Friday, I stopped in to a local antique shop. I pass this shop almost every day and decided I might as well have a look around; you never know what might be in there. Sure enough, there was something there. This old shotgun is nothing special. The owner asked $75 for it, but I ended up talking him down to $50. It is Belgian made and it's an oldie (Imported by the boatload between 1890 - 1910) but its nothing more than an old hunting gun. Stamped on the top of the barrels is BELGIAN LAMINATED STEEL and stamped into the sides of the receiver plates is T PAKRER. The barrels are made of Damascus (twisted, laminated) steel which makes it unusable. The way these barrels were made back in the day, was by twisting strips of iron and steel together, heating those strips red hot and welding the pieces together. The strips were then heated again, wrapped around an iron bar called a mandrel and welded by heating and hammering. The resulting tube was finished into a barrel. Never as strong as a barrel bored from solid steel, those barrels were quite attractive. But the welds were never absolutely solid. Over the years, corrosion from the old primers, and from black powder residue was forced by the pressure of firing into the tiny cracks and crevices between the strips that make up the barrel. Essentially eating away at the metal from the inside out. A Damascus barrel can look good on the outside, and the bore can appear shiny and like new, yet the metal inside can look like orange lace from the years of rusting away, unseen.
But, it is a pretty gun, its a simple old hammer gun with a nice shape. Perhaps it was a gun that regularly put food on the table or perhaps someone's absolute favorite gun. For me, it will be a wall hanger and a neat piece of history.