View Full Version : damascus barrels

September 27, 2012, 11:49 PM
heres the thing, good condition barrels have been proven to be able to take modern smokeless ammunition meeting standard saami pressure limits.

lots of talking heads say never use a damascus barrel for anything but decoration. yet theres a few custom gun makers making damascus barrels today.
and its very popular to use old damascus barrels to make muzzleloaders.

since modern saami loads are based on the original black powder loads, why the problem?

Dave McC
September 28, 2012, 06:35 AM
Over the decades, Damascus barrels develop voids as they corrode, reducing strength in something not that strong to begin with.

While some shotguns so equipped are safe to shoot, how do we know which ones?

Even with fine guns, we hear of one or two a year letting go, oft damaging the shooter or nearby people.

Since I do not suffer from having an excessive number of fingers and eyes, I'll skip Damascus....

September 28, 2012, 08:55 AM
Old Damascus barrels may, or may not, be safe to fire with black powder and reasonable charges. Only safety testing can determine that.
Like anything, not all Damascus was created equal. Some old layered steel could have corrosion between layers making it very weak and very dangerous.
Black powder and modern powder have different pressure curves. The issue is safety. Do not ever attempt to try modern powders in any Damascus barrel.
If you do try because "some guy" said it was OK, don't invite me to the funeral.

September 28, 2012, 09:55 AM
You are talking different generations of barrels and like most things, you should have second thoughts about trusting
the old. ..... :confused:

As an example, I had an "old" percussion double, M/L. the outside looked great and the bore was in fair shape or at least I thought I could work up a light load that would be safe. I had it inspected and X-rayed. There were signs that some of the inner layers were coming loose and flaking. Would have probably been okay to shoot.
Decided that it was not worth trying. ..... :(

Be wary and;
Be Safe !!!

September 28, 2012, 11:04 AM
+ 1 on the other comments....

From my perspective - why take the risk ??

Instead - why not take the best of both worlds.....if you want an "old style" looking gun - custom made / why not find a maker that will give you that look with modern steel, modern springs, etc...

something like this ....Krieghoff Essencia...



where you can literally get almost anything you want...that comes in both a Sidelock and Boxlock mechanism...both SXS's...vs fooling around with Damascus barrels...

Jim Watson
September 28, 2012, 11:12 AM
But it ain't got rabbit ears like Grandpa's and it costs way more than the one down at the antique mall.

And the sidelever version is just weird.

September 28, 2012, 11:18 AM
Sure Jim, I get it .....( nostalgia is very cool ) ...

....but like Dave McC said ..I don't have an excess amount of fingers and eyes either....so I'm just not going down that path ....

September 28, 2012, 12:06 PM
I would shoot a gun with Damascus barrels but only conditionally. I would want to have barrels that were made by a quality maker, originally Nitro proofed and inspected and measured by a gunsmith who understood double guns and Damascus to ensure the barrels were still in proof and not corroded or bored out. Then I would shoot them with lower pressure loads only.

Such barrels unfortunately are not easy to find and a great many Damascus barreled guns were cheap crap, poorly maintained, never properly proofed in the first place and often bored or honed out beyond acceptable limits. Therefore I don't blame anyone who chooses not to shoot Damascus ever but believe there are circumstances when it does not present a risk.

October 3, 2012, 06:10 AM
You can also have Briley sleeve the barrel making it safe with modern ammo. Now this will cause you to go down a size in guage and the weight to go up
IE a 12 ga. will become a 20ga. Randy

Mike Irwin
October 3, 2012, 08:20 AM
I wonder how many people who haven't listened to the "talking heads" over the years decided to hunt with grandpappy's damascus shotgun and wound up looking at an unfurled banana after a shot or two?

Worse, I wonder how many of them had that unfurling banana take a chunk out of their supporting hand or arm?

I've heard of such injuries over the years, but have never seen one, perhaps because my friends and acquaintances are intelligent enough to know that there's a lot of truth to the old reports.

Not to mention that the one gunshop where I grew up had a nice damascus double with one barrel partially blown out and unwound about half way up the tube.

Looked like a snake swallowing a tennis ball...

October 3, 2012, 10:13 AM
Yes, modern loads are based on the "dram equivilent" loading BUT using the smokelss powder the pressure time curve is LONGER.

Blackpowder loads have a shorter pressure time curve.

Look at the barrels they are heavier around the chamber for a SPECIFIC reason,
to withstand that shorter curve.

With modern loads that peak/ decreasing pressure spike is further down the barrel, were ii is thinning.

Damascus barrel construction (of iron /steel) or (steel/steel) increases the area
for pitting the form and weaken the barrel.
[I certain yiu all have seen used guns in racks, that HAVEN'T meet a cleaning rod???]

If you are set to shoot an damascus / twist steel barrel, then consider contacting Griffin & Howe for sending it to Britain for reproofing and FOLLOW their advise.

October 3, 2012, 06:43 PM
I am sold on the idea, let us know how it works out for you.

October 3, 2012, 06:44 PM
Would love some before pictures of the shotgun, love pictures of old guns.

October 4, 2012, 04:26 PM
Your old Damascus shotgun is virtuously worthless. Actually, it is less than that, it is a liability. Please send it to me so that I can properly dispose of it.


Tests were done some years ago by a guy in the Double Gun Journal where he showed an old Damascus barrel was stronger than a steel barrel that was about the same age. He kept upping the loads/pressure on them until they burst. The Damascus barrels lasted the longest (I think they were Parker Brothers). It was under the "Finding out for myself" column.

As mentioned above - the real issue is the iron can rust our quicker than the steel in a damascus barrel. This can happen anywhere inside the barrel and can not easliy be determined. These guns were used with blackpowder shells, which can be quite corrosive if left untended corrosion can sneak up into the barrels and cause weak spots. And don't forget most old shotguns have short chambers - using 2 3/4" shells can add a pressure spike.

That being said, I have a 1894 Remington with Damascus barrels that I shoot on occasion with 2 1/2" low pressure smokelss powder shells. I bought the gun years ago in like new condition and had it checked out be a competant gunsmith before firing. I also clean it immediatley after shooting.

October 12, 2012, 11:42 PM
Hmm, I sell dental x-ray digital sensors for a living. Might be fun imaging a shotgun barrel.

October 13, 2012, 07:38 AM
i had a real nice old parker light weight 10ga with 30" damascus barrels with short chambers that i sold to a friend and he has black powder shot shells reloaded for it and uses it on ringneck hunts over dogs, i think he had it checked out by a gunsmith,but i,m not sure. it is in realy good condition in and out. i went to older 12ga shotguns with steel barrels and 1-1-1/8 oz loads of #6 shot, a baker batavia leader 30" barrels in 16ga, a rem 1900 in 12ga with 32" barrels and a fox sterlingworth in 12ga with 30" barrels. when you hunt with the old double barrels you can wear funny looking old hunting clothes. eastbank