Bentiron1946

Damascus Gun Barrels-Who wanted to Know?

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I see that noted gunsmith, Bruce LePage, is still at work, probably either in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Bruce demonstrated the spiral welding of a gun barrel at the 1982 LaCrosse, Wisconsin, ABANA conference. I wasn't present, but I heard about it. I would suggest that he knows more about that kind of work than anyone on two hind legs.
Turley Forge and Blacksmithing School : The Granddaddy of Blacksmithing Schools

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That is amazing! The craftsmanship is unbelievable. Did anyone see the chainlink damascus pattern? That is mind boggling.

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No damascus barreled gun should be considered safe to fire regardless of powder used or manufacturer.>

arftist:

Guess I shouldn't shoot my .338 WM, my .50-120-3 1/4" Sharps Str or my 12 bore Greener double rifle...

Just because a barrel is welded doesn't mean it is unsafe..the problem is most of these barrels are wll over 100 years old and well..a 100 year old gun is just that..an old gun that needs to be examined by a gunsmith that KNOWS what to look for.

THis does NOT mean modern powders...I use either the proper black powder or cordite loads in mine..depending upon the barrels in question...still you chould not "hot rod" the loads either. Personal responsibility reings supreme here....

Most of the shotguns I shoot have welded barrels..three have nitro-proofed barrels..In fact welded barrels are still being made by a couple of European gun builders and they command a hefty price tag too...and they are nitro-powder proofed...

So making a blanket statement like that isn't really correct...

JPH

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There are trap shooting matches just for Damascus / black powder shooters. There is also a proof house in England that will test the shotgun for you, if you want it reproofed.

The problem lies with rusting / corrosion between the layers. With modern testing techniques the barrels can be checked out, and they should be checked prior to shooting.

It amazes me when I look at some of the patterns that are used in the old shotgun barrels.

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thats right -lots of people in uk shoot "antique" guns with black powder - they are possibley regarded as slightly eccentric i should imagine but they perform well enough! those patterns are just incredible. am amazed!

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" they are possibley regarded as slightly eccentric i should imagine but they perform well enough! "

Slight eccentricities, yes. Life is good. So are front loaders. Some folks wonder why I might like to read by lantern light in the shop from time to time, drinking coffee made in the forge. This is an excellent thread. Thanks for the posts.

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That chain-link pattern was pretty neat to see. That was some real talent. I shot a Damascus double for an number of years without any problem. The reason I got rid of it was it was worth more as a collector piece than a shooter, no safety issue involved. They are currently making big bore magnums with Damsteel for the barrels. Nice looking but nothing like these old barrels.

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Ten hammers---try making your coffee in a pot rather than the forge; it's amazing what not pouring it through the forge and catching it at the ash dump will do for the taste!

(Of course I have cooked over and in a bloomery multiple times before and food can be quite tasty "out of the fiery furnace"...)

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There is at least one UK gunsmith who offers a service to line Damascus barrel guns with a modern monosteel sleeve, so as to preserve the gun's exterior but allow them to be used, even nitro proofed. Some might think it sacrilige but I consider it a better choice than having it deactivated (butchered) when the barrels get dangerously thin.

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OK Thomas...

Last rondy of the year ( 1st weekend of Nov)....

I burn charcoal most camps anyway. This specific camp is the only one I have to cook for myself. All other camps have a kitchen that is owned by some folks that always seem to need ironwork fixed or built. I DO make coffee though ( in a pot in the forge ). This last camp had me fryin bacon and taters along with makin coffee. This camp is also the only camp I am required to wash any dishes (with exception of the coffee cup). I also forge later in the day with coal but cleanout and start with charcoal most days.

I was graced in my youth with being friends with an older retired fella that had a wire barreled Riverside 12 guage side by side. He loaned it to me one winter and I shot more pheasants with that shotgun than anything I have ever used. Outstanding firearm. Not that the modern arms were deficient. I wish I still had that shotgun. I know folks that have wire barreled front loaders and use them frequently.

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Ten just playing with the difference between "in" the forge and "on" the forge.

I've forged a couple items that I will use to cook with or eat off of that I can toss in the forge and burn clean---I'd much rather play with fire than wash dishes (and it impresses the tourists...)

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I agree beautiful pictures thanks for sharing the links
Bill Fiorini used to make damascus barrels specifically for modern smokless powders.
He first made up a rectangle bar of pattern damascus say 1/4 X 3/4". he then wraped this bar into a spirel tube that the center hole was just larger than a piece of solid stress proof shafting. He then placed the shaft inside the tube and began taking a welding heat. This bar was trapazoid in shape, meaning when he wraped the ribbon it was not a rectangle butt weld but more of a lap weld.
The first weld was about and inch or two of the tube to the shaft. He used a bottom swage or swaqge block. Then another welding heat. The second weld was made by upsetting everything by pounding down with the hot end onto an anvil sitting on the ground. The next weld was again sideways in the block. Nest by upsetting. He continued only welding an inch or so each time till he was done.

He said the advantage besides the one piece steel with no welds going to the middle it was easier for the rifle maker bore a strait hole without breaking his drill/reamers.
Of course this would not work for a shotgun or you could not hold it up for the weight.
I saw him demonstrate this at the 1992 ABANA conference in California.

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Aftist, no one said that all Damascus barrels are safe. There are some that are just wall hangers, but there are still a number of them that are safe to shoot. The gunsmith I worked for had plenty of newer modern shotgun barrels hanging on his wall that had failed for one reason, or another. A friend was shooting his Parker SXS when the right barrel let loose at the front handguard. Upon inspection it was found that the barrel was only .009" thick at that point due to an overzealous gunsmith who polished it. With any firearm it is wise to inspect it, or have it inspected before shooting it. Blanket statements like that harken back to Nader's attack on the Corvair which he deemed unsafe at any speed.

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Thanks, 781 for the refernce to Bill Fiorini and the description of his process. I'm unaware of what stress proof steel is. Another related item, could an induction heater be used as the heat source in order to speed the process and allow more controlled incremental rolling of the material?

"Safety is no accident."

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