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Thread: Old double barrel question...

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy Kev18's Avatar
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    Old double barrel question...

    I have an old double barrel made in Belgium. Paid it 100$ at a gun show a couple years ago. it was made around the 1890's. My question is: How do I know if it is safe to shoot high brass loads? I would like to shoot buckshot atleast. For now I shoot low brass reloads and commercial 7.5. Just those knock me on my ****! Im not sure how to know if the barrel is safe for those hotter loads.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    Generally the stock is more the concern than the barrel, assuming they are not Damascus steel. Heavy recoil can crack the old wood stocks.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy Markopolo's Avatar
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    Before you do anything, get the gun checked out by someone in the know. Know what type of barrel you have first of all, because that will tell you if it’s safe to shoot at all, even with a great stock. Old guns, especially shotguns can be down right dangerous, and the 100 bucks you paid for it will seem like a pittance compared to a life, limb, or eye.

    Just my 2 cents, and warning.
    Any technology not understood, can seem like Magic!!!

    I will love the Lord with all my heart, all my soul, and all my mind.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    Understand that "low brass" commercial loads ie. Dove loads, trap, skeet, etc. use faster burning powders than heavy loads and develop top end pressures for modern smokeless loads.
    Have the gun checked out professionally!

  5. #5
    Boolit Bub
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    This is how I test them when shooting a questionable home load creation.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    But it's not for the feint of heart, generally most testing is an eyeball test although with an experienced eye.
    I've safety tested thousands of rifles in the service and it's go no go gauge some safety testing of sears etc and visual inspection for cracks, stress and a mandrel down the barrel to check straitness.
    And non of that is a guarantee, unless you ultrasound the barrel looking for hidden cracks, I've seen anyone even dye penetrating test one, it's a check if safety's, lockup and tightness, function and general wear of parts.

    Unless you get it proof tested then the best you will get is an it's probably alright.

    The biggest thing with a SxS especially an old one is the bite, if it's center or left of center, especially left of center there's a problem, is there play in the action I.e can you wiggle the barrels side to side any when the action is closed.
    Other then that it's check the proof marks make sure it's good for smokeless, what it was proofed to and what it's chambered for.

    And if there is doubt like asking this question, check all those things and if it's ok and you want to be sure do as in the photos with a half dozen or so of mini mag shells and if it handles them without blowing up, busting, splitting or cracking.
    High brass is irrelivent when it comes to fitting, they will fit in any shotgun that is chambered in the same length shell.
    12ga loads both 2 3/4" and 3" are tested to 11,500psi and most old guns were tested to 12,300psi and that test is good for the life of the gun unless altered or on visual inspection one of the following is found.

    Rivels (small Ďwavesí left in the metal where it has not sprung back into shape)

    Bulges (bigger areas of expansion, usually where the metal is thin)

    Cracks (in the chambers, action or lumps)

    Coming off the face (the side to side play)

    Lumps (dovetail lumps can become loose or even detach)

    I view the average gunsmith inspection the same way as I view having my car serviced by a mechanic, unless I know and trust them then I have to recheck everything anyway as it's inevitably a half hearted tick and flick usually by the most junior person or apprentice on the lowest wage thinking about how longs left until knock off.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy



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    Proof marks on the underside of the action lump are the first place to look. It's possible it is nitro-proofed, but it is unlikely. Even if it is, it is of an age that micro-cracks and pits are possible, and the action could be compromised but look fine.

    I agree with the recommendation to have it looked at by a professional, if you intend to put it to use with smokeless loads regularly. Plenty of people have fired smokeless in old Damascus doubles with no ill-effects, but plenty does not equal all, and no one wants to aid that negative statistic if they can help it.

    Bulldogger

  7. #7
    Boolit Master bikerbeans's Avatar
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    There is reduced pressure smokeless load data meant for the old damacus shotguns that are in good condition. I would search with google or wait for our resident antique doubles guru to chime in.

    BB

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    ? made in the 1890's ? i'd stick with the powders available then. ie: black powder

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy Kev18's Avatar
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    I have shot it plenty with the low brass loads as mentioned above, but Im just not sure with any other stuff. I only paid it 100$, im not worried for the gun, its more about me.

  10. #10
    Boolit Bub
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    Trap loads (unless specific low pressure loads) are the same psi as standard 2 3/4" buckshot 2 3/4" loads, so if you have shot heaps of low brass trap loads then buckshot is fine.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy Kev18's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob9863 View Post
    Trap loads (unless specific low pressure loads) are the same psi as standard 2 3/4" buckshot 2 3/4" loads, so if you have shot heaps of low brass trap loads then buckshot is fine.
    I dont have low brass buckshot, I have the remington high brass ones. The come in little boxes of 5.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    my 2 cents-
    1) do not try to guess pressure by the height of the brass shell
    2) any twist steel might have handled "high brass" ((whatever that means)) shells in 1910, but that was 100 plus years ago. Rust any other corrosive action NEVER sleep. It is not as good now as it once was. Stick tp BP pressure, or less.
    I have a pristine '89 Remington with hammers in the other room that my brother thought was OK with low brass. He was wrong.

