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Demascus barrel shooters

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by himark, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. himark

    himark Well-Known Member

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    So how light of load do you shoot in these old dogs?

    I recently picked up a old Parker and am wondering how light of load or heavy to shoot out of it?
    pix504845695.jpg


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    pix734157491.jpg
     
  2. flashmax

    flashmax Well-Known Member

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    No smokeless loads at all. The only load safe in those shotguns is Black Powder or Black Powder Substitutes and then only after a thorough inspection of the barrels to make sure old powder or primer residue hasn't weakened them.

    82 grains of 2Fg or equivalent in a Federal Paper shell properly cut to length with one or two 3/8 inch felt wads and 1 1/8 shot with overshot card wad using a Fed or Win 209 primer will give you a 3 dram load. Shell length is critical in the old shotguns because many 12 Ga. chamberings were for the 2 1/2 inch shell. Black Powder burns hot and will do a lot of damage to Plastic Shotshells so use a lot of caution if trying plastic cases or wads. Might make a mess you don't need.

    What did you give for the old girl? I've got one in much better shape and am curious.

    Don T
     
  3. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

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    No one on the internet can tell you if your gun is safe, with any load. Let us know where you are and we might be able to recommend a double gun specialist smith near by. ANY vintage shotgun, regardless of barrel material, pattern welded or fluid steel, should be evaluated as follows:

    1. Visually inspect for dents, bulge, wall integrity

    2. Inspect bore for pits. Done right this would require a fiberoptic bore scope

    3. Inspect and 'ring' barrels for evidence of rib separation

    4. Measure bore for evidence of previous honing. (I am of the opinion that any vintage gun with 'mirror' bores and no 'frosting' has been at least polished.)

    5. Measure chamber length for evidence of lengthening, and measure wall thickness just past the forcing cones (recommended .100”)


    6. Measure wall thickness 9" from the breech (.040”), 9" from the muzzle (.025”), and measure minimal wall thickness

    7. Remove the FE and assess lock-up

    8. Attempt to pull triggers with safety engaged

    9. Disassemble, check and clean the action, which likely has 100 years of oil, grease, and field debris


    Please check the link posted for more information about pattern welded barrel safety, and rational opinions regarding smokeless loads therein, including the Sherman Bell studies published in the Double Gun Journal.
     
  4. Avaldes

    Avaldes Well-Known Member

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    The double gun journal sure is a lot of fun to read. I am glad at least a few of you guys read that too:)
     
  5. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, but to make the point. Please note those are fluid steel barrels.

    273129386.jpg
     
  6. EEB

    EEB Member

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    Drew offers good advice. Those procedures should be followed for any old gun, regardless of barrel composition. I have a number of damascus Parkers that have probably never seen a black powder load. I shoot them all the time with both low pressure handloads and factory stuff.
     
  7. romie

    romie Active Member

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    We load Powderdex I'm sure I spelled it wrong. Jim Porter what he loads. He has a post going on decoy weights for sale.. Brad Batchelder is an excellent guy on your tubes.
    Monty McGee
     
  8. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

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    Brad does wonderful work, esp. with Parkers, but there are many others

    Brad Bachelder's new shop, 700 Plymouth N.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49505, 616-459-3636
     
  9. riflegunbuilder

    riflegunbuilder Member

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    Why is it so many of you continue to spew the old wives tales of "You got to only use Black powder in Damascus." A barrel has no idea of the propellant type. The pressure exerted on the barrel vs hoop strength is all that is at issue. I guess we fail to remember the British proof houses are still proofing Damascus everyday.

    There are any number of low pressure loads available. Damascus, Krupp steel, or a piece of galvanized water pipe: it has no idea of the type of powder used only pressure.
     
  10. bossbasl

    bossbasl Well-Known Member

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    Drew offers good advice. Have gun inspected by a qualified smith to determine condition. The cheap American double gun Damascus barrels were not a thing of great strength. The London Best Damascus barrels were extremely fine and strong barrels. The London trade did not abandon Damascus when Sir Joseph Whitworth fluid steel barrels became available; they moved to fluid steel due to a significant cost advantage to fluid steel. London Damascus guns are entirely safe to shoot smokeless loads of low pressure. Reference Sherman Bell articles in DGJ mentioned earlier. RST produces many different low pressure loads for this use in standard and short chambered guns. I have loaded low pressure loads for years to shoot in my London Best guns. Believe me, if I felt any of these loads were detrimental to my guns, they would not be used. Lyle
     
  11. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

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    What Lyle said. In the 1891 Birmingham Proof House Trial, English Best Laminated Steel actually beat Whitworth.

