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 Post subject: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 1:13 pm 
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I have a damascus barrel shotgun. What is the best method of putting it into shooting condition with todays shotgun shells? Would you recommend full length tubes? or something else? It is in very good condition and seems to still be tight to close. It belonged to my father and I would like to hunt with it.

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:22 pm 
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Jeff, I'd hang it over your fireplace.

If you're just looking for a basic gun to shoot and hunt with, you'd be best served with a modern gun. While some damascus-barrel guns are shootable with black powder or low-pressure (not "low-brass"!) shells, the results could be deadly if a modern load were ever to find its way into that gun.

You might want to search this board for the terms "low-pressure loads" or "damascus barrel" to get more information before you pursue this any further. Yes, some damascus barrels are strong enough to handle low-pressure loads, but I don't think I would ever feel 100% comfortable shooting even those in it.

Sorry to rain on your parade, but I'd really hate to see you or anyone get maimed or worse.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 2:08 am 
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Your call, but I wouldn't put any shells in it and shoot it for all the tea in China! IF you must, get a set of full length tubes atleast 2 gauges smaller and use them, but, I strongly discourage shooting ANY damascuss barreled shotgun.

BP

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 9:41 am 
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[quote="Jeff Hintz"]I have a damascus barrel shotgun. What is the best method of putting it into shooting condition with todays shotgun shells? Would you recommend full length tubes? or something else? It is in very good condition and seems to still be tight to close. It belonged to my father and I would like to hunt with it.[/quote]

:arrow: I've seen the results of two of them being shot with "lite" target loads, wasn't much left of either one! :roll:

:arrow: Personally I'd use as a wall hanger?


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:39 am 
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Jeff,
I wouldn't recommend putting ANY "modern" loads through it.
However, if it was a decently made gun in the first place, and is in good condition now, I wouldn't hesitate to use black powder or low pressure nitro loads in it.[Have it checked out by a good doublegun smith, first.]
Good damascus is no more prone to problems than were the fluid steels of the same era. In fact, according to tests run by the Birmingham Proof House, the reverse was often true.
What make of gun is it?
Jim

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 11:27 am 
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Jim, in respose to your question, I own a 1907 New Aubrey.

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Mon Jan 02, 2006 12:51 pm 
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I think Jim nailed it. Good Damascuss or fluid steel of the same era. Neither one were really "good", but, fluid steel doesn't have the potentiol for slag pockets and corrosion or poor bonds/welds to the tune of about a gillion per running inch of barrel length. When you know HOW damascuss barrels were made it becomes abundently clear how with age they indeed can and do become much less stable. I don't care who made them or how good of Damascuss barrel makers they were in their day! You can magnaflux them to your hearts content, look them over with a microscope, reproof them all you want, doesn't remove the inherent limitations and potential for disaster associated with damascuss or twist steel barrels. Just not a really "bright" thing to be shooting! Really old "fluid steel" barrels are only marginaly better. More modern Nickel alloys and the likes of Krupp steel are a different animal altogether. Do as you please. Shoot it away from me if you must but, don't say, "nobody ever told me!"

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 3:44 am 
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There are those that say never shoot a Damacus barreled gun. There are hundreds of shooters at Vinter's Shoots each weekend that regularly shoot these guns with no ill effects.

I own and shoot several good Damascus SxS shotguns and have had several guns reproofed in London for shooting. One of these guns is a 12br/2 3/4" Purdey that I had proofed at equlivent of 12.000 lbs Nitro. I also had a matched set of Boss Game Guns proofed for Nitro at EQ 8.000 lbs. These two guns have 2 1/2" chambers.

Also,you can have the barrels sleved and reproofed for Nitro loads and often modern pressures and chamber legnths. I have a Holland that has been sleeved and is a pleasure to shoot. I should warn you that this route is rather costly but,when done properly,it can give new life to a fine old gun.

Another way to shoot an older gun it to have tubes made for it and shoot smaller ammunition,such as 20ga in a 12ga gun.

No matter what you decide,you must consult with a gunsmith that really knows his old guns and has a great deal of experience with them. Many,many old shotguns with Damascus barrels are dangerous to shoot with any load and should be enjoyed hanging over the mantel.

