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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today I got to hold an original Ballard. Standard stocks, no chequering, buck horn rear sight, blade front. This one was in 38L. Am I correct that it's 38 Long Colt? If it is, then this is the actual question. It was at my Smith's, the present owner want's to have it rebarreled in 38-55. I remember some discourse about the Cast/ forged receivers. Which receiver is this and will it handle the 38-55? Serial is in the 354xx range. As I'm not that familiar with them, this is the first original I've ever held. The receiver looks similar to the one Max has pictured in the other thread, but the lever is different shape, not the ring type. The tang is drilled and tapped for a sight. This one is marked Marlin for sure. Not much finish left to the receiver, basically silver. There's quite a bit of blue on the barrel, maybe redone a lot of years back. Any way to tell short of damaging the receiver which type it is?...........Buck 8) :roll: :?
 

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Yes, it sounds like a #2 hunter, which were .38 Colt, or .38 rimfire, with a reversable firing pin. If you cock the hammer, the rear of the firing pin should be rectangular in shape, if it's a rf/cf pin. On rare occasion these are forged, but 99% of them are cast receivers. Bad idea to make one into a .38-55! I would hesitate to rebarrel it in anything stronger than the .38 Colt. Most modern pistol cartridges would be too much, if loaded to modern loads. A .38-55 loaded to blackpowder or light smokeless levels might not hurt it, but the problem is one never knows if some unsuspecting owner will know, once it leaves the present owner's hands.
There's a way to tell if it's cast for sure. If you pull the lever screw, then drop the block/trigger assembly out, you can look at the inside. If it's hollow under the barrel, it's cast. If it's solid below the barrel, it's forged.
Hope this helps.
 

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Buck,
It probably has a lever like the one on my #3 Gallery .22 LR.
 

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I would imagine that the 38 Long in question utilized an outside lubricated bullet, just like the original 38 Colt Navy centerfire cartridge. MM93, I suppose that the 32 Long school of thought, IE: outside lube, inside lube, hollow base, pure lead, etc., would apply to this rifle, eh?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
mm'93, yep that lever's pretty close. I'll pass this info on to my smith and see what he wants to do on this. I couldn't remember the discourse on the cast/forged frame bit, so figured I better ask again. We don't see many Ballards this way, much less work on them. Anybody got a guess on the date it left the factory?........Buck 8) :roll: :wink:
 

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According to John Dutcher's book, Ballard - The Great American Single Shot Rifle, The No 2 appeared in 1886 Marlin Catalog, but had previously been in another publication on target shooting published in 1875. general production of Ballards ended in 1890, but they continued to put togeather left over parts and were advertised in other publications through 1891 or 1892. The earlier ones had a closed loop on the end of the lever or one that curreled back towards the trigger, the later one had open with some curl but ended turning away from the trigger. There are several pages of pictures and there are some pistol grip styles with a normal lever as you would find on early Marlins. Serial number ranges from 545 to 35970 have been recorded on No. 2's. Some were made with a shotgun hard rubber butt plate for English trade and of course there are several different special order variations.
 

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Buck....I agree with mm93, wouldn't do the 38-55. Have to remember that there was a reason that Marlin-Ballard had 2 frames. If they could have used the cast frame for all, they would have. Would certainly have made them more competitive as the cast frame was cheaper. Suspect they had some "blow-ups" when they moved into the larger calibers and went with the forged frame.

Date is probably 1877-1880 but no records to verify.

Here's a picture of a #2 in 38 Long.



38 Long can still be loaded and fired today. May have to work a little harder but still can be shot in the centerfire form. 38 Long Colt's are not that hard to find and even old loading tools, both Ideal and Winchester are out there fairly often.

By the way, re-barreling would probably trash the collector's value and even the 38 Longs are bringing a pretty good price nowdays. Of course I am a bit biased. :lol: :lol:

max
 

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mm93.....yes I believe they made the entire trip. Some books have them listed (as well as other models) in 2 segments. The earlier segment representing the J.M. Marlin period and the 2nd segment representing the Marlin Firearms period. Still the same rifle and model, just listed as 2 independent groups. Don't know why.

max
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
thanks, guys, precisely what I needed. At least I knew where to come to on this one. Max, mm'93, Sure Shot, again the most knowledgeable board for these wonderful old girls............Buck 8) :wink: :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Oh, yeah, my smith said the owner has $600 in this one at this time. I'm assuming that is a purchase price. Max, that's exactly what this one looks like except maybe receiver coloration. this one might be more silvery than yours...........Buck 8) :roll: :wink:.....Just reread Max's last post, this one is marked Marlin Firearms.............Buck 8) :wink:
 

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I believe the change to Marlin Firearms, vs. JM Marlin took place in 1881. Serial number will tell for sure, as these later Ballards fall into the regular Marlin numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Well, gentlemen, my smith got the fruits of your knowledge today and said thanks. He took the action down and yes, it was a cast frame. He informed the owner, hated to burst his bubble, but safety is first, correct? I took a printout of this thread in to my smith this afternoon to give to the owner along with the URL's for here and the Collector's site. I looked at the firing pin and it was a sort of rectangle shape, so I believe it's a dual set up. The barrel had severe erosion just ahead of the chamber, the rifling was distinct, but looked rough. I suggested a liner either for the original caliber or maybe low loaded .38 Special. The owner was envisioning a 300 yard shooter, but I don't think that cartridge would do it..........Buck 8) :roll: :wink:
 

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Yep, definitely a reversible firing pin. The centerfire only pins were round. I've had a number of these #2's in either .32 or .38, and the cartridge is a very accurate one, if the bore is good. As you said, not a 300 yd cartridge, but fun out to 100 yds.
My only #2 now is a centerfire only chambered for .32 Ballard XL, with set triggers, and one of those rare #2's with a forged frame. If it wasn't such a rare and decent gun, I would have rebarreled or rebored it to something else. I've left it alone, just because it's rare, and has a very good bore.
$600 seems to be about what they run in the condition you described this one. I've bought them for as little as $200, and several in the $400-$450 range.
 
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