    Lyle is no doubt aware that the vast majority of 'English' Damascus tubes came from Belgium

    "The Modern Sportsman's Gun and Rifle: Including Game and Wildfowl Guns, Sporting and Match Rifles, and Revolvers"

    John Henry Walsh (Editor of The Field) 1882

    I am indebted to Mr. Thos. Webley, who visited Belgium after the 1879 Trials, with a view to discover the reasons why the barrels forged there are more free from flaws than those made at Birmingham.

    "A large quantity of Belgian tubes, called Pointille, similar in figure to our Iron Damascus (often called Laminated) have been used in cheap guns for the last three years, and these are especially wanting in toughness and density of metal. These tubes are cheaper than iron Damascus made at Birmingham, are more regular in figure, and have fewer greys, but the result is obtained at the entire sacrifice of density and toughness of metal; for it is a fact that, though these tubes may stand proof, the iron is so soft and rotten that they will not wear or stand any extra or repeated strain. These remarks apply, but in a smaller degree, to all Belgian tubes, whether Iron Damascus (Pointille), or Damascus (Damas turc). As one proof of this, when you see a choke-bored barrel bulge at the choke, it is almost sure to be a Belgian tube.

    We were, in common with our competitors, excepting for first and second quality, using a large proportion of these tubes; in fact, we think that quite three-fourths of the tubes used in Birmingham are Belgian make, and nearly all the London trade use them, with this difference, that they use the best quality, which are no doubt harder than the cheaper kinds, but are still softer and less durable than those of English make, and cost as much."




    "The Gun and Its Development", William Wellington Greener, 1907

    In London the barrel-welding industry was never of great importance since 1844 no gun-barrel welder has practised in the Metropolis. The last maker was W. Fullard, of Clerkenwell, who enjoyed a high reputation for all kinds of sporting gun barrels. The military barrels were obtained from the Midlands, whence, or from foreign centres, the figured barrels used by London makers are now imported. In the Midlands the barrel welders are not so numerous as they were, the demand for twisted barrels not being so great as formerly.
     
  12. flashmax

    flashmax Well-Known Member

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    rgb,

    You are right, as far as you go. Only as far as you go though. You haven't taken into account storage conditions or whether the damascus bbl was 'rode hard and put up wet' 100 or 75 years ago. I just hope that someone with an old twist welded barrel shotgun that was abused and stored with fouled barrels in a high humidity basement doesn't sieze upon your post and go out and shoot a baby magnum shell in it and blow their face off. After all, it IS an 'old wives tale', riflegunbuilder said so. You have opened yourself up to liability with that posting so disdainful of facts on the ground. Look at the pictures the OP posted. Does that look like a pristine shotgun stored under ideal conditions? Does that look like a modern production damascus or does it look like it is, a mass produced consumer grade Parker Field Shotgun with damascus welded barrels? Brown finish is gone. There is a lot of pitting. There is evidence in the photos of residue on the outside of the bbls near the breech that was left on long enough to cause serious pitting. Do you want to make the assertion that the pictured shotgun is safe to shoot with modern shells before you have looked at anything at all in the mechanicals or the bores? You don't detail low pressure loads that might be safe in a welded water pipe let alone a multiple layered hammer welded shotgun barrel of indetermined age and storage conditions let alone any existing proof marks. Pray that the readers of this thread take Drew Hause's advice over your flippant, and frankly dangerous, 'advice'.

    Don T
     
  13. riflegunbuilder

    riflegunbuilder Member

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    Don, thank you for pointing out my errors. I guess I would be rude to point out that no where in my post did I say the above gun or any gun was safe to shoot with "modern" shells. My point is that it is a matter of pressure not prowder type. Sorry I am not the expert you are in matter of" mass produced consumer grade guns. " I stand humbled by your superior knowledge, forgive me for posting; I should have learned by now that damascusphobes always hold more learned knowledge.
     
  14. Duck

    Duck Member

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    Somewhere along time ago I was told the problem with damascus barrels guns were their short chambers. If the guns not and obvious rust bucket, bad bores, etc. If one were to lengthen the forcing cones and chamber length to 2 3/4". Would modern "light loads" then be an option?.
     