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 6:21 am 
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Jeff,
I'd definitely have it checked out by a good smith. The 1908 Sears catalogue shows Aubrey guns ranging in price from about $12 to $38.50. Low end at that time seemed to have fluid barrels. Next step up the ladder were twist. At about $17 you started getting better damascus. The same catalogue shows a Remington at $31.50, and Ithaca's in the low to mid $20 range.
I've never gotten my hands on an Aubrey gun, so cannot relate my opinion as to how well they were built, but, based on price, it seems you may have a decent gun.
Jim

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 10:27 am 
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I would be very careful with an Aubry if it had twist steel barrels; but a damascus set that is in good condition and in proof will be every bit as safe as a fluid steel set when used with ammunition that stays within its proof limits. Black powder would be reasonably safe in such a barrel set, but lower pressures can be had with certain smokeless loadings. If you plan to shoot it, you might consider having it re-proofed. You will need a gunsmith in England to inspect and present it to either the Birmingham or London house. Have it nitro-proofed (as many finer damascus barrels originally were) and load within its limits. Do not be tempted to rely on a magna-flux or dye penetrant test, as these will only indicate failures; not weaknesses.....and discard the myth of failed welds running the length of the barrel. When a damascus barrel fails, its failure is radial; not lengthwise. It is a fluid steel barrel that is prone to lengthwise failure.

For a good reference source about the relative strengths of fine English damascus tubes, find John Brindle's and Sherman Bell's articles on the subject, published in the Doublegun Journal.

“The pressures produced by proof charges exceed the normal pressures produced by regular ammunition designed for that kind of gun, to give a safety factor with that kind of ammunition. It is often asked if proof charges really work, if in fact the proof charge might not so weaken the gun, that it is now less fitted to withstand the pressures produced by ordinary ammunition. The answer is that proofing does do what it purports to do, because it is the nature of iron and steel not to be weakened by repetition of stresses which do not reach the elastic limit. With nothing else at work (e.g. corrosion) in these circumstances, its life is infinite. Note that to be turned down in proof, a barrel does not have to burst, it merely has to change dimension by by any amount discernible, signaling that the pressure went beyond the elastic limit, and those whose job it is to find such amounts are sophisticated beyond belief.” John Brindle

I believe that Greener is currently making some special order damascus barrelled shotguns of recently discovered "turn of the century" damascus pipes....they will be (of course) nitro-proofed and the starting price that I saw was $60,000...makes that 1908 price of $38.50 look pretty good..


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2006 8:43 pm 
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ALL Good Advice!!!!!!
Happy New Year to you Guys!!

Ray's

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 1:43 pm 
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The early guns , 1927 and before , were made to handle loads under 7000psi , no matter what the barrels were made of . With modern loads they will be shot loose , or " off center " . Then a call to Mike is in order . There are four of us who shoot damascus and or " twist" SXS's every week . I just shot a 25 at skeet with my 1889 Remington twist barrel hammer gun useing 20gr of PB , 1 oz of shot . This load has 5900psi - well with in limits . There is a site for SXS's , with plenty of info on damascus barrels - www.gunshop.comIsClosed - visit it for more info - Paul


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Tue Jan 10, 2006 8:44 pm 
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Bladesmith,
Thank you but I do not agree whatsover.
Even with the lower level PSI reloads, the burning characteristics of black powder in relation to smokeless is totally different. These older barrels, of wrapped steel, laminated steel, et cetera, and considering their ages of many years, they are now even well below their original strengths.
Lastly, I have seen the the aftermath when one of these barrels "let go" !!! The shooters/owners were under the same exact beliefs as you and your friends are, and using the basic same precautions too.
Be careful "Blade", and maintain a diligent check of those old smoothbores.
Ray

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 6:45 am 
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Ray,
Which is it?
Quote:
ALL Good Advice!!!!!!

Or
Quote:
Thank you but I do not agree whatsover

As far as;
Quote:
Even with the lower level PSI reloads, the burning characteristics of black powder in relation to smokeless is totally different.

This is true, to an extent, the pressure curves are somewhat different. However, peak pressures are experienced at the forcing cone. Black or nitro, pressure is pressure, and as long as maximum pressure is not exceeded, the gun doesn't care which powder you choose.
Concerning,
Quote:
These older barrels, of wrapped steel, laminated steel, et cetera, and considering their ages of many years, they are now even well below their original strengths

If true, the same holds for "fluid" steels. So far, I've heard of no evidence of this.
And,
Quote:
Lastly, I have seen the the aftermath when one of these barrels "let go" !!!

