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 Post subject: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 5:26 am 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2016 9:08 pm
Posts: 107
Location: Eastern Ohio
Hello everyone, like my title says I’m new to the 51 or even Ithaca world for that matter. I’ve always had Remington 1100’s and 870’s. But I’ve recently came across a 51 featherlight for a decent price. It has a 24” smooth slug barrel. While I really don’t deer hunt much anymore I don’t have a use for the barrel. I’d rather put on either a 28” or 26” vr barrel since it would be used for birds, small game, and some clays. I’ve also heard that you have to check on springs and buffers to prevent the slide from cracking. I’m still a little fuzzy on that. Hopefully all you ithaca experts can please help me. So here are my questions:

1. Can you fit a standard barrel to a featherlight receiver?

2. If you can fit a standard barrel, how would it effect the carrying and handling.

3. How much would the slug barrel go for?

4. How do you inspect the buffers and are they and the springs hard to find?

5. I have some shoulder issues so recoil isn’t my friend. How is the recoil compared to an 1100?

I hope this isn’t too long and sorry for so many questions. Thanks for all your help in advance.

Joe




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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 7:10 am 
Diamond Grade
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Joined: Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:23 pm
Posts: 1204
Location: Upstate NY
They are a nice shooting gun and very simple to work on. They got a bad rep as some of the quality control back in the day was not so good. As a result you can find them pretty cheap and with a little work can be made to perform better than new.

You will need to replace the main spring and the plastic buffers if it has not been done yet. Do not shoot the gun if this has not been done as you will risk damage to the slide assembly if it's not already damaged.

The gun disassembles pretty easily. Take off the barrel, take the two pins out that hold in the trigger assembly and you can inspect the insides. The bolt and slide assembly will come right out.

CHECK THE SLIDE ASSEMBLY FOR ANY CRACKS. This was/is the weak spot. They are not available, but you can have them repaired.

Les Hovencamp at Diamond Gunsmithing in Ithaca NY (google his website) has all the parts needed to replace the spring and all buffers. He can also fix broken slide assemblies. If you have any reservations about working on it just send the whole gun to him and have him give it a once over and it will perform like new and should be good for a long time. Money well spent.

They are good guns and nice shooters but you have to have them inspected and perform any repairs needed before shooting them. The buffers deteriorated with age and use and the new parts are actually better than what Ithaca used back in the day.

I think they have less recoil than a 1100. All 2 3/4 barrels should be interchangeable. There's also a 12 ga magnum version and I am not sure if those barrels are interchangeable with the 2 3/4 barrels. The vent ribs just add a little forward weight which some people like. Otherwise a plain barrel should be fine.

They also don't really like low dram or low velocity shells. They need a little extra "punch" to make the recoil system work right. Anything 1200 velocity or above should be OK. I ran some lower dram shells through mine and it would not function right. Put in a little higher and no problems.

I just found another 51 Skeet and someone shot the heck out of it. It must have had just 1000's and 1000's of rounds through it. I have it all stripped and have to take some parts in to see if they can hopefully be repaired/replaced to bring it back to life.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 8:00 am 
Crown Grade

Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2005 11:09 am
Posts: 2326
Also--the gun needs to be snugged against the shoulder to cycle correctly. The spring Matt is referring to in the action spring.


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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 8:56 am 
Presentation Grade
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Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:00 pm
Posts: 539
Location: Wisconsin
Congrats and welcome to your first M51.
I second Matt and Walt on the advice to replace both buffers and the action spring.
Note: The M51 only had two receivers... one was 12 gauge, the other 20. Some of both gauges were marked "magnum" but they were the same in all dimensions.
A "magnum" 51 has a barrel with a 3" chamber and a standard receiver. So all barrels fit all receivers of the same gauge regardless of whether they are 2-3/4" or 3" chambered.
Note of caution: the 20 gauge receiver, trigger group, bolt and slide assembly are narrower than the same in 12 gauge so they don't interchange. For the same reason, a 20 gauge barrel will not mount on a 12 gauge receiver.
Answers to your questions in order:
1) yes as explained above
2) In my opinion, the M51 in both gauges feels best with a 28" barrel. I have a bunch and I just like the 28" vent rib best.
3) There has been a very good condition 24" 12 gauge slug barrel on Gunbroker for a few months at $240.00. There is also a complete gun, 12 gauge Deerslayer, on Gunbroker with a scope for $225.00 so you can do the math. Maybe $150?
4) There is a take down video on Youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5yaUtN6sKNU. The 51 is the easiest gun I own to disassemble. Note: the only hard part is you have to remove the stock to get at the small hi-lo screw that holds the receiver buffer. Numrich (gunparts.com) has a schematic that shows the screw.
5) I've never owned or fired an 1100. I can tell you that the M51 is a gas gun so very light recoiling. I have a CZ712 which is a gas gun with a plastic stock that I occasionally duck hunt with and it kicks much harder than the 51.


