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I recall Dr Gaddy mentioning having had a damascus barrel TIG welded with successful results. Sounds reasonable, as TIG is likely to form as good a weld as the original.

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Chuck;
I too remember Oscar mentioning that. If the rest of the gun were worth it I would try that on this set. As mentioned though both bores are badly pitted their full length, also the stock was splintered & barely held together with tape. No finish remains anywhere on gun, it was strictly a parts gun. Hasn't proved to be a wise investment though, as none of my other Lefevers has broken a part yet. The main point though is, this gun was the exact opposite of all those we are "Warned" about which may have hidden flaws under an otherwise immaculate finish. This bbl (I only fired the cracked one) was already badly pitted & cracked. I didn't fire a lot of rounds, maybe 4-6 of each load so dozen to dozen & a half total (didn't reach #"N") but they didn't even open the existing crack back up enough for it to be readily visable. Anyone just visually examing this bbl, even after I told them where to look, would have to take my word the crack was there. The handload was incidently based on a "Low Velocity" 3-1½ load which was published in the Rifleman using Unique powder, but even though i was using the same case & wad I found very heavy compression would be needed to get the 1½oz of shot in, so dropped back to 1 3/8oz. This load was probably not as stressful as the factory "Express" load but it stood up to several of all three loads. The original crack as stated followed a weld line for about ¼" right out on the outer periphery of the left bbl then turned about 90° & went forward for about 1/8". On the muzzle side this little sq cornered flap was lifted up & on the breech side was still dented in. The bore plug & peening hammer put it where it was virtually invisable. "NO" touch up was done after firing & it remains virtually invisable to this day. This all took place probably over 30 yrs ago.


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Just for the sake of confusion I would like to mention that I bought B&P 12 ga 2 5/8 1 oz subsonic shells at 6530 psi. The box says not to be used in damascus nor twisted steel barrels.

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The following is from the question and answer segment of: "American Rifleman – January 1965

Damascus Barrels

There have been many warnings against firing Damascus-barreled shotguns with smokeless powder. Over a period of years I have seen several which were regularly used with factory high-velocity shells, and gave no trouble. Is it possible that warn-ings have been overdone? Damascus barrels of suitable quality and condition might then be usable with smokeless powder.

Answer: The warnings against firing Damascus barrels with smokeless shells rest ultimately on actual bursts which have occurred in such use. In these incidents a large piece is blown out of the barrel near the chamber. Severe injury to the shooter’s forward hand is likely.

It is true that Damascus barrels of high grade, proportioned for smokeless powder, on an action of suitable design and proportions, and in suitable condition, could be used with normal smokeless shells with safety. Few users are qualified judges.

The great majority of Damascus barrels are of low grade (how low that can be is described in the following text). The majority of them are thin. They are mounted on actions of antiquated design and material. The barrels tend to local deep corrosion because of the 2 or more metals of which they are composed.

The basic make-up of Damascus barrels is indicated by the drawing(not included here but the same as found in Greener’s edition), which is from Greener. Two or more rods of iron and steel were welded together and rolled into a ribbon, which was then wrapped around a mandrel and made a continuous tube by welding all the edges together. A Damascus barrel is thus one mass of welds from breech to muzzle. Great care was taken with the best barrels to see that the welds were sound. This was not of the question in making cheap barrels. W.W. Greener, the greatest authority on shotgun manufacture at the time these barrels were made, stated plainly that cheap Damascus barrels were literally rotten.

Mere absence of early failure gives no information about safety margin. It is entirely possible for a Damascus barrel to survive the firing of a number of smoke-less shells, and then burst by one giving a slightly higher pressure than the rest, or simply by the repeated strain.

The foregoing will be enough to show why it is not considered either well-founded or in the personal interest of NRA members to call Damascus barrels gener-ally suitable for smokeless loads.—E.H.H."

