Ballard Dual-Ignition Military Carbine - Very Scarce
- Product Code: FLA-2983
- Availability: Out Of Stock
This is a VERY GOOD condition example of a relatively scarce secondary US martial carbine from the Civil War era, which is most often encountered without military inspection marks of any kind. The Ballard Carbine was a breech loading, metallic cartridge breechloader that was invented by Charles H Ballard of Worchester, Massachusetts. His invention was issued US Patent #33631 in November of 1861. As Ballard was an inventor and not a manufacturer, he sought a way to market and sell his invention with an eye towards collecting patent royalties, instead of investing in a manufacturing facility to produce his guns. This lead to a partnership with New York sales agents Merwin & Bray, who represented Ballard’s invention, received contracts for his guns, and then subcontracted the production of the guns to other established arms makers. With the Civil War well under way in the winter of 1861-1862, Merwin & Bray found a ready market for the well designed, single shot rimfire carbines and rifles covered under Ballard’s patent. They then negotiated the manufacturing contracts with Ball & Williams of Worchester, MA and Dwight, Chapin & Co. of Bridgeport, CT. After the conclusion of the Civil War three other makers produced arms under Ballard’s patents, but they are not relevant to this discussion. Between 1862 and 1865 Ball & Williams produced 15,600 carbines and rifles under Ballard’s patent. Of this production about 5,000 were sporting rifles in a variety of calibers, about 4,000 were military rifles (in both .44 and .46 rimfire) and the balance of 6,600 guns were military style carbines in .44 rimfire. The majority of the 6,600 carbines were eventually delivered to the State of Kentucky for use by their cavalry. The US Ordnance Department contracted for 5,000 of the carbines in January of 1864, but only 1,509 of the guns were delivered, accepted and marked with Ordnance Department acceptance marks. The Ordnance Department rejected 600 additional carbines that were delivered for inspection, and Ball & Williams forfeited the balance of their US government contract in order to deliver the guns to the State of Kentucky at a higher price! The majority of the 1,509 US accepted guns (about 1,200) were sent to arm the Vermont State Militia, following the Confederate raid on St. Albans, VT on October 19, 1864. Nearly all of the remaining carbines produced were sold to the state of Kentucky, with an additional 500 being sold to the state of New York. Ballard military carbines were issued, to and saw service with the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 12th & 13th Kentucky Cavalry (US), as well as the 45th Kentucky Mounted Infantry. The carbines also saw some service with the 2nd Iowa Cavalry and 7th Ohio Cavalry. The Ballard Carbine, in its primary Civil War configuration, was a single shot, breech loading, .44 RF (.44-33-250) carbine with a 22” half-octagon, half-round barrel. The gun used a simple dropping block action that was actuated by a combination triggerguard/under lever. A handful of carbines were also produced with a unique Dual Ignition system that allowed them to be used as percussion arms if the rimfire ammunition was not available. These guns had a percussion cone centrally located in the rear of the breechblock, which was stuck by the face of the hammer neck. These guns would utilize the normal .44RF ammunition while it was available, but could also use percussion caps to ignite reloaded .44RF cases (with a vent hole drilled into their base), or could use nitrated paper cartridges. These “dual ignition” Ballard military carbines are very scarce. Dwight, Chapin & Company also produced an additional 1,000 carbines in .56-56 Spencer (.52 RF). While most cavalry carbines of the era were produced with a sling bar and ring, the Ballard was manufactured with a pair of sling swivels, one on the single barrel band and one in the toe of the buttstock. The guns had a simple manual extractor system to remove the spent cases. Pulling a small, spring-loaded lever located under the gun to the rear, actuated the extractor. The US Ordnance Department started to sell off obsolete carbines within months of the end of the war. The first of the Federally purchased Ballard carbines to be offered for sale were 67 guns in inventory at the Allegheny Arsenal. The guns were offered at public auction on January 18, 1866 with a reserve price of $3.00 each, and did not sell. However, more than 400 Ballards were sold from the St. Louis Arsenal in April of 1869 for between .75” and $3.00 each. In October of 1871, Kentucky sent many of their state owned Ballard carbines to the New York Agency, where they were categorized as “100 “ New, 996 - Cleaned & Repaired and 645 - Unserviceable.” In October of 1882, the firm of Schuyler, Hartley & Graham purchased over 1,600 surplus Ballard carbines from the US Government at prices that ranged from $1.50 each to $4.00 each. In 1901, there were still some 495 Ballard .44 carbines in inventory at the New York Agency, and in June of that year they were sold to Marcus Hartley & Co. for .86” each. Interestingly, Hartley owned a large chain of sporting goods stores and had purchased the Remington Arms Company in 1886.
