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Old 01-25-2020, 10:33 PM   #1
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Origins of "Damascus Myth"

I stumbled on to a collection of old articles showing discussions of modern fluid steel vs. Damascus. It seems VERY clear to me, the writers had probably spent too much time talking to people who were selling fluid steel barrels. But from these, it's very clear to see the origins of the myth that Damascus steel is somehow "unsafe" or inferior.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...hIiY62Hx4/edit

Only in the US has this myth caught hold. Probably pushed by US companies who couldn't make Damascus barrels, and didn't want to buy from Europe. Fluid steel barrels were good, but there were not nearly as good as the better Damascus barrels made on up to the time when Damascus fell by the wayside.

It's interesting to see as early as 1898 US writers were warning of the "dangers" of Damascus barrels.

In Europe, they have known better from the beginning. They have been nitro proving Damascus barrels (even second rate Damascus barrels) for well over a century.

It finally took some very enterprising writers in the US to finally put the old "wives tale" to rest. Sadly, Damascus barrel guns have drastically shot up in value.
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Old 01-25-2020, 11:19 PM   #2
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GunGeek,

I would guess that at least as much as a THIRD of "Damascus barrels" are "FAUX DAMASCUS", i.e. fluid steel tubes with a very thin overlay of "wire" applied for "looks" alone.
(SOME of the "fanciest patterned" barrels that I saw in BRD, for example on high-priced Cape Guns & drillings, are "FAUX" with a "veneer" of wire applied in really elaborate/multi-colored patterns over KRUPP steel.)

yours, sw

Last edited by Doughboy; 01-25-2020 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:27 AM   #3
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OK, you're focusing on "the better Damascus". Like anything else, there are varying grades of quality on any product. Add in the corrosive effects of black powder if not religiously cleaned and it's not hard to see how lesser quality, not well cared for Damascus barrels could become attractive exteriors with failed weld/rust ridden/stress cracked interiors or cores. Watch Forged in Fire for some examples of how comparatively easy it is to get failed welds in Damascus. Remember that those barrels were being hand forged over mandrels. Skill of the craft was essential and highly variable. Add in the additional pressures of smokeless powder and things could get ugly, especially in the cheaper grade guns.

There's also a class/perception issue here. We see the items as tools, those across the pond view them as artifact/works of art.

Long ago I saw a Damascus barreled 10 gauge double (LeFever?) that had been fired repeatedly with 3 1/2 in 10 ga magnum shells. (2 7/8 chambers IIRC) The stock was cracked, the action sprung but the barrels were still intact. But, that was a very high dollar gun at the time and well cared for prior to being inherited by idiots.

With the inspection gadgets and production techniques available today, I expect one could make exceptional Damascus, but I'm not sure what the market is for five digit price shotguns. With a well made billet, I can see hammer forging as a way to speed things up, but ensuring 100% weld integrity would still be an issue.

Last edited by William R. Moore; 01-26-2020 at 06:35 AM.
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Old 01-26-2020, 11:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doughboy View Post
GunGeek,

I would guess that at least as much as a THIRD of "Damascus barrels" are "FAUX DAMASCUS", i.e. fluid steel tubes with a very thin overlay of "wire" applied for "looks" alone.
(SOME of the "fanciest patterned" barrels that I saw in BRD, for example on high-priced Cape Guns & drillings, are "FAUX" with a "veneer" of wire applied in really elaborate/multi-colored patterns over KRUPP steel.)

yours, sw
I tend to gravitate toward British and continental makers. I don't know any of them that used faux Damascus barrels. I have seen fake Damascus on lower quality guns from around the turn of the 20th century from Belgium.
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Old 01-26-2020, 11:32 AM   #5
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The article was well written and well researched. There were legitimate issues with early smokeless cartridges, and more specifically the practice of handloading with the "new" smokeless powders. Many Damascus guns were blown up, and it was easy to point to the Damascus barrels...and it's clear makers of fluid steel barrels were very quick to capitalize on this new "issue".

For a quality British, Continental, or US made gun with Damascus barrels, unless they are damaged, are every bit as good as modern fluid steel barrels.

Europe didn't have the problems we had because mostly the wealthy hunted with Damascus shotguns, and they didn't typically reload. So their Damascus guns weathered the change without any major issues; and most of those guns survive today.
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Old 01-26-2020, 12:07 PM   #6
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GunGeek,

The other side of this is that in Europe, gun-owners/hunters are almost ALL quite wealthy & they buy HIGH-quality (read: EXPENSIVE) firearms.
(The first Cape Gun that I bought in 1970 cost more when NEW than many new cars cost at that time. - It's in .25-35WCF X 20 gauge, ornately engraved & is IMO perfection for small/medium game. It is fitted with a WWI-era 2X Zeiss scope in Jaeger mounts.)

