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What does 'New Twist' mean on the top of a 12 gauge Syracuse Arms shotgun?

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Wiki User
2012-06-14 06:12:15

Indicates the barrels were made by twisting wire around a

mandrel then welding.

Yes, that is a very simple explanation of how Twist steel

barrels were manufactured; but does not answer the original posters

question of "What does 'New Twist' mean on the top of a 12 gauge

Syracuse Arms shotgun?"

Prior to, and for several years after the turn of the last

century; most shotgun gun barrels were made by wrapping alternating

strips of iron and steel (called ribands) around a steel bar called

a mandrel. These alternating bands of iron and steel were heated to

a red-hot state; then, as workers wrapped these ribands around the

mandrel, other workers pounded these two materials with hammers so

the the combination of heat and force fused them together to form a

hammer weld.

The simplest, and least expensive barrel tubes made in this

manner were called "Plain Twist"; which tubes consisted of one

untwisted riband of alternating steel and iron. Barrel prices went

up from that point, as the makers of these barrel tubes were very

skilled at twisting these ribands into elaborate patterns; which

"patterned" ,or figured barrels were then named "Damascus". The

lease expensive Damascus barrel tubes might have a pattern created

by twisting together only two ribands; with the cost increasing in

direct relationship to the numbers of ribands used, and the number

of times these ribands were twisted together. These barrels were

often referred to as "figured steel", with the figure, or pattern

being revealed by the "browning" or barrel finish process; the iron

bands would finish darker, color wise, that than the steel bands,

allowing the intricate whorls and curls to be revealed. The makers

of these barrels created some incredibly intricate and fine

Damascus steel barrels, with the master makers so skilled that they

learned to twist these iron and steel ribands into words. There is

one example of a Remington Grade EE 16-bore double that has the

word "Remington" repeated over and over throughout the full length

of each barrel tube; and there is a Belgium maker, Pieper, who

ordered a set of Damascus barrels featuring the Pieper name for the

full length of those special barrel tubes.

With guns manufactured by the Syracuse Arms Company, the type of

barrel steel used indicated gun quality and price. The term "New

Twist" was the barrel steel name the company assigned to the Plain

Twist barrel tubes used on their lowest grade double barrel

shotguns; which name began to be roll-stamped atop the barrels

around serial number 8,000 (earlier models have no barrel steel

identifiers). Most Syracuse guns having New Twist barrels will be

Grade O guns ($30 suggested retail, with the most expensive Grade D

SAC gun retailing at a whopping $475.00!). SAC grade stamps will be

found on the water table of the frame, and also on the barrel

flats; but New Twist barrels can/will also be found on the Syracuse

Grade 1 gun (discontinued around 1896, and identical to the Grade O

gun in materials and finish, but with a small amount of scroll

engraving on the gun frame; the Grade 1 retailed at $35), and on a

few of the seldom seem Syracuse hammer double guns made in late

1904 and into early 1905 when SAC gun production ceased.

Unless one of the rare high grades, or a low-grade that remains

in virtually new condition; Syracuse guns have little collector

interest or value, and the Grade O gun is by far the most common

with surviving examples seldom bringing more that $200-250 at

auction. That said I have seen one Grade O SAC gun that remained

95% new, and the factory finishes on that gun were stunningly

beautiful; based on that example it was no mystery as to why the

company sold so many Grade O guns.

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