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Education / Training The art of collecting airguns – Part 2

The art of collecting airguns – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll fulfill my promise to tell you about the greatest gun deal I’ve ever made. Although the title says airguns, today’s article is about firearms. But the process by which I did what seemed to me to be impossible is the same one I described in Part 1 of this report series.

I’m going to have to give you some background information, which involves other gun deals, because without them I would never have been able to swing this deal. But first, let me tell you what I was up against. You are about to read the longest and most detailed single blog report I have ever made, so you’d better put on a whole pot of coffee and get comfy.

There’s a gun store in Ft. Worth called the Winchester Gallery, and it’s right out of the 1950s. Besides modern guns, they have a wide selection of fine vintage guns for sale. You all liked the looks of my Winder Musket when I showed it to you. The Winchester Gallery has two of them available!

The Winder Musket is a target rifle chambered for .22 Short and was sanctioned for NRA matches in the early part of the 20th century.

They also have a great number of other fine collectible antique firearms. About five years ago, my buddy Mac was telling me how interested he was in a single-shot rifle in caliber .38-55 Winchester. Well, imagine my surprise to find such a rifle on the wall at the Winchester Gallery. It was a Marlin Ballard Union Hill No. 9 rifle with tang sight and spirit level front sight with wind gauge (that means the front sight adjusts to either side for windage corrections). Don’t worry about all that terminology. I’ll show you everything and explain it today.

The only problem with this fine rifle was its price. They wanted $3,500 for it! I don’t look seriously at guns in that price range because, frankly, I don’t have that kind of money to spend. Life went on, I returned home and the beautiful Ballard remained on the wall at the Winchester gallery, where it had already been for many years.

I would return to the Winchester Gallery several times each year that followed and every time I would visit that rifle. I was drawn to it, even though I would never have considered it had Mac not been interested in the caliber. The wood was so beautiful that it looked edible and the color case-hardened receiver looked new! But at $3,500, it was all looky and no touchy!

Fast-forward to two years ago, when I acquired an unbelievable Winchester M1 Carbine in a deal that was the best firearms deal I ever made to that point. What I thought I was buying was a clean M1 Carbine that I could shoot. What I actually got was a highly collectible and rare first model spring-tube Winchester sitting in a presentation walnut stock.

This 100 percent spring-tube Winchester carbine was made in 1943, during the third month of production. It saw no service and was as new as the day it was proofed.

This Winchester was all that I wanted and more. Unfortunately, it was the “more” that broke my heart. You see, this was a rare collectible gun that was also prone to break early in its life. The spring tube that Winchester had used because they didn’t have the tooling to drill deep holes straight in the receivers was prone to crack the receiver at several weak points. I wanted something to shoot, but shooting is the last thing you should do with this particular model. What I really had was the famed Biblical pearl of great price — something so valuable that it could not serve its intended purpose.

After getting out of the hospital in June of this year, I engaged in a complex trade with a local M1 Carbine collector who took my Winchester and left me with a very shootable S’G’ carbine plus a rare 1862 Peabody rifle. The Peabody I have written about already. It’s a fine rifle but it had one fatal flaw, from my perspective. It was too valuable to modify in any way! Once again, I had a gun I could shoot, but not one I could put a scope on without destroying about a thousand dollars of collector value.

The Peabody rifle was a single-shot cartridge rifle that was purchased by three state militias and several foreign governments. This one is from Connecticut, the only state to rebarrel their rifles in .45-70 caliber with Henry rifling.

The Peabody has an outside hammer. When Martini of Switzerland modified it, he lost the hammer and went to an internal striker. The Peabody-Martini rifle design is known much better than the Peabody that preceded it.

Very few Peabody rifles are marked this clearly.

The Henry rifling in this rifle bore is close to pristine, despite use with black powder and corrosive primers.

You guys know that I ended up putting a scope on my Remington Rolling Block in .43 Spanish. And that rifle has met all my hopes for what it could be and do. Mac got to shoot it about a month ago and his first three bullets at 50 yards could be covered by a quarter!

This Remington Rolling Block in .43 Spanish caliber (the same as .44-77 Sharps) is now a real tackdriver.

So, I owned this nice Peabody in .45-70 caliber, but I already own a vintage Trapdoor Springfield rifle in the same caliber that serves me very well. I don’t need two rifles in the same caliber. Plus, I had to modify the sights on the Trapdoor to be able to see the front blade and also to be on target at 50 yards. The Peabody has sights that hit 14 inches high at 50 yards, and I can’t see its front sight blade anyway. Despite being a way-cool historical firearm, it wasn’t giving me a warm fuzzy as a shooter.

A second blue-chip trade
Now you need to know something else. A few weeks ago, I had a brief opportunity to purchase a Winchester model 55 takedown rifle for about half what it’s actually worth. The rifle is in very good condition, but I was able to acquire it for just $600, because the seller needed the cash to make his own incredible buy. I had about an hour to decide, but I knew I could always sell the rifle for a handsome profit. Even though it tapped me out of cash at the time, I bought it.

The Winchester 55 is a little-known cousin of the famed model 1894. Where about ten million 94s were made, Winchester made only about 35,000 model 55s. It’s three times rarer than the model 64, which is also considered to be a scarce cousin to the 94. This one is in caliber .32 Winchester Special.

The bluing has flaked off the receiver because Winchester used nickel steel for the receiver, which did not hold the blue. They even lose blue when left untouched. Later, they changed the alloy and the bluing stuck better. Oddly, the barrel retains about 98 percent of the blue, even though it’s also made of nickel steel. Apparently, the barrel alloy is different.

This rifle is a take-down design that worked flawlessly. They seldom, if ever, become loose.

This 55 is a takedown rifle, which is usually rare, but in a 55 it is the most common form. The solid frame rifle is the one you don’t see that often. This rifle is in .32 Winchester Special, which is ballistically slightly better than the .30-30.

