View Full Version : Ballard .38 Long Rimfire??

October 10, 2007, 04:11 PM
A few weeks ago I took a old, and in what appeared to me to be terrable condition, Ballard .38 Long Rimfire to a local smith to have him pull it apart and clean it up some. The screws were rusted and the stock had a small crack, the action would open and close but the hammer would not lock back......just a lot of stuff wrong with it. I figured it'd be better to have someone with the right tools and some knowledge take it apat instead of me busting something.

He took it apart, cleaned it up, mended the stock and found that the only thing wrong with the action was that a spring had broken. He replaced it. He also procured a few rounds of ANCIENT ammo. Tried a couple but they would not fire. Will just keep the rest for show.

He said that the barrel, once it was scrubbed out, looks OK and that as far as he can tell, without firing it, it is sound.

He also says that it has a firing pin that can be switched to centerfire. He slugged it and the barrel measures .371.........I think? It is a true .38 and not the modern .375 version.

So my question is, and I'll say that he was not interested in seeing me try this as he says he'd be worried about any smokless ammo, what and where do I get the centerfire round that the firing pin was originally made convertable to fire?

I gather that round is as obsolete as the rimfire but even less available. Or is it some round that is still made?

And yes I know that I should probably just enjoy playing with it ocasionally but I'd sure like to see it go boom one time..........just not to big a boom!

October 10, 2007, 04:48 PM
Buy a copy of Cartridges of the World. I believe the latest is the 11th edition. In it, you can see what the dimensions of the round are/were. Have your gunsmith do a chamber cast, that way you will know what the dimensions of your chamber are. Put 1+1 together, and you will be able to find what currently available cartridge you can use as basic brass to form new cartridges.

Reading the cartridge dimensions for 38 Long (Ballard), you will find the base diameter for the cartridge is .379". From reading the cartridge dimensions for currently available cartridges, you will see that you could use .357 Maximum brass. Then buy forming dies and reloading dies, a mould for casting bullets, a .373" sizer, and black powder. Then you see it used a heeled bullet, and you need to figure out how to load paper patched bullets. See how easy that was? Every problem has a solution and every solution has a problem!

My recommendation, unless you want a life-long project gun, would be to sell the gun and buy a modern rifle that ammo is available for.

October 10, 2007, 05:13 PM
Sadly you make a lot of sense.........................why is it that sound advice is so often no fun?

Jim Watson
October 10, 2007, 05:36 PM
If it is a .38 Long Rimfire with reverseable firing pin, The Answer is .38 Long Colt. Ed Harris wrote of shooting a British rook rifle in their equivalent caliber and getting good shooting out of hollowbase wadcutters that expanded into the rifling. Buffalo Arms has .38 LC with hollowbase bullets and black powder and sells the bullets if you wanted to handload something that looked more authentic than a wadcutter.

If it is a .38 Extra Long Rimfire with reverseable firing pin, then you are looking at custom loading. I have made .38-44 Target brass out of .357 Maximum, so it ought to work for .38 Extra Long Centerfire, as per Scorch.

If the action is sound and the appearance is not good enough to interest a collector, and I REALLY wanted to get some use out of it, I'd look into having the barrel relined for .38 Special. Keep the +P out of it and it ought to do OK. After all, they made them up to .45-100 in their day.

Or reline to .22 and have the firing pin altered. That was what happened to many Ballards as their BP calibers became obsolete for hunting and target shooting. A properly fitted Ballard has zero excess headspace and makes an accurate .22.

Otherwise, look for a collector or serious restorer.

October 10, 2007, 07:12 PM
I just came back from picking it up. He made a chamber cast and it is .382. He slugged the barrel and it is .371. He gave me a hand full of .38 Long Rimfire, very OLD Remington I think. It has a U on the bottom. Tried to set one off and it would not fire. Not a unexpected result.

If those measurements sound right for the .38 Long Colt by Buffalo then I'm inclined to get a box.......just to see it go bang a few times.

James K
October 10, 2007, 09:15 PM
COTW shows a case length for the .38 Extra Long Rimfire of 1.490; for center fire, .357 Maximum cases could be trimmed or .357 Magnum cases used as is. (The cases - DO NOT try to fire normal loads for either cartridge in that gun.)

I don't have a Lyman catalog, but they used to show some heel type bullets that would have a small back end (the heel) to fit ID of the case, while having a front end the same OD as the case. That is the setup you need.

.38 Colt would be too small, and .38 S&W too big. You could use .38 Special but as was noted, that old gun should be used with black powder, so it is a handloading proposition.


October 13, 2007, 08:08 PM
JIM is right donnallys book shows to use 357 maximum as is.the cases not loaded rounds.lyman has 38 ext long mold but its 145gr and #358161 in 1944 book.your size is 371??? WEEEEE

tn gun runner
October 22, 2007, 09:59 AM
http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z195/dukeboy51/th_Picture014.jpg (http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z195/dukeboy51/Picture014.jpg)
I have matched this 22lr ballard against the best modren bolt guns and have beat all of them so far.. was rebarreled by P.O. Ackey many moon ago, that the story that came with gun. I had the gun for 30 yrs and it is NOT for sale. the zero headspace lockup on ballard are perfect for rimfire 22's where bolt gun difference rim thickness in a box bullets can make a difference ...they are weak actions and crack on heavy over loads so keep them in pressures they were designed for..