Note: I paid about 500.oo in DM for it, in good condition, about when it was > 60 years old at WAFFEN BENNEWITZ in "K-town".

Otoh in the USA most anyone could/can afford a firearm of some functional sort; in some cases, the firearms that were bought for little more than "pocket change" were POOR QUALITY & even UNSAFE when purchased..

The reproduction SEARS & ROEBUCKS catalog of 1902 has single-barrel shotguns for less than a DOLLAR.
(A later sears catalog lists "in excellent shape" S-A War surplus Krag carbine in .30 Army for 1.25 each, with a box of surplus ammo included)

yours, sw
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Old 01-26-2020, 01:48 PM   #7
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GunGeek,

The other side of this is that in Europe, gun-owners/hunters are almost ALL quite wealthy & they buy HIGH-quality (read: EXPENSIVE) firearms.
(The first Cape Gun that I bought in 1970 cost more when NEW than many new cars cost at that time. - It's in .25-35WCF X 20 gauge, ornately engraved & is IMO perfection for small/medium game. It is fitted with a WWI-era 2X Zeiss scope in Jaeger mounts.)

Note: I paid about 500.oo in DM for it, in good condition, about when it was > 60 years old at WAFFEN BENNEWITZ in "K-town".

Otoh in the USA most anyone could/can afford a firearm of some functional sort; in some cases, the firearms that were bought for little more than "pocket change" were POOR QUALITY & even UNSAFE when purchased..

The reproduction SEARS & ROEBUCKS catalog of 1902 has single-barrel shotguns for less than a DOLLAR.
(A later sears catalog lists "in excellent shape" S-A War surplus Krag carbine in .30 Army for 1.25 each, with a box of surplus ammo included)

yours, sw
While that's certainly true, Damascus barreled guns made here in the US (they bought their barrels from Belgium) were within the reach of the American middle class. ALL of them are REAL Damascus, and ALL of them were recommended by the manufacturers as safe for Nitro. Remington, Hunter, LC Smith, Parker, etc. The major makers in the US had excellent quality Damascus and they weren't White Collar only prices.

But yeah, there were some real stinkers brought in by several importers of "hardware store" guns that were pretty damn iffy under any circumstance.


I think the point is... The barrel making process is far less important than the QUALITY of manufacture. And, I think often that holds true for most things.

Greener has so much faith in old Damascus barrels that they offer them on newly produced guns today. The CEO's dad spent 40 years buying old Damascus barrels until the had a couple thousand of them in the shop. The barrels are de-soldered, inspected for quality, honed, given the proper choke, and then soldered back together to go on a brand new Greener. NONE of those tubes are under 100 years, so clearly Greener has confidence.

And they have been proven right. Greener just doesn't have problems getting those old barrels to pass modern proof at all.
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Old 01-26-2020, 05:50 PM   #8
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GunGeek,

YEP.

yours, sw
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Old 01-26-2020, 06:12 PM   #9
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I'm pretty sure this is the real deal.
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Old 01-27-2020, 05:29 AM   #10
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I'm pretty sure this is the real deal.
Is that Charlie's?
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Old 02-23-2020, 08:06 AM   #11
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IIRC, that is Damasteel.
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Old 03-01-2020, 01:40 PM   #12
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Yep,,'tis mine

I'm not entirely clear on HOW they were made but an acid dip is required at the end to "develop" the pattern.

My assumption is that two dissimilar alloys are used
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Old 03-01-2020, 05:15 PM   #13
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Well, it's about time you rolled back up here sensei.
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Old 03-02-2020, 05:48 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Charlie Petty View Post

My assumption is that two dissimilar alloys are used
That's how the Demascus blades on Forged in Fire are made. Often they use 3 different irons. A high quality steel for the cutting edge and two other irons for the figuration. They'll heat and twist the mild steels, form a billet then add the high quality one as they form the blade.
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Old 03-02-2020, 07:29 AM   #15
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Sheesh Walt. That was the first post in ages that I could answer with certainty
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Old 03-02-2020, 03:33 PM   #16
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That was one of the very few guns I was actually afraid to shoot.
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Old 03-08-2020, 12:58 PM   #17
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Yep,,'tis mine

I'm not entirely clear on HOW they were made but an acid dip is required at the end to "develop" the pattern.

My assumption is that two dissimilar alloys are used
It's kinda the same with Damascus shotgun barrels. After the browning process is mostly complete, a friend of mine rubs a lemon all over the barrels to bring out the "welds" in the Damascus pattern...and then does one more application of browning. The results are stunning.

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