The plot thickens!
Now, all the pieces of the puzzle have come together. I have two prime collectible firearms that I don’t really want, and I acquired them in either great trades or buys after June of this year. Together they’re worth — wait for it — between $3,000 and $3,800, though I didn’t pay anywhere near that much. Still, I didn’t put everything together until I wrote that airgun collectible piece for this blog. Then it dawned on me that I could take my own advice and get the gun I really wanted by trading the two I didn’t care about.

Or at least that is how the story would have gone in a well-written novel or movie.

In my case, the idea of trading had to be suggested to me by a gun buddy, because I was too obtuse to envision it. However, once he mentioned it, I saw the possibilities. Mac, this other guy and I had just visited the Winchester Gallery, and I finally got to show both of them the Ballard rifle I’d been drooling over for the past five years. And that was when my other gun buddy suggested the trade. Only he told me to offer my Peabody and my Winder Musket. But I didn’t want to get rid of the Winder. I really like it. Then Mac said I should substitute the Winchester 55 for the Winder and suddenly the clouds cleared and the sun shown strong and warm!

They already had two Winder Muskets on their walls, but no model 55s. In fact, the guy who handled the trade for the gun store said it had been many years since he had seen a 55. So, from a desirability standpoint, this was the rifle they wanted and needed more than a third Winder.

Long story short, I made the trade and came home with a drop-dead gorgeous Marlin Ballard Union Hill No. 9 target rifle. Ballard began making their rifles in 1861, and Marlin bought them out in 1875. Ballard rifling was considered to be among the best in its day — the Lothar Walther of the 19th century — and custom barrelmakers like Harry Pope liked the actions above all others.

Marlin made the Ballard single-shot rifle from 1875 until 1890, and they made just less than 36,000 of all models. The Union Hill No. 9 was introduced in 1884. From the serial number of this rifle, it seems it was made around 1886, but it looks almost brand new. It has walnut that would be called grade four today. The bore is bright, smooth and fresh despite may decades of black powder cartridges. Whoever owned this rifle, in fact all of the former owners, took painstaking care of it.

Marlin Ballard Union Hill No. 9 offhand target rifle in .38-55 caliber. This single-shot rifle was probably made around 1886. Distinctive features are the pistol-grip stock, the cheekpiece and the half-round/half-octagon 30-inch barrel. The rifle weighs about 9.5 lbs.

Although the lever makes the rifle look like a repeater, it’s actually a single-shot. Just look at those bright case colors on the receiver!

When the lever goes forward, the breechblock and hammer drop down for loading.

When the breechblock drops down, the breech can be accessed for loading.

The rifle is in .caliber .38-55. Today, with smokeless power dominating all our loads, we think of that caliber as a good deer and black bear round, but in the black-powder days of the late 19th century when bullets flew at much slower velocities, this same cartridge was viewed as a good offhand round for 200-yard target work.

Not familiar with the .38-55 cartridge? In the middle, flanked by the .30-30 Winchester (left) and the .30-06 (right). The .38-55 is a blackpowder cartridge that spawned the .30-30, but also continues to live its own life today. It’s a little more powerful than the .30-30, but in the 19th century was considered to be a great offhand target cartridge.

After some internet research, I’m 95 percent convinced that what I have is a Ballard Union Hill No. 9 rifle. All the specifications, save one, fit perfectly. What doesn’t line up is that my rifle has a black flat gutta-percha buttplate, where the No. 9 usually had a nickel-plated butt hook. But customers could make changes to the base models, and in all other ways, my rifle aligns with the No. 9 Union Hill.

What thrills me to no end is the presence of both a tang-mounted diopter rear sight and a rare wind-gauge front sight with spirit level. Marlin made both of these sights, so there’s no maker’s name on them. The rear sight is graduated to 900 yards, but careful examination shows that only 800 yards of adjustment is possible, and that was what defined the No. 9 rifle. The wind-gauge front sight is unusual because it adjusts for windage. While we have plenty of these sights today, they were not that common in the 19th century, but a target rifle like this one needed to have one. The spirit level refers to a bubble level in front of the front sight, so when you take aim you are careful to also center the bubble before firing. That way, all tendency to cant is eliminated.

This Marlin flip-up rear aperture sight mounts on the tang and adjusts out to 800 yards. Actual sight settings should be found through shooting at the ranges you want and recording the actual Vernier readings from the sight post in a shooter’s notebook for the rifle.

The rear of the front sight (top) is facing the shooter, so he levels the bubble before shooting. The front (bottom) has a Vernier scale for recording windage changes. Notice the complete absence of any crowning at the muzzle. This was common in the 19th century and was considered the most accurate way to finish a muzzle. Just keep it safe from bumps!

This set of marks was applied to Marlin Ballards made in 1881 and later. The patent date is Nov. 5, 1861.

What attracted me to this rifle the first time I saw it on the wall at the Winchester Galley was the beautiful wood buttstock and forearm. The figure in the wood is so gorgeous that it appears to be chocolate! Both the pistol grip and forearm are checkered well, but not with fine lines. This checkering is meant to grip sweaty palms in the heat of competition.

This is what I mean by “edible” wood!

A fine gutta-percha buttplate is held to the butt with two engraved screws. Notice the screw slots are aligned with the bore — a sign of quality gun-making!

If you just have to know how much I am into this rifle, the total is $1,850, or a little more than half the asking price. But wait a moment — I said this rifle had been on the wall at the Winchester Gallery for many, many years. In all that time, the price tag had remained the same as the day it was put on. So, the gun’s price never appreciated through the years as it should have.

You can go on Gun Broker and find Marlin Ballard Union Hill No. 9 rifles for $3,500 from time to time. But look at them closely, because none of them will have this grade of wood and their case colors will not be as bright and vibrant as those on this gun. Some may even have double-set triggers or Swiss butt hooks, but they’ll lack the spirit level wind gauge front sight. Get all the attributes the same as my gun and the starting price will be closer to $5,000.