Kind Regards,

Raimey
rse

Last edited by ellenbr; 04/28/08 08:59 PM.
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I am sorry to bring this up again, but I remain utterly confused.
The matter is, how safe are damascus barrels to shoot.
It seems to me that we have two main opinions that reflect the answers to the matter that are quite oposite. One side is of the opinion that damascus barrels should be shot very little if any. The other side states that fears are generally unfounded and damascus barrels can be shot safely within reason.
Both opinions look to me that they are based on (more or less) personal experience (which can be extensive in certain cases) and no scientific fact or at least not statistical significant fact (if that would matter for the individual gun).
At the end one is left with his barrels to be judged on personal basis, one on one with his trusted gunsmith. Said gunsmith, with his own experience or lack thereof may render an opinion that the owner may take or not.
I believe that this matter lacks clarity. The confusion is fueled by many opinions and some examples on both sides. I think that a statistical reflection of a significant sample can help bring some light into the matter, at least for inexperienced people like myself.
I believe that we have the possibility to gather more scientific information and use it, within certain limits to predict our future.

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An across the board recommendation to use damascus is just as unfounded as is the across the board condemnation. Damascus barrels are old and have generally led a life of unknowable abuse. Only an expert gunsmith/gunmaker can judge and that MUST be on an individual basis. Valid UK proof is a very good indicator. There is no average or shortcut. The USA industry condemnation centers around old, cheap, and abused damascus barrels. It simply does not consider high quality, well cared for barrels that are in proof. It was started in a time when there was generally insufficient knowledge as to use of modern loads and damascus. The UK had a different situation and consequent experience. Some Americans have drawn on the UK experience. All UK guns, especially older ones, will benefit from a lower pressure and lighter recoil diet.

There is no way to get around the individuality of older guns. Personally, I view old fluid steel barrels with the same skeptcism as I do damascus; they are individuals that require vetting before I shoot them. Vetting in place, I shoot them carefully and respectfully. Only modern guns can be treated statistically.

The fact that the UK proof houses treat damascus and steel equally should tell you that the top of the firearm safety profession believes they can be safe. I can't think of any statistic that would trump that fact.

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On Don's point about modern guns, I recently had to disperse a widow's collection of various guns (no sxs's, unfortunately). One gun in the bunch was a sawed off 870 Rem. It was very used and abuse looking. But what caught my eye was the eccentric bore/wall. At about 18 1/2" long, the wall was pretty thick. But it was in the area of .035 on one side and maybe an 1/8" on the other.

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Originally Posted By: Rocketman
...The USA industry condemnation centers around old, cheap, and abused damascus barrels. It simply does not consider high quality, well cared for barrels that are in proof. It was started in a time when there was generally insufficient knowledge as to use of modern loads and damascus....


This is very true. It also does not take into account that both skelp and damascus barrels were and still are being produced. The "technology" seems to be constantly "rediscovered" by small makers. They are simply very quiet and have no desire to "go into production." I recently obtained a film from the 1970's showing the barrels being made.

Pete

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1. Recommendation of having each and every gun checked by a qualified gunsmith is absolute! One would ask "what is a qualified gunsmith"?
2. I see nothing wrong with information gathered on how damascus barrels/guns behave under present shooting conditions whatever those would be.
3. Such information will not serve to reassure each and every damascus gun owner that a particular gun will behave in a certain way, but will serve as general knowledge based on facts and study of these facts. It will serve as a predictor factor and not as certain factor. I am asking about prediction and not certainty.
I believe that we can design a study using the forum's members damascus guns and do it as a prospective study where we would look at certain events that we can define according to our purpose and goals. I am not a specialist in statistics or studies, but I believe that we can draw certain conclusions about behavior of said guns within certain conditions. I am curious of the sample size and lenght of study to make it statistically significant.
Simple measurements of the barrels and shooting them would be the main activity of the study.

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Sliver, isn't the "study" in the public realm now? Isn't the evidence in? We know what to expect when prudence rules, and what to expect when it does not.

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