Shooting Old Damascus-Barreled Shotguns


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You have to understand I grew up in a time where old twist-barrel doubles could be be had for a good day’s wages in the hay field. We were buying them at 14-15 years of age and despite the admonitions of our fathers and uncles, shooting modern shells in them. I’ve seen a few come uncorked and even have an old scar over my right ear where a hammer came off & bit me.

While you never get over the urge to shoot old doubles, you can at least learn from your mistakes. I was given an old double a while back, not a makers mark on it anywhere; just some odd scratching that passed for engraving. Barrels looked like Damascus, but then I have seen fake Damascus barrels too. It was at first stuck shut, but we finally got it open. It had a long set of tubes on it and the doves are flying high, so it was inevitable I was going to try a couple of light field loads in it. The forend was missing, which should have told me something. The forend iron was present.

Not being a complete fool, I grabbed it by the pistol grip and held it WAY out at arm’s length around a tree. I tripped the right barrel… big cloud of dust down the dry field, about 30 yards out. Hmmm… The left barrel fired but sounded funny- and the forend iron departed with vigor…


No idiots were harmed in the making of this article. It’d been a different story if I’d have wrapped my fingers around the barrels, prior to the test drive.  Some folks will tell you it is safe to shoot black-powder shells in these old and depending on the individual specimen, that may be true. But listen to your elders, boys. Don’t shoot them modern shells in ancient doubles.

Well at least I don’t jump out of haylofts anymore 😉


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