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Does anyone have any experience shooting Damascus barreled shotguns? I would love to hunt doves with the double I inherited from my dad. I have found black powder shells from Buffalo arms and also wondered if anyone has any experience with these? I h

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  • Does anyone have any experience shooting Damascus barreled shotguns? I would love to hunt doves with the double I inherited from my dad. I have found black powder shells from Buffalo arms and also wondered if anyone has any experience with these? I h

    Does anyone have any experience shooting Damascus barreled shotguns? I would love to hunt doves with the double I inherited from my dad. I have found black powder shells from Buffalo arms and also wondered if anyone has any experience with these? I have looked into hand loading black powder shells, but I don't plan on hunting with it much so I think I would be money ahead buying "factory" loaded shells. I grew up with this gun gracing the wall above the fireplace in my parent's house and I was charged with its cleaning and care. I have a lifetime of memories from living with this gun. I'd like to add one more chapter but I don't want to damage it or myself in the process. I would appreciate any thoughts.

  • #2
    What is your shotgun chambered in? I believe some of those old doubles can go down to around 2" shells. I shot an old parker shotgun, and I believe it had a Damascus barrel. I remember it was a brass casing and was told it was because you can not use modern smokeless powders in them unless you want to make a pipe bomb. I would possibly bring it into a gunsmith to have the bore inspected. Old shotguns can have pitting, etc. so you might not want to risk shooting it. Also, call buffalo arms. They could probably help answer some of your questions.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JM View Post
      What is your shotgun chambered in? I believe some of those old doubles can go down to around 2" shells. I shot an old parker shotgun, and I believe it had a Damascus barrel. I remember it was a brass casing and was told it was because you can not use modern smokeless powders in them unless you want to make a pipe bomb. I would possibly bring it into a gunsmith to have the bore inspected. Old shotguns can have pitting, etc. so you might not want to risk shooting it. Also, call buffalo arms. They could probably help answer some of your questions.
      It's 12 gauge and appears to be 2 3/4", but it isn't marked anywhere. I just get that by measuring inside the breech. It was gone through by Bishop Gun Co and given the green light to use, but we never did and that was over 40 years ago. Another look at it by a pro would not be a bad idea. This is your fault by the way, JM. You posted about your old rifle and got me thinking about shooting this one again. I had pretty much put those thoughts out of my head years ago.

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      • #4
        I'd take it to a reputable gunsmith and see what they say. It's probably fine if you use the right loads, but better safe than sorry. I've heard people say that you should never shoot a Damascus-barreled gun, but I believe they were referring to shooting modern shells.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by huntfishtrap View Post
          I'd take it to a reputable gunsmith and see what they say. It's probably fine if you use the right loads, but better safe than sorry. I've heard people say that you should never shoot a Damascus-barreled gun, but I believe they were referring to shooting modern shells.
          That's a suggestion, huntfishtrap. I have read that the problem is that they were constructed with bi-metal and they corrode at different rates so the strength gets compromised. This one was gone through over 40 years ago, but that was so long ago that it really doesn't count.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by JM View Post
            What is your shotgun chambered in? I believe some of those old doubles can go down to around 2" shells. I shot an old parker shotgun, and I believe it had a Damascus barrel. I remember it was a brass casing and was told it was because you can not use modern smokeless powders in them unless you want to make a pipe bomb. I would possibly bring it into a gunsmith to have the bore inspected. Old shotguns can have pitting, etc. so you might not want to risk shooting it. Also, call buffalo arms. They could probably help answer some of your questions.
            Rust can form overnight, so I would have it checked out again(or risk firing it with a pull string from a distance). Plus, you can kill two birds with one stone. A good gunsmith should know, or know somebody, that can hook you up with a load to shoot. Also, I'll take that as a compliment. A strange joy comes from shooting an old gun.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JM View Post
              What is your shotgun chambered in? I believe some of those old doubles can go down to around 2" shells. I shot an old parker shotgun, and I believe it had a Damascus barrel. I remember it was a brass casing and was told it was because you can not use modern smokeless powders in them unless you want to make a pipe bomb. I would possibly bring it into a gunsmith to have the bore inspected. Old shotguns can have pitting, etc. so you might not want to risk shooting it. Also, call buffalo arms. They could probably help answer some of your questions.
              I thought about the string and tire, but I want to know that it will even hold up to a black powder shell before I risk anything. A good gunsmith is definitely the way to go. In terms of value, it isn't what anyone would consider high end, but it is priceless to me. I love old guns and enjoy shooting and hunting with them. This is one that I have never shot and always wanted to. You took what I said as intended, by the way.

