buying it because it appears mint, but In my humble opinion it's been refinished. Just looking for some confirmation. In my experience, most all factory original polishing and bluing will show that the stampings on the barrel will be ever so slightly swaged out to indicate that it was polished and then stamped. A refinishing job will show evidence of the lettering being wiped clean even to the surface of the surrounding steel. Which this gun definitely shows evidence of. The 37s have the serial # stamped on the front edge of the receiver as well as the barrel and the two do not seem to look the same, as that part of the receiver would not have received the same treatment with a polishing wheel. But the kicker that could end the discussion is the slide action bar. I cannot tell if this is a rough cast part, or else a part that saw heavy pitting and then was sand-blasted and then reblued. I've seen some pretty rough casting on gun parts that can fool you in that regard. I don't know enough about the good old 37 to know what the action bar was constructed of. So to all you Ithaca buffs, are your action bars cast or machined? Thanks

    I don't know if it's cast or machined, but I've seen plenty of model 37s and that part ain't rough. How much they asking for it? If you want one for collecting I'd ask for paperwork to confirm its originality. Nobody on here brings up a fact I discovered back in the 80s and 90s that if a firearm is refurbished by a genuine factory rep, it doesn't lose value. However most of those guys when they do work like that it comes out looking original and like I said, the Model 37s I've seen didn't have ANY rough parts.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    Good to know. He likes it because it's got the Poly-choke and its a minty looking shiny piece. But to me it just screams "refurbish". I don't know what kind of finish they put on the barrel, but it's got polishing scratches on the barrel from a buffer that hasn't been 'trimmed'. If you buff out steel with a stringy buffing wheel, those long strands will scratch the polish. Sure, it'll still be shiny when it's all said and done, but you'll see the marks through the bluing. But I haven't looked at enough ithacas to know if they're usually like that from the factory. But that action bar would be a dead giveaway. It. Is. Rough. But completely blued clean thru. I have a hunch that it got the hell sandblasted out of it and then dunked in the bluing tank. Overall its a nice looking gun tho. They didn't wallow out the screw/pin holes with a buffer or any unsightly thing like that. So whoever Bubba gunsmith was that may have worked it over at least did a decent job if that's the case
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    They want 350 for it BTW. For a machined all steel American pump gun that doesn't seem bad at all. But not the steal it would be if it was original.
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,037 Senior Member
    The poly choke is a no-go for me. A LOT of them had poly chokes, most of them I've seen. Unaltered ones seem to be harder to come by.

    I wouldn't give that much for one that had been altered but that price isn't bad for an original. That's at the middle of the high end IMO. Lots of them out there. They're great guns, btw. I had a sawed off one in Viet Nam I carried as a last ditch weapon. It would slam fire if you pulled the trigger and worked the slide.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 1,773 Senior Member
    I have an older 20 ga....the bar is smooth. Plus the only Ser # is on the right side of the receiver just above the trigger. THere is no Ser # on the barrel.

    20 ga 37's are rare around here. I've only seen 1 for sale in almost 20 yrs. 12 ga's are common.
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    I see.... So not looking like much of a deal. Well, I'll relay that info to him and let him follow his nose I guess. Maybe I should just tell him to hold out for an un-molested model 12. I love mine :beer:
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    RugerFan wrote: »
    I have an older 20 ga....the bar is smooth. Plus the only Ser # is on the right side of the receiver just above the trigger. THere is no Ser # on the barrel.

    20 ga 37's are rare around here. I've only seen 1 for sale in almost 20 yrs. 12 ga's are common.

    Also interesting. This one's got a # on the left side of the barrel below the proof mark and also on the receiver on the front edge underneath the magazine tube
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 21,802 Senior Member
    RugerFan wrote: »
    I have an older 20 ga....the bar is smooth. Plus the only Ser # is on the right side of the receiver just above the trigger. THere is no Ser # on the barrel.

    20 ga 37's are rare around here. I've only seen 1 for sale in almost 20 yrs. 12 ga's are common.

    I would love a 12 gauge 37, especially if it had screw in chokes and a barrel compatible with steal shot. That would be a great all purpose shotgun for everything from dove to geese. 37s were great guns.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    I've seen the new Ithaca's just how you describe (assuming they handle steel shot, any gun made in the 21st century should ?). But they had price tags upwards of 800 bills. Ouch
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 1,773 Senior Member
    Also interesting. This one's got a # on the left side of the barrel below the proof mark and also on the receiver on the front edge underneath the magazine tube

    I have no idea how old my gun is. My father bought it used in the early 70's. It has the "ribbed" pump, if you know what I mean
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    Yup. The old "corncob". Cool guns
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 1,773 Senior Member
    RugerFan wrote: »
    I have no idea how old my gun is. My father bought it used in the early 70's. It has the "ribbed" pump, if you know what I mean

    According to this website http://www.ithacagun.com/pdfs/serialnumbers.pdf mine was mfg in '66.
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    RugerFan wrote: »
    According to this website http://www.ithacagun.com/pdfs/serialnumbers.pdf mine was mfg in '66.

    Cool. Vietnam. JFK & the Cold War era. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones on the radio on the way out to the hunting blind. That gun's got some history
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,253 Senior Member
    Pre-1955 M37's had the serial number on the front of the receiver. All parts of those guns were milled. When SKB of Japan took over some of the manufacturing in 55 the S/N got moved to the right side of the receiver above the trigger guard. Post-55 guns used some stamped parts and a metric thread on the barrel. I grew up shooting Dad's M37 16 gauge and now I have two of them in 16, one pre-55 and another post-55. A gunsmith-installed Polychoke might have required the barrel to be reblued when the choke was sweat-soldered on. I don't think a Polychoke was a factory option.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    Good info. Now ya'll got me as confused as a 10yr old college student :p
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    But that would explain the reblued barrel. That action bar, though, a whole 'nother story
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • RugerFanRugerFan Senior Member Posts: 1,773 Senior Member
    I found this on the Ithaca company website: http://www.ithacaowners.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=663
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,253 Senior Member
    Good info. Now ya'll got me as confused as a blind lesbian in a fish market!