The moral
This story has a point. Besides my sharing the tremendous find with you, I also hope to encourage you to think bigger than you have been. If you want a certain airgun, make up your mind to get it. A year ago, I would have said there was no way I could have ever acquired this rifle. But by putting into practice several of the tips I have shared with you in this blog regarding acquiring fine airguns, I was able to swing the impossible deal through a series of other deals within the past five months of this year.

Not only have I told you a great story about a fantastic deal. I now find that my vision of what is possible has been expanded to larger than its former size. It will never again snap back to where it was before. Having done this, I know I can do other things equally large, so now I want to do more. Not spend more money, but take some of the things I don’t care about and turn them into things I can treasure. This means I have to be open to great buys when they pass my way, even if I don’t want them. Someone wise once said the deal of a lifetime comes by about every 18 months — more often if you are actively looking.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

122 thoughts on “The art of collecting airguns – Part 2”

  1. Morning B.B.,

    I’m glad that I stayed up for this one. As I was reading and scrolling down, I was shouting out what beautiful gorgeous color case hardening!! Absolutely yes to the wood. But most of all thanks for extending our horizons About what is possible.

    If you would please, a comment or two on the shape of the rifling and hats off to its picture. How’d you manage the lighting? Don’t tell me it was your tactical light again.


    • Bruce,

      The light came from a 35-lumen flashlight bounced off the breech. The angle of reflection was critical and it took six exposures to get what you saw. If I didn’t have a digital camera whose results are immediate, that shot wouldn’t have been possible for me.

      As for the shape of the rifling, I assume you refer to the Henry rifling? That was the one thing that made me the saddest about getting rid of the Peabody. Henry rifling has a rounded top to the land and the land is about one-third the width of the groove. It is supposed to stay clean with black powder much longer than conventional rifling that has sharp corners. And, as such, it was favored by target rifles of the day and by long-range shooters. At least that is what I have learned about it so far.


      • Hi, BB!!!

        It’s been a while. Great blog on some wonderful Winchesters. Ever think of doing one on the Model 92? That’s my personal favorite. A couple of quick airgun questions.

        1. In your opinion, would there be any accuracy advantage in shooting a Crosman Medalist 1322 with a metal skeleton shoulder stock?

        2. Are the Medalist .22’s superior/inferior to the Benjamin HB22’s?

        3. By the way, my ticker’s doing fine!


        • Walton,

          A shoulder-stocked 1322 would be easier to hold steady, and should thus group a little better. Also, you could use a rifle scope on it instead of a pistol scope, because the eye relief would be correct.

          I bet the Medalist 1322s will outshoot a Benjamin Hb22.

          Good news on your heart. Stay healthy!


  2. A primo rifle for sure. I find it had to believe it sat so long with no takers. I think it was meant for you B.B. You must do a blog on accuracy. At 9.5 lbs. it should be a great target shooter.

  3. B.B.

    Reading this article I thought many times “My feelings exactly!”, especially concerning modding. I’ve got some airguns of value and a custom-built over-and-under, that I wish I could shoot, but attaching a scope rail, or modifying stock to fit me would ruin the valuable gun. Alas, they are too dear (and just rare) to me to sell them, yet they aren’t quite in line with my main rule – a gun must shoot. So I take them once a year, just to keep them working.


    • duskwight,

      Ahh! You have the soul of a real collector!

      I have to be able to shoot all of my guns, but a real collector like you doesn’t worry about that. You appreciate them for what they are, not just what they can do.

      My hat is off to you, sir.


      • B.B.

        Just imagine a man, mounting red dot sight onto pre-WW Sauer side-by-side. Some welding, some grinding, some Permablue – and it’s done. I think madness looks this way, but that vandal told me he’s happy with his new gun.
        Maybe collectioning is some sort of a sence of style pathology. I’m fighting myself and try to keep only _working_ things, well, sometimes I loose and keep some things just for what they are.
        I think collectioning also has another great value – studying. It’s great to study the way one’s thought worked and what solutions it made. And sometimes I can find there solutions valuable for myself 😉


  4. While this is a very nice article about your personal gun collection it has nothing to do with air guns which is what I thought this blog was about. Recently I’ve noticed articles about reloading metallic cartridges as well, again nothing to do with air guns. I guess is must be nice to have the resources to just write about whatever you want to with little regard to the subject at hand. As for myself I would stick to the subject. If I wanted to learn about reloading and such there are much better sites available with more accurate information. This is just a personal observation but I would like to see air gun articles in an air gun blog !

    • JRR,
      99% of what BB writes about is airguns. He not only reviews new guns, but gives us his personal insight into all the tips and tricks he has picked up through the years. I don’t think anyone in the world writes more about airguns that BB. Give him his due.

      Today’s blog is about something other than airguns that excites him. He wants to tell his friends about it. Most of us that are interested in airguns are also interested in firearms, knives, reloading, and other things. I think 90% of his readers will enjoy this blog. There are occasionally blogs that don’t interest me but so what, I can see by the comments that others like it.

      BB is also using this story to try to open our eyes wider than ever before to the opportunities we have to acquire airguns or other things of our dreams. That is a life lesson we should all listen to.

      David Enoch

    • JRR,
      Welcome to the blog. Are you a first time reader or have you been following us for a while? We welcome your opinion and we hope you welcome ours as well. We are a great community of air gunners with a wealth of airgun knowledge.

      Please look along the right hand side of the blog articles and there you will find a wealth of archives, recent posts and categories written mostly by BB and some by a few of us other air gunners. I think you’ll find what you’re looking for there.

      If you don’t find what you’re looking for there please let us know and we’ll put it there. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what topic it is you’re interested in? Chances are BB has already written an article about it.

      Good to see you on the blog. Hope to hear from you.


    • I agree with David on this one.

      I don’t even own firearms but still read the reloading blogs and blogs like today’s with great pleasure. Some blogs may be about air guns you don’t care about but you might still learn something. I’ll never be able to own a Benjamin Marauder in my country (Canada) as it is prohibited because of the shrouded barrel but I still read every article I can about it.

