Originally Posted by Tom Archer
"I have seen them unwind. they start to come apart where the windings are hammered together. and they always do it with smokeless loads. For the most part there isnt anything commercially available that is safe to shoot in a damascus barreled shotgun. youd have to load your own and use very light loads."
That contend that assertion, Brother JLA, is pure and absolute BS, although I will make this public commitment to you; you post a pic here of an "unwound" Damascus or Twist Steel barrel tube and you can rest assured that you will receive a public apology, and yours truly will become a believer!
When a fluid steel barrel bursts, it typically splits; the split will most often be parallel, or in line with the barrel tube. When a Damascus or Twist barrel tube bursts, the break will run along a weld joint when the bands of iron and steel ribands are hammer forged together. As regards shooting Damascus barrels, more BS; as thousands of Damascus and Twist barrel vintage double guns are used for hunting and sporting clays events every day. The KEYS to safely shooting a Damascus barreled gun is 1) have the gun thoroughly inspected by a gunsmith skilled in the repair and maintenance of vintage double shotguns; and 2) use shells loaded to the same period pressures these vintage guns were designed and built to be used with. As regards point 1, if your gunsmith finds your barrels to be in good condition and not honed out so that barrel wall thicknesses remain within proper tolerances; they are safe to shoot with proper loads. As to point 2, there are a number of shell companies loading smokeless powder/plastic cased shells to period correct chamber lengths, and in a variety of gauges that are designed for vintage guns such as yours. Some of these companies are Polywad, RST, and Gamebore; but we now have reloading manuals with low pressure shell loadings (8,000PSI and less), and most people I know shooting these vintage guns are hand-loaders.
As to the strength of the high quality Damascus barrel steel used on vintage double guns manufactured by our great American makers; one will be amazed at the amount of abuse these tubes will absorb (this statement does not apply to the cheap European double gun imports marketed and sold during the same period). And for the doubters here, I suggest you check out past issues of the Double Gun Journal and read for yourselves the experimental research conducted by Sherman Bell. Sherman used a wide variety of vintage American double guns (to include the Rem Model 1889) as subject test guns, and experienced not a single burst barrel with any of these vintage gun tested in spite of the fact that most of these test guns were in very poor condition; and many had very rough and badly pitted Damascus barrels. But regardless of how these old warriors had been used and abused in their hundred plus years, they digested modern proof load after modern proof load; and further, no shell chambers were lengthened for purposes of this testing. I also have close relationships with two gunsmiths specializing in vintage double guns; and both have tried to blow Damascus barrels with HEAVY over loads. Bottom line, if the barrel retains its integrity; and unless the barrel is obstructed, one will be amazed at how much it actually takes to destroy/blow a Damascus barrel tube.
As to Remington serial number ranges Brother Jim; for the Model 1889 hammer gun serial number blocks, there were two; the first ran from number 1 up to the 150 or 160,000; and the second block began at serial number 200,000. The Model 1894 hammerless gun serial number block began at 100,000; and the Model 1900 hammerless serial number block began at 300,000. I suggest you acquire a copy of Charles Semmer's book "Remington Double Shotguns" for more information.
I suppose you are off the hook then Mr Archer. I do not want or need your public apology bad enough to try to blow up a perfectly good damascus shotgun to prove my point. If the work performed by your gunsmith friends is worth staking your life on then more power to you. But it is my opinion, based on my own experiences, that damascus barrels can and will come apart with higher pressure smokeless loads. Have i done it personally? No because I know better.. Have i seen it personally? yes. customer brought me a shotgun with twist steel barrels and both barrels were coming unwound just ahead of the chamber. So much so you could see light all the way around when you put a bore light in the breech ends. And no i didnt take pics. I politely told the guy his barrels were ruined and there was nothing I could do for him. He had been shooting the Aguila short buckshot loads in it.
Besides. The comments you post here are read by thousands of folks everyday. I couldnt sleep at night knowing I gave such ill advice on a public forum. even insenuating a damascus barrel is ok to shoot with modern shotshells is very bad advice in my opinion. Somebody is liable to come along and read that, thinking you might know what youre talking about, and try to shoot a turkey load in thier great grandads damascus double and get themselves hurt. Are you OK with that?
To put it simple, why take the risk? There are plenty of ordnance steel shotguns that can be had very cheap off the used rack at just about any gunshop. and they wont come apart with any load short of your brother-in-laws reloads..