    FIFY!
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    Teach wrote: »
    FIFY!
    Jerry

    HA!
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    RugerFan wrote: »
    I found this on the Ithaca company website: http://www.ithacaowners.com/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=663

    Thanks for the link. You know what I'm gonna do? I'm going to tell him to just buy the damn thing and happily spend the next few years trying to track down what the heck kind of 37 he bought. He can call it the "mystery fish market Ithaca 37"
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    If the poly choke works as advertised I'd say go with it. Always felt limited with a fixed choke. Collectors be danged
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • Gene LGene L Senior Member Posts: 10,037 Senior Member
    In these days of plastic shells and shotcups, choke isn't all that essential. I don't know if they work or not, but they sure were popular back in the day of paper shells and over-charge cards. I grew up in the day where Modified was standard on most single barrel guns and Mod and Full on double guns.

    Ithacas are a little more refined than the 870, or it looks like that to me. Slimmer it seems.

    My Ithaca in 1969 was sawed off just in front of the mag and just behind the pistol grip. Liked that gun, easy to carry and lighter than a 1911, or it felt that way. Strictly last ditch or for night ambushes. Buckshot and paper shells. They would get wet and swell if you didn't pay attention them. I want to say we oiled the shells, but can't quite remember if we did.

    If I were in the market for a pump gun, the older Ithaca would be near the top of my list. It was a popular gun with LE back in the day.

    My pump now is strictly a self defense gun, a S&W pump I paid less than $200 for, and it has a rear sight. I don't think I've ever fired it. If I ever do, I won't feel too bad to give it up for evidence. A good gun, kinda a copy of the 870, but not really.

    I'm a terrible shot at flying objects. Or rabbits, not many where I grew up.
    Not too many problems you can't fix
    With a 1911 and a 30-06
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    I hear ya. All good info. And touché about the flying objects. Sometimes I surprise myself but mostly I'm way in the hole when it comes to hits per shot fired with a shotgun. "Just use a shotgun, they said. You can't miss, they said."
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,887 Senior Member
    My first shotgun at age 11, a Rem mod 11-48, had a polychoke and while it worked as advertised it was still a shorter range gun than another gun with a fixed choke.

    Polychokes can and do shed some of the ventilating ribs in the choke.

    I'm not sure if that is significant because the choke is determined by the tension applied to those slotted fingers deeper in the choke assembly.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    Yeah I don't know. I've never dug into the guts of one of those polychokes but I'm guessing the constriction is just a collet of some sort. I don't know if the vents at the muzzle end are supposed to act as a sort of compensator or what. I've heard that porting and compensators on the muzzle of shotguns are more for show rather than having much practical effect due to the low pressures of a shotgun vs something like a centerfire rifle round. But I've never fired shotguns side by side to compare.
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Moderator Posts: 14,825 Senior Member
    There were two very common after-market chokes back in the day...the Poly Choke - which was essentially a "dial-a-choke" and the Cutts Compensator....which had choke tubes that screwed into this cylindrical cage welded onto the end of the barrel... both worked to a degree...but the advent of plastic shot cups changed things some...both were ugly as hell and destroyed any aesthetics the gun might possess....
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,253 Senior Member
    There were two types of Polychokes, one with compensator slots ahead of the choke collet and another one without vent slots. If the outer sleeve is completely unscrewed, it exposes a 5-fingered spring that squeezes down as the outer nut is tightened. The Cutts Compensator had a long slotted body with choke tubes that screwed in ahead of the slots. In my opinion, the Cutts was really a butt-ugly thing, and the Polychoke wasn't much prettier, but the Polychoke seemed to throw better patterns than the Cutts unit. The older of my two M37 16's has a Herter's brand copy of a Polychoke without the slots on it and it seems to work pretty well at controlling patterns. In the 1960's, Poly came out with an "automatic" choke that tightened itself a little with every shot. Start out at Improved Cylinder, and end up at full for the third shot.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
  • SmithCorona03A3SmithCorona03A3 Member Posts: 81 Member
    Golly. Seems like weird gizmos at the end of a shotgun barrel were The Thing back in those days. That automatic choke sounds like an interesting idea lol. I've seen a few Cutts's over the year and always thought they were hideous as well. Seems like a lot of old A-5s around here have them. I guess if you like the Han Solo blaster look on the end of your duck gun...
    Formerly known as SmithCorona03A3, back in the old forum days
  • twatwa Senior Member Posts: 2,231 Senior Member
    I wouldn't worry about it being re-finished unless they are buying it only collector status. I don't think the 37's are really that collectible, they are pretty readily available for cheap from what I have seen.
  • TeachTeach Senior Member Posts: 18,253 Senior Member
    The M37 was in continuous production by Ithaca for 50 years, 1937 to 87, then with some modifications it lived on as the Model 87. Its original form was as a Remington pump prior to its 1937 takeover by Ithaca, don't recall the model number on that one. Lots of military and police riot guns were made on the M37 action.
    Jerry
    Hide and wail in terror, Eloi- - - -We Morlocks are on the hunt!
    ASK-HOLE Someone who asks for advice and always does something opposite
Sign In or Register to comment.
Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Guns & Ammo stories delivered right to your inbox every week.