Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight

This 1950s vintage Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight would not feed from the magazine and had a cracked buttstock. Here is how it was disassembled, assessed, and repaired.

by Glen Calvert

The broken Ithaca Model 37 Featherlight pump shotgun on my bench was assembled in 1955 based on its serial number of 618XXX. My father had purchased it for hunting rabbit, pheasant, and quail. True to its name, it is light, easy to swing, and soft shooting. It saw frequent use through the late 1950s and early 60s and then less use over time before finally ended up in the closet at my parent’s house. The barrel was removed and cleaned usually after each outing along with a quick swipe of the inside of the receiver, but I don’t think the action was ever disassembled.

After Dad passed away I brought the gun home and later taught my kids how to shoot it along with the .22 bolt action rifle that I also inherited. The gun sat idle for a long time until I decided to use it for trapshooting. After many years of trouble-free operation, it had developed a problem where it would not feed from the magazine on follow up shots. I disassembled the action, cleaned and inspected it but could not find any issues. Another trip to the range showed that the same problem existed. It would cycle normally without shotshells in the magazine but would jam when loaded. Turning the gun 90 degrees so the bottom ejection port was horizontal or inverting the gun allowed the action to cycle ammunition from the magazine normally. Typically, I would load the magazine and cycle the first round into the chamber with the gun held with the ejection port horizontal, pointed away from me. Aiming at a clay, I would fire the first round and try to cycle the action but with no luck. Inspection showed that the nose of the next shell had caught on the chamfer of the receiver below the barrel chamber. Obviously, I had missed something on the previous tear down.

Disassembly

Disassembly is…

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