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i would like to shoot my grandpas old side by side, but ive been told that its twist dimascus barrels will explode if used with smokeless powder. is there a factory load available that would work in this gun? if not, where do i learn about loading black powder shells for it? thanks, Adam.
 

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Adam...I going to answer your post, but understand this is a very controversial subject!!!!!First, Lets talk about the firearm...there were Damascus twist barrels that were made by forging twisted strips of iron and steel around a mandrel and Damascene barrels which were solid steel barrels with a twist finish put on them. This is because at one time Damascus barrels we cosider a higher quality. To tell the difference...somewhere under the forearm brighten the metal with fine emerey paper. With a cotton Qtip swab on some iodine...as the rust appears you can see the twist in the barrel if it is Damascus. If it is, remove the barrels from the frame and hang them on a cord. Tap the barrels and see if they ring like a bell. If they do this tells you the ribs are still solid. Then inspect the inside of the barrels for pitting.It will help if you spin some very fine steel wool on a brush on a rod in your hand drill. If everything is OK so far, check to be sure the barrels lock up good on the frame. If everything checks out, then you are ready to load BLACK POWDER OR PYRODEX ONLY!!!!!!!!!!!!
At any blackpowder store you will find adjustable powder/shot dippers. They will be set for Drams, which is an old BP measure. By volume...the same amount of powder as shot. The best hulls for BP are Activ hulls that can be purchased from Ballistic Products on the web. Also cut filler wads. These are used for spacers. Dump in your powder, followed by a over powder wad. Dump in your shot and notice how much room it takes up. This gives you an idea how many filler wads you will need. Dump out the shot and add the filler wads, then the shot. It should come to about 1/16th" to 1/8th" from the top of the hull. A thin over powder wad is put on top and a rolled crimp applied with a device in a drill. The roll crimper device can also be purchased from Ballistic Products.
You can find all this in better detail in any of the books Sam Fadala has written....It's really not that hard to do and you will find these old guns, if in good condition, will match modern shotguns patterns, etc. Again...USE ONLY FFg BLACKPOWDER OR RS PYRODEX!!!!!!!!!! Claen the barrels with Thompson-Center No 13 on cotton patches....Wow, I wish we had Spell Check!
Best Regards, James


(Edited by James Gates at 7:30 pm on May 24, 2001)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
thank you sir for your great help. one more question. if the barrels are really just solid steel, can i shoot smokeless powder? also, is there any indication of the barrel type by the pattern on them? the barrels seem to have a silver swirlish patern on them, but the patern has wore off on most everything exposed. under the forearm, the pattern is very bright, and is really neat looking. again, thanks a lot for your help.

    Adam
 

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Adam...There were many different types of Damascus barrels depending on how many various iron and steel rods were used and how the were wrapped. What was considered the "best" at the time had many rods and appear to look like a chain. The most common was simple twist iron whwere a eingle rod was twisted and forged on the mandrel. I really can't make an honest judgement for you without looking at the shotgun. Is there any name brands on the gun? Is it a hammer gun or hammerless? What gauge is it? The fake Damascus finish was on the hammerless guns mostly. The sad thing is that there are many fine shotguns that could be shot and hunted with Blackpowder loads! Nowdays most gun people will not even discuss Damascus guns due to potential lawsuits!!!! Another problem is that most of the old heads who really knew these guns have passed on! Most gun dealers will not even discuss to guns and simply say " don't shoot!!".......Best Regards, James
 

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the only markings on the gun are "american gun co." and "genuine damascus" and "choke bored" . the gun is in 12 guage. also, what would this gun be worth in fair condition, and is there any use in having it restored back to working condition? (slopiness between barrels and firing block, loose hammers sometime don't catch in back position) thanks again for all of your help. Adam.
 

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Adam....I wish this post could be more positive about your grandfather's shotgun, but.....from the condition you have described the gun in I would advise not to try to restore it. Hammer shotguns, both cartridge and muzzle loaders, have never reach high dollars in value unless they were in great condition and/or a fine English naker.
Best Regards, James
 

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Adam,
I have done what you are thinking about with my granddad's old Damascus gun.  If you want to handload some black powder shotshells, Handloader Magazine had a very good How-to article by Gil Sengel in issue 189.  Excellent information.
The load I used was safe in my gun but if you blow yourself up using it yours..... well, consider yourself warned.
I used Winchester AA hulls loaded with 60.5 grains of FFFg.  Over powder wad was the gas seal portion of a WAA12 wad (the shot cup was removed) and four 1/4" thick felt under shot wads.  7/8 Oz. of 7 1/2 shot and a very thin over shot wad with a regular 8 point crimp.
After I had the gun inspected by a gunsmith, I "proofed" my gun by firing a load about 15% heavier than this.  it was tied down to a rest and I used a string to discharge it from a safe distance 3 times from each barrel.
I have used this load on dove fields and it will kill birds, but you really have to lengthen your lead!  This is not a heavy load.  I played it very conservative since I like my appendages just where they are!  That said, I have finally put that old wallhanger back to work and I really enoy it!  Good luck and be SAFE!
 

