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Thread: Ithaca 37 "Trench Gun" - Opinions Requested

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  1. #1
    Member mtrpdw's Avatar
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    Ithaca 37 "Trench Gun" - Opinions Requested

    A friend in Florida recently purchased a 1963 Ithaca shotgun which had, to me, some interesting features.

    First off, this Ithaca 37 was NEVER held out to be an original Vietnam issue Trench Gun. This seems to be supported by the fact that it sold for around $550.00.

    Story was from the person, in his late 20's, who sold it (and we know how stories go), that it was his grandfather's gun, who was a weapons tech for the U.S. Air Force in the Vietnam conflict - time frame: unknown.

    The 37 was used for perimeter security duties by the grandfather. He brought it back with him when he finished his tour, and owned it until his death, when it was passed on to other family members.

    There are no U.S. military martial markings on the gun, and the serial number range is outside known military issue 37's.

    The stock Sling Swivel inletting, which appears precise and professional, is more consistent with Stevens 520/620 Trench Guns - never seen it on Ithaca 37 Trench or Riot guns.

    Butt Plate looks to be a replacement.

    Additionally, the transverse/cross grooves for the Bayonet Lug Screws appear professionally milled, but shiny - not parkerized over.

    Bayonet Adaptor/Heat Shield definitely looks legit.

    The parkerized finish on the gun and heat shield look the same, and appear to be at least a 30 year, older grey/green finish.

    The Barrel "CYL" choke marking has been over-stamped with "FULL", and there is a star (*) stamped on chamber/lug area.

    Most interesting for me was that the receiver has the plain "Riot/Trench Gun" finish - no waterfowl scene.

    Unless I'm wrong, I didn't think Ithaca didn't produce plain "Riot/Trench Gun" receiver finishes until at least 1965/66 - the serial number on this gun shows it was produces in 1963.

    Just looking for professional opinions on what this 37 might be. If it is a clone, or maybe a police gun, it was made up long before faking 37 Trench guns were popular.



    Your thoughts???
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    Last edited by mtrpdw; 06-19-2013 at 07:16 PM.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    The buttstock doesn't even look like it's Ithaca. Like you suggest, it looks more like a Stevens product. I can't read the buttplate. The transverse screw grooves are definitely afterthought and the full/cyl are over stamped indicating a change in status by persons unknown at a time unspecified...

    The thing about guns like this is, the originator sometimes doesn't tell a good story. What he meant to say and what's understood are sometimes vastly different. This is just like the one I carried, I carried an Ithaca like this, turns into "I carried this one." And it could have been made up forever ago, before anyone thought of faking. No malice meant, just put together. Just because the current owner thinks the originator owned it before doesn't make it so. Just an accumulation of parts...

    But...I could be wrong...
    Regards, Jim

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    The most interesting part for me is why is there no hunting scene on a gun made in 1963 if its not military? I thought they didn't give that option to police (M and P) until the later sixties? Anyone know what the star and 4 markings are on the barrel?

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    Really Senior Member Tom Doniphon's Avatar
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    The "4" marking on the barrel is Ithaca's full choke designation. A lot of the Ithaca guns made in the 60s for LE and the Military had a full choke bore.

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    Advisory Panel browningautorifle's Avatar
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    So Tom...what's YOUR take on this one??
    Regards, Jim

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    So the barrel started out as a cyl choke...then persons unknown overstamped it with FULL and then put "4" on barrel? Could the original owner have brought or had gun shipped to vietnam as private purchase and then an armorer installed more military components? Again I'm confused by the 1963 manufacture date, no hunting scene and the uniformity and uniformed age and wear of the grey parkerizing.

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    Thread Starter
    Thanks to Tom D. and BAR for your input.

    As I suspected, the stock may be from a Stevens 520/620, and asked the current owner to remove the stock so as to see how the stock inletting matched the receiver, and photograph the inletting.

    However, I was advised that the stock bolt was on too tight to remove with normal tools, so this hasn't happened so far.

    I read in Swearengen's "World's Fighting Shotguns" book, page 263, that Ithaca started producing 20.1" barrelled shotguns (mainly rifle sighted Deerslayer barrels) in 1963, but he doesn't mention anything about Ithaca producing plain receivers - without the waterfowl scenes for these guns at this time.

    So anyone have any idea when the plain receivers were introduced?

    Regarding the Heat Shield - does it look like the real deal??

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    I'm wondering if it doesn't look more like it's from the Winchester...1200? No numbers embossed though. It doesn't look like the examples of 37 Ithaca I've seen...I'm wondering if it's just a reproduction...the place where the ventilated shield joins the muzzle attachment seems too short. Between the holes and the end of the sheet steel...
    Regards, Jim

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    Really Senior Member Tom Doniphon's Avatar
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    Ithaca was making receivers w/o the game scene as far back as WWII. Most of the WWII trench guns have plain receivers. And they were making them in the early 60s too. I think most, if not all, of the Ithaca shotguns shipped to Vietnam in the early 60s had plain receivers. So a plain receiver is not suspect, IMO.

    I'm not sure what this shotgun is. Maybe a Military contract overrun or commercial/law enforcement gun. Maybe a riot gun converted to trench. The stock is definitely strange. The top part of the wrist area does not look like a Stevens to me. It's too arched. The Stevens buttstocks have a straighter wrist to them. But the swivel cut-out does look like a Stevens stock. Maybe someone modified it or it is some sort of replacement stock.

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    Gentlemen / Tom,
    Could you expand more on the markings on the weapon itself? Who would be more inclined to stamp FULL over CYL and insert the "4" (factory marking FULL). Why would Ithaca (the most likely suspect) do this? It supports more of a theory that a factory exigency for shipping to military? Also what is the star stamp near barrel threads?

    It doesn't seem if it started as a CYL (civilian or police) would put factory "4" on.

    The heat sheild looks as weathered and as worn as gun. 6 row 29 hole. I think it's original but placed on after as well. Gun may have started life as riot gun and armorer upgraded in Vietnam?

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