  13. #13
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    Generally Damascus barrels have a Brown Paisley Pattern on the barrels, as opposed to a blued finish like later model shotguns have.

    IF this doesn't make sense take it to a gunsmith and have him look at it.

    In any case I would avoid heavy buckshot and slug loads at all cost anyway simply because the will knock the snot out of you.
    Normal Dove /Trap Loads are running between 1150 and 1200 fps. Low Recoil Buck and Slug loads are up to about 1300 fps. Anything above that is going to be real unpleasant to shoot.

    I have some Federal Power Shot Maximum 1oz. Slugs at 1610 FPS. These have a higher Taylor Knock Out Value than a .458 Win Mag with a 500 gr bullet at 2150 FPS. I have shot exactly 2 of these in my life and that resulted in 3 trips to my Chiropractor to get my shoulder re-located.

    Point being, you don't need to shoot heavy loads like this unless you are going up against big animals or light pickups. Even if the gun will take it.

    Randy
    "It's not how well you do what you know how to do,,,It's how well you do what you DON'T know how to do!"
    www.buchananprecisionmachine.com

  14. #14
    Boolit Buddy
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    I see nobody said anything about chamber length in the old shotguns. Most shotguns
    from the late 1800's to about 1920 had 2 1/2 in chambers. a 2 3/4 in shell will fit, but
    when fired it will open in the forcing cone of the 2 1/2 in chamber, causing high chamber
    pressure and the hard recoil from the gun. Check the chamber length and use the correct
    shells. Any of the damascus barreled guns will have the 2 1/2 in chambers. A easy check
    drop a 3 in shell into the chamber if it sticks out 1/4 in it is 2 3/4 in chamber, If it sticks
    out 1/2 in it's a 2 1/2 in chamber. DON'T force the 3 in shell in and try to fire the gun. It's only
    for testing chamber length. Be safe.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master RED BEAR's Avatar
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    low or high brass make no difference its a marketing thing you can load just as high a pressure in low brass as high brass. that not my opinion its ballistic products and they do all there own testing. x weight of shot is x weight no matter if it is bird shot or buck shot. i buy all low brass hulls unless the others are on sale and cheaper. i second having the gun checked out some of the cheaper Belgian guns have a bad reputation. as far as it being cheap i just bought a cresant double made in 1929 for the all in price of 82 dollars. finished reblueing working on stock now.

  16. #16
    Boolit Buddy Kev18's Avatar
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    Here you guys know what you're all talking about... me not so much. Im better with rifles. So I took a few pictures!

    Shotgun in question:



    Someone said somehting about brown on the barrel. Im not sure if thsi will help but here's the two barrels. The bluing is completely off indicated by the rust!



    Barrel markings under the forend (not sure what these mean) :


    A 3 inch shell in the chamber fits fine, drops in no force needed:


    A 3-1/2 fit fine also... no force needed. Im confused.:


    I only shot 2-3/4 so far. 7-1/2 bird shot only.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master RED BEAR's Avatar
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    i am not sure about the 3 1/2 inch fitting but i would definitely not shoot them in it as the pressure is a lot higher on them. if you are not completely sure i would still have it looked over. with just a little work that could be a nice gun. reblueing is not that hard the trick is in the prep the nicer you get it before blueing the better it will turn out. as i said before guns from Belgium can run the gambet some great guns others not so much. i have been looking for an exposed hammer gun to make a coach gun out of.

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    That old Belgian shotgun will have 2 1/2 in chambers. I would use the brass shells that are made in Brazil in that gun with blackpowder.
    The new plastic shells will slid right in , but don't fire them. I have one of the Husqvarna double guns with fluid steel barrels. I was shooting
    the cheap walmart 2 3/4 in shells in it, and had the soldered barrel rib separate from the barrel from 2 3/4 in shells. I checked and found that
    I had 2 1/2 in chambers. The brass shells are just 2 1/2 in in length, and with blackpowder you'll have no problem. By the way, Nice looking
    shotgun.
    webfoot10

  19. #19
    Boolit Buddy
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    The ELG over a star inside a crown is a black powder proof. The 12-70 1s 12 gauge, 70 mm (2 3/4") chambers. 18.2 (mm) is the choke dimension. about .716" I think this means a modified choke, but I am not sure.


    Here is some helpful information.

    http://damascus-barrels.com/Belgian_All_Proofmarks.html

  20. #20
    Boolit Buddy Kev18's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by junkbug View Post
    The ELG over a star inside a crown is a black powder proof. The 12-70 1s 12 gauge, 70 mm (2 3/4") chambers. 18.2 (mm) is the choke dimension. about .716" I think this means a modified choke, but I am not sure.


    Here is some helpful information.

    http://damascus-barrels.com/Belgian_All_Proofmarks.html
    2 3/4 chamber so I shouldnt shoot that length in shells... I have been for awhile. That means 2 1/2 shells it is.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
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