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Old September 7, 2010, 12:09 PM   #1
John L. Smith
Join Date: March 3, 2010
Posts: 40
Laminated steel vs Damascus steel barrels

I have an old( 1900 era vintage) Belgium made Eclipse 12 ga. SXS. Between the barrels it is stamped "Laminated Steel". I know what Damascus twist steel is, the barrels show no signs of the twist plus whatever bluing was on it has long since warn off.

What is the difference between the two types of steel? I remember as a kid(50+ years ago) I was always told I could shoot regular shells thru it but not in a Damascus barrel. Lord knows I shot enough of them including "high brass" which we called mag's through it and still being able to count to 10 without removing any shoes and I could see to be able to count my fingers. Are the current shells that much more powerful than what we had in the 50's and 60's?

I know everbody calls these old guns wall hangers, but I would like to take a trip or two down memory lane before I cash in or the feds decide that I am of no more value to soceity.
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Old September 7, 2010, 12:16 PM   #2
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Did you post this question somewhere else? It seems like I posted some data about this yesterday or the day before (damn old age is starting to suck)
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Old September 7, 2010, 12:33 PM   #3
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These things can get confusing .There is Damascus made for BP , damascus made for smokeless powder and even fake damascus.Not sure about laminated. Old guns should be carefully inspected by a knowledgeable gunsmith .Look for proof marks , NP would be smokeless powder proofed ,for example . Treat old guns gently !
And Watson , bring your revolver !
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Old September 7, 2010, 12:45 PM   #4
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Damascus and laminated are typically considered the same thing. There are some folks who took standard barrels and applied a Damascus type of outer layer for looks.

Damascus or twist-steel barrels are made by layering alternate strips of steel and iron then welding them together. The strips are then twisted until they resembled a screw, three of these wound strips are then welded together, wound around a steel mandrel, then welded and hammered into a barrel tube. Laminated steel barrels are a bit different. They start with a ball of steel and iron that is then hammered into long strips and twisted, then, like their Damascus cousin, wound around a mandrel, welded and hammered into a barrel tube. Inherently, these barrels are quite strong, and many best-quality Damascus barrels pass nitro proof. However, because of the iron content and welded manufacture, twist barrels have a propensity for rusting within the barrel material. Added to that is the fact that these guns were primarily used with non-corrosive priming, and are therefore potentially honeycombed with weak spots. While there are first-quality Damascus Parker and Purdey barrels that can be shot with modern ammunition, most if not all are not up to the task. Briley Manufacturing [(800) 331-5718] can either make full-length tubes of a smaller gauge--20 ga., 28 ga. and .410 bore in a 12 ga.; 28 ga. in an existing 16 ga., etc.--or, provided the barrels are good condition, install steel chamber sleeves of one gauge smaller--12 ga. in a 10 bore, etc.--enabling the use of smokeless-powder ammunition. Shooting these old hammer guns is real fun. Organizations like The Vintagers [(413) 339-5347] are devoted to shooting and keeping alive the tradition of these old guns through clay-target competitions. As much fun as shooting these guns is, safety is the prime consideration, and one should never, ever consider shooting a Damascus, twist or laminated-steel barreled shotgun without first having it inspected by a truly competent gunsmith, and, if necessary, altered by an outfit such as Briley.
From Briley's site:
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Old September 7, 2010, 01:32 PM   #5
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Damascus or laminated steel barrels were made by forging the strips together at a red heat--almost a white heat--known as forge welding, rather than welding in any conventional sense. This is what causes the bond between the layers rather than any welding or soldering process. This is the same procedure used in making damascus knives today. The fact remains that thru the years rust may have made its way thru a weak spot and weakened the joint between the layers. I fail to understand why people keep wanting to shoot these old guns. Do you want to have your face next to the thing when it finally fatigues and lets go? I've said before and I'll say it again: there are plenty of good, safe shotguns around for your shooting. Hang those things on the wall and remember the good hunts that great-grampa had with it. I just overhauled two on the condition that I be allowed to cut off the firing pins so that someone after the customer and I are dead and gone won't blow their head off. Goatwhiskers the Elder
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