Factory engraved Ballard

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marlinman93
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Factory engraved Ballard

#1 Post by marlinman93 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:17 pm

A few years back I traded into this Ballard in .38-55, with a 30" #3 weight full octagon barrel. It was already D&T for scope bases, and had them mounted. But the barrel wasn't serial numbered to the gun, so a donor barrel from another. First time I took it out to shoot I mounted up an old target scope I had and at the very first shot I thought the gun had exploded! I saw the scope go flying off, but didn't feel any pain? When I regained a little composure I looked it over and saw the scope was hanging from the front mount, and off to one side. The gun appeared to be all intact, but couldn't figure out what happened. Then I opened the action and extracted the case. In the side of the case was a small 1/8 hole! I looked inside the chamber and saw daylight coming down from the top of the barrel!
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Lyman scope with offset mounts:
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Took it home and figured I'd have to put a new barrel on it, but a gunsmith friend said to use a full length screw into the rear mount that would just enter the chamber, and use blue Loctite on the screw. Then we used his reamer to take the excess metal off the end of the screw. Took it back to the range, and it worked great, but still bugged me. Just always wondered when it might fly off again, but it never did.
Then a few weeks ago another friend asked if I had any interest in a Ballard barrel in .40-65? I did, and asked details. He said it was a brand new Douglas Premium in #4 weight, and contoured to half octagon. Rust blued and fitted to a Ballard, and his friend wanted $200. I asked what was wrong, and he said the owner just wanted to go to a lighter .32-40 caliber, so I bought it.
I figured the engraved Ballard already had a mismatched barrel, so why not put a half octagon heavy barrel on it? Plus I could forget about that gnawing worry of "will the scope fly off again" in the back of my mind! So I pulled the old barrel and set it aside, and spun the new barrel on. They NEVER index up and headspace correctly, but to my amazement this one looked really close! So I turned it back off and put a little blue Loctite on the threads and turned it back on. Then grabbed the action wrench and turned it into final position. I closed the action and it had perfect "crush" on the chamber end! Put a cartridge in and that fit very snug too! First time a barrel has ever indexed up perfectly for me!
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The new barrel also had scope base holes D&T on it, and a front sight dovetail. SO I installed a spare globe sight, and took the bases from the old barrel to see if one of the bases might be a hole spacing match. I was shocked when both bases mounted right on the new barrel with the exact spacing!

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Took numerous hours of careful filing and sanding to open up the forearm channel another 1/8" wider and deeper to fit the new barrel! The wood is pretty thin on each side with the #4 weight barrel, but it's on now!
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Put the scope and tang sight back on it, and today I took it out for a spin with some .40-65-345 gr. loads I worked up. Shoots under 1" MOA at 100 yds. off the bench, so I'm pretty tickled! Tried some shaky offhand shots at 100 yds, but I couldn't get much better than about 4" groups with me trying to hold steady! But it is a very fun gun to shoot with the big heavy .40-65 barrel on it now!
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#2 Post by Pisgah » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:48 pm

True, a lot of luck was involved, but you took fine advantage of it! Beautiful rifle.

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#3 Post by marlinman93 » Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:52 pm

Pisgah wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:48 pm
True, a lot of luck was involved, but you took fine advantage of it! Beautiful rifle.
Thanks! I'd have bet almost any amount it would never fit without some slight modification! And some new scope bases too!
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#4 Post by JerryB » Sun Feb 18, 2018 8:45 pm

Beautiful job Val, reckon that thing would put a big deer or elk down.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#5 Post by M. M. Wright » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:13 pm

Beautiful rifle sir.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#6 Post by Griff » Sun Feb 18, 2018 10:22 pm

:mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#7 Post by Sixgun » Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:53 pm

Marlinman,
It's cases like yours when everything goes right is what keeps us from getting disillusioned with our hobby. Like you said, most times nothing is easy...especially the first time. I can easily sense your excited with your venture. Good for you!

There's just something special about a pre-1900 single shot....class that's unequaled by any gun....(except an early single action Colt. :D )

As I write this, I'm also riding a high...my bud calls me and says,"you want a Colt New Service that someone butchered the barrel on? I said "sure, be right down". When I got there he handed me the Colt and I about messed myself. With the exception of the barrel being cut to 2", the gun was a (at least) 90% early high polish example of the scarce target version made in 1910 with (45 L.C.) flattop frame, checkered blackstrap, rear sight, fleur de lis grips and checkered trigger. Dang grips are worth more than what I paid for the whole gun......Shot 5 shots in a ragged hole today ...yea....only 10 yards.


I take it your new barrel in 40-65 has the 1-18 (or close) twist in order to you to be able to shoot the long 40 calibers.


Smokeless? 20 grains of 5744 sounds like a nice load.---6
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#8 Post by marlinman93 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:59 am

Sixgun-BGA-1 wrote:
Sun Feb 18, 2018 11:53 pm
Marlinman,
It's cases like yours when everything goes right is what keeps us from getting disillusioned with our hobby. Like you said, most times nothing is easy...especially the first time. I can easily sense your excited with your venture. Good for you!

