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Lefever/Ithaca Nitro Special 20 Gauge Specs, Limits and Such

 
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Spiddas
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Joined: 17 Sep 2010
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:34 pm    Post subject: Lefever/Ithaca Nitro Special 20 Gauge Specs, Limits and Such Reply with quote

My father has a Nitro Special 20 Gauge (Ithaca) that he is thinking about either passing on or selling. He got it when he was real young and never really got into doing anything with it. It obviously needs a good cleaning, but looks to be in good shape. There are a couple tiny spots of surface rust on it, maybe 1/8" in size and barely any wear on the wood components. Based on the serial number (355xxx), it is from 1942. Also, it has a 28" barrel that tappers down from the 20 gauge diameter to what looks like 9/16". (Sorry, I don't have any micrometers.) Since I'm clueless with shotguns in general, I find myself here.

Here are my questions:

1. What size is the chamber?
2. What type of ammo can be safely shot through it?
..........(Birdshot/Buckshot/slug{doubtful})
3. Would you trust shells that are about 60 years old? Shocked
4. What type of game is it good for and at what range?
5. How bad does it kick, especially if both barrels go off at the same time? (He said the first time he shot it, they did!) Exclamation
6. Is there anywhere I could pick up a cheap/free manual?
7. What is the ballpark value?

Any help in figuring this out would be appreciated!
BIG thanks in advance.
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lee r moege
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Joined: 11 Feb 2010
Posts: 40
Location: kansas

PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Question number 1. If the gun was made in 1942, probably 2 3/4".
#2. Birdshot only, shot size probably #5 down to #9. Low pressure like RST's to help preserve the stock to frame fit, or low base regular 2 3/4".
#3 nope, throw them away or better yet find a collector who wants them.
#4 anything with feathers from 35/40 yards. Turkeys 20/30 yards. [#5]
#5 It shouldn't fire both barrels unless you have both fingers on the triggers. The recoil from one can set off the other this way. If it doubles with a pull on either of the triggers but not the other, have gunsmith look at it.
#6 A manual maybe difficult. They were made by Ithaca and a reprint may be available. You might try Abbie Cornell at www.cornellpublications.com. She has lots of old catalog and manual reprints.
#7 The Nitro special is not particularly a collectors item or valuable. Condition is everything. Look on www.gunsinternational.com to get a feel for what people are asking, find a picture of one near the condition of yours, deduct 25%/30% for net worth quick sale. IMO it's dads gun I would keep it and use it. Have a nice day! Lee.
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sidebyside16
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Joined: 31 Oct 2007
Posts: 561

PostPosted: Sat Sep 18, 2010 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A 20 ga. has pretty mild recoil. Young shooters typically handle it with no problems. I suppose it could get your attention if it doubled. One way to check this is to load it with one live shell, and one empty that has a new primer. Someone who reloads 20 ga. could make up a few of these "blanks" for you. Fire the live shell and check to see if the firing pin fell and detonated the empty with a primer only. Then repeat this using the live shell in the other barrel. But since slightly worn sears might not jar loose from recoil every time, it sure wouldn't hurt to have a gunsmith check for worn sear notches as well. Hopefully, your Dad just made the mistake of putting fingers on both triggers, and accidentally fired both barrels. If the gun is in really good shape and has seen little use, it's unlikely the sears are worn, but anything is possible. That's about all I can add to what Lee told you.
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