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Thread: "New" Ballard

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    "New" Ballard

    Recently acquired Ballard: .22LR, fitted with a Stevens barrel which I'm convinced is a Stevens-Pope because of its distinctive Pope rifling, but which isn't marked as such. This is the second such anomaly I've encountered over the years and I'm off on a quest to find out the story behind it. (Did Stevens continue using the Pope-style of rifling for a while after they and Pope had their falling out, for example?)

    Regardless, here it is. All targets were 5 shots, 50 yards, Eley Tenex. Fecker 12x scope. There were some better groups, and some a little worse groups. These two were representative of the average. To say I'm happy would be a gross understatement!




    No, I didn't call that flyer!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    You might want to post this question over on the ASSRA forum as well. Those single shot guys love Ballards and Popes and discuss them in excruciating detail. BTW, I think a machinist named Ross(?) continued using the tools Pope brought to (and sold to) Stevens when they made their initial deal. But I think there may be some hidden numbers somewhere on all of the custom replacement barrels done by Stevens in that era.

    Another thought, does the barrel show any signs of being set back? Look at the caliber markings and note whether they seem very close to the receiver edge or even partially obscured... this would indicate a barrel that may have started out on another rifle, then been installed on the Ballard receiver post factory.

    Froggie

    Froggie
    "It aint easy being green!"

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks. No the barrel wasn't set back. Both the Stevens imprint and caliber markings are in their normal places well ahead of the receiver.

    Knowing that Pope stated he hated making .22 barrels, I wonder also if to save some time now and again he may have purchased drilled/reamed but unrifled barrels from Stevens and rifled them himself? No cryptic markings are on the bottom of the barrel, which kind of shoots down that theory as Pope was meticulous about marking his work.

  4. #4
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Stevens barrels continued to be marked "Stevens-Pope" for years after Pope left. Those barrels were done under the supervision of Fred Ross, and are generally in the #1350 to around #1800 range. At that time Pope sent a threatening letter to Stevens telling them to stop using his name or face legal action.
    You say your barrel has "distinctive Pope rifling". Is this based on the cut of the rifling, the number of lands and grooves, or the left hand twist Pope used? If it isn't left hand twist, and it doesn't have flat bottoms to each groove, and the correct number of lands and twists, I doubt it's Pope rifling.
    I've seen a lot of Stevens barrels made after Pope left, and since they kept his rifling machinery they kept making similar rifling. One big difference is they went back to right hand twist after Pope left. So if yours is not left hand twist, it's not a Pope built barrel. And if the serial number under the forearm isn't below #1350 it's not Pope either.
    And Stevens-Pope barrels would have the codes stamped under the forearm to indicate the codes for twist rate, gain, etc. even if they didn't have Pope's name after the Stevens name. At least those I own, or have seen do.
    Regardless, you've got a very nice Ballard, and a very accurate one too!

  5. #5
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    I copied this from John Dutcher's excellent book on Ballard rifles. If you've got the book you've likely seen this already. It shows a comparison of Pope's rifling to George C Schoyen's rifling.



    What the two masters have in common is extremely narrow lands, and wide grooves. But other than that not much else the same. Schoyen used right hand twist, and Pope left hand twist. Schoyen's cutter was shaped slightly convex to give his grooves a matching contour to the bore. Pope's cutter was flat bottom so his grooves were flat bottom. The depth of Pope's grooves was cut until it removed the curve of the bore barely, so the corners of his grooves were deep, but center of his grooves were only slightly below bore line. Where Schoyen's being equal depth across actually created a deeper groove parallel to the bore.
    Both have set records back in the day, but Schoyen died in 1916, so Pope living on to I believe '49 or '50 has far more modern recognition for his work. I have both, and I feel Schoyen's barrels are the equal to, and maybe even slightly better. Just my opinion, and I've only got about four of each master's barrels.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Aha! Thank you. One mystery mostly solved! The rifling is definitely Pope-style. (I'm now permanently cross-eyed from squinting down this bore.) But, like you warned, it is indeed RH twist. I'm reasonably sure now it's a barrel that Stevens made after Pope's departure. Regardless who made it, it shoots to beyond my satisfaction.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnoahhh View Post
    Aha! Thank you. One mystery mostly solved! The rifling is definitely Pope-style. (I'm now permanently cross-eyed from squinting down this bore.) But, like you warned, it is indeed RH twist. I'm reasonably sure now it's a barrel that Stevens made after Pope's departure. Regardless who made it, it shoots to beyond my satisfaction.
    I have a Stevens-Pope barreled Ballard with a Stevens style forearm fitted to it, and serial number in the mid 1700 range. It looks just like other Pope rifling, but it's right hand twist. From the high serial number I knew it was made after Pope left Stevens, but it still retains his code numbers under the forearm. So even though it is certainly a Fred Ross built barrel, he retained the numbering methods HM Pope used.
    Ross was a friend of Harry Pope and they remained friends after he left Stevens. They made barrels together before Stevens, and again at Stevens, so Ross knew Pope's rifling as well as anyone, and better than most.
    Considering Pope's feelings towards Stevens that says a lot about his respect for Ross to remain friendly, and continue to correspond with Ross for many years after his falling out with Stevens.

