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Question for Owners of OLD guns

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

  1. Jim Porter

    Jim Porter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    1,316
    I love and shoot the old doubles. There have been a few very interesting posts below. I agree fully that before any vintage gun is used, that it should be checked by a competent smith---who ever that may be. It should ONLY be used in the context for which it was ORIGIONALLY designed. I understand that anything can and will sometimes happen. I have shot hundreds of black powder loads through my gun.

    After the inspection is done and a test fire is performed, how safe do you feel that the gun will not blow up with use??
     
  2. GBatch_25

    GBatch_25 Active Member

    Joined:
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    2,339
    Location:
    Illinois
    When you take your old car to a competent mechanic or your really old car to a competent restoration expert, how safe do you feel when you pick it up and drive it home?

    IMO, do your homework / due diligence on the people you deal with to repair / restore things and you really shouldn't fear.

    A few years ago I bought a 1924 Colt .38 Army Special revolver. After a good cleaning, it shot fine at the range. The bluing was a little worn and I decided to have it restored to factory new condition by Colt. When I got it back a few months later, I had no concerns about shooting it.

    Gene in Illinois
     
  3. Mapper

    Mapper Member

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    Aug 10, 2008
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    Location:
    SW Michigan
    It is pretty hard to generalize this question. I would shoot trap loads in about any fluid steel bbl. quality American double, if it breeches up tight. Back when lead was legal for waterfowl I used a wire bbl 10 bore L C Smith with a snuff can(150 gr) of ffg and an oz and 7/8 of number 2s. However, it was tight as a new boot and had excellent bores. Old cheap singles and doubles sometimes had cast iron actions. I left them alone. A gunsmith can soon tell if they are safe.
     
  4. Mapper

    Mapper Member

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    Location:
    SW Michigan
    Dr Drew's comment reminded me to mention wall thickness. Sometimes one does things so automatically that I, at least, forget.
     
  5. spitter

    spitter Well-Known Member TS Supporters

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
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    Location:
    Prairie State
    Had an old Sears (@1910) "T. Barker" hammer double I purchased as a wall-hanger @1998. I tell the story about heading home to Alabama to show it to Uncle Junior. Which, we then hop in the truck and head down to a local shop to have the fellow there look at it.

    It had a "Damascus finish" but appeared to be solid steel barrels with bores in questionable condition. The "older" gentleman (age TBD by carbon dating) takes a look, opens the back door, shoves a couple shells (no clue what load) in its chambers, pulls the hammers and fires...

    After peering down the barrels - says to Junior... "nothin' wrong with the gun..." I used that gun for squirrel on occasion...

    Jay
     
  6. Drew Hause

    Drew Hause Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2010
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    1,437
    Location:
    AZ but dreaming of KS
    T. Barker from the 1908 Sears catalog

    395880432.jpg

    The other issue is the effect of recoil on 100 year old wood. Boxlocks have a lot more surface area in contact with the receiver; this a split down the middle Parker

    270528963.jpg

    than do sidelocks. I am of the opinion that Smith cracks start (unseen) at the head of the stock, aggravated by oil soaking. More images on the link

    270294860.jpg

    I've had the head of the stock of my lowly 1906 Smith 00 pheasant & clays gun glasbedded and use B&P 1 1/8 oz at 1330 fps for pheasants but B&P 7/8 oz. Competition One at 1160 for clays. VERY little recoil in an almost 8# gun.
     
  7. EEB

    EEB Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
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    251
    Invest in a bore gauge to confirm diameter. Concern is alway expressed regarding bores being lapped to remove pits thereby thinning the barrels. Personally, I don't think this happens very often on American guns. If the bore is at .729 give or take a few tho' I believe the wall thickness is safe. Parker proofed its damascus and fluid steel barrels the same, that should tell you something. Another poster on another thread said guns can't tell the difference between black powder and smokeless, pressure is pressure. Bingo. Sherman Bell's research and articles for the Double Gun Journal laid concerns about composite barrels to rest.
     
  8. wm rike

    wm rike Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
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    594
    I feel safe shooting old guns that lock up well and have barrels that pass every reasonable scrutiny. It has been most of a couple generations ago that I got over high power loads. Today, I can't remember the last time I put more than an ounce in a 12 ga. of any sort. Be kind to the old guys/guns.

    I somewhat suspect that a lot of the trash talk about Damascus barrels, in particular, is mindless hearsay. Similarly, I suspect that a lot of the Damascus failures are the product of simple stupidity. I cannot count the number of times that in the course of conversation someone has mentioned regularly using 3" mags in his great granddad's twist barrel Winchester 93, or whatever. Scares the crap out of me.
     
  9. mjsweims

    mjsweims Member

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    Mar 5, 2010
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    98
    I have a 1929 Austrian Ferlach presentation SXS that I use regularly for hunting with no issues. I use medium pressure reloads.
    I've occasionally used it for trap, but always alternated barrels to keep the heat equal. I've used low pressure reloads when shooting trap.
    There are some places that will proof load test it for you, but I would stay away from that. Proof loads are just too darn high pressure.
    Jack
     
  10. School Teacher

    School Teacher Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 1998
    Messages:
    2,052
    Location:
    Louisville, KY
    I have a 1903 30-06 Springfield match rifle. I have owned and shot it for over 30 years.

    When I first acquired it, I shot factory 150 grain loads at 2700 fps so I know the action is sound.

    As this is a target rifle and I shoot it at 100 and 200 yards, I shoot a reduced pressure hand load of a 150 grain bullet at 2400 fps (44 grains of IMR 4895). The recoil is nice and soft and even with aperture sights, it shoots near moa groups.

    If you do shoot an older firearm, I suggest that you use reduced loads and/or loads that replicate the pressures for which the firearm was designed.

    Ed Ward