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From: (Clark Towle Gunsmith)
Subject: Re: Damascus-barrelled Shotguns
Organization: Digital Equipment Corporation

In article <9304131356.AA26572@zippy.cs.UMD.EDU>,
C08926RC@WUVMD.Wustl.Edu (Rob) writes...

#Everytime someone writes to the gun rags about a Damascus-barrelled
#shotgun, he is told not to shoot it.

 For good reason... They tend to come apart like a cheap suit.

#Do Damascus-barrelled shotguns weaken with age, or were they not a
#good idea to begin with?  Could someone shoot low-powered loads (either
#factory or handloads) through such a shotgun?

 Yes. Age and corrosion within the laminates causes microscopic structural
failures that actually de-laminates the steel. Damascus because of the
dissimilar metals in contact with each other is sort of like a battery. A bit
of moisture penetrates the layers of lamination and elecrolytic corrosion
begins to seperate and weaken them. This in combination with the corrosive
properties of black powder and the use of water to clean the barrels plus the
advanced age of the shotgun sets the stage for disaster.

 Additionally there is usually no warning that the barrels are about to let
go. And when it does happen, it happens quite violently. I personally know a
gentleman who lost part of his left hand and nearly lost an eye while
shooting "low power black powder" loads he brewed up for a beautiful old Colt
made damascus barreled side by side shotgun. I advised him not to do it but
he went ahead and shot it anyhow. Now he is paying the price.

#The reason I ask is because I have the opportunity to buy an old
#double, and I believe it has Damascus barrels.  I don't think I'd
#want it if I couldn't shoot it.

 Unless you are looking for a wall hanger I'd pass it up. Shooting it could
well be dangerous to your health.

#FWIW, the present owner shoots black-powder loads through it occasionally,
#even though it's proofed for smokeless.

 I know of no true damascus barreled shotguns that were ever proofed for
smokeless powder.

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