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Damascus Barrels & Black Powder

5057 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  miatakix

Just thought I share a really positive experience I've had recently with a family hierloom 12 gauge SxS.

From 1906 until 1970, a W. Richards 12 gauge SxS shotgun purchased by my German immigrant great-grandparents hung in the creamery of their homestead in NE Iowa. It was left loaded on pegs on the wall over the door, and accounted for uncounted chicken-killing foxes, 'possums, hawks (before that was illlegal), and other varmints. Occasionally great-grandpa or one of my great-uncles would clean it, reload it, and hang it back up, ready for any emergency.

Great-uncle Gerald had to sell the farm in 1970 due to diabetes; when he died a few years later, the shotgun came to me by default. It took a toothbrush and nearly a full bottle of Hoppe's No. 9, and quite a few passes through the bores with bronze brushes, but what I found underneath the surface rust and dust/oil gunk was a perfectly sound shotgun with perfect barrel/receiver lockup, absolutely functional hammer lockwork, triggers, and good but slightly pitted bores. The stamped engraving work is perfectly visible, as is the serial number and the words 'London Fine Twist' (this last on the rib between the barrels). Clearly these are twist-steel barrels, and I simply wasn't going to risk this family heirloom with modern cartridges, so the cleaned shotgun was put away to be brought out only for maintenance cleaning and display.

Enter Cowboy Action Shooting. Suddenly, there were black powder shotgun cartidges available at nearly any gunstore; I finally gave in to temptation and bought a box of Goex shells, a light load of 7.5 shot.

It's hard to describe the pleasure of letting the old Richards speak for the first time in nearly a half-century! Recoil was very light, and clay pigeons broke with nearly as much smoke as that which puffed out of the shotgun's muzzles! The first box of cartridges didn't nearly long enough. . .the Richards now goes out pretty regularly and gets folks' attention every time I take it to the line or out of the truck.

Here it is. . .

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Thats a really neat piece of family history to pass down. +1 for taking it out and shooting it insted of it collecting dust. ;D
Well, they were modest farmers who didn't have much, and at 55 I am the youngest family member who actually knew them. I smile every time I drop a shell into chamber.
Damascus steel scatterguns are fine pieces of art...just think of the patience it took to build those barrels
That's a nice scattergun! I have a W. Richards muzzleloading 12 gauge that I've shot a few partridge with. Mine is made in Belgium and marked "London Twist" on the rib. Is yours Belgian as well? Thanks; Mike
I am not sure. It also has 'London Fine Twist' on the rib; family legend has that it was purchased in the 1890's by great-great Grandpa Wolters as he got off the boat at Ellis Island on his way to a farm in the 'wilds' of NE Iowa.
Check the proof marks on the bottom of the barrels. There will be an oval containing an "ELG" if it was made in Belgium. IIRC these guns were brought to America by big hardware companies who had them marked with English sounding names. It was kinda sneaky trying to fool people like that but the Belgian guns were actually stronger than their English competitors. If you get a Dixie Gunworks catalog there is a chart showing Belgian gun factory proof loads. The neighborhood around the factory must have been a very noisy place. Best of luck with your grandfathers gun, it's nice that you're using it. Mike
Thanks for the info - it is indeed made in Belgium. I suspect Grandpa Wolters didn't spend 3 cents more than he had to for a shotgun ;)!
Belgian-made, cool, I'm guessing that hardly makes it a booby-prize...those crazy Belgians seem to know how to make at least three things right, and firearms is one of them.
Beer and chocolate being the other two?
They are both good for what 'ales' you. . . :p
biku324 said:
They are both good for what 'ales' you. . . :p

Yep, Mike. You know, biku324...I'm thinking you should drink a belgian ale, then shoot the empty beer bottle with your Grandpa's shotgun while eating Belgian chocolate, and see if anything interesting happens. Although...maybe you should drink the ale a couple hours before you introduce firearms into the mix. Hmm. But then it wouldn't be the same. Conundrum.
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