Shotgun Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just picked up a Lefever GE grade 12ga. Damascus barrels that ring like Big Ben. Light almost no pitting in and out of the barrels. The gun appears to be in very good shape for a gun made in 1901. Now I will of course have my local smith who is very familiar with old doubles take a look at it and appraise it's worthiness. My question is black powder or low pressure? I have seen the "vintager" line of shells at Polywad, but they do not give give any info on specific pressures. I would like to stay away from black powder for a few reasons, but I don't want a seeing eye dog yet either. What do you all think?
 
G

·
In all sincerity, hang it on the wall.
A 100+ year old damascus barreled shotgun is just NOT safe to shoot with any load. Pits are sites of corrosion and stress intensifiers. Due to the fact that the barrels were formed from 'hammer welding' under heat, when new it was not very safe but the only thing available. When manufactured there were no methods to determine if the welding was satisfactory other than proofing and that only proved for that proof load that the barrels did not fail. After 100+ years one cannot determine with any Nondestructive Examination (NDE) method that i am familiar with, if the barrels have delaminations or any other defects internally. You already said that there are external defects (pits) so that should consign the gun to the wall.-Dick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,370 Posts
I agree with Budrichard: I don't think you'd ever feel comfortable shooting this thing--with any loads: blackpowder or reduced pressure. I'd also be concerned that I could never absolutely guarantee that a modern load wouldn't find its way into the breech. I'm scrupulous about keeping shells for the three gauges that my son and I shoot segregated in our safe and in the field, but I can only imagine the level of scrutiny that you would have to use if you were in the field with others who were shooting modern 12s alongside yours. When I'm afield with friends, loads and guns are often being swapped to compare recoil or performamce. With yours, there'd simply too much chance of an error, I think.

And have you ever seen what a damascus barrel looks like when it has come uncoiled? The one I saw, the product of a standard 2.75-inch low brass shell having been used in one (the owner thought "low brass" was somehow synonymous with "low pressure"), was not a pretty sight. Shooting glasses saved his eyesight, but he still carries pieces of twist steel in his left forearm and midsection. He's lucky he's still alive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,829 Posts
T Bird, You should read Mike Oriens reply to a post of the same nature in "Gunsmithing and Restoration" forum.. If you're going to shoot Damascus barrels, avail yourself to the opinions of people like John Brindle who have done the testing, not hearsay and old wives tales... It seems strange to me that damascus barrels became unsafe (according to gun and ammo makers) about the same time the supply dried up, because of World War 1. I would have the gun checked for wall thickness an d chamber length and shoot ammo with chamber pressures around 6500 psi. It should last you forever.. Bushrod
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,160 Posts
budrichard said:
A 100+ year old damascus barreled shotgun is just NOT safe to shoot with any load.
Absolutely not true.

You do have to be careful with damascus. It should be inspected by a gunsmith who is familiar with damascus (most aren't) and if it is OK it must be shot only with shells that produce appropriate pressures. It does not have to use black powder, smokeless is OK as long as the pressure is low enough.
 
G

·
"If you're going to shoot Damascus barrels, avail yourself to the opinions of people like John Brindle who have done the testing, not hearsay and old wives tales"

For a good summary of both side of the coin, I refer you to the Double gun Journal, Winter 2005, Letters to the Editors, "Fluid Steel vs. Damascus" or as titled by some " Sherman Bell versas the Nuclear Engineer".

From an Engineering and Safety standpoint, these firearms are not safe to shoot because no matter what type of external inspection performed, pressure ammunition used or testing performed, the methods of manufacturing (hammer formed heat welding) are just not safe. Because of the nature of the welds, there is no type of Nondustructive Examination (NDE) that can be performed for both surface and volumetric testing to insure that a barrel does not have defects, in fact the welds themselves are the defects. What is so hard for most to understand is that sucess in the present (firing the firearm with no consequences) does NOT guarantee success in the future.

There is a sizable industry that exists in selling these older firearms, some are from the UK where they cannot be reproofed and are subsequently sold in the US. There is also a cost savings shooting an old Purdey versas a modern Purdey that is hard to ingnore for some wanting to own and shoot the name. A romantic attachments also exists for these firearms.
A good analogy which may be easier for some to understand is which airplane would you like to travel on?, a DC3 or Boeing 747. Certainly the DC3 has an admirable record but they have long outlived thier Engineering Lifetime. The 747 with design, construction and safety features that did not exist for the DC3 is still within its Engineering Lifetime.
Before one charachterizes anothers post, one should have an understanding of the background and credentials of the poster and not make off hand statements. -Dick
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,829 Posts
Dick: From past posts, I think I do know your credentials, and they have nothing to do with the testing or shooting of Damascus barreled guns, Quote: "...some are from the UK, where they cannot be reproofed and subsequently sold in the U S"..Unless there's been a recent change, both the Birmingham and London proof houses reprove Damascus barrel every day..Also, I believe it is against British law to sell or export a gun that is out of proof.. We had this discussion last year, and I'll say it again. If you are not totally familiar with Damascus guns, leave them alone. I don't have the Journal issue you mention, so I can't comment. We have John Brindle's test showing that Damascus barrels can be used with loads they were designed for.. I am yet to see or hear of any tests showing that Damascus barrels are unsafe to handle loads they were designed to handle..Bushrod
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27 Posts
no way to tell soundness by ringing a damascus barrel unless it is only an acid etched damascus pattern steel barrel. it it states "smokeless powder" on the barrel, it sould shoot with low powder, low noise, low recoil shells (ie polywad vintegar 2 1/2 shells) otherwise, it's your call and your risk. see guns america, they have a damascus steel ithaca sxs with a burst barrel for sale right now with pics. judge for yourself. i am NOT a gunsmith, but i know that the layers of carbon between the hammer forged pieces can degrade and are not uniform through the legnth of the barrel, and that can cause a weakness.
anyone else can correct me if i'm wrong, but that is my experience and understanding, but better safe than sorry.
ann
aircraft weapons
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
82 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Then you and I both have a couple of stupid gunsmiths, as mine told me my grade 4 Flues was pattered as well when he looked at it with a lupe. I was also told by a competent ex Ithaca smith on this board that there were few if any damascus guns made by Ithaca after early 1900. So what IS the story here. Walt? Les?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,829 Posts
I think most all the American makers, including Ithaca, offered Damascus tubes up until about 1915. World War I pretty well dried up the supply. As for an etched pattern on fluid steel, It was never a production item on any American double.. Some of the very cheap Belgian imports used this method. I hope Walt or others can add to (or correct) this..Bushrod
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
79 Posts
As stated, WW1 ended the importation of Damascus barrels. Ithaca did make some guns with Damascus barrels through 1919 as they used stock on hand and probably at a customer's request. Ithaca, or no other US maker to my knowledge, ever put a Damascus pattern on a fluid steel barrel.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top