      Blogs like the one we have today can help us make similar deals with airguns or every other collectible for that mater.
      I think it is a very generous blog and a window into Tom’s personal life and something he didn’t have to share with us but still did and instead of keeping tricks of the trade for himself he shares it with us to help us achieve great deals too, maybe someday it will comeback and bite him in the rear end when someone here makes a good deal before him but I’m sure he’ll be happy for the lucky guy who got it first

      Maybe if you stay here a while you’ll see that we’re all friends and take interest in each others live and exploit be it Wacky Wayne Field Target exploit, CJr grip making adventures, Pete Zimmerman trip in Germany, Rikib’s last dog rescue or motorcycle or Tom’s air gun or not tradings and even milan new ballistic gel recipe…
      Some have to do with airguns, some are a bit of a stretch and some are completely off topic but it’s nice to look around and see what and who is around us. Try some new stuff sometimes and maybe discover something.

      Come along for the ride, you never know, maybe you’ll like it 🙂 and if you don’t, skip today’s blog and look at some of the old ones, there’s over 5 years worth of blogs here that’s more than 1300 single blogs you can surely find a few ones you’ll like. 😉


      p.s. 7 words changed… ouch! Thank you mr. spell checker LOL, I hope I didn’t leave too many grammatical errors

    • JRR,

      When B.B. first told me he was going to write this blog, I said that he better tie this to airgunning 🙂

      He did that but not in a big way. There are 2 purposes of this blog about his trades: (1) To show people that you don’t need a lot of money to get something of value and (2) to show off his pretty new gun! He accomplished the second one but might have been a bit skimpy on the details for the first point. In all fairness, he DID say at the end of the blog that you can apply these same principles to airgunning.

      1. Get airgun reference books. There are very few of them, but they ARE essential. Read them, commit some things to memory or refer to the book when considering trades & purchases. Here are some links to older blogs that will help you assemble a useful library:


      2. Go to airgun shows and acquaint yourself with what’s available, the prices and the condition of guns.
      Carry your Blue Book of Airguns with you if you’re unsure if something is a good deal, really rare or really common.

      3. Regularly read the online classified ads and trading/selling forums. You don’ t have to buy or trade, but you’ll learn a whole bunch about what’s available, what’s not and what gets scarfed up right away.

      4. Go to gun shows and ask some vendors if they have any airguns. Most won’t have any, but you’d be surprised how many will pull one out from under the table. You never know what you’ll see.

      Do you know the story about a guy who wanted a house but didn’t have enough $ to buy one? So, he traded a red paper clip for something else that was a little bit more valuable and eventually worked his way up to a house. That was his goal from the get go. Start small. Start where you live. Work your way up. Trading is much like climbing the ladder of success. Get a foothold at a lower rung and start up.

      Want to know more about the guy who traded a paper clip for a house? Buy his book on Amazon 🙂 His blog is also available if you don’t want to read the book. You have to click on the “click here” link at the bottom of each entry to see the next trade.


    • JRR,

      Welcome aboard!

      Some of us don’t see a big difference, or departure, when talking about firearms, and for me in particular, target rifles. That’s why I made a comment about about hold regarding this beauty that B.B. has recently acquired. You see, some of us just love shooting, some of us are good at it, some of us use both air-guns and firearms for specific reasons, and for some of us, air-guns just bring out the kid in us. As I always tell people, for me it’s all about the execution. I personally have qualified for world class competition tryouts (Pan American Games, World Championships, Olympics, etc.) with air pistol, air rifle, and small-bore rifle (standard rifle, and freestyle). I’ve learned more in one year about guns through THIS blog than I did in years of traveling to just about every competition in the country.

      Also, you might notice that maybe half of the comments are often not even specific to the article itself, including THIS article. This is where people come to ask ANY questions they have about guns, ammo, scopes, or anything else that might pop-up in their mind. The articles provide a forum where thoughts are provoked, ideas are shared, and we learn a little more about each other. In the end, I’d say that 90%+ of the discussion is pertinent to air-gun shooting, while some of the other discussion just adds dimension.

      Even within the realm of air-guns, there is a great deal of diversity. I, for instance, am primarily interested in accuracy and competition. Some of us hunt, some of us plink. Some of us are more mechanically inclined than others and will do their own gun-smithing. Others are purely off-the-shelf. I, bought myself a FWB 700 ALU, because it handles like a small-bore rifle that I am planning on buying for prone competition, and it allows me to practice at home. There isn’t much interest in my state for small-bore competition, so there aren’t good ranges for this. But while there isn’t much good literature about PCP’s out there, there is a wealth of knowledge within this community.

      Through this blog, and community, I’ve learned about springer’s, and to fully appreciate the less expensive pneumatics that I already owned. In the past, I had air-guns that I threw away because I didn’t understand what might be wrong with them. Now I know how simple it is to fix them. Lots of air-guns are replicas of firearms. That in itself is a very interesting thing for many reasons!

      I think that a blog that was very strictly one thing would get boring.

      If you have questions, or just want to throw something out there about air-guns, or your particular air-gun, please do so.


  5. WOW, I must admit that I cheated on this one, I didn’t read it first, I went straight down to the pictures (which are awesome by the way) to take a look at these magnificent rifles and looking at these I just can’t understand how people cannot like guns, when you look at rifles like the winder musket, the remington rollingblock and that VERY NICE Marlin rifle how can you not find it beautiful?? Sure it shoots and can hurt people and animals but so can a LOT of things if you aren’t careful with them but they sure don’t look this good.

    Congrats on that very good deal.


  6. BB, I will speak for myself here but I suspect that most others are the same way. I would not have known enough about any of the guns that went through you hands to make this deal happen to have been a player. You have to know what you are looking at or at least be curious enough to do the research. You got lucky with the M1 carbine. And, by either knowledge or research, knew enough to realize what you had and not shoot it until you broke it. You knew not to modify the Peabody, and to grab the Winchester 55 when the opportunity presented itself. Knowledge, research, and learned intuition were your best tools here.

