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 Post subject: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:58 am 
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Starting this so I don't hijack a recent parallel thread.

I'm familiar with the Doublegun Journal study of blowing up Damascus barrels. Hard to do.

In the heyday of Damascus shotgun barrels, the latter 19th cent., was barrel explosion common?

In other words, were recently manufactured barrels using contemporary loads dangerous?

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:14 am 
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You will get many opinions on this one! Early twist steel and Damascus guns are suspect because rust and corrosion can exist between the welds, and not be visible. However, as Bell has shown, it is VERY hard to blow up a solid Damascus barrel! They are so good and so popular, that many continued to ask for them long after the "fluid" steel barrels came on the market. Every barrel (gun) should be carefully inspected and proof tested before being shot, but most Damascus probably will pass muster. I have several old British and American Damascus guns that shoot very well with loads that I keep around 5,000 psi, or less. My oldest gun, a Horsley from 1874 has been proofed at 950 BAR!!

The horror stories about Damascus are often repeated by people who never owned or shot a gun. With proper wall thickness, condition and care, these guns can bring a lot of fun to shooting. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 5:06 pm 
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What I was really asking is, "What about when the guns were new?"

That is, were barrels exploding right and left in 1890?

I understand that corrosion and modern loads might jeopardize use of 100+ yr-old damascus barrelas, but what about when they were new using loads and powders of the period?

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"Pumpster" is because of pumpkins, not pump guns.
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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:00 pm 
Diamond Grade

Joined: Sat May 13, 2006 9:19 am
Posts: 1645
Location: Columbia, SC
Pumpster wrote:
What I was really asking is, "What about when the guns were new?"

That is, were barrels exploding right and left in 1890?


No! Quality damascus barrels were as strong or stronger than fluid steel barrels. I can't find my copy right now but in the 1880's or 1890's either the London or Birmingham Proof House tested barrels to failure and several of the damascus barrels took more pressure before failure than the fluid steel barrels.

I have a 16 gauge Joseph Lang built in 1866 that was rebarreled in damascus by James Woodward between 1873 and 1882. These barrels carried black powder proof only until 1990 when they were re-proofed at 900 BAR. 900 BAR is the CIP (European) proof standard for 2.5" shotshells which are currently made in the US by RST and Polywad and imported by others including Gamebore and Westley Richards.

I've shot between 1750 and 1800 2.5" cartridges through these barrels in the 18 months that I've owned the gun and I will continue to shoot it with the appropriate cartridges.


Last edited by FlyChamps on Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:01 pm 
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Oops, double post.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:30 pm 
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FlyChamps, thank you very much!

That was the info I was looking for.

By the way, 900 bar isn't shabby and should take SAMI loads without problems but what do I know?

Thanks for your lucid response.

I am beginning to wonder just how many Damascus barrels blew up except when they were corroded, rotted or loaded with magnums?

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Frank
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"Pumpster" is because of pumpkins, not pump guns.
It's SxS, DT splinter/English for me!
Shotguns speak in many voices and fortunate are those of us who hear more than one.
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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Jul 25, 2009 9:03 pm 
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Pumpster wrote:
By the way, 900 bar isn't shabby and should take SAMI loads without problems but what do I know?


Always use the appropriate cartridges. A 900 BAR proofed gun is PROOFED AT 900 BAR - the recommended service load is 75% of proof pressure or about 9,750 psi. Many British gun authorities recommend limiting old guns to service loads 65% of proof or about 8,450 psi. The SAAMI standard for 16 gauge cartridges is 11,500 psi - well above the 9,750 psi or 8,450 psi values and only 1,550 psi below the actual proof pressure. That's not enough "comfort zone" for me. My barrels are at least 127 years old and could be as old as 136 years so I limit my loads to below 8000 psi, in fact, my favorite 7/8 ounce load was tested by Tom Armbrust at an average pressure under 7,100 psi.

