Lefever Nitro Special 12 ga


November 11, 2008, 09:27 PM
New Member just inherited Lefever Nitro Special 12 ga.
Barrel label indiates:
Lefever Arms Co.
Ithica NY
Lefever Nitro Special

Serial Number 1313XX which was mfg (I believe) in 1922.
I was given many 12 ga 2-1/2 inch shells with the gun.

Barrels and stock is 90%

Anyone know the value and what would be safe loads in this thing?


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Dave McCracken
November 11, 2008, 09:47 PM
"Uncle" Dan LeFever was a great firearms designer but not so great at business.

He started a number of shotgun companies, all making very good shotguns. Ithaca bought one of them when it went into bankruptcy.

They named a field grade shotgun the LeFever Nitro Special and sold it for maybe 20 years.

The NS was a good shotgun, I've shot a couple nad coveted them greatly. Typically they have splinter forends and pistol grip stocks, but a straight grip was an option.

So were ivory front beads, mid beads and pretty wood.

Last basic NS I saw up for sale had an asking price of $850.

Most of these were 2 3/4" guns.

As with ALL shotguns made before WWII, a trip to the gunsmith is in order before firing any rounds.

Please do not sell off your heritage....

November 11, 2008, 10:50 PM
I have the gun in 16 Gauge, from 1926.

Yours appears to be from 1923.

Source: http://www.diamondgunsmithing.com/page5/page23/page23.html

The best information I have indicates that the Nitro Specials have 2 3/4" chambers. Mine does. I used it for hunting this morning with 2 3/4" modern 1 oz. Federal game loads.

I also have used Polywad Vintager 2 1/2" shells. They work fine, though the low-pressure powder is a bit dirty.


This is not a "real" Lefever. It's an Ithaca. Ithaca bought the company from Uncle Dan a few years before our guns were made, and used the name for new designs. The Nitro Special is, from what I understand, what became the Ithaca NID with a few mostly cosmetic tweaks a few years after the NS was introduced. Both guns were then produced until the late 1940s, when Ithaca quit making all of its truly great guns (sorry M37 fans, but as cool as the pumps are, they're nothing like the NID, NS, and the Ithaca Trap guns).

More Lefever info: http://lefeverforum.informe.com/

Mine had a modified stock which I re-modified to be similar to original condition. It has a sort-of POW grip design, not quite a PG, but a little more curve to it than most POW's.

That gun works. If I were you, I'd go use it.:)

November 12, 2008, 06:00 PM
Thanks guys. I was not looking to sell it as it was originally purchased by my uncle then passed to my dad then me. I was just trying to get some facts on it. I was really wanting to take this ou and try it but agree that I need a gun smith to look it over. I had heard that I should not use steel shot. As it is 80+ years old, I think I agree with that one!

Thanks again for the info!

November 12, 2008, 06:06 PM
When was it last shot?

There's probably no reason that the light loads you were given will cause any problem if you shoot them in it.

If you know the provenance of the gun, the gunsmith rule is less important IMO. If you know that your uncle and then your dad shot the thing with any regularity some time in the past 25 years, there's no particular reason it should suddenly explode. It's not a Damascus gun or anything.

That's up to you, though. Standard advice is to have it checked by a gunsmith, and I won't contradict that.:)

November 12, 2008, 06:16 PM
BTW I know a guy who has countless old doubles. He tests them by shooting them, though he does know what to look for and he uses black powder where appropriate.

Then again, he only has one eye left...

November 12, 2008, 11:49 PM
Dave or anyone,

I also have a Nitro Special.

I need a new stock. The original was shortened for (I believe) my Grandmother years ago. Even with a pad it's WAAY too short for me.

I do NOT have the ability to make a stock myself, so that's out.

Any suggestions?

November 13, 2008, 12:25 AM


November 13, 2008, 12:32 AM
Armed Bear,

Thanks. The less expensive option from those links would work for me.

I looked up the serial# of my gun some time back. It was also a "Ithaca" gun. Would I still want the stock labeled "Lefever Nitro Special" or would I need the stock labelled as "Ithacha."

There's a guy who specializes in fitting shotguns not to far from me. I'm going to see how much it would be for him to test fit me and then install the stock to match. That would be the way to go, I think (right?)

November 13, 2008, 12:38 AM
Sounds good.

I'd have a chat with the stock makers. I don't think they have hundreds on a shelf or anything.

The only Lefever Nitro Special was the Ithaca gun. The model was introduced after Ithaca bought Lefever. So you will want the Lefever stock. But as I said, I'd call them and talk with them.

Note that the originals have a lot of drop. If you have some kind of idea of what shotguns fit you, talk to the stock maker about that. You can't fit a shotgun when there's no wood where you need it.:)

My Lefever had been butchered up. Someone had added an enormous, but skinny, comb. I sanded it way down, but left a little bit. Now, it has a bit of a Monte Carlo comb to it. I figured I'd learn a bit about fitting a stock. Took a couple of iterations, but now it fits me pretty well.

Serious stock fitting usually involves sanding, then shooting, then sanding some more.

Again, I'd talk to all the people involved. They know a lot more than I do about what they do.

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