I'd like to hear more. In what area did these barrels "let go"? What were the results? Were there any signs of a prior obstruction? Any evidence of heavy pitting?, extremely thin walls?,bulging before the area that let go?
What I've seen to hold mostly true, is that when ANY damascus barrel "lets go", it's often blamed on the barrel, without much consideration as to potential for other causes.
This should be fine by me, as it keeps the price on nice damascus guns down a bit. Being a technical type of guy, however, I'm always letting the facts get in the way of my business sense.
Jim

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:55 am 
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JimfromTrafalgar wrote:
What I've seen to hold mostly true, is that when ANY damascus barrel "lets go", it's often blamed on the barrel, without much consideration as to potential for other causes.


Amen.

When a fluid steel barrel blows up (and they do, I've seen quite a few on display) it is always blamed on a plugged barrel or a bad reloaded shell. When a damascus barrel blows up (I've never seen one) it is always blamed on "that dangerous old damascus".

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 10:34 am 
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It's the same old song and dance, every time the subject comes up, we have all kinds of engineers, gunsmiths etc, telling us it not safe to shoot Damascus with the loads intended. one of them even said, they weren't safe when new.. It's a miracle that all our Grandfathers survived. John Brindle did a lot of testing to show what loads could be used in thewse guns. The British proof houses do the same. When is soneone going to test and show proof that Damascus barrells cannot safley be shot with proper loads. Bushrod


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2006 11:30 am 
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We are also continually reminded of the "old wives tales" of weld degeneration and weakening with age. I would have thought that the studies done by Sherman Bell might have put these to rest...we should now all know that a gun in proof is safe to use with ammunition within its proof parameters! Damascus barreled shotguns continue to be nitro proofed in England to this day. As a member of the original chapter of the Vintagers, I can point to anecdotal evidence of (literally) millions of rounds fired in damascus barrelled shotguns over the last 10 or 12 years.....most nitro proofed; some not....I have personally loaded more 5 pound cans of IMR pb into 1 ounce 12 gauge loads (for nitro proofed damascus shotguns) than I care to remember....and in all this time, with all this use of damascus barrelled shotguns, there was one barrel rupture. That was in a 28 gauge shotgun that had been refinished and was restruck so aggressively that it had areas not far from the chamber of barrel wall thickness close to .010"....a thickness that wouldn't have survived if it had been made of the best available fluid steel.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 8:18 am 
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I'd visit http://www.gunshop.com. My misconceptions regarding Damascus barrels, and short chambers have been laid to rest.


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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:46 pm 
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Blade,
My inquiries with the technical folks of Alliant, BlackMag3 and Goex have related that the "pressure characteristics" of black powder and smokeless differ substantially. More specifically, smokeless generates it's pressure much more quickly and dissapates rapidly as the charge moves toward the muzzle(s). Whereas black powder maintains quite a bit of it's peak pressure to almost the full length of the barrel(s). Also, it can seldom with proper charges even rise to the pressure levels of smokeless.
The shotguns I have seen "let go" that apply to this dialog occurred when an area of the welds simply gave away and "opened up". During both incidents smokless, modern, high brass shotshells were being fired from the shotguns and no obstructions of any kind were present. When used with black powder ONLY, I have not seen a twist teel, laminated or damascus barrel let go from "fatigue", only with smokeless.
Hopefully, this will never occurr with any of you guys!!
Rays

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 Post subject: Re: Damascus barrel shotguns
PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2006 7:17 pm 
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Well, now you're talking about "high brass" loads....these would certainly not fall within the proof certification of 100 year old damascus barrels. There are some very weak damascus tubes out there; those made in Belgium (with the exception of the very "high dollar" makes) should probably never be fired; reguardless of shotshell choice. I would recommend to anyone that has a damascus shotgun (in proof and not a cheap Belgium clunker) that they want to shoot, that black powder not be used. There are modern smokeless powders that will produce lower pressures than black powder while burning cleaner and not contributing to bore corrosion. If a 1 ounce black powder load produces just over 6,000 psi, why not use a cleaner load of IMR pb that produces 5,000 psi. Remember that most of the early 20th century British damascus barrels were intended for use with smokeless powder.


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