There's just something special about a pre-1900 single shot....class that's unequaled by any gun....(except an early single action Colt. :D )

As I write this, I'm also riding a high...my bud calls me and says,"you want a Colt New Service that someone butchered the barrel on? I said "sure, be right down". When I got there he handed me the Colt and I about messed myself. With the exception of the barrel being cut to 2", the gun was a (at least) 90% early high polish example of the scarce target version made in 1910 with (45 L.C.) flattop frame, checkered blackstrap, rear sight, fleur de lis grips and checkered trigger. Dang grips are worth more than what I paid for the whole gun......Shot 5 shots in a ragged hole today ...yea....only 10 yards.


I take it your new barrel in 40-65 has the 1-18 (or close) twist in order to you to be able to shoot the long 40 calibers.


Smokeless? 20 grains of 5744 sounds like a nice load.---6
Sounds like a heck of a deal on that Colt "snubby"! I don't mind nicely modified guns, and especially if it's an old modification.
The 345 gr. bullet is not a long one as .40 caliber rifle slugs go! It's actually at the low end of the 5 or 6 .40 caliber molds I own. The high end is a 420 gr., and that does take a tight twist. But even my original Ballard Pacific in .40-90 Ballard shoots a 420 gr. well out to very long distances, and it has a 1:20" twist! I used it last summer at our annual longrange fun shoot and it scored very consistent hits on the 650 yd. dinger with the 420 gr. slugs.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#9 Post by earlmck » Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:10 am

Oh nice! And thanks for the story and the pictures.

Now you probably used up every last bit of your luck. But just in case there is some left over, run down and buy a lottery ticket.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#10 Post by Rusty » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:05 am

That's a great story Marlinman. I'm glad it all came together for you. I'm wondering if your .38-55 barrel can't be shortened from the chamber end. IOW cut it off forward of the flaw and re-chamber it.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#11 Post by ollogger » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:14 am

Very nice work done on an awesome gun!


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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#12 Post by 6pt-sika » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:19 am

Very nice !

And fortunate :wink:
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#13 Post by Bill in Oregon » Mon Feb 19, 2018 9:35 am

Couldn't have happened to a nicer or more enthusiastic Ballard connoisseur.

8)

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#14 Post by Pete44ru » Mon Feb 19, 2018 10:33 am

.

A great-looking rifle, and a very nice story, Vall - you sure came up roses on that project !

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#15 Post by marlinman93 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:26 pm

Rusty wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:05 am
That's a great story Marlinman. I'm glad it all came together for you. I'm wondering if your .38-55 barrel can't be shortened from the chamber end. IOW cut it off forward of the flaw and re-chamber it.
The .38-55 barrel will be saved, but not cut shorter. I talked to John Taylor about it, as I knew he'd done chamber lining. John can bore out the chamber and fit it with a sleeve. Then ream it back to the .38-55 caliber and it will be ready to install on a Ballard again. But I wont have it done until I find an action to use it on, as I want to be sure it's headspaced to the action.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#16 Post by marlinman93 » Mon Feb 19, 2018 12:26 pm

earlmck wrote:
Mon Feb 19, 2018 1:10 am
Oh nice! And thanks for the story and the pictures.

Now you probably used up every last bit of your luck. But just in case there is some left over, run down and buy a lottery ticket.
Well I've never purchased a lottery ticket, and may have used up all my luck now! ;)
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#17 Post by KWK » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:02 pm

Oooooo, Ahhhhh, Ballards, Nice.

I regret not ordering one when the replicas were still being made in Cody. I wonder what became of all their tooling? I handled some in OK City once--mesmerizing. There were some DZ Hepburns on the same rack. By the time I decided the Ballard was the one, they were gone. Then the rolling block bug bit again. I suspect I'll end up with an original Ballard some day, but those Steve Earl actions beckon. So many nice single shots, so little time...

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#18 Post by Ray Newman » Mon Feb 19, 2018 4:32 pm

KWK: the "Cody Ballards", first class and "best quality" (as the Brits would say) craftsmanship.

Company was sold and moved to Michigan. From what I read on the American Single Shot Association web page, while the web page is still active ( www.ballardarms.com/products.shtml ) the company does not respond to inquiries. Also it appears that they reduced the number of Ballard models available.

I am lucky enough he have two Cody Ballards, a #5 Pacific, 45-2.1" --"Natty Bumppo" -- and a #7 Long Range .40-65. The #5 is an accurate handy little rifle, but I have not shot the #7. It is a real safe queen. Ordered the #5 at the 1998 SHOT Show while I talked with Steve Garbe. I just could not depart without ordering a #5. Best money I ever spent! In my eye the #5 is a true hunter's rifle: trim, quick to point, and with a wiping rod!

