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When I was a kid and I'm talking late 60's early 70's dad was always trading shotguns and revolvers. There's no telling how many Damascus barrels with 2 1/2 inch chambers I fired 2 3/4 smokeless loads out of. I don't recommend it however. I still have two Damascus barreled guns I have shot a lot. Everybody takes stuff their grandparents tell them as gospel. Truth is most of the time they're just repeating what somebody told them.
 

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which is a historical disaster
Ummm, just where are you getting the information that’s lead you to develop this opinion? I’m serious, what are you using as sources as I’d love to read them myself. I’ve heard people state they’re “dangerous” and “not to be trusted” but most of the time their opinions are spoken from ignorance but I’ve NEVER heard ANYONE say Damascus and Twisted Steel barrels are a “historical disaster”. That’s just plain silly talk.
 

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Excellent!! Thank you!! I'll take fact and truth over legend, myth and old wives tales every time!!

I wasn't giving advice other than for you to please keep believing what grandfather told you and, your taking it. Again, thank you.

Seriously and honestly, if one studies the history of why and how Damascus barrels got that reputation it quickly comes to light that even early fluid steel barrels would have failed under similar conditions. Ignorance of how to load the early smokeless powders caused the demise of a LOT of firearms, not just those with Damascus, twist or laminate barrels.

Of the 3 major types of forge welded barrels, laminates are the least strong after that, memory slips. I think stub twist is the middle strongest with chain Damascus being the strongest. Except for laminate the above subject to correction.

To say "indeed they are the same" is like saying all barrel steels today "indeed are the same". Not hardly.
 

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Sharps, I've read, and I can't remember where, reports done by the London proof house in 1885 where Damascus and the then new fluid steel barrels were tested to destruction. British three band twist was the strongest followed by Belgian three band twist and fluid steel was the weakest. Gun makers started applying Faux Damascus finishes to the new process fluid steel barrels because at the time Damascus was indeed the strongest type of barrel. A similar test to destruction was done in 1895 and fluid steel came out as the strongest. So just because a barrel on an old gun is not Damascus does not mean it's strong enough to stand up to modern ammo and just because it is Damascus does not mean it can't hold up to it. The biggest reason for failures is rechambering to longer shell lengths and or firing star crimped smokeless rounds in a gun proofed for black powder in a chamber cut for roll crimped rounds. If you stick a three inch magnum in a modern 4140 steel barreled double gun chambered for 2 3/4 shells you can expect problems to happen. One last thought, I have a few Damascus steel knives, none of them have gotten any weaker with age.
 

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Well said Griz. I knew...and know...there's other details and tests like that out there but sadly, for me, I'm ignorant of them. The only tests I'm familiar with enough to talk about is the series Sherman Bell did in the DGJ. His tests were thorough to the point of distraction but assuredly worth the effort to read and learn the facts, rather than things that if repeated often enough become fact. It's just that it pains me to see something, anything, condemned out of hand by repeating what one heard rather than finding out the truth of the matter.

I have a Manton, not Joseph, double muzzleloading shotgun in 17 bore from the 1850's or thereabouts I still shoot occasionally. It has Damascus barrels that ring as true as any double rifle, drilling or combination gun I have. Whoever owned that double gun took excellent care of it.

I have one Damascus blade and after all these years I'm still impressed with the edge it holds. Mine you have to dress more frequently than a stainless or harder blade but the upside is that it dresses quicker and easier.
 
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There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about firing an older gun, Damascus or solid steel, does it lock up tight, is it on face, has it been re chambered, does it have rust or corrosion and pitting in the bore, is it still the same bore as it was when it was made or has it been reamed out to hide rust or corrosion or other damage? The only Damascus barrel I've personally seen that had slight delamination was an old Remington hammer gun that some one had fired smokeless powder Forster slugs through a full choked bore. This was a wall hanger I'd restored cosmetically for a friend years ago. The stock was broken at the wrist and held together with wood screws and electrical tape. It had belonged to the friends grandfather so it had sentimental value. If a gun is sound and tight I'd not be afraid to load and shoot black powder rounds in it, but I'm for darned sure not going to cut the chamber deeper and fire modern 3 inch magnums in it. :)
 

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Lots of variables in old twist style barrels. I have 2 pre civil war muzzle loading shotguns and a 1880's cartridge double. All are black powder guns. Prior to using these, each one was loaded with a slightly heavier than normal load, strapped in a lead sled and fired using a long cord. Repeat several times.
It is true that rust can work its way into the seams of the metal and can weaken the barrels. You make your choice as to safety. Personally, not fond of smokeless loads in old twist barrels.
 
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