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Old March 6, 2012, 09:09 PM   #1
8mm
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damascus barrels

i got a question on the damascus barrels a safety question is it true that if a damascus barrel has pitting it cant be fired even with black powder?
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:15 PM   #2
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I have one rule about "damascus" barrels:

If its got a "damascus" barrel don't shoot it.

No exceptions.
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:16 PM   #3
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Not true.

"Damascus" (twist) barels wee made by winding narow strips of iron around a mandrel, then hammer welding them together, later honing the inside(s) & filing the outsides prior to fitting ribs & finishing.

Over 100 years ago, in most cases.........................

Hidden voids can occur during the welding, and rib jointing can leak moisture between the barrels - all resulting in unseen timebombs (rust, etc) lurking.

The ONLY safe way to fire a shotgun with Damascus twist barrels is to use full-length sub-gauge tubes/liners (ala Briley) to shoot, say, 20ga shells in an old 12ga gun.

And even THEN - the gun should STILL be checked first by a qualified double gunsmith (NOT an 870 parts-change) for internal action wear, etc & as being safe to fire at all.

.

Last edited by PetahW; March 6, 2012 at 09:24 PM.
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:18 PM   #4
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Damascus barrels make for great decoration, but lousy shooters. Too much tendency for even one in perfect condition to come apart when fired.

If I had a shotgun with Damascus barrels, I'd clean it up nicely, remove the firing pins, and hang it above the fireplace.
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:22 PM   #5
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trade it to someone for a better weapon if i cant shoot it i dont want it.
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:23 PM   #6
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Quote:
Not true.
How is that not true?

Its MY rule about damascus barrels.

If its MY rule and I'm adhering to it how can it not be true? You and others don't have to adhere to it because it may or may not be YOUR rule but this is MY rule about them.

So how is that untrue? Are you claiming that I do not actually have such a rule and am lying about having one? Perhaps you're claiming that my rule has exceptions and that I DO shoot some damascus barrels? Perhaps you're claiming that I don't adhere to my rule...

In any case its quite true - I DO have only one rule about damascus barrels and I DO adhere to that rule with no exceptions.

Now whether you agree with that rule or not is your choice although I'd like you to be less stingy with words and explain your disagreement.
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:26 PM   #7
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Take a chill pill, Hansam - I was replying to the OP, & your somewhat shorter reply posted a few seconds before mine.

Thanks for logging on today...................

.
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:29 PM   #8
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its a h. pieper made in 1881 reinfored dubble barrel it says sounds like it gives split second face lifts
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Old March 6, 2012, 09:31 PM   #9
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So, it's 130 years old ILO only 100...................

Check yer medical coverage......

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Old March 6, 2012, 09:36 PM   #10
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wrap duct tape around the barrels lets roll lol. maybe ill get lucky and find someone looking for a wall hanger
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Old March 6, 2012, 10:20 PM   #11
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Many folks DO shoot 100+ year old guns very successfully - see The Vintagers web site or go visit one of the Side By Side major shoots and you can watch, handle and even shoot some vintage guns.

The difference is that these folks have had their guns gone over by a competent smith knowledgeable in these guns and not by some parts changer at Gander Mountain.

While safety and care are the proper watch words, just making a blanket statement that all are unsafe is simply not true
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Old March 6, 2012, 11:02 PM   #12
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wow thats cool my gun needs alot of work before i could do that thats why i asked the question to see if it is worth it need all wood some metal like firing pins hammers and thats about it.
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Old March 6, 2012, 11:17 PM   #13
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Not sure what the previous discussion was all about; I agree with both gentlemen; don't shoot damascus. (With an insert, the insert takes the stress, not the barrel.)

I have no doubt that some gunsmiths will say that some Damascus guns are fine to shoot. I had one (self styled) gunsmith tell me that Damascus barrels were far stronger than modern steel and can be fired with Magnum shells!! (Note that he did NOT offer to demonstrate.)

I wonder where folks get such nonsense. Unless the gunsmith wears tights with a red S on the front and has X-ray vision, there is no way he can tell if the barrel is strong. On foreign guns many "experts" will cite the proof mark, which means only that the barrel stood up to proof 120 or 130 years ago.

As for smokeless powder, that is especially dangerous due to the pressure curve which extends farther out than that of black powder; the result is that the barrel lets go just where it becomes thinner, which is where the shooter's fingers are usually located. Last time I checked, Numrich is out of both eyeballs and fingers, so I strongly suggest not firing those guns. Period.

IF YOU HAVE A DAMASCUS BARREL GUN THAT NEEDS FIXED UP TO SHOOT - DON'T!! UNLESS IT IS A REAL COLLECTIBLE, DEACTIVATE IT AND HANG IT ON THE WALL. IF YOU FIX IT UP TO SHOOT, SOMEONE WILL, AND YOU WILL BE RESPONSIBLE IF SOMEONE IS INJURED OR KILLED.

Jim
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Old March 6, 2012, 11:18 PM   #14
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with magnums now its a high powered pipe bomb i agree ill fing someone looking for a wall hanger.