European 2.5" 16 gauge cartridges are loaded by law to be suitable for 900 BAR proofed guns. In the USA RST and Polywad also load suitable 2.5" 16 gauge cartridges.

I suspect that using the incorrect ammunition, factory or reloaded, has damaged more old guns than can be counted.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sun Jul 26, 2009 4:54 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 10:11 am
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Parker Bros., for one, proofed both fluid steel and composite steel barrels the same. Fluid steel barrels came into use more so because new technology made them cheaper to produce than the very labor intensive damascus barrels. Safety was not the issue.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:50 am 
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....barrel failures were very common toward the end of the damascus barrel era, but this had nothing to do with the strength of damascus barrels; it was due to ignorance of the "new" smokeless powders....black powder was measured by volume with a specific sized dipper; smokeless powders are measured by weight.....when the black powder dippers were used to measure the (then new) smokeless powders, the result was a dangerous powder charge....a damascus barrel, if in proof is still more than strong enough for today's smokeless powders, as long as the operator reloads within the barrel's proof parameters....nitro proofing of damascus barrels is still being done today....


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:52 am 
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Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 10:11 am
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Mike Orlen is right. The old boys reloaded nitro the same as black or the bulk smokeless, and that's where the trouble began with prejudice against damascus. Can you imagine the lawsuits nowadays?


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 3:41 pm 
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When they were new, Damascus barrels did just fine (assuming they were built right). In the 1890's the new smokeless powder came out and in countries like France, the government tried to encourage its' use by banning the import of black powder. Presented something of a problem for Buffalo Bills Wild West Show (most of the trick shooting - including pistols- was done with shot loads); particularly Annie Oakley (Phoebe Ann Butler) who did actually blow up a couple of guns (including one of her favorites) due to the new bulk smokeless powder. She solved the problem by resurrecting an old ladies fashion - the bustle skirt - and had every woman in the show wear such a dress so that they could smuggle in a pound of black powder (no self-respecting French customs agent is going to search a lady that close). ..... from her biography.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 6:03 pm 
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First, of all, Damascus barreled guns are still being made and proofed for nitro powder.

Second, send all Damascus barreled gun to me and I will dispose of them for you. High grade Remington, Purdey, Churchill, Dumolin, Boss, Bonehill, W.C Scott, R. Redmond, H&E Hammond, Parker and others will be gladly taken care of and disposed of properly.

I will even pay shipping and FFL cost for these old worthless shotguns.

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:37 am 
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A5guy wrote:
First, of all, Damascus barreled guns are still being made and proofed for nitro powder.
Second, send all Damascus barreled gun to me and I will dispose of them for you. High grade Remington, Purdey, Churchill, Dumolin, Boss, Bonehill, W.C Scott, R. Redmond, H&E Hammond, Parker and others will be gladly taken care of and disposed of properly.
I will even pay shipping and FFL cost for these old worthless shotguns.


What a deal..... wish I thought of it first! :D

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 6:30 am 
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I was just trying to get some of those awful dangerous guns "off the street". Alas, no takers, so far. :(

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:05 am 
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The detail to add that I recall is that the shooters that reloaded during the transition period had available a "bulk" smokeless powder that could be interchanged with black powder using the same dipper as used for black powder.

The dense version of smokeless powder that was introduced was intended to be loaded using a special small dipper that should never have been confused with the traditional bulk dipper.

You just had to remember which was which, I guess. Bulk, Dense- I'll choose "dense" and hope I'm not...

Famous last words and all that.

Maybe the number of shooters that couldn't read well was greater in the old days. Now we just figure everybody has no sense and put
"Warning: coffee is hot" type labels on everything.
I heard there was a warning on a hair dryer electrical device that mentioned to avoid use in the bath.
Amazing.

kirbythegunsmith@hotmail.com

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrels blowing up
PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2009 6:01 am 
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I can only echo concerns of this public safety issue...
Send your Damascus barrels COD to ME.
Cash for clunkers!

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