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Thread: .32 colt in a ballard

  1. #1
    Boolit Man
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    .32 colt in a ballard

    I recently became the caretaker of a nice little Ballard rifle chambered in .32 long colt .
    It's a newer jm marlin cast steel reciever versus cast iron .

    I have gathered up everything needed to get it shooting and before I get to crazy I figured why not run what I'm about to do by some other people .

    We all know how hard .32 long cases are to find so I'll be using shorts
    None of my manuals have any load data for the short so I'm not quite flying by the seat of my pants .

    Components are going to be ...
    .32 colt short cases .
    105 grain heeled base bullet
    Powder , I'm going to start with unique

    My plan is to start with a charge of 1.2 grains and hope for good results between 1.2 and 1.8 grains , but if I'm reading burn rates correctly I should be plenty safe up to at least 2.1 grains

    Anybody feel like I'm in the wrong neighborhood with this ?

  2. #2
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    I've owned and shot #2 Balllard rifles in .32 Long for decades, and love the caliber! It isn't quite the same as the .32 Long Colt, but the same cases will work great, and most of mine are the Colt marked cases. There's also a guy on Gunbroker who resizes .32 S&W Long cases and sells them there. I've played with resizing the same cases and it's a PITA, so whatever he's doing I'd rather buy his than mess with them myself. I've got probably 1,000 loaded and empty cases, so not an issue for me.
    The .32 Short cases will work, but you'll never see the same level of accuracy you'll get with full length cases. The 105 gr. heeled bullets will work great if they're properly sized for the Ballard's bore. Lots of variety in bore sizes, but most run around .312" that I've owned.
    There is no older or newer cast Ballard frame, and if yours is a JM Marlin marked it's the pre 1881 early frame. But even the last frames built in 1890 were still the same cast frames, and they'll hold up just fine to most .32 Long smokeless loads. I load mine to around 900 -1000 fps, and cast my bullets from an old Ideal tong tool mold. Unique is a good choice, but your two lower charges are probably anemic enough to not even seal the chamber. I'd start with the 2.1 gr., and not be afraid to go up to 3.0 grs. as you figure out what the gun likes. The 2.1 gr. should only be around 750 fps. velocity.

  3. #3
    Boolit Man
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    Well I knew I was being pretty conservative , didn't realize I was being that conservative though . It's good to know there's a good bit more of a margin there then I thought .

  4. #4
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Making .32 Long Colt case from .32 S&W Long is child's play. Do you have a die set?

    Or you can buy it here: https://www.gunbroker.com/item/781816997

    Jack has a very useful writeup on how to feed .32 Long Colt guns in his listing.

    My Unique load with the 87 grain bullet that Jack sells is 2.3 grains, but I prefer 2.0 of Bullseye. Cleaner.

    All cast Ballard receivers are malleable iron, going right back to the original patent. None were steel, although malleable iron has some of the mechanical properties of a very low carbon steel.
    Last edited by uscra112; 08-07-2018 at 09:24 PM.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

  5. #5
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    I sure wouldn't call it "child's play". I do own the dies, and it's tough to get the cases sized down to the rim. The first part sizes easily. That last part above the rim wont size without removing the case from the shell holder in the press, and then sizing it the rest the way down. Then hope you can get the case out without damaging that case.
    I've also sized them down to the shell holder and then turned them in my lathe to remove the last of the excess brass, but that's not that much fun to do either. I'd still buy them off the GB guy and let him do the work. His price is reasonable.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    I did a more difficult swaging job by using a hydraulic press. Thus requires a die with a large hole thru - RCBS dies don't work. Lee dies do.

    Lock two nuts in the middle of the die. Find a bolster that has a hole thru which is just a bit larger than the die body. Set the die mouth-up in the bolster and press the case in as far as it will go. Back off the ram, flip the die over, and use a rod to press the case back out.

    I don't do my own .32 Colt cases anymore either. Jack's price is very reasonable. He also makes a very good .32 Colt adaptor for rimfires. I just ordered a couple dozen more. He and I have decided that #2 .22 caliber ramshot loads do best in them, but I'm also going to buy some of these "acorn" blanks to use as primers with a small charge of powder. The ramshot cases are hard to extract from the adaptor.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

  7. #7
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    All cases (ramshot or .22 blank) are a PITA to remove from those RF adapter cases after firing! I've tried them in various RF calibers of .44, .38, and .32 and all were a nuisance. I'd rather convert the guns to shoot CF than mess with blanks of any kind at the range.

  8. #8
    Boolit Bub
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    Some great threads on forming .32 Colt right here on this forum, I suggest the best threads on the 'net:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...ong-Colt-brass
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...p-W-Long-cases

    I've made about 100 so far and I've lost track of the number of loadings; only lost one case so far (and that was 'cuz I ran it up into the die a little too energentically after annealing). At least 5 loadings so far on the oldest batch.

    I have zero time, just ran out there to size them once in a while in the evenings over the winter.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    I made a tool that works in my reloading press to punch them out. The nose of the punch was tricky - my original hemisphere shape would sometimes tear right through the head rather than punch the spent blank out. A squared-off end was even worse. The force required makes me concerned that the adaptors won't last long. So far I'm only shooting in my yard, so it's a short walk to the bench. If I went to the range I'd take my hand press along.

    There are certain guns that I want to keep original. When I converted a 1915 Favorite last year I bought a new breechblock and kept the original one intact. My #4 Rolling Block is too nice to carve up.

    A trick I will try sometime soon is the use Never-Seize on the surface of the blank.

    The shortness of those acorn blanks might help. Stay tuned.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

  10. #10
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    I wish those making the adapter cases would simply turn the base inside thicker so when the blank opened up it would be contained in the bored hole. Then it would push out easily! Since that base is thin it allows the blanks to expand above the bore they sit in, and that's when they become very hard to remove.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Exactly, but the price would go way up. Jack makes his from .32 S&W Longs, which is easy but leaves you with that thin web. Tempting to make a few from solid. Would be much easier with CNC, which I ain't got. Just had a thought.....if I can make .25-20 SS from .223, (I have) I can make .32 Colt. The .223 has a thicker web and would harder from the cold working.
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

  12. #12
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    I received my order of acorn blanks on Wednesday. RWS brand, labeled 6mm. The shank diameter before firing calipers at .224". They appear to be copper. Not magnetic, anyway. Easy thumb press into my Jack Harrison adaptors. Function fired one with a 2.0 gr. load of Bullseye and 299153 bullet (87 grains nominal). No leakage around the acorn blank, and the blank pushed out quite easily. Nothing at all like trying to punch out a Ramset case. Shanks did not expand at all; they come out as easily as they went in.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    $16.50 / 100, which is a lot more than I paid for Ramset blanks, but so far I think it is definitely worth the cost.

    An unusual thing about it all is that you can charge the case AFTER you seat your bullet and iron out the flare. Which I do with a .25-20 SS seater die. Dump in the powder from the back, thumb in the acorn, and viola!
    flectere si nequeo superos, acheronta movebo

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check