Tell me about vintage Ithaca SxS’s

Mosin77

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It’s me again, the shotgun dilettante who doesn’t actually use one much but likes the idea…. Local gun shop has a pair of Ithaca doubles, one in 20g, one in 12g. 12g has beautiful Damascus barrels. The prices are beyond reasonable (several hundred apiece.) One is a Lewis model in 12g, in extremely nice condition. The other is a Flues 20g in …cosmetically challenged… condition. Bores on both are immaculate. Any input from someone who has shot or enjoyed these? They are both guns that I could plausibly purchase for “investment” but would I want to buy or load reduced power shells and shoot them afield? The 20g is probably in the 5lbs range, the 12g in the 6lbs range. Ie the sort of guns one carries much, shoots little. I’m very attracted to the idea of scooping up one or both but not if I’m asking for trouble. The Ithaca NID seems well loved, but the earlier ones seem to not be as loved.
 
First question: Chamber length? Re the "Damascus" barrels. "Damascus"is a much abused term. Strictly speaking it refers to one of four patterns among many in twist steel barrels. That aside, you have to be sure the barrels are sound. Loads to be within the pressure range the barrels are meant for. I have a Flues 28 ga made in 1911, the first year for an Ithaca 28 ga. Loads are restricted, not pressure wise, but for recoil as the wrist is a bit delicate. The gun is scaled down as a lady's gun or a boy's gun. 3/4 oz OK, 1 oz verboten.
 
I bought them both. Figure I can always use low recoil loads or mini shells in the 12 gauge. This one is technically a Lewis 1 1/2 grade I think. No choke markings on the barrel flats of either gun. The 20g is so light, it feels like a .22.
 
I have an Ithaca Flues in 12 gauge. I like it. It shoots well though it does not weigh anywhere near six pounds…more in the 7.5 range. i do not shoot it as much since a found an old Parker that I like.
 
NID was the better modern 20th century shotgun. Flues and Lewis weren't considered a stellar design. A 20 ga NID would temp me.

I see you purchased both. Somebody has to rescue those old American made sxs shotguns. ;)

Have you checked the chambers on those? 2.75" wasn't a standard until the 30's here.
 
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I have an Ithaca Flues in 12 gauge. I like it. It shoots well though it does not weigh any. where near six pounds…more in the 7.5 range. i do not shoot it as much since a found an old Parker that I like.
Not quite shure what you mean by the weight comment, but the British makers of the really really high end shotguns have a rule of thumb that a gun should weight 96 times the shot charge. 96 times a 12 gauge load of 1.25 oz is exactly 7.5 lb,
 
Not quite shure what you mean by the weight comment, but the British makers of the really really high end shotguns have a rule of thumb that a gun should weight 96 times the shot charge. 96 times a 12 gauge load of 1.25 oz is exactly 7.5 lb,

I think he was referring to my original offhand comment that the 12g Lewis is in the 6lb range. I still haven’t weighed it but they also had a 12g Flues with fluid steel barrels which I didn’t even mention, since it was missing the buttplate, sight bead, and generally looked abused… but that Flues 12 was very much heavier than the earlier 12g (which dates to 1904 by a serial number search.) The Flues 20 dates to 1911.
 
Thanks for clearing that up. I was, in fact, referring to the post about the Lewis.
 
Not quite shure what you mean by the weight comment, but the British makers of the really really high end shotguns have a rule of thumb that a gun should weight 96 times the shot charge. 96 times a 12 gauge load of 1.25 oz is exactly 7.5 lb,

Yes, but in London Best, 1.25 oz is a pigeon or wildfowl load and 1 1/8 oz is still pretty heavy. The usual game gun is shooting 1 or 1 1/16 oz in a 6 - 6.5 lb double.
 
I think most British guns were lighter than our guns. They like them to feel light and lively in the hands and consider American side by side shotguns almost like boat anchors which they weren't. We just shot heavier loads so we use heavier guns to absorb the recoil. I have all American made side by sides. Remington's, Parkers, Lafevers, and most are Damascus, a couple of what you would call fluid steel. 99 per- sent of the times it's nitro reloads. For the 12ga it's 3/4 or 7/8oz loads, for the 10ga, 1oz loads. Anywhere from 2" to 2 3/4" in the 12, and usually 2 1/2" for the 10ga. Fiber wads come in handy at times. I like the low recoil.
 
Regular length shells were tested in short chambers with no ill effects. Most most my SxS have 2 9/16 chambers and I shoot 2 3/4" shells in them all the time ( Damascus guns ).
 
Here’s a few photos of those Ithacas.

The 12 gauge. This one is nearly perfect except for a couple of stock dings which can be seen in second photo.

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And here’s the 20 gauge Flues.

This one is mechanically perfect and the bores are clean as a whistle, but evidently the gun got some surface rust at one point and someone “cleaned it.” Less pretty but still an elegant gun. And the price was right.

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I weighed these guns too… along with a couple of other common shotguns for reference.

My Sears high standard pump 12 gauge is 8lbs even.

A Stevens 311a 16 gauge is 6.8lbs.

The Ithaca Lewis 12 gauge is 7lbs, and the Ithaca Flues 20 gauge is 5.2 lbs.
 
Regular length shells were tested in short chambers with no ill effects. Most most my SxS have 2 9/16 chambers and I shoot 2 3/4" shells in them all the time ( Damascus guns ).
I've shot sensible 2 3/4" ammo in my 65mm chambered German doubles and combo guns almost exclusively, main reason being there was no 65mm length ammo available. It never hurt any of them. It scares some, but it didn't harm my guns, and there have been many. The older guns were more delicate all around, and beating the wrists with high recoil ammo is foolish.

You nailed it. :thumbup:
 
I agree. Reloading certainly has its advantages. I've been doing it for about 50+ years so I have accumulated quite a bit of different supplies. I can load from 410 to 10ga and 2" to 3" shells, nitro or black powder. What's nice is I don't have to wait for sales or just be able to buy what I want. In 12ga for target shooting it's mainly 3/4oz with some 7/8oz shells.
 
I have a 28 ga Flues. I managed to find some 2 1/2 inch cartridges. 5/8 oz #4s. Can't figure out what that load is for.
 
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