Always wanted a # 5 1/2 Montana. Never ordered one from the Cody Ballard shop as a Sharps-Borchardt side tracked my plans for a #5 1/2. Original #5 1/2 rifles are very rare and sell for prices that make them almost unobtainium

Trivia quiz: identify "Natty Bumppo" without going to an internet search engine?
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#19 Post by Bill in Oregon » Mon Feb 19, 2018 6:26 pm

The Leatherstocking Tales, by Washington Irving.

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#20 Post by Ray Newman » Mon Feb 19, 2018 7:36 pm

Bill in OR: you get a Bingo, but Jas. Fennimore Cooper wrote "Leather Stocking Tales". Irving is noted for his "Legend of Sleepy" and the Rip Van Winkle stories. Both are two of my favorite authors. Been a few years since I re-read their tales and should do so once again. Great literature. Some Cooper followers have a theory that there is a missing book dealing with Natty Bumppo's participation in the Revolutions as a Royalist.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#21 Post by KWK » Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:20 am

I'm surprised that Ballard site in MI is still up. It's been many years since anyone has heard from them. Perhaps he got a discount on a 10 year site hosting plan.

At the time, I'd more or less settled on the #3 in .32-20 or possibly .30-30 Wesson. So it goes. Earle's upcoming wee Fraser is calling my name, and those smallest Hagns are sweet.

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#22 Post by marlinman93 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:30 pm

KWK wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 11:20 am
I'm surprised that Ballard site in MI is still up. It's been many years since anyone has heard from them. Perhaps he got a discount on a 10 year site hosting plan.

At the time, I'd more or less settled on the #3 in .32-20 or possibly .30-30 Wesson. So it goes. Earle's upcoming wee Fraser is calling my name, and those smallest Hagns are sweet.
Sites often get forgotten by the hosting company and simply sit there dormant with all appearances of being alive. The man in Michigan who bought Ballard Rifle Co. hired Steve Durren to run it and oversee mfg. there. Steve stayed a bit over a year and saw how disorganized it was, and went back to Johnson's Sporting Goods to continue his excellent work.
From what I've heard the Mi. man still has all the equipment, parts, jigs, etc. to continue Ballard production, but I doubt it will ever restart with him. And selling it would be a major loss, so it sits dead instead.
I too never bought a Cody Ballard when the company was in Cody, Wy., but a good friend bout 5 or 6 of them. All stunning guns that were done as nice or even nicer than originals! Before my friend passed, he asked if I would sell his single shot collection, and I did so for his wife. I ended up purchasing his Schoyen Model Cody Ballard with a .22LR Badger barrel. The gun is simply stunning, and shoots as good as any high end target .22 rifle I've ever owned!

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#23 Post by KWK » Tue Feb 20, 2018 2:51 pm

marlinman93 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 1:30 pm
... stunning guns that were done as nice or even nicer than originals!
Very nice, indeed!

Your post reminds me Steve still has my rolling block. Perhaps I should give him a ring, but I know he's kept rather busy.

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#24 Post by southfork » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:38 pm

Hey, Marlinman93, to the best of your knowledge, were any of the Marlin Ballard rifles d&t for scope mount blocks at the factory in the 1870s or 1880s?

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#25 Post by marlinman93 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 10:35 pm

southfork wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:38 pm
Hey, Marlinman93, to the best of your knowledge, were any of the Marlin Ballard rifles d&t for scope mount blocks at the factory in the 1870s or 1880s?
No, and neither were any Marlin lever action repeaters for many decades! Marlin didn't start putting D&T holes in guns until 1954. They did in the 1930's and later do this as a service if you sent your gun to them. But a whole bunch of Ballards got fitted for scopes when scopes became popular in the late 1800's, so it's very common to find holes for target scope bases. Especially so on schuetzen rifles. I think 8 or 9 of mine are fitted with scopes.
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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#26 Post by southfork » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:03 pm

Thanks for that info, Marlinman. The Marlin-Ballard that I have in 44W caliber has the drill and tap holes spaced for scope mounting blocks similar to the spacing of blocks in the above picture. Of course, there are screws in the threaded holes now and they look like they have always been there. Why would anyone in the late 1800s (or later) feel a need to put a scope on a 44W?

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Re: Factory engraved Ballard

#27 Post by marlinman93 » Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:48 pm

southfork wrote:
Mon Feb 26, 2018 2:03 pm
Thanks for that info, Marlinman. The Marlin-Ballard that I have in 44W caliber has the drill and tap holes spaced for scope mounting blocks similar to the spacing of blocks in the above picture. Of course, there are screws in the threaded holes now and they look like they have always been there. Why would anyone in the late 1800s (or later) feel a need to put a scope on a 44W?
Scopes became very popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's, so that's likely when yours got the holes D&T for scope blocks. A number of reasons why your .44-40 would be D&T for a scope. First for more accurate shooting, and also for older eyes that can't see iron sights well. Since yours is already D&T for a scope, I wouldn't hesitate to put on an early scope if I wanted to play with seeing how accurate it might shoot.
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