    I loved the blog,

    David Enoch

    • David,

      Those tools are what I want to pass along to the readers of this blog. Because if they know more about airguns in general, they stand a much better chance of making an exceptional find like this.

      Just recently Fred in the Peoples’ Republik of New Jersey scored a very nice Diana model 5 pistol that he is going to tell us about, and he found it in an unusual and offbeat way–through casual conversation and the cultivation of a resource. That is what collecting airguns with an eye toward value is all about. But you already know that by the evidence of your Hy-Score 801 collection.


      • BB,

        I wish to correct Cjr’s response above yours. He only said, “wow” once. The correct term should be, “wow, wow, wow”!!!! What a beautiful rifle and that mechanical rear sight and a front sight with a level – that I’ve never seen or heard of before. This baby is a keeper!!!!!

        I will be starting the blog on the 5V next week – I have to take some photos and touch up the Marauder blog first (for the rest of you, I finally put my Marauder through the Chrony in order to adjust it to shoot at a lower pressure and I was surprised twice with the results).

        Fred PRoNJ

      • B.B.
        Congrats on making the deal. I have never owned a firearm and don’t think I ever will but I share in your joy. Thanks for letting us into your life and sharing the things you are passionate about.
        In this day of high speed manufacturing and computer controlled “CNC” machines I am amazed by the detail on this 100+ year old gun and might I say a nice piece of “eye candy”. Would you happen to know how many man hours went into making such a beautiful piece?
        Every day after breakfast, reading this blog is the first item on my “to do” list. Just ignore the comments of the “nubie” and keep on doing the things you love the most.

        • Pete,

          No, I have no idea how many manhours went into the making of this gun, but I do know an interesting related fact. When Harry Pope, the celebrated barrelmaker who is considered to be the Stradivarius of rifle barrels was working for the Stevens Company (I believe), they soon criticized him for spending too much time on a barrel. That was back around 1903! So you know he was really going overboard if they felt it was too much time.

          That was the reason he parted company with them. They wanted to use lower-priced laborers to make the barrels and just let him do the final inspections of those barrels to which his name stamp was affixed and he refused.


    • Exactly… I think what BB imparts to us from his collecting/buying stories could be summed up in one sentence;

      Set a goal for that one, fine gun you must have and then start buying and trading your way down the path to acquiring that same, must have gun.

      I know for me, that I get excited about a new must have gun and then stop, look around for that extra cash (that is usually not there) and then start playing the “what can I sell?” game. Too little, too late. Should have started the buying and selling months earlier with a goal or objective to acquire the must have gun.

  7. BB,

    Thanks for this blog. I remain encouraged to continue to browse the gun shops endlessly and seemingly fruitlessly. Same with the airguns, only over the net. At least I am able to broaden my base and keep up with values, even though I have not made a purchase in over three months. (Excluding the Savage 99 that is “being borrowed”, as my step father won’t take $ for it).

    That Marlin Ballard IS without a doubt a most prized purchase/trade on an equally beautiful piece.


    • KidAgain says… “I have not made a purchase in over three months”

      Oh that’s bad, very bad, you will suffer from PTLGP syndrome if you don’t buy something soon! (Pre-Traumatic Lack of Gun Purchase)

      • Ha! Exaaacly…!

        Not to worry, Got something on the line. I have to keep my purchases/trades with the small amount of money that I have scraped up, no credit cards or living money. Leaves me just a couple hundred.


  8. Simply beautiful! What a marvelous set of sights. I’ve never seen any like that before.

    Now an airgun question: I pulled out my 1322 to shoot for the first time in a while, and it won’t pump air. I stored it with a pump in it, and I discharged the one pump before loading and pumping, but when I went to pump it up, no resistance was felt, an no air builds up in the reservoir.

    The linkage works fine, and the pump head appears to move just fine. It cocks and the trigger appear to function fine. It is almost as if a valve is stuck open.

    Any thoughts? I’m sure I’ll probably have to tear it down, and of course that means I’ll “have” to do some upgrades like a steel breech and all. It is 100% stock now, and I purchased it new in about 1983 . . .

    Alan in MI

    • Out of curiousity I went and checked my crosman pumpers too…
      The 2289’s work fine but the benjamin 397 is doing the same thing :-O
      As I pump it if the bolt is closed I can feel the air coming out from the muzzle…


      • J-F,

        In your case, you should be able to correct the situation without disassembling the gun. First, oil the pump head with Crosman Pellgunoil. Read this report to see how that’s done:


        You cannot overdo this. It is impossible to over-oil a multi-pump pneumatic this way, because the extra oil just gets blown through the valve and out the barrel during firing.

        After oiling, pump the gun eight times (cocking before you pump), load a pellet and shoot it. Do this at least 20 times in a row.

        Then try your pumping without cocking the gun once more and you may be surprised to find the condition has been fixed. What you did was blow a particle of dirt off a seal face.


        • I’ll try it this afternoon or during the week-end, thanks.
          Do you have any tips on how to store it to help this kind of thing not happening again?
          It was stored with 2 or 3 pumps of air in it and was kept in the gun safe all the time…


            • I just did what you told me to and it works like a charm.
              I don’t shoot it very often since it’s so loud and I don’t want to bring too much attention on my air gunning ways so last time I used it I probably didn’t oil because of the “air hole, do not oil” stamping near the seal. When I read here to store it with air I simply went downstairs shot a few pellets and left a few pumps of air in it without thinking twice about the oil.
              My bad.
              While I was there I also put a few drops on the seals of my other airguns that looked dry and a few drops down the barrels of a few springers. I’ll shoot them next week to see if they all work properly.

              See JRR even if the blog itself on a particular day isn’t about airguns you can still learn about them anyways! I love this place 🙂


    • Alan,

      I think you may be right about the exhaust valve remaining open. But all it takes is a tiny particle of dirt to have that affect. The only solution to this is to strip the gun and clean the valve. I will bet you will find dirt.


  9. BB,

    Wow. I would love to have that rifle! But I would just HAVE to shoot it! I can’t stand to have a gun I can’t shoot. And that one looks like it should be real accurate. Which would make it REAL interesting.