  8. #8
    In Remembrance Reverend Al's Avatar
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    A very nice (and accurate!) Ballard ... and if you didn't know it owning a Ballard extends your life by 10 years!
    I may have passed my "Best Before" date, but I haven't reached my "Expiry" date!

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Whew, good to know! At the tender age of 67 I'll take any help I can get!

  10. #10
    I've heard that comment before ... Nice looking Ballard and may you follow our lead, one Ballard leads to another and so on.
    Greg

  11. #11
    Boolit Grand Master



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    Very nice rifle. Some day I might get so lucky.
    2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. - "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

    "Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point."
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  12. #12
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutinlead View Post
    I've heard that comment before ... Nice looking Ballard and may you follow our lead, one Ballard leads to another and so on.
    Greg
    Very true!
    I collected pre WWI era Marlin lever actions for many years, and one day realized I didn't have a single Marlin Ballard. How could my collection be complete, and not have an example of Marlin's only single shot rifle?
    So I hit the next gun show and found a Ballard #2 in .38 Ballard Long for $300. Cheap, even back decades ago, and I filled the niche. When I got home I did as usual and tore it all apart to check things, and see how it was built. Ordered up a heeled mold, used my .38 Special dies and brass, and was out shooting it soon.
    I fell deeply in love with the Ballard, and soon began searching for one in a rifle caliber, or even better a schuetzen Ballard! Boy did I get my eyes opened up! Prices back then were all around $1,000 or more, and I realized not in my meager budget.
    That's when want overcame me, and I decided I had over 100 Marlin repeaters, and could really let some go to finance a Ballard or two. Wasn't long and I got to a point where I had a lot less early Marlin repeaters, and a lot more Ballard rifles. But I usually sold 3 or 4 Marlins to buy the next Ballard, so it was a painful process!
    Now I've got maybe eight early Marlin repeaters left, and the Ballard rifles have taken over. It's a sickness that can only be cured by another Ballard fix.

  13. #13
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    And on the subject of Ballard rifles. Consider this. Marlin built less than 50,000 total Ballard rifles over 15 years. That's every model, and variation all together. So finding a Ballard of any kind is great, and finding one in nice shooting shape for a gun that's over 130 years old is even better!
    They are likely the most often found 1800's single shot rifle to be reworked, rebarreled, or restored. They have been loved by serious shooters from the very beginning, so people have always done whatever they wanted to that keeps them shooting, or reworks them to the owner's needs. An original unaltered Ballard is an oddity, unless it's a #2 or #3 that are cast actions, that had less collector interest, and often were not modified by shooters.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I'm casting about for my next one now too. But first, a copy of Dutcher's book is in order. I can see my early Savages going for the cause, and maybe some Martinis....

  15. #15
    Boolit Master marlinman93's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gnoahhh View Post
    I'm casting about for my next one now too. But first, a copy of Dutcher's book is in order. I can see my early Savages going for the cause, and maybe some Martinis....
    Like the rifles John's book has gone bonkers in value too. I bought mine from John when he was coming back from the printer's with his van full of freshly printed copies. It was $70 then, and I think retail was $80. I wish I'd had a crystal ball to see the future then as they're running around $250+ now, used.
    I do occasionally see a copy go for a decent price under $150, but that's rare. Several years ago I sold a spare copy I had at the Denver show for $130, and it sat on my table for a couple days with no buyer. Even then they were getting $200, and I thought it would be gone in seconds at the $130 price.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    It's great to find a rifle like that and then the added bonus of it shooting that good. Great find !

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