  15. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

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    See #5 above. Measure chamber length for evidence of lengthening, and measure wall thickness just past the forcing cones (recommended .100”)


    Chamber blow out from a home gunsmith lengthening the chambers and forcing cones, probably with a hand held drill (see the tool marks) AND a high pressure handload

    346943264.jpg

    346943268.jpg


    Certainly chamber and forcing cone lengthening MAY be an option, if done by a qualified barrel specialist. Again, it is not hard today to purchase low pressure, and if need be 2 1/2" 12g commercial loads.

    From the beginning, Smith 12g chambers were 2 3/4" (unless ordered otherwise) while Remington, Fox and Parker chambers were 2 5/8". English and Belgian guns were more likely to be 2 1/2" but were so marked so one may know if the chamber has been lengthened (which renders the gun "out of proof" and it must undergo reproof to be sold in England).
    Some makers did not lengthen 20g and 16g chambers until the late 30s (long after the Damascus era).
     
  16. Stl Flyn

    Stl Flyn Well-Known Member

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    Forcing Cones!!!!!!!! Oh no!!!!
     
  17. himark

    himark Well-Known Member

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    Interesting enough I read that gun makers pre WW2 would make a bore 1/8" shorter on purpose. It was even known to trap shooters to shoot a 3" shell in a 2 1/2" barrel to get a better pattern. This gun is a 2 5/8 which makes me wonder if it was bored out since it should of been a 2 3/8 for that time.

    I have a 3 day inspection so I will be checking wall thickness to see if that is the case. And if so it will be going back.





    Sellers description.

    This is a Parker Bros. 12ga, GH grade shotgun. Serial # 55843. This puts the year of manufacture at 1886. This is an antique Parker shotgun. The lockup is tight with the forend off and on. Lever sits at center, maybe just slightly left. DAC – 1 5/8; DAH – 2 ¾; LOP – 14 ¼. Both chambers measure 2 5/8”. Number 1 frame size. The weight is 7lbs 8oz
     
  18. wm rike

    wm rike Member

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    Drew pretty much hit all the high spots.

    There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of damascus barrels with oversized bores, these from reputable makers that certainly knew that a 12 bore shouldn't go out the door with a .750 ID. It makes me think that one or two cycles of pitting & honing were not uncommon for the old guns. Check wall thickness

    FWIW, years ago I was doing a lot of work with Damascus barrels, magnafluxing and x-raying. We came to the conclusion that a good, careful inspection of dry, oil-free bore was as good as all the science. I'm not saying it's 100%, but be careful about it and don't try to talk yourself into anything

    Do not use plastic wads. If you think Claybusters leave plastic, you ain't seen nothing yet. Similarly, plastic hulls will get fried - I don't know what their longevity is with BP, but it's not much.
     
  19. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your comments William. I posted the link to the 2006 thread from DoubleGunBBS. Were you part of that discussion? Is it correct that both x-rays and magnaflux essentially showed a mass of welds?
     
  20. Jim Porter

    Jim Porter Well-Known Member

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    I humbly agree with the fellows above that study these old guns. Why risk personal damage to yourself with a gun that could have been checked by a competent smith for a few dollars. Now, having said that, I have another thought or two. I shoot and love these old guns. There is something special about a smoke cloud headed toward a duck over decoys at daylight! Why does everybody, almost everybody, want to take these old guns and shoot smokeless powder loads? Are you too lazy to clean a gun? These are not like true MUZZLE loaders, they are easy to clean--really easy! Only takes a few minutes. Do yourself a favor and do what gramps did, load some black and really enjoy the treasure they are!

    Do you really expect to shoot a lot of shells through this gun at any one time?

    Go to Ballistics Specialty and get a hand set & some fiber wads. You can get everything for less than $100 and they have everything packaged in small quantities for your convenience. Round up some FFg black or Pyroedex and some Federal papers or even go to Midway and buy a box of brass hulls. Loads are simple, use the same amount of powder BY VOLUME that you use shot, adjust the wad column and you are in business. Your smith will have told you what the chamber lengths are and you may have to trim the hulls--no big deal, a wooden dowel and a good pocket knife will do the trick. Load up a box and have the time of your life! My favorite gun came from Alaska and was a "homestead" gun. I have taken all sorts of small game with it and NEVER fail to wonder what tales it could tell. Do yourself a favor, forget the smokeless and use it as it was intended.

    DO GET IT CHECKED, you need all your eyes and fingers!!! E-mail me if I can help with loads.
     
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