Ballard #7 Long Range

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marlinman93
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Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Mon Aug 22, 2016 9:22 am

Was approached recently about purchasing this Ballard #7 Long Range. Early production 1875-76 plain rifle, before the more deluxe 7A-1 was introduced. Of course I had to grab it, even though it meant selling a couple other Ballards to make room! Dutcher's book lists 11 known plain #7's, and this isn't one of them. It's about a dozen digits higher than the highest serial number he shows, so another to add to the list. All but one are in .44-100 Ballard, the exception being a .44-77SBN.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v691/ ... CF5011.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v691/ ... CF5012.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v691/ ... CF5014.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v691/ ... CF5015.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v691/ ... CF5016.jpg
Marlin lever actions 1870's-WWI, Ballards, and single shot rifles!

Brent
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Brent » Mon Aug 22, 2016 1:01 pm

It is a gorgeous rifle. I've seen you show it off on a few different websites and it is certainly worthy of the exhibition.

Have you shot it yet?

Have you made a chamber cast yet?

Have you slugged the bore yet?

I would love to see what you found for any of these questions and anything else you might have to add about this rifle too.

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marlinman93
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:49 am

I have slugged the bore Brent. It surprised me at .451", but others have told me that's normal for the .44-100 Ballard. Cartridges of the World listed it at .446", but I've learned to not trust some of their data. I made a chamber cast, and it all fell within what I expected. But about 30 of the cases I got were once fired RMC brass, so I could compare them to the other 150 new RMC cases, and the chamber cast. I believe the previous owner had cases made off a chamber cast, as they're such a perfect fit.
Haven't shot it yet, but have been casting and sizing bullets in various weights from as light as 300 gr. to 500 gr., so I can try and find out what it likes best. Spent most of yesterday casting bullets from the supplied paper patch mold, plus some .45-70 molds I had. They easily size down with my .452" sizer in my Lyman.
Too busy getting my Ballard display together for this weekend's annual collector show at OAC, so shooting will have to wait for September.
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Brent » Tue Aug 23, 2016 1:48 pm

If the .451" is the land diameter (what I call bore diameter), then you have a .45-100 regardless of the label on the barrel. It would be easy to make a paper patch load for such a rifle. If it is groove diameter, then you have a little more down sizing to do to whatever the land diameter is, but that's doable with most any .45 cal paper patch bullet.

Assuming you are looking for target loads, you will want that bullet all the way up into the rifling (with less than a 1/10th inch of bullet in the case). It will take a lot of powder to hold the bullet up that high. In my .45-100, I use 107 grs of Swiss 1.5 and a 0.06" fiber wad.

If you can post or email a high resolution picture of the front end of the chamber, I would love to see what the throat looks like. I have an original Pacific that I would like to have something to compare to, and your rifle would be ideal.

It is a heck of a rifle. No doubt about that. Your display will be the center of attraction, I'm sure.

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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Tue Aug 23, 2016 4:04 pm

Groove is .451", not lands. So for a grease groove bullet I'm sizing .001" over groove size. The lands measure .442"-.443", so an unpatched .442" bullet slides down the bore with almost no resistance. I can bump the buttplate on the rug and move the unpatched bullet. The paper that came with the gun is .003" thick, and two wraps make it .448" Since I'm unfamiliar with PP bullets, it seems a bit small for the .451" bore, but maybe it will bump up with BP?
I can't seat bullets out as far as you've recommended, as they engage the rifling and wont allow the cartridge to chamber if seated that shallow. The one built cartridge that came with the gun is a 475 grain, and seated about half the bullet's length and it leaves rifling marks on the ogive when seated.
I'm starting out with target loads, as it's only about 10 weeks until my annual elk hunt. I'd like to hunt with the Ballard, but will likely use my Hepburn in .45-70, as it's ready to go and sighted in.
Not sure I can get a picture of the chamber, as I have an inexpensive bore scope, and have never figured out how to capture a still picture to save to my computer. Looking at the chamber, it looks to have the same very gradual throat that my .45-70 Pacific has. Can't be more than around 8-10 degrees I'd guess.
Wont have the #7 on my display, as it's all Ballard Schuetzen rifles. I have both factory scheutzens, plus some Schoyen, Zettler, and other maker's reworks. But I will have the #7 on my trade table for display purposes.
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Brent » Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:29 pm

Everything bumps up in a BP load. No problem there. But a target load will be not more than 0.001" over land diameter, or a titch less. Just a nice friction fit into the bore.

