Ithaca Gun closes after 124-year run


Harry Tuttle
June 24, 2005, 12:21 AM

Ithaca Gun closes after 124-year run

The Associated Press


AUBURN -- Mired in debt and struggling to compete, the Ithaca Gun Co. has ended production after more than a century in business.

"We're just tapped out, we can't do it any longer," Andrew Sciarabba, one of seven investors who own Ithaca Gun Co., told The Post-Standard of Syracuse.

Closure of the company, which had 26 employees, comes less than a year after it received $150,000 from Cayuga County for operating expenses. Ithaca Gun had missed its May and June payments on the loan, for which it had put up its equipment as collateral.

The company reportedly had recently completed a move from King Ferry to Auburn.

Sciarabba, whose group acquired the company out of bankruptcy in the mid-1990s, said Ithaca Gun was several hundred thousand dollars in debt.

Sciarabba said the company also owed several years worth of back excise taxes to the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

The gun company, which had operated on a 2-acre site on Ithaca's Lake Street continuously since 1880 manufacturing shotguns, went bankrupt in the 1980s and was bought by new owners in 1989 and relocated to King Ferry.

Even though the company moved away from Ithaca more than 15 years ago, the news of its closure came as a disappointment to local hunting aficionados who admired its products.

"I think it's a terrible thing," said Joe Ripchick, who answered the phone Wednesday at Jay Street Rod & Gun Inc., a local gun store that is owned by a friend.

"They are an awful good gun. They have a lot of product out there," Ripchick added. "At one time it was one of the bigger things down here (in Ithaca).

"It gave Ithaca a good name," he added.

Ithaca Gun began production in 1880, and soon became known for making affordable and durable shotguns such as the Deerslayer and Deerslayer II.

"The closing of Ithaca Gun is another sad, but not unexpected, chapter in the life of one of America's oldest gun companies," said Dave Henderson, a lifelong sportsman who writes a twice weekly outdoors column for The Journal and other area newspapers.

"This marks the third financial failure under the 124-year-old Ithaca Gun name in the last 20 years and, frankly, wasn't unexpected given the shaky status of both the company and the firearms business in recent years."

Sciarabba said investors hope someone will buy the company's well-known name and resume production in Central New York.

But, he said, "I don't know if that is going to happen."

Meanwhile, that could shake the confidence of consumers who own or would like to buy an Ithaca-made gun -- and those who sell the firearms.

"More than a few people have guns at the Ithaca Gun service department awaiting repair and have no recourse to recover them," Henderson said.

"Certainly consumers will be reluctant to purchase an Ithaca from a dealer with no guarantee of customer service after the sale, which leaves dealers with guns in inventory that they cannot move."

In addition to more than a century of gun production, the company's legacy in Ithaca also includes decades worth of lead pollution.

Spent lead shot was disposed on land near Ithaca Falls as part of operations. A federally led clean-up program, begun in 2002, removed thousands of tons of lead-contaminated soil from the area at a cost of around $4 million.

Some buildings remain standing on the factory site, where a North Carolina man has for several years been considering redevelopment plans that would include lead clean-up in that area.

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June 24, 2005, 01:20 AM
That's too bad. I hunt with a gun made by Ithaca and it hasn't failed me yet. My dad used it for ~20 years before giving it to me.

June 24, 2005, 01:33 AM
Hard to keep a gun manufacturing company afloat with one sucessful model out on the market. Don't get me wrong; I like Ithaca M37's, and have owned several. I own a clock made by Ithaca in 1855. But it is corporate suicide to not stay competitive in the market today. When you have several good selling models, alá Winchester or Remington, you can coast a little in the R&D dept., but, for instance, Savage at least branches out on variations of it's one best seller. It's a shame Ithaca went under, maybe I should look for a 20 ga. M37 before the prices skyrocket. ;)

June 24, 2005, 01:54 AM
I always thought the 37's ejecting and loading via the same hole was kind of odd and never really cared for the single action bar design.