    I have never made such a blockbuster deal in my whole life. But on a much smaller scale I did acquire a gun I always wanted but thought it may be out of my reach.

    I had always wanted a Sumatra 2500 carbine and recently saw one on yellow for $375 or trade. I had a Beeman R9 I acquired new about 16 years ago for $169. I offered it and he said he would allow me $300 in trade as the moderator was worth $150. I said I didn’t need the moderator so the deal was made even swap. He even threw in a tin of Eun Jins and a quick disconnect probe for it.

    So now I own a gun I really wanted at way less than new cost and shoot it almost every day. I shot the R9 some at first but eventually relegated it to being a safe queen as I thought it was too nice to risk damaging.

    My tastes don’t really run to high priced collectors guns but some day I am going to get a good 10 meter target rifle and pistol.

    And I hope to use your principals to do it!

    • pcp4me,

      Good job on getting the Sumatra. That is exactly what I am talking about.

      Now on the 10-meter pistol, pick a pistol that sells for $800 to $1,000 used and see if you can’t get it for about $400 worth of investment. Then you will have a really great deal.

      Go on Texas Gun Trader, where I hang out all the time and see what people are willing to trade for guns. Or what they are willing to trade guns to get:




  10. B.B.,

    Well done. Very, Very Well Done.

    I hereby knight you Trader of all traders in the land.

    Although you didn’t publish enough pictures with this wonderful article you published enough to make me believe your Marlin Ballard Hill No. 9 finish is original (wish you would have shown some closeups of that checkering. Looks stunning from afar). Hard to wrap my head around the condition of that gun. It’s surely over 120 years old. For perspective, think about the typical condition of a 20-30 year old treasured FWB 124. We ooh and ahh when we find one in very good condition. I mentally add another 100 years of age to that fine FWB 124 to understand what an amazing find your Ballard really is. The minimal amount of wear on the breech block when the gun is fully cocked is unreal.

    You can’t possibly be worrying about the buttplate to know this gun is correct. Very common for the butthooks to be replaced or even have the prongs filed down. Hunters hated butthooks. They’re a pain in a scabbard. In your “edible wood” photo it looks like the butt of your gun has the “S” design that was necessary to have originally accepted a nickeled swiss butt hook. I’m sure you’re putting out electronic alerts on every gun site for a swiss butt hook. LOL!

    The relevance of this article to airguns is readily apparent. Learning to be saavy enough at buying selling and trading airguns until you end up with what you want is one clear message. The journey can be as simple as buying cheap and selling high or as common as buying an airgun that, after much research, blog and forum banter, you were convinced that was perfect for your needs but didn’t turn out that way. Climb the ladder to what you really want through experience of actually shooting a variety of airguns and buying them at the right prices.

    You’re fortunate to have a gun shop nearby that wants to trade. In most of my instances of climbing the airgun ladder I’ve had to buy right then sell right in order to have the CASH to pounce on the occassional great airgun deal. Especially in this economy. Owners of fine airguns are selling at bargains since they need the money not two more airguns. My preference is trading though it just hasn’t happened for me lately in the airgun world.

    Send that gun to me and I’ll give it a five F and felt pad treatment. I’ll return it in a year or so.


    • Kevin,

      Wow! So Cabelas wants $12,500 for the same rifle! Only theirs has the Swiss butt hook and no spirit level front sight. And my wood is far superior! Theirs is in .32-40, which is a desirable caliber, but on a par with the .38-55, I think. Thank you for that link.

      As far as trading versus buying outright goes, I had been thinking along those lines (buying) when my gun buddy suggested the trade. I figured I could sell the Peabody and the Winchester 55 for about $3,000 quickly enough and just make them an offer. But trading was so much faster and more convenient for me. I think they did it because of the old-fashioned way they do business there.


      • B.B.,

        Hard to tell but the Cabela’s Ballard looks refinished. If they sell that gun for anywhere near the asking and it was refinished you can add a zero to your estimated value of your gun. Yes, I’ve seen the Ballards on gunbroker. None are as complete nor anywhere near the condition of yours. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ORIGINAL in the condition that yours is. You need to find a butt hook. Unreal.


    • BB,

      Thanks for sharing that trading experience! It gives hope to us newbies in the collecting world. What I like the most, (besides that beautiful rifle), is the JOY you get in the process.

      I too get joy in the process, although my process seems a little less fruitful:-)

      I’m so glad you and the wonderful folks here on this blog helped me into this great hobby… and now fun business…
      You know doing it as a business also gives one tax benefits.

      Kevin, your comment helps to put the trade into real perspective. Well said! and thanks for that link!

      And it also shows we really don’t know what me might have… sometimes…

      I’m happy that I’m now focused on field target rifles… in particular USFTs.. They should hold their value over time.. and over the long term really gain in value as Tim stops making them sometime in the future. He is still stuck on him doing all the work, so I doubt he will pass on the making of the air guns.

      And there is nothing like shooting a round field target, with the designer (LD, (Larry Durham) and maker, Tim MacMurry of the gun your shooting!!

      Just think about how long your fine new marlin has been taken care of and loved… really it’s kind of scary… the responsibility of keeping it that way.

      And to match that long history of care and love with a newer collectible like a USFT, is even more scary!
      Congrats Tom… very, very well done indeed! and really, really thanks for sharing the process with us.

      Wacky Wayne,
      Match Director,
      Ashland Air Rifle Range

    • This is a beautiful rifle, if I had the money I’d buy it right away.
      I don’t know much about firearms (or airguns either for that mater) so when I see stuff like that I’m amazed at how nice they can look.
      Do you guys think the wife would be angry if I sold her car to buy that rifle? Or maybe Cabela’s would accept a trade?
      A nice VW Passat… no… come on, it’s fully equiped, I’ll even throw a second set of tires with the car… what do you mean you don’t need winter tires in Texas…


  11. b.b.,
    Although I’ve been reading your blog for only a few months, I’ve finally read them all, and this is by far the best one! I really look forward to a long report regarding ballistics, hand loads & accuracy-especially way down range. Thanks for all the great articles and stories, I can’t wait to pull the trigger on a used copy of your R1 book…when I can afford it, that is!