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To Mr. Gates:  I am in a similar situation to Farmer Adam.  My shotgun is a side-by-side L C Smith 12 ga. with no external hammers.  When I remove the forearm the pattern is on all of the metal, including the, I will call it the barrel pivot lug since I don't know the proper name.  I also was told about hanging it from a string and striking it, and it rang like a bell.  Someone also told me to dab a drop of hydrochloric acid on an inconspicuous part to see if the pattern would be removed.  I have not as yet done this.  I would like to shoot the shotgun, but am still not certain if it is Damascus steel or Damacened steel.  Your help would be appreciated.  Thank you.  DGR
 

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Indeed....As I said before, and some of the rest of the team says, loading and shooting Twist barrels can be tricky. If the barrels are in good shape, as well as the rest of the gun, loading black powder shell are easy. All of the components needed can be ordered from Ballistic Products. I. gor one, have found the Activ hull best. It has a large volume and since it is one peice, with no outside brass, you can wash them. Although standard black is fine, I have found that Pyrodex RS, Pyrodex CTG (now discontinued), and Clean Shot work well. Some of the old BP twist guns had short chambered. A sulpuur cast will tell if you are in doubt. Also these old guns have very short forcing cones for using the old nitro card wads.
Now....The original loads were set up for an equal amount of powsed (by bulk) as shot (by bulk). This is where the load lines like 3 1/4 1 1/8 come from. A real neat setup is getting some Lee dippers set for ounces of shot like 1 1/8, etc. Or.....weigh out your shot (1 oz = 437 grs or 1 1/4 oz = 546 grs)and cut an empty hull off at the level whichever shot weight you want to use filled it. Then use it for a powder measure. Use a .135" nitro card on top of the powder and build up your wad stack with Ox-Yoke Wonder Wads or wool 1/8" wads from Ballistic. Use a thin over shot wad and rolled crimp. I use 1 oz loads for upland game and 1 1/4 oz for large stuff. Buckshot is just as easy to load. Weigh out how many buck of your choice to weigh 1 1/4 oz (546 grs) and your bulk measure that you set up for 1 1/4 oz of shot formthe amount of powder. These loads will be below 8,000 psi. Here again............ it's your responsibiliy check out your gun and use this data
Best Regards, James
 

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Mr. Gates, thank you for the information.  Now I have a starting point from which to proceed, again thanks.  DGR
 

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James Gates said:
Adam...There were many different types of Damascus barrels depending on how many various iron and steel rods were used and how the were wrapped. What was considered the "best" at the time had many rods and appear to look like a chain. The most common was simple twist iron whwere a eingle rod was twisted and forged on the mandrel. I really can't make an honest judgement for you without looking at the shotgun. Is there any name brands on the gun? Is it a hammer gun or hammerless? What gauge is it? The fake Damascus finish was on the hammerless guns mostly. The sad thing is that there are many fine shotguns that could be shot and hunted with Blackpowder loads! Nowdays most gun people will not even discuss Damascus guns due to potential lawsuits!!!! Another problem is that most of the old heads who really knew these guns have passed on! Most gun dealers will not even discuss to guns and simply say " do shoot!!".......Best Regards, James
Hello,
Sorry to drag up such an old post but...

IF a person had the "manufacturer, seriel #, grade, etc. is it possible to determine the makeup of the barrel? I have my great grandpa's LC Smith and his friends Lafeaver SxS 12 guages. The Smith was used for sure in 1933 as we fould his last hunting license rolled up inside the stock. I know also that it was used some in the 40's when dad was starting to hunt. Again, can further barrel metal content be determined by the specific info listed above. I would love to use these once or twice this fall for upland game.

Thanks for any info
 

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Sorry to be late answering this post, but my computer is not telling me when there is a reply to a post.
The question to whrther a barrel is steel, damascus, or twist is best dine by yourself or a smith. In many cases by taking off the forearm, looking at the barrels where they have been more or less protected will answer the question. If the metal under the forearm is brown patina.......with fine emory paper clean the metal down to its white. Don't touch it. with a clean rag and acetone wipe it off. Apply a good coat of cold blue and let it dry. When dry, clean off with steel wool. You might have to do it more than one time, including cleaning with acetone. Watch the results very close. The iron in the damascus barrel will take a darker color. You should begin to see some pattern if its damascus.
Even it turns out to be steel, I still advise against any smokeless powder loads. Better still, load shells from black, Pyrodex, or 777.
I went to war with a writer from Shotgun Journel over the so-call low pressure smokeless loads. He felt that he could make smokeless loads thet matched the chamber pressure of the black loads. No doubt he could, as I could, but chamber pressure is not the problem......it is where that peak arrives in the barrel. A smokeless load peaks up the barrels where they are thinner (about where your fingers are!)
So......I admit that there is a great deal of pleasure shooting these old guns. But only if they are safe with black type powder.........James
 
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