Working the Ithaca Model 49

This Western-themed rimfire was popular in the 1960s and may be encountered today.

by Wendell Dwight Deaner

Although the Ithaca Gun Company is best known for its production of the iconic Model 37 shotgun, many other guns were produced over its long history dating back to the 1880s. Established in Ithaca, New York (hence the name) the company first produced shotguns. In 1916 the LeFever Gun Company was incorporated with Ithaca. Some of the company’s more famous patrons were Annie Oakley and John Phillip Sousa.

During World War Two, Ithaca made guns for the American military, including the M1911 pistol and M3 “Grease Gun.” The Model 37 shotgun was the standard for some police departments, including Los Angeles and New York. The Ithaca Gun company has transferred ownership several times and is still in business at its present site in Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

One of the most interesting products from Ithaca is the M49 .22 rimfire rifle. Produced from 1961 to 1976 (some sources list 1979) this little rifle was plainly aimed at the boy’s market. Its lever action was intended to give a Western flavor and indeed its profile is reminiscent of a weapon the Duke might have carried, although, in his big hands it would have looked like a toy since it is much more diminutive than the Model 92 Winchesters he usually favored in the movies. A faux loading tube is attached under the 18-inch barrel in the case of the single-shot version. A repeater, the Model 49R, was also offered as well as a WMR (Winchester Magnum Rimfire) version, the 49M.

Read more in our October 2012 issue. Back issues are available.

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