Last edited by 8mm; March 6, 2012 at 11:30 PM.
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Old March 7, 2012, 10:01 AM   #15
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The problem with damascus is...

there in NO reliable way to check the interior walls where the two different materials were welded. These were used with blackpowder of varying grade and manufacture. BP is hydrophlilic and cannot be readily observed.

Sub-gauge inserts do take the main stress of firing BUT still transfer some of that stress to the original barrels.

The only ggod way is to contact Griffen & Howe for their assessment and possibly have the barrels re-proofed in England.

Best be safe than sorry, after all WHOSE face is behind the action??
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Old March 7, 2012, 02:36 PM   #16
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I'm in the " I would not shoot it camp " ....not even with full length inserts from Briley...or even if a competent gunsmith checked it ...

There are too many other good options out there for shotguns ...no reason, in my mind, to shoot a gun with damascus barrels....it isn't worth the risk in my view.
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Old March 7, 2012, 03:18 PM   #17
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I know of some clubs that still shoot what is termed as damascus barrels. I'm not sure if they are really wire twist or not. There was a period of time where a damascus pattern was etched into fluid steel barrels to make it look like a top grade gun. It takes an expert or someone who has a very good bore scope to tell the difference.

I would not take a chance shooting it either way. It might shoot fine until you gain confidence in it - then let go! I would even advise against using the subgauge inserts that are on the market. The harmonics of the shot can cause a barrel to crack and if it is forward of the adapter it will allow gas to escape in an unknown direction. The risk is just not worth it.

Interesting enough - there is another side to this. If the shotgun is a high end gun and has suffered damage by rust or a barrel is bent - there are highly skilled gunsmiths that will cut off the barrels at the breech block - ream them and install new barrels. Since the breech block is solid metal - new manufacture tubes can be tig welded in and finished. This is very expensive and only a few shotguns qualify for the expense of this type of repair. I have only seen two that were done and the workmanship was beautiful.
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Old March 7, 2012, 03:50 PM   #18
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A time to retire to the wall !!!

Quote:
There was a period of time where a damascus pattern was etched into fluid steel barrels to make it look like a top grade gun.
That may be so but primarily the twist finish was there because the old boy didn't trust the new fan-dangled steel but they would buy into a twist look. I guess that is what it comes down to; TRUST.

It's like eating left over chicken in the refer, do you really want to take the chance? What happens is the the layers may start to separate where they can't be seen. You need and X-Ray to see some of that damage. I had one barrel that looked real good on the outside but inside, the layers were stating to flake and come loose. Back when I was a dumber kid, i stuck the butt-stock into a tire. tied a road to the trigger and got behind a tree to set it off. All went well but never fired it again.. ...

By the way, most had names for the different patterns and some old timers could even tell you what forge it came from as well as who did the work.. ..

Be Safe !!!
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Old March 7, 2012, 03:58 PM   #19
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The top of the line guns had their logo worked into the damascus pattern ! Yes there was good Damascus, bad Damascus and fake Damascus and even stainless steel damascus [not real damascus but made with powder steel ]. Custom knife makers often make damascus blades.
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Old March 7, 2012, 04:00 PM   #20
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In the early 1900s, my Grandfather had an Ithaca with stub twist barrels (the term of the day). These are Damascus barrels made using either two or four staps in their construction. In the day, "real" Damascus barrels were made using 6 or 8 straps. The construction method was the same, it was just a marketing/snobbery thing that called some barrels "twist", and others "Damascus".

A neighbor really liked my Grandfather's gun, and after a few years of trying to buy it from him, my Grandfather finally gave in and sold it. He replaced that gun with an Ithaca with "fluid steel" barrels, in 1909. I have that gun today, and its just as fine now as it was then, except for a century's worth of honest wear on the finish.

The gun my Granfather sold? The right barrel blew out in the 1940s.

These guns went for decades being shot with black powder, or "bulk powder" (an early smokeless powder). Never any trouble, until the twist barrel gun let go. (and with no warning, either!)

Because of the age of Damascus barrel guns, and the fact that the manufacturing process leaves voids in the welds, where rust can weaken the metal, entirely unseen to any ordinary inspection, there is not any good way to tell if the barrel has weakened, over time. An X-ray (in sufficient detail) might reveal the voids, but I don't know if it would dectect corrosion. And its beyond the capability of any ordinary gunsmith, and many factories!

The best thing you can do is make it a display gun. IF Damascus barrels are in good condition (like when new) they re safe with the appropriate black powder loads. HOWEVER, there is no way to tell if they are in that condition, and after 100+ years, odds are, that they are not. AND, when they are not, they can still work fine for an indefinate time, until they burst.

Shooting a Damascus barrel gun is the shotgun equivalent of playing Russian roulette (with out the whole pointing it at your head thing...) You can't say for certain which shot will burst the gun, but the odds are one of them will...

Refinish the gun (if that's what you want), then take out the firing pins, and hang it up for display. Or sell it to a collector, who both knows and understands what it is. Its the safe thing to do.
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