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Drew has quoted this more than once:

“Another thing I learned was that Whitworth steel barrels are not desirable for a heavy day's shooting. The explosion in them makes quite a different sound from that given off by Damascus barrels: there is more ring about it, and I can imagine that this might prove a serious annoyance to anyone who minds the noise of shooting. I have no recollection myself of ever having had a headache from gun-firing. Moreover, the Whitworth barrels become hot much more rapidly than the Damascus; and this is a serious drawback, especially to a man who shoots without gloves. I can well imagine that they last much longer, and are in many ways suited for ordinary light work; but am now replacing them with Damascus, as in all my other guns.” - Lord Walsingham

So, the question is... what's wrong with those damn fluid steel barrels anyway?

I do have a double that has two sets of barrels, one each of Damascus and fluid steel.

I certainly can detect no difference in sound, ring, or anything else with the light smokeless loads I use.

Shall we call BS on this legendary old shooter and author? Or is my experience in the minority?







"The price of good shotgunnery is constant practice" - Fred Kimble
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I cannot tell any difference in the sounds of my damascus and my fluid steel barrels. But then, none of mine are Whitworth steel either, AFAIK.

SRH


"With one foot in the grave ..........and one foot on the pedal, I was born a Rebel" T.P.
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I think lord Walsingham had a financial interest in Damascus barrels. I have never heard barrels "ringing" over the muzzle blast. And there would have to be quite a significant difference in heat dispersion rate between the two materials before a discernable difference would be possible. BS in caps on this one.

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I think lord Walsingham had a financial interest in Damascus barrels. I have never heard barrels "ringing" over the muzzle blast. And there would have to be quite a significant difference in heat dispersion rate between the two materials before a discernable difference would be possible. BS in caps on this one.

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Isn't there another part of the quote where he shot something like 1,070 birds that day? He could have either had a discerning ear...or tinnitus

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Right, Dan S. W., this quote was part of Walsingham's comment on the day he set the world record for grouse per one gun (or, to be more precise, four guns in the hands of one shooter). I think it was also the first day when he shot with his Whitworth steel barrels, and if it's so, than the explanation can be purely psychological. He expectedWhitworth barrels to be anyhow different from Damascus, and his brain was unconsciously 'programmed' to look for the difference, but since he found none in the way the gun handled, or the way the birds were falling, the brain registered a difference in sound. And if it registered as "unpleasant", then we may safely guess that good old Tom Grey had a prejudice against fluid steel.

That, or there was some defect in his particular Whitworth-barreled Purdey.

Whatever it was, the claim that "Whitworth barrels have an unpleasant sound" has spread across the globe, including Russia: Leonid Sabaneev makes it in his influential "Hunting Calendar" (1885) - without any reference to Walsingham, of course.

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It has long been my experience that when I shoot any of my Parkers with fluid steel barrels they emit a decided "Bang" while all of my Damascus, Twist, Bernard, and Laminated barrels go "Pow" so in my opinion there is a difference and I believe there is a 'deadening' effect to the shock waves through the length of the tubes by the alternating of steel and iron in the barrels' composition.

That's all I can think of but I really do experience the difference.... and no, it's not in my head ;-).

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This would be the perfect opportunity for some of you with a large shotgun collection to compare the sound of barrels, by tapping them just as you might to look for a loose rib. The sound will vary, even among fluid steel barrels, depending on length and thickness. But it seems plausible that a difference of pitch could be found between fluid and Damascus which would be more easily recognized without the noise of firing.
The fact that Walsingham might note the difference in use, is not surprising because he was obviously an athlete comparable to professionals of today. Their sensory reflexes surpass the average person.

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VF: excellent point. Unfortunately my roaring cicadas and jingle bells make auditory discrimination a challenge frown but having "rung" lots of barrels it is my opinion (worth no more than anyone else's) that pattern welded barrels "ring" more like a bell (richer, deeper tone) and fluid steel more like a chime.
And we must keep in mind Lord Walsingham was unlikely to have been using ear protection, and shot out in the field with some separation from the next shooter/peg, unlike clay target shooters.

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Any idea why this may be so, Drew?

I seem to recall that the Damascus analysis on that failure you investigated a couple years ago returned the result that the material was essentially 'homogeneous'.


"The price of good shotgunnery is constant practice" - Fred Kimble
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