This example of the Ballard Dual Ignition .44RF Carbine is in VERY GOOD condition. The gun is 100% original, correct and fully functional. The gun is clearly marked in two horizontal lines on the upper right, angled barrel flat, just forward of the receiver: BALLARD’s PATENT / NOV. 5, 1861. Opposing this mark, on the left angled barrel flat, it is marked: MERWIN & BRAY AGT’s / NEW YORK. The top flat of the barrel is marked: BALL & WILLIAMS / Worchester, Mass.. The carbine is serial numbered 2547 on the top of the barrel at the breech, as well as on the top of the receiver. The top of the receiver is also clearly marked No44 near the hammer. The left side of the hammer spur is marked: Patented Jan. 5, 1864, a reference to the dual ignition system patent. As previously noted, the gun is in VERY GOOD condition. The metal is mostly smooth throughout, with some small, scattered patches of light peppering and pinpricking and some small areas of light surface oxidized. The gun retains none of its original blued finish on the barrel, but has a smoky pewter patina, with a thin brown patina over most of its length, with some traces of blue coloration mixed with the pewter color of the metal. The barrel shows some scattered patches of lightly oxidized freckling as well. The receiver has a silvery pewter patina with traces of case coloring and freckled patches of brownish surface oxidation. The operating lever has a similar, matching patina, and shows some traces of case coloring on the interior surfaces and protected areas. The breechblock and hammer retail some traces of case coloring, with about 10% present in the protected areas. The balance of the furniture has similar, smoky pewter & bluish brown patina as found on the receiver and the barrel. The carbine functions exactly as it should and is mechanically excellent, although the trigger pull at full cock is very light; this could allow the carbine to be extremely accurate when fired. The breechblock moves freely when operated and locks tightly into place when closed. The hammer functions correctly, and automatically assumes the half-cock position when the breechblock is opened. The hammer locks crisply into the full-cock notch as well, and responds correctly to the very light trigger. Even the small stud that retains the operating lever in the closed position is present on the gun, a part that was quite prone to breakage and is often missing from Ballard carbines found today. The extractor system of the carbine is complete and fully functional, and the spring remains extremely strong. The original L-shaped, two-leaf rear sight is present on the top of the receiver. The 200-yard leaf is complete, but the 300-yard leaf is broken through the aperture. The sight is fully functional and rotates into its two positions, as it should. The original front sight, near the muzzle, is present as well. The gun also retains both original sling swivels. The bore of the carbine is in about VERY FINE in condition. It is very bright and shiny, with very crisp 5-groove rifling. The bore is free of any significant pitting, and shows only some frosting in the grooves and some lightly scattered pinpricking, which is most noticeable closest to the chamber. The stock of the carbine rates about VERY GOOD as well. The stock retains good edges and relatively sharp lines, showing no signs of sanding. The buttstock and forend are complete and solid and are free of any breaks or repairs, but do show some of the usual scattered bumps, dings and rubs that one would expect from a military carbine which saw actual service and use. There are a couple of minor grain cracks toward the rear of the forend, around the ejector escutcheon. These are tight and solid and do not detract. They are mentioned for exactness. The stock has an attractive medium brown tone and appears to retain some of its original oil finish. A small 7 is deeply stamped in the obverse buttstock, which might suggest use by the 7th Ohio Cavalry.
Overall this is a solid and attractive example of a relatively scarce US military secondary issue breech loading carbine. The fact that it is a dual ignition rimfire or percussion carbine makes it much rarer still. The gun is complete and fully functional and displays very nicely. This is one of those less often encountered military carbines that is missing from even some rather advanced Civil War carbine collections, and it would be a very good addition to your collection.SOLD