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              • #8
                I would clean it up and keep it over the fireplace. Black powder is dirty and has to be thoroughly cleaned out if the gun is fired. Better to keep it as a heirloom. JMO

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                  I would clean it up and keep it over the fireplace. Black powder is dirty and has to be thoroughly cleaned out if the gun is fired. Better to keep it as a heirloom. JMO
                  I know what you mean, JHP. I have a classic car that people tell me they are surprised that I risk driving it. I tell them that cars are meant to be driven and enjoyed. I just hate to have this regal old gun that provided for so many people hang there looking sad and dusty. I'm not worried about getting it clean, I guess I worry more about it coming apart and ruining it all together. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jhjimbo View Post
                    I would clean it up and keep it over the fireplace. Black powder is dirty and has to be thoroughly cleaned out if the gun is fired. Better to keep it as a heirloom. JMO
                    I agree. If it's safe, shoot it. Guns are meant to be shot, not admired on the wall.

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                    • #11
                      Had to think about this for awhile. I understand the desire to shoot an heirloom gun. But when things get old, feebleness sets in. It was not all that uncommon for Damascus shotguns to blow out when they were new. In this sue happy society I doubt a sane smith would give their blessing. If they did one would wonder about their wisdom.
                      Rather than shoot it get the gun cleaned up nice for an artful display with some mounted doves, pictures of your Dad around it. Perhaps even a pheasant for splash of color. Image courtesy of antiqueguns.com
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by charlie elk View Post
                        Had to think about this for awhile. I understand the desire to shoot an heirloom gun. But when things get old, feebleness sets in. It was not all that uncommon for Damascus shotguns to blow out when they were new. In this sue happy society I doubt a sane smith would give their blessing. If they did one would wonder about their wisdom.
                        Rather than shoot it get the gun cleaned up nice for an artful display with some mounted doves, pictures of your Dad around it. Perhaps even a pheasant for splash of color. Image courtesy of antiqueguns.com
                        Dangit, Charlie, you're right. At best, even the most respected gunsmith could only give a good guess on the structural integrity of the gun and probably wouldn't even be willing to do that. I hadn't thought of it that way. Thanks for your thoughts and great suggestions for display.

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                        • #13
                          I have a beautiful Ithaca double twelve with Damascus barrels. Do NOT shoot it with any modern loads. It is too dangerous! Charlie nailed it when he said that it is not uncommon for shotguns with Damascus barrels to blow up. If that happens, the shooter and/or bystanders could be severely injured or killed. That fact alone should give one pause. Add to that if the barrel explodes, you no longer have anything. This fine shotgun needs to be a display piece only. As has been said, black powder is corrosive and I would recommend against using that also. It is an historic firearm that is beautiful and needs to be well taken care of for the rest of its existence (on display).

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bo View Post
                            I have a beautiful Ithaca double twelve with Damascus barrels. Do NOT shoot it with any modern loads. It is too dangerous! Charlie nailed it when he said that it is not uncommon for shotguns with Damascus barrels to blow up. If that happens, the shooter and/or bystanders could be severely injured or killed. That fact alone should give one pause. Add to that if the barrel explodes, you no longer have anything. This fine shotgun needs to be a display piece only. As has been said, black powder is corrosive and I would recommend against using that also. It is an historic firearm that is beautiful and needs to be well taken care of for the rest of its existence (on display).
                            You, Charlie and JHP have convinced me, Bo. The big thing that is nagging at me is that if anything happened to it, I just couldn't live with losing it, or whatever parts of me that went with it. Even with the calmer pressures of black powder, nothing is guaranteed. I just can't imagine how I would explain it to my dad during the visits I have with him inside my head each night. Me: "Sorry, dad, I thought it would be alright." Dad: "That's the problem son, you thought." (When I was a kid, I never dreamed I'd miss hearing that phrase.)

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                            • #15
                              Thanks everyone for your answers. I appreciate you taking the time to share all the great thoughts. Before I posted this question, I was full on ready to hunt with this gun. As JHP, Charlie, and Bo have convinced me, there is just too much to lose. I also have Dad's Model '97 that I do enjoy using and I'll just swing at some doves with that this fall.

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