June 24, 2005, 02:17 AM
Righty, Lefty, doesn't matter. I like the design.

Wanna bet that the lead cleanup got billed to the company?

I wish I had the cash to buy it. Imagine a few updates, with the damn well respected reputation backing 'em...

Black Majik
June 24, 2005, 05:16 AM
Thats too bad, I was actually looking forward to their model 37 protection series they were gonna bring out soon.

Oh well, guess its another 870 in the house :D

June 24, 2005, 08:36 AM
Somewhere, my father is cussing over this one. Being a lefty, he loved the downward ejection for a pump shotgun. Wish we still had his...

June 24, 2005, 09:38 AM
The thing that put ithaca out of business was people not noticing when they got a cheap knockoff foisted on them, ala the 870. Now before people get their panties in a bunch, I have a wingmaster that I own myself, and they work fone for the most part, but lets face it the wingmaster was brought out as a cheap model full of stamped and plastic parts to replace a model that had all milled steel parts--like the Ithaca model 37. Consequently Ithaca was truing to keep the price on a much more expensive to manufacture gun not too much higher than a cheap to manufacture gun. Hard to do. Remmy laughs all the way to the bank every time they see the 870 compared to shotguns like the 37 ithaca.

Blue Jays
June 24, 2005, 09:45 AM
Hi All-

The downward ejection is a very cool design that is strong, unaffected by whether the shooter is a righty or lefty, and protected from dust, rain, and dirt. Didn't Ithaca also have a 10-gauge model called the "Roadblocker" or something like that? It would make for a great home defense gun with an 18.5" barrel, synthetic furniture, and similar utility upgrades. This is sad news for those into shotguns.

Oddly enough, the real city of Ithaca, New York has truly become the City of Evil and has many gun-grabbing liberals living there and teaching at the university. Ithaca Gun should be happy they moved from that hornet's nest nearly two decades ago.

~ Blue Jays ~

June 24, 2005, 11:45 AM
Sorry to see this. You are right, the Roadblocker was a severe desire of mine as a kid. I would still love to find one.

June 24, 2005, 12:29 PM
That's really sad. I love my 87, and the history that went with it. Better shotgun than almost any other pump I tried.

AZ Jeff
June 24, 2005, 01:24 PM
I always thought the 37's ejecting and loading via the same hole was kind of odd and never really cared for the single action bar design

You do realize that model 37 was a re-do of the Remington Model 17, which was designed by the Master himself, JM Browning?

That design was VERY efficient. Low parts count, durable parts, and VERY light for an-all steel shotgun.

June 24, 2005, 02:03 PM
If I remember correctly, the Ithaca model 37, was popular as a combat firearm during Vietnam. I remember them being part of the Armament on the River Patrol Boats and the Mobile Riverine Force Boats in Vietnam as well as some troops being armed with them.

T. Bracker
June 24, 2005, 03:24 PM
That is some sad news. I have 3 Model 37s, 2 20ga and a 12 ga. I also have a Mag 10 with the 32 inch full choke barrel. When they came back into business in the 90s, I had ordered another barrel for the 10 ga, a 26 in pipe with interchangeable chokes. Now I am glad that I did.

June 24, 2005, 03:25 PM
That's sad. My first gun was an Ithica Featherweight, the helped my take my first geese, long ago.


June 24, 2005, 04:03 PM
:( Very sad. Think someone might buy the trademark/brand?

Harry Paget Flashman
June 24, 2005, 05:21 PM
Sure hope someone picks up the ball and runs with it. Have owned 3 Model 37's over the years and still have one. They made a great shotgun. My first 37 only failed to eject once in 32 years...when I inadvertantly fired a 3" shell in it. It was chambered for 2 3/4". Great gun. My son-in-law has it now.

George Hill
June 24, 2005, 05:31 PM
Ithica would be a good name to pick up for a company missing a good pump shotgun... Hello, Marlin?