If you have James Grant's first book, look at the target loads shown there. They are 1:1 in size. You will see that they are loaded almost as if they were breech seated. If you can't seat it fully into the rifling, then the bullet is too big. No doubt about that.

What I want to see from your chamber would be what's right at the end of the case mouth. It would have to be from a casting of the chamber I think. Anyway, it sounds like you probably have something like what is in my Pacific too.

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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Brent » Tue Aug 23, 2016 7:34 pm

Just realized, i have a copy of Grant's picture of the Sharps bullets. Lets see if these will work here with Rick's new forum parameters for photos.
Image

Number 15 is the quintessential Sharps Long Range cartridge. There is less than 0.1" of bullet in the case. This is what you want for a target round.

These are for Sharps rifles, but the same will hold for Ballards of course.

This is how you will get the best accuracy out of that rifle. Very simple to load. A full case of powder, a wad, a slight bit of compression and the bullet - maybe with a taper crimp, maybe not.

I strongly recommend Swiss 1.5 f powder and CCI BR2 primers. Others may work, but I KNOW these will.

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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:12 am

As I mentioned the bullet will slip down the bore with just a slight coaxing. The issue is the paper patch that restricts it from entering the rifling. Since the two wraps of paper add .006" to the diameter, they also hinder the loaded cartridge from seating, unless I used some mechanical advantage to set it into the rifling lands. I guess I don't understand how a bullet can be slightly smaller than land diameter, and be able to finger seat the loaded paper patch cartridge into the rifling by hand if seated out so far?
I'm a total newb to BP or PP bullets, so a huge learning curve ahead!
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:14 am

Image
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:14 am

Image
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Brent
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Brent » Wed Aug 24, 2016 9:48 am

Yes, the bullets must be smaller in diameter. For instance, in my two .45 barrels, I use bullets that are about 0.444" or maybe 0.4435" . I add paper that makes them 0.451" or maybe just a smidgen less. These cartridges are snug in the bore, but can be pushed in all the way without spraining my thumb. My .45-70 cartridges have an overall length of 3.5", so almost as long as the cartridge you show there, yet my case is only 2.1" long. Similarly, those cartridges in the picture I posted will reflect a very similar set up.

I like an 8 or 9 pound paper with at least 25% cotton in it. These are not always easy to find in the modern world but they are out there. Once I have a good paper, I work back from that to determine my bullet size and then order a mould that will create a wrapped bullet with that paper that will match the land diameter. In lieu of that approach, I take whatever bullet is close to what I need, but slightly oversized. I wrap with the best paper I have and the size it down to what I need using a custom Lee sizing die which is quite different than most lubrisizer dies. This gives me the exact diameter I want in the end, though it requires the extra sizing step that I would prefer to avoid.

So, plan on a WRAPPED bullet that matches or very very slightly exceeds the land diameter of your rifle's barrel. That is where you start if you want maximum accuracy.

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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:38 am

Thanks! I'm sure I'll have more questions!
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Brent » Thu Aug 25, 2016 11:57 am

When you get this:
Image
you will know you are there.

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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by marlinman93 » Mon Sep 05, 2016 11:11 am

Just an update to the #7 saga. The gun came to me with the original globe front sight missing. In it's place was a plain Marlin silver blade as found on most hunting model Ballards. I had a decent Ballard globe sight, and attempted to install it on the #7, only to find out the #7 has the early wider dovetail that's typical of very early Marlin Ballard rifles! Rats! The early Ballard had an @ .452" wide dovetail, and finding one was going to be like the proverbial "needle in a haystack" scenario.
Last weekend we had our annual two day collector gun show, and a buddy at another table asked me to help him price a bunch of sights he'd bought from an estate. I took them back to my table and started going through the 4 boxes of front and rear sights. I picked up a globe sight from the box, and it looked like an early Ballard globe. Turned it over and couldn't believe my eyes! The dovetail was much larger than the usual .375"! Could it be the globe sight I'd just a short time ago thought I'd never find? Got out my micrometer and measured the base width, and it indeed was .452"!!!
I put the sights away and scurried back to my friend's table to make a deal on the globe sight. I had to reveal how important it was to returning the #7 to correct condition, but he was still very generous, and made me an affordable purchase price! Should have bought a lottery ticket, but I don't gamble!
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Re: Ballard #7 Long Range

Post by Wishbone » Mon Sep 05, 2016 5:34 pm

Some days it does pay to get out of bed, Val.
Congrats on the sight and another beautiful rifle !

WB
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