By THOMAS E. WESSEL
On Nov. 5, 1861, C. H. Ballard of Worcester, Mass., was granted U. S. Patent No. 33,631 covering a lever-operated, single-shot rifle action. Initial manufacture of rifles under this patent was by Ball & Williams, of Worcester, Mass. During the Civil War this firm sold 20,000 Ballard rifles to the State of Kentucky and also furnished the U. S. Government a total of 1509 carbines and 35 rifles. In 1866 production of Ballard rifles was taken over by the Merrimack Arms & Mfg. Co. of Newburyport, Mass., and in 1869 by the Brown Mfg. Co. of the same city, which firm ceased producing Ballard rifles in 1873.
In 1875 Ballard rifle production was resumed by J. M. Marlin of New Haven, Conn. In 1881 this firm became the Marlin Firearms Co., but there was no break in production of Ballard rifles. The exact date that Ballard rifle production was discontinued by the Marlin Firearms Co. is unknown, but 1891 was apparently the final year.'
During a production period that spanned 30 years the Ballard rifle earned an enviable reputation for both accuracy and reliability. Ballard actions were often used by gunmakers as the basis of fine target rifles, and even to this day it is not uncommon to encounter cal. .22 match rifles with Ballard actions in regular use by top-flight competitors.
Early Ballard rifles are relatively crude in comparison with the last models produced by the Marlin Firearms Co., but the basic action style remained substantially unchanged. Early Ballards were made for rimfire cartridges and some incorporated an auxiliary nipple which permitted use of loose powder and ball ignited by percussion cap. An improvement by J. M. Marlin was a reversible firing pin to permit use of center-fire or rimfire cartridges in the same rifle.
Receivers and breechblocks of rimfire rifles were usually of casehardened cast iron, but these parts were often forged for use with larger center-fire cartridges. Several different types of extractors, finger levers, and set trigger arrangements will be noted in the various models and makes of the Ballard rifle. Factory chamberings ran from the .22 short up to and including the .45-100-2% " Sharps.
ITo disassemble the Ballard rifle, first open action, then remove lever screw (arrow-24). Holding extractor (23) in place with left thumb, pull action down and forward and thence away
3 Next, holding action firmly, remove block screw (18) which retains lever link (10) in forward recess of breechblock. The finger lever (21), lever link, and lever link screw (22) may be lifted away from breechblock
4 Remove hammer screw (19), rear block screw (20), and 2 remaining block screws (18). Using a small length of Va" wide hardwood slat, pry halves of breechblock (11 and 12) apart by inserting slat into forward recess and twisting. This will separate breechblock and expose all internal working parts
5 Continue by lifting away firing pin (13). Relieve spring tension on hammer (14) by placing a screwdriver blade against topmost surface of mainspring recess and top surface of mainspring, then twist slightly to depress mainspring. Hammer may now be lifted out and away. Remove trigger (17) and trigger spring (16). Reassemble in reverse order
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