June 24, 2005, 07:58 PM
Glad I didn't get rid of my first shotgun, an Ithaca model 66 super single, with rifle sights. Its in like new condition, and I think I'll keep it to hand down the family tree.

June 24, 2005, 08:07 PM
The Chinese are on a brand buying binge, maybe they will buy the brand and ruin it with cheap product; WallyWorld will undoubtably take all they can make if the price is right.

June 24, 2005, 08:54 PM
I had an Ithaca Mod 37 for about half the time I was in Vietnam. Never did anything heroic with it but had it cradled in my arms for many long nights on guard. At least I have an Ithaca Homeland Defense Mod 37, is an exact copy of the military model except without the ordnance stamps. Its the tird shotgun from the left.


June 26, 2005, 09:54 AM
In the late 70s and early 80s I sold a LOT of Ithaca guns.

Their eight shot models came in Blue, Parkerized and Electroless Nickel.
They had the smoothest actions out of the box that I have ever seen on a pump gun.
All you had to do was point one straight up and press the action lock. The slide would fall just from it's own weight.
They can sans disconnector. Keep your finger on the trigger and they'd fire as fast as you could pump.

I sure wish I'd kept a couple for myself but they sold so dang fast. At one time I was averaging three or four per week.

Now the roadblocker was different. Even though it was a gas operated semi-autimatic it kicked like a mule. Plus the fact that it only held three rounds in the magazine. But they were reliable, I never saw one jam.

June 26, 2005, 11:53 AM
I had a Ithaca model 51 semi-auto that was a very good shotgun and am sorry that I sold it.....

June 26, 2005, 12:12 PM
well, now i'm never selling grampa's Ithaca 20gauge, not like i was going to anyway, but still...


June 26, 2005, 12:21 PM
The Chinese are on a brand buying binge, maybe they will buy the brand and ruin it with cheap product

I think china has pumped out more than enough COPIES of the 37.
Lets hope that an American firm picks them up and turns them around.

I still have an old 37 Featherweight that my father gave me. It sits around in my cabinet collecting dust... I should take it out next week and fire a few memorial shots

June 26, 2005, 03:02 PM
As a kid going to school I worked in a Sears, Roebuck store, sporting goods department part time to keep the wolf from the door. We sold a lot of Ithaca shotguns. I still laugh when I remember an old farmer from north of town who came in, showed me a catalog picture of a Model 37 and said, "I want wunna them EYE-THACKAS!" Whatever they called them, they sold well.

June 26, 2005, 03:26 PM
The Ithaca Mod 37 is my favorite of all the different brands and models I currently own. I own three from the 1940's and 50's in 20,16 and 12gauge. Light weight, great handling and extremly reliable. If they had screw in choke tubes I'd never had bought another shotgun.

In my opinon the most under-rated and best kept secret in pump shotguns. I bet someone picks them up within a year and will continue production of the Mod 37.

June 26, 2005, 05:59 PM
Scubie02, when the Remington Wingmaster 870 was introduced in 1955, it was all steel, except the trigger group frame, which was aluminum. Over the years, plastic was substituted for steel in non-critical areas such as the magazine follower, and more recently that frustrating magtube interal cap that has to be rotated every which way... :cuss: None of these affect reliability or performance, the 870 is still extremely reliable, even in it's economy 'Express' model, one of which I use for HD. BTW, the last M37 I owned was given to a friend for a wedding present; She was a former MP who felt 'naked' without a shotgun in the house after her ex took his with. :)

I bet someone picks them up within a year and will continue production of the Mod 37.

I sure hope you're right, Wags!

June 27, 2005, 05:44 AM
*Holds his 1967 Ithaca 37 Police Special and cries.* :(

June 27, 2005, 05:53 AM
Hopefully Marlin will resurrect them like they did Harrington & Richardson.
Marlin's catalogue could use an American made, premium shotgun.

It would be much better than the Chinese made New England Arms "Pardner" they're trying to sell now.

Maybe if we all wish reallly hard...

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