  12. BB,
    That’s a nice rifle — so nice, I wouldn’t dare to shoot it :).

    I saw my dream rifle earlier this year (twice actually, but once up close), but it didn’t seem like you were up to hearing about it at the time. It is the brass-mounted, relief-carved and engraved southern style long rifle built by Jacob Young for William Whitley. Aside from the massive, only slightly tapered and flared (1.25″ approx. at breech) barrel 46″ long, a stunning captured lid patchbox, and engraving that is literally mind-blowing, as well as other tasteful ornamentation (it doesn’t even look fancy until you see it up close), it has more than a little bit of history, as it is the rifle carried in the Battle of the Thames in Ontario, Canada, during the war of 1812. A brass band around the wrist was used to repair the rifle, as it was damaged when its owner (60 something years old at the time) fell from his horse after being shot and killed during a charge of the “Forlorn Hope” against Tecumseh and the British. That much is certain. What is contested is the possibility that this rifle may have been the one that killed Tecumseh on its final loading, either with Whitley himself firing the shot or perhaps someone else who picked up the rifle after he fell. Either way, Whitley himself was buried with the other fallen in an unmarked grave, but his horse and rifle were returned to his wife (whose initials are also engraved on the rifle’s cheek inlay), and the rifle managed to stay in the family and generally in the same area (with a brief excursion) until the present day, when it is displayed at Whitley’s house, which has become a museum. Not something I would want to own (it belongs to history), but I was quite inspired by that rifle and dream about it sometimes.

    • BG_Farmer,

      One of my passions is for Pennsylvania rifles, and the one you describe, though southern made, fits the bill exactly. If only they could talk!

      As far as shooting my new/old Ballard, I intend to treat it as well as the former owners did, so the next owner can have the same excitement I’ve had. I’m already working on good soft loads for 200-yard targets.


      • BB,
        I’ve been itching to tell you about it since I saw it. As far as Pennsylvania versus Southern rifles, Jacob Young (along with several others) does not need apologies. His work equals or surpasses anything ever built in PA in many respects. It is generally accepted that he made every part by his own hand (not just stock and mountings, but barrel, lock, triggers, etc).

        Here’s some pictures of the Whitley and another rifle (the “Woodfork”):
        The pictures are only the barest approximation of the reality. Also, the Whitley has had a lock replaced, probably due to the same battle damage. Originally, it would most likely have had a lock more like the Woodfork (note esp. the double-throated cock, which is pretty much unheard of on American rifles at that time).

        I know you’ll take care of that Ballard. I don’t think it could belong to a better person.

        • BG_Farmer,

          Thanks for the link sir. Have you ever been to Williamsburg, VA and watched the folks building one of there rifles. I’m not at all knowledgeable about flint locks and was wondering about the guns built there and what their reputation is among the cognoscente?


          • Mr.B,
            Sadly, no, except possibly when I was too young to know what to look for, although I have been to Williamsburg several times, since my wife went to school there. Next time for sure. Now, don’t mistake me for a cognoscente, but the smiths who work there are high caliber from all I can gather. However, there is apparently an ironic situation in that they don’t have much evidence of rifles ever being produced there (or much of anywhere in the Tidewater) during colonial times, only smoothbores and fowlers as I understand it. Most of the rifles built in Virginia were produced in the great valley, either by immigrants or by settlers from further north (Maryland and Pennsylvania). There is a museum at Martin’s Station (near the Cumberland Gap) that recently started producing rifles completely from scratch (although I think they get their barrels from Williamsburg). Its not clear whether the rifles used by the Over Mountain men at King’s Mountain were of local (i.e., SW Va, NW NC, E Tn) origin or not, but there was soon after a good number of makers in that area and the settlers were always reputed to be well-armed, even unto this day :).

  13. BB:
    I loved the article and with a happy ending too.
    Just last night I was watching ‘Tales of the gun’ which was about Winchester repeaters and their origins.
    Dang!the prices they fetch at auction these days.

    To get my HW I sold my 72 bass accordion 🙁
    Good news.I never played it 🙂
    8 bass is more then enough for me and I have two now.One for each foot lol

      • BB:
        ‘Lady of Spain’
        Now there is a song I haven’t tried 🙂
        I bit off more than I could chew with the bigger accordion and so it was hardly used.
        Money was tied up in it and when my doctor told me his son wanted a new accordion we did a deal.
        That near enough paid for my new HW99s.
        Without that sale,I would have been stuffed for a new air rifle.

  14. I’m happy for you, B.B.. Congratulations on achieving a dream!

    I started modestly in my collection of air and airsoft guns. At some point I realized I actually COULD afford my dream guns. This was an important realization for me, and I’m glad your friends pointed out that you could trade for the firearm you really wanted.

    There is nothing like a life-threatening illness to remind us that life is short. I believe God offers us these illnesses as a way of encouraging us to stop fiddling around and get on with what we’re supposed to do with our lives.

    • Joe B.,

      Well said! I think you are right.

      In June I communicated with Fred Liady and told him I was looking forward to coming to the Roanoke airgun show so I could hug him and tell him how much I love him. He wrote back that he was looking forward to it, as well, and that he loved me, too.

      That was the last I communicated with Fred, who passed away in September.

      So, you are right. It’s time to get on with living, because none of us knows how much longer we have. Time to smell the roses, as they say.


  15. B.B.,

    That Marlin Ballard Union Hill No. 9 offhand target rifle is absolutely beautiful! Being a target shooter, I can appreciate the attention to detail, and in particular with respect to both metal AND wood. It seems to me that the days of making target rifles that are as artistically fine as their functionality are in the past. I don’t care for the newer high-end target rifles, as they look more like something out of “The Terminator”, than they do a fine piece that one would want to hold and put their cheek against.

