Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Watkinsville, GA
Re: How can you tell if a remington shotgun has a damascus barrel
You guys need to get out more often; and certainly need to expand your knowledge base on vintage American double guns!
First of all, I never recommended to anyone that they fire a Damascus barreled shotgun; but with a proper re-reading of my post one will discover that I propose that Damascus barreled shotguns COULD BE SAFELY FIRED UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES IF SPECIFIC PRECAUTIONS WERE OBSERVED to include 1) a thorough inspection of the gun and barrels by a gunsmith fluent in the repair and restoration of vintage double guns; and 2) shells were limited to only those loaded to period correct pressures and correct chamber lengths. Now Please tell me what rules of common sense or safety I have violated with these two suggestions?
I further sited an in depth study conducted by a noted researcher in his effort to determine the strength of vintage Damascus and Twist steel barrels; a study conducted using beaten and battered vintage double guns from America's finest makers (to include Parker, Smith, Lefever, and Remington). Every one of these guns had suffered serious neglect and all had badly pitted and eroded barrel tubes that were the result of not cleaning after untold thousands of rounds fired with corrosive primers. Some examples had very thick tubes and some had very thin tubes; and all eventually suffered some degree of damage from shooting those heavy proof loads to include stock splitting and gaping at the breech; but not a single tube burst or split during the experiments. I and others have researched vintage high quality American double guns for decades; and what most folks don't realize is that some American double gun makers continued to make Damascus barreled guns into the 1930's, decades after the advent of smokeless powder and the higher pressures generated by same. And what most American shooters don't realize is that thousands and thousands of Damascus guns are still used and highly sought in Europe where these guns are sent to proof houses and proofed with modern loads, then certified as "in proof" for the loads specified with which the gun was proved. And guess what? These Damascus tubes were proved for modern loads; not the period loads I suggested in my original post. And guess what else? Why these Damascus barrel tubes are at least 100 or more years old, just as those Damascus tubes would be on a vintage American Parker, Smith, etc gun because Damascus barrels haven't been manufactured since WWI. And guess where our American gun makers got their Twist and Damascus barrel tubes? Well, we didn't make them here; we imported them from Belgium (mostly) and England. In America we did not have a government run proof house as do the English and Europeans; so each maker did his own proofing of the Damascus, Twist, and steel tubes used on their gun to accepted gun industry standards; and they all used a proof standard load generating 18,000 plus PSI? Why? Because 1) they guaranteed their barrels against failure, and 2) they could not afford the bad reputation that would come from using cheap barrel tubes. For all practical purposes, the American double gun industry died with the great depression, and was completely gone by 1950; but the dirty little secret is that the makers of the more modern semi-auto and pump action guns were more than happy to insinuate that Damascus and Twist barrel tubes were unsafe, as by implying vintage guns were unsafe they created a reason for sportsmen to purchase new guns!
I also stated in my original post that those who shoot vintage double guns with Damascus and Twist barrels shoot guns by makers considered HIGH QUALITY makers; and that the information I was providing was intended for guns by those makers (to include Remington), and was NOT intended to apply to cheap European imported double guns being sold for $7-9 per copy by Sears and period hardware stores. There was a reason that the least expensive LC Smith Twist barreled hammer gun sold at $20 retail in 1900, and a cheap Damascus barreled Belgium double could be purchased from Sears for $7; and that difference was primarily in the quality of barrel steel used, because the barrels of a vintage double gun was the most expensive component of the gun (typically 50% of its total cost). As for me personally I shoot sporting clays, skeet; and have bagged all manner of game with vintage American and English Damascus barreled guns. I use period correct shells and I've never had the first problem. For those who are unaware, there are a number of vintage gun associations such as the LC Smith Collectors Association, the Lefever Gun Collectors Association, the Parker Gun Collectors Association, the Remington Collectors Association, and others who host vintage gun clays competitions, game bird hunts, etc; and one not familiar with these organizations would be amazed at the numbers of Damascus barreled guns seen and used in these events. One event that I attend every year is the Southern Side x Side held at the Deep River Shooting School in Sanford, NC; hundreds of vintage Damascus double guns are used there every year with not a single mishap. In my 62 years, the only double gun I ever witnessed blow was equipped with fluid steel barrels. These were very sound barrels but had an obstruction in the left tube just past the tip of the forend; the resulting explosion vaporized a significant portion of the shooter's left hand and relocated his thumb so that it was pointing at his nose. So to anyone who cares enough to read my comments; and further, read them thoroughly and actually "hear" and understand the points I make; let me clearly state/restate my positions:
1) I never suggested that anyone shoot a Damascus, or Twist barreled gun; nor do I advocate that anyone subject himself to such "risks", and that suggestion especially applies to anyone who has a real fear that his Damascus barrel will actually explode. After all, how could anyone shoot such a gun well when he'd be ducking and counting fingers after every shot?
2) I did state that Twist and Damascus barreled guns can be safely fired AFTER observing certain precautions to include the use of period correct shells as noted above. ANYONE not observing my suggested precautions is an idiot.
3) I do shoot Damascus and Twist barreled guns myself, but only after observing the precautions I have described; and associate and shoot such guns with dozens of like minded collectors and shooters. But I do not advocate that anyone follow my personal example based on my experience. Anyone considering such action should do so only after conducting his own personal research; and at his own risk, although a shooter always risks a barrel rupture with ANY gun to some unknown degree be that gun new or old.
4) I made my post here, and shared the information I shared here only because readers of this forum need to understand that there is far more misinformation being disseminated regarding high quality Twist and Damascus steel barrel tubes than information that is factual.
Jim K. This information is copied and pasted directly form the Remington Arms website regarding the Model 1889 hammer gun:
Description: Outside hammer, double barrel shotgun
Introduction Year: 1889 Year Discontinued: 1908
Total Production: Approximately 135,000 +/-
Designer/Inventor: E. Remington & Sons
Action Type: Circular action hammers
Caliber/Gauge: 10, 12, and 16 gauge
Serial Number Blocks: 0,000 – 105,000; 200,000 – 260,000
Serial numbers were re-assigned to the 200,000 block circa 1900.
# of Grades Offered: Grade 1 – Decarbonized steel barrels
Grade 2 – Fine twist barrels
Grade 3 – Damascus steel barrels, engraving
Note: My serial number blocks were recalled from memory so I stand corrected on the upper range of the first serial number block.
"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"
JLA: Wish you'd made that pic!