View Full Version : .32 ballard

July 24, 2012, 12:55 AM
Just bought a .32 Ballard at a garage sale. Is there any way to tell whether it is a 32-20 or a 32-40 without cerrosafeing the chamber?

Mike Irwin
July 24, 2012, 06:16 AM
Try inserting a .32-40. If it doesn't go in, you know you have something else.

From what I understand, chances of it being a Ballard .32-20, unless later rechambered, are pretty slim.

July 24, 2012, 06:48 AM
From what I understand, chances of it being a Ballard .32-20, unless later rechambered, are pretty slim.

This is my understanding as well. I know the ballard cals had other names, but AFAIK most of their cartridges they developed.

Jim Watson
July 24, 2012, 07:41 AM
I think it likely to be a .32 Ballard Extra Long unless a later rifle in .32-40.

That is if it is centerfire at all. Is it? Lots of Ballard rimfires out there; or the early rf-cf convertible.

Mike Irwin
July 24, 2012, 11:07 AM
OK, just have to get this off my chest...

Who the hell sells, and who the hell is lucky enough to buy, a Ballard rifle at a garage sale!??!

July 24, 2012, 11:16 AM
Tulsa. I think the woman must have gotten some of her husband's stuff in a divorce or something because there were a bunch of tools too and even some hunting clothes. Poor guy, mine didn't get any of my hunting stuff but all my kitchen stuff which was very nice.:mad: Thanks for the info, guess I'llpring for a box of 32-40. If it doesn't fit, it's not like I don't have a ton of ammo already that doesn't fit anything I have.:) Even have a box of .43 Spainish for the rolling block that someone else got after my Grandfather died..

July 24, 2012, 02:44 PM
First thing, check the breech block and determine if it is a centerfire or rimfire. Mine started life as a .32 extra long. I've since had it rebarreled to 40-60 maynard.

July 24, 2012, 10:25 PM
It's centerfire. Probably should go in gunsmithing but this thread is already going. It's not operational, the hammer just flops back and forth. Hammer spring?

July 25, 2012, 06:44 AM
Not go to off topic here....but do any of you guys have the Marlin Ballard book by West? Is it worth getting? I've been thinking about buying it since one of the only sources I have for ballards is Flaydermans.

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2012, 07:22 AM
"the hammer just flops back and forth. Hammer spring?"

Hopefully that's all it is.

If the hammer is broken internally you might have a very difficult time finding another one.

If the barrel is roughly .32 caliber and it's centerfire, the chances are excellent that it's .32-40. That was one of the most popular of the Ballard calibers, surpassed, I believe, only by the .38-55.

We really need pictures.

And, my curiosity is killing me.

How much is a garage sale Ballard going for these days?

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2012, 07:28 AM
Damn you, Publius...

Now I'm struggling not to bid on this rifle...


Yes, this one is .32-20, but as is noted, it started out life as a .32 rimfire and was rechambered.

And this would go SO well with my S&W Hand Ejector in .32-20...

July 25, 2012, 07:31 AM
More detailed info over on the single shot rifle forum, but bear in mind that most if not all of the Ballard guns used cast iron frames and are suitable for Black Powder Only. There is an article over there about one that blew using smokeless. Goat

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2012, 07:34 AM
Oh, one thing...

Look in the chamber.

If it has shoulders, it's most likely .32-40.

If it is straight, it's very likely a .32 Extra Long Centerfire. I'd forgotten about that one.

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2012, 07:36 AM
"bear in mind that most if not all of the Ballard guns used cast iron frames and are suitable for Black Powder Only."

Good point, Goat.

I've heard stories over the years about Ballard receivers failing to stand up even when using Du Pont bulk smokeless powders even though they generated almost identical pressures as black powder.

Jim Watson
July 25, 2012, 08:51 AM
There has been a lot of discussion about "modernizing" Ballards after one blew up last month at The Q with serious injury.
The short version is that a cast Ballard, almost certainly converted from rim- to centerfire; with barrel relined to .40-65, was shot regularly with a top load of smokeless powder. That day it did not hold the first one fired. The receiver split open, shedding fragments and launching the barrel downrange. Shooting was offhand and the Lady shooter's left support hand was shredded. Reports are that she kept all her fingers but they won't work as well as they used to.

Steve Garbe, who ought to know, he once owned the company making repros, said the quick way to identify a Ballard action is that cast ones have a three line address, forged ones have two line markings. Usually. That will serve as a quick check and maybe help you make up your mind whether or not to buy until you can get it apart and look for mold marks.

He says that a cast action should be limited to .22 rf; the forged actions can be used for black powder centerfires. And shot only with black.

As to the one in the OP, if it is a .32 XL in too nice condition to rebore or rebarrel, it will be tough to shoot as is except maybe with .32 Colt as a subload. I don't see anything that would be a simple source of brass to reform. If it is rough, it can be made into about anything within the strength of the action.

Frank DeHaas warns that opening the lever of a Ballard when cocked can break the hammer. A new one is $125 from Ballard Rifle Co. A mainspring is $50.

July 25, 2012, 08:59 AM
Amazing. My wife is a Ballard. We have always talked about getting a rifle as an heirloom. Lucky find. Cannot believe they sold it.

July 25, 2012, 10:07 AM
Now I'm struggling not to bid on this rifle...

Mike, as I always do, I checked what else the seller had. I've found good guns in the past by searching say for a S&W and yet finding a good German gun, or Winchester etc that the same seller had. I noticed he has 3 pages of vintage rifles, many single shot, without a single bidder, that should tell you something. Keep looking I would say.

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2012, 10:46 AM
The urge passed. :)

July 25, 2012, 01:48 PM
Mike, a Ballard at a garage sale goes for $200.00. I paid asking price.:D. I will get up pics as soon as I get my broken:( camera back.

Mike Irwin
July 25, 2012, 02:17 PM
"Amazing. My wife is a Ballard."

Not even going to ask where you put the ammo...

July 25, 2012, 09:42 PM