They left New York and moved their brand new CNC machines into Ohio.
One of my first guns was an Ithaca pump, when I was a kid. Many a woodcock bird fell to that beauty Unfortunately I sold it, when cash was tight to a friend. If you don’t know what a woodcock would be, just think speedy little bird, with a unique flight plan.
It happens enough that it has become a sad cliche. A company makes a product and makes it so well that it lasts. It’s obsolescence is not planned. Or common. Then another company comes along and makes a similar product, maybe not as good — but good enough — and cheaper. And the first company tanks.
So what happens when that first company decides to go back into business? If you are curious, keep your eyes on the Ithaca Gun Company. They’re back in business and making the same indestructible shotguns that made them famous.
But they’ve made some big changes. The old Ithaca Gun factory was at the base of a beautiful waterfall in the Falls Creek neighborhood of Ithaca, New York. But that incarnation of the company closed it’s doors a while back. The old factory has been razed. Environmental clean up efforts have made the area habitable, and what used to be a twentieth century firearms powerhouse is now apartment housing.
They leveled and sold their old New York facility to an apartment developer. Yep, they levels the old plant in Ithaca New York, sold the lot to a developer and moved to Ohio.
thaca is back to doing what they do best. Ithaca makes pump shotguns, but they’re stepping up their production of 1911s, too.
What does Ithaca do that’s different?
I think this can be summed up by one specific example. If you look at shotgun barrels, you will see many variations. But most barrels and barrel lugs are soldiered or brazed together. A braze is not as strong as a weld, and a weld is not as strong as a lug that’s machined from the same billet of steel as the barrel.
But this is a very difficult process. It requires the removal of much more material, which creates more waste (which is recycled) and more wear on tools. But it is a sign of uncompromising dedication, and is easier with modern CNC machines. Most of us will never subject our shotguns to the type of abuse that will break lugs, or crack a brazed join, but nice to know we could.
Ithaca’s 1911s have a tougher row to hoe, if only because there are so many 1911s out there now. Ithaca may have more of an honest claim to making 1911s than some, as they filled 1911 contracts during the war. Yet their new guns are far from the 1911’s mil-spec origins.
The new Ithaca 1911 is a blend of custom firearm and collector’s piece. Their pistols start out at $1,800. While that isn’t too bad for a custom gun, it isn’t chump-change.
When Ithaca made their comeback, they announced a truly distinct 1911, finished with a mix of high polished bluing and engine turning on the barrel, hammer, guide rod, and magazines. There is a highly detailed review of the gun at m1911.org.