old American Gun Co. 12g safe to shoot?


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dukefan70
February 4, 2013, 03:53 AM
I bought a cheap old 12g hammerless SxS and did a little research on the only thing on it: "American Gun Co. New York". Apparently what I've got here is a hardware store shotgun made at the latest around 1920, and I don't know anything about identifying Damascus steel or if its safe to shoot with modern ammo (maybe low recoil stuff?). Or if steel shot will be an issue.

Not much of an impulse guy, but I may have stepped in it a bit here. Wasn't worried about looks so I guess I thought "Eh its worn but it can't be THAT old that I have to worry about shooting it." Figured I'd ask here first before having a 'smith look over it who may not even be able to tell me as much as someone here.

Much obliged.

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Fred Fuller
February 4, 2013, 08:55 AM
DO NOT fire ANY old shotgun with modern smokeless powder ammunition of any description until it has been inspected and approved by a qualified gunsmith.

How much are your fingers and eyes worth?

oneounceload
February 4, 2013, 11:29 AM
This needs to be inspected by someone who actually KNOWS these old guns, not just some parts changer or armorer. Damascus barrels tend to have a lovely wavy pattern on the steel barrels. There are folks who shoot guns with Damascus barrels.....HOWEVER, their guns are in pristine condition condition indicating very little use AND they were checked by a good doubles gun smith. They also tend to be top-tier brand names you recognize, not inexpensive mass produced hardware store guns.

Without pics, and until you get it checked, plan on it being a neat wall hanger

Carl N. Brown
February 4, 2013, 12:19 PM
steel shot will be an issue.

All 1920 shotgun shot was lead.

Steel shot is a modern requirement for water fowl hunting introduced much much later, and should only be used in barrels made for steel shot.

Any old gun of unknown origin, maintenance history unknown, should definitely be checked by a qualified gunsmith.

dukefan70
February 4, 2013, 03:18 PM
Got it to a smith today and he says its good to go (and NOT Damascus)...actually in pretty good condition considering. Ironically, I stopped by a gun shop after that I'd never been in before and the guy had basically my shotgun only 16g under the Crescent name, and next to it an old Ithaca double that WAS Damascus, so now I know the difference.

oneounceload
February 4, 2013, 08:29 PM
Did he check chamber length? Most old guns were NOT 2-3/4, but either 2-1/2 or 2-9-16, and will necessitate using ammo from the likes of RST, Polywad, or similar

303tom
February 5, 2013, 11:01 AM
Got it to a smith today and he says its good to go (and NOT Damascus)...actually in pretty good condition considering. Ironically, I stopped by a gun shop after that I'd never been in before and the guy had basically my shotgun only 16g under the Crescent name, and next to it an old Ithaca double that WAS Damascus, so now I know the difference.

Pictures.........We like pictures !

rifle
February 5, 2013, 11:22 AM
Not all damascus barrels show the pattern. Some look just like fluid steel(not damascus) barrels. Not even all pro gunsmiths know this. Some just look for the pattern and if they don't see it they think it's not damascus. It's all in the browning or the bluing as to whether or not the pattern of damascus shows.
Some old guns have been re-blued and are just black with the barrel having been polished before the re-blue and showno pattern of damascus.
It's all in the serial numbers and research to know for sure if the barrel is "nitro proofed".
Damascus barrels show the pattern since an acid was put on the barrels and then the softer metal in the damascus was etched a little shallower than the other harder steel and when the barrel was browned or blued it was burnished to shine the higher hard metal and leave dark the shallow softer metal.
If a damascus barrel was just polished off and browned it won't show pattern.

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