Last edited by ithacaskbfan on Tue May 15, 2018 12:13 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:13 am 
Presentation Grade
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Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:00 pm
Posts: 539
Location: Wisconsin
Here is a picture of a slide assembly. I have had slides with cracks in all three of the locations circled in red so inspect those areas closely. Note: I have bought guns with cracked slides. Once the slide is repaired (via TIG weld) and the buffers and spring are replaced, they no longer break.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 7:23 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Mon Jun 20, 2005 10:45 pm
Posts: 1159
Location: Western New York
Welcome to SGW and to the Model 51 family. I, too, took the plunge a few months ago and am indebted to Ithacaskbfan for his patient advice and encouragement. I followed all of the advice he and Matt offer above; it's well worth the effort: they are indeed beautiful, sweet-shooting autoloaders. Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2018 9:42 pm 
Tournament Grade

Joined: Sun Feb 07, 2016 9:08 pm
Posts: 107
Location: Eastern Ohio
Thanks everybody for the good advice. I will definitely order the buffers and spring before I shoot it and I will keep everyone posted. Thanks again for all your help.

Joe


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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Wed May 16, 2018 7:21 pm 
Presentation Grade

Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:44 pm
Posts: 992
Location: Ohio
I agree with everyone above about the buffers, and springs. I also believe the gun shoots softer then the 1100. For the price these things go for they are a real bargain.

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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 9:41 pm 
Field Grade

Joined: Sun Nov 26, 2017 3:43 pm
Posts: 26
They are real nice guns, I had one with a 30 inch full barrel that was a great duck shooter back in the day. Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: New to the 51 need help
PostPosted: Wed May 23, 2018 5:31 am 
*Proud to be a*
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Joined: Sun Aug 21, 2005 8:42 pm
Posts: 24917
Location: Missouri
All the previous posts give excellent advice.

I own three Model 51's. None had cracked action slides, and I've installed new recoil springs and new buffers from Les Hovencamp on all three.

On the 12 gauge Skeet model, I had to carefully use a drill bit to enlarge the gas ports one extra size to get the gun to cycle 1145 fps 1 1/8 oz target loads. I'm very glad I did it, and it works like a champ now.

My 12 gauge 30" field model has a custom reamed David Lauer light modified choke, and new fancy walnut stocks, and has always cycled light loads 100%. The same can be said of my 28" Modified 20 gauge field model.

I've owned two different 12 gauge Magnum models, and they were not sufficiently reliable with any 2 3/4 loads for me to keep them. Maybe if I'd drilled out the ports, they would have cycled 2 3/4 inch shells well, but maybe not. The magnum barrels had their ejectors and gas ports set up to handle three inch shells and they would eject those boomers flawlessly, but none shorter. The Browning B2000 magnum barrels of the same era had exactly the same problem, except Browning admitted it in the owners manual.

I've owned about all the gas operated semi automatic shotguns I know of, and the Model 51's, and especially the twenty gauge, have what I call the least "blast sensation" of any of them.

In addition to reducing felt recoil as well or better than any other gas semi auto, when a semi auto goes off a lot of bad and nasty things are happening a few inches in front of your face, and the Model 51 has no more "blast sensation" than a fixed breech gun, in my opinion.

Somehow the gun fires, the bolt slams back, the shell is ejected, the bolt slams forward, and all that blast and mechanical shuffling goes on in a Model 51 and you just aren't aware of the blast sensation at all. The worst offender is a Beretta 390 series gas gun, which doesn't kick severely, but you are very much aware an explosion and a lot of mechanical things have happened about six inches in front of your eye.

It's hard to describe it in words, but if you'll compare the Model 51 to any other gas semi auto, I think you'll understand what an easy shooting, soft recoiling wonderment the gun is.



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