    Funny thing, back in high school, I actually had a girl friend who complained that I was cheek-to-cheek with my Anschutz 1413 more than her! Lol! 🙂

    One thing that caught my attention was the placement of the rear sight. It seems to be placed in an awkward and restricting spot, not just for hand placement, but the whole arm. I would imagine that it forces you to hold your right elbow up, military style. Is that the case?


      • B.B.,

        My rifle shooting coach, Jim Thorne, was a drill instructor in the Marines. He insisted that we learn to shoot rifles that way (with the elbow up). I later learned that this didn’t work for me, and my scores improved dramatically. However, I’ve recently discovered with my springers that there are times when this really does help. So it’s good to be open minded about things, because every little thing that you learn is something that you add to your “bag of tricks”. You may not know when you’ll need it, but it’s good to know what your options might be.


  16. BB,I hung on every detail…..I love it when esthetics and function try to kick each other’s butt and it comes out a tie! I don’t care how many guns a fellow has or hasn’t seen….that rates a never ending WOW!I don’t require a photo to see you beaming when you got it home! Thank you for unselfishly sharing your collecting saavy with us….a lesser man would not.Now you need to tell me how to let go of the “dogs” 🙂

    • Frank,

      Well, we first must decide what makes a “dog.” I have a couple in firearms. One is a duplicate .50-caliber Thompson Center Hawkin. I sure don’t need two of the same thing. But finding a second “dog” will be difficult for me.

      I have a project gun that I may never get around to doing. It’s a Remington Rolling Block in 20 gauge. It could so easily be sleeved with a .38 Special barrel and become a fine little plinker, but maybe I don’t have the energy to do that project. So there might be a second “dog.”

      As far as airguns go, I have no real dogs, just guns I have owned long enough to be willing to let them go in exchange for others. Perhaps that mindset is workable for you as well?


      • I was kinda being funny…but not really.There is a part of me that so far doesn’t let go of what drew me to each one in the first place.Then there’s the ones I overpaid for(or failed in some ways to be as described)…selling them means facing,or “paying for” my mistakes.The only time it’s easy is when I’m getting to “share” an object of my good fortune with a fellow enthusiast.I think I haven’t been doing it long enough for it to be “old hat”.Maybe I’m just a hoarder.BTW,I finally fired the “Amaranth” and
        it shoots awesome.I used 1400 psi air…holy cow! I need to buy a Chrony,as I’ve read too many of your blogs to not do mine right!That is the hold up on my guest blogs.

  17. BB

    Let me join the chorus.

    I must congratulate you, for your superlative acquisition, and for what may be your best blog ever.

    First the blog.

    I stated awhile back that you would emerge from your ordeal leaner and meaner. I need no more proof than this article. The photography has never been better. The only thing that could make your pics better at this point would be more photos of Edith. Then there is the writing. I don’t know what it is, but when I read your writing it always feels very comfortable and familiar, and conversational. Never stilted, lecturing or pretentious. And your enthusiasm just oozed out throughout the whole thing. I would feel giddy even if I didn’t care about vintage rifles. Also you related free of charge, in your usual modest way, how to do what you do. First, know your stuff. Second, get out there. Third, be prepared to buy rifles you don’t necessarily want, but that you know you could make a profit from, by following rule #1. I need part four, where you explain how to convince David to sell me one of his Hy-Score 801s for one of your “deal of a lifetime” prices.

    Now the rifle.

    Words will fail me, but I will try anyway. I can see why you were so excited. What strikes me as much as anything is the buttplate. Man that thing is gorgeous! If I were the impulsive type, I would get a full back tattoo of that buttplate from neckbone to tailbone. Then there is everything else, with the wood, and the sights, and whatnot. It is too much to get into. The library huh? Not the study, or the drawing room? Then there is always the solarium or planetarium. No?

    With all due respect to new contributor JRR, there are trillions of things to explore on the internet. If bored with the days topic, it would seem more fruitful to look elsewhere for enlightenment than to take the time to write a comment with no frame of reference. We talk about everything here. Not just airguns. Mostly airguns, but other cool things as well. That is what makes this place special, and distinguishes the PA blog from all others. That, and they wrangled Tom Gaylord to write the darned thing!

    • Slinging Lead,

      Regarding B.B.’s writing, I’d say that B.B.’s found his groove. He’s logical, honest, intelligent, expert, humble, and passionate. This combination makes this forum engaging, accessible, and truly worthwhile. I totally agree with you.


      • Victor

        Regarding our breakbarrel vs. underlever discussion. One thing I did not consider was that a breakbarrel has spring tension the second it is broken open. Meanwhile, the underlevers I have cocked have a wee bit of freeplay before the spring tension starts to build. It is comparable to a standing jump vs. a running jump. So I think it turns out you were right, all things being equal, an underlever is easier to cock. A similar thing happens with gas ram guns as I understand it. The tension is the same throughout the cocking cycle with a nitro piston. Spring rifle tension is progressive, so it easier at first and then gets harder. This makes a spring gun feel lighter to cock than a gas ram, while the pounds of effort might be the same. A standing jump versus a running jump.

        Also I think I forgot to mention that I too prefer underlevers, though I have only the TX200, not a bad underlever to own. I don’t know what it is, but they are just cooler somehow ( and easier to cock! )

        Your comment really got my gears turning upstairs. That’s good, as some of them are rusty.

        • SL,
          Re; nitro vs underlever cocking effort. In a survival situation, where minimal human energy consumption is vital, it seems the underlever would be the better choice? Calorie consumption could meant life or death. Since the effort is progressive rather than constant, it would consume fewer calories over the cocking cycle than the nitro piston. However, if your just overweight and weak the nitro would be more entertaining than the Bow-Flex.
          -It must be the weekend-CJr

  18. Off-topic (but sorta not…it’s about a powder gun).
    I’ve got a chance to relive my youth. When I was younger I had a couple of firearms…the aforementioned Anschutz target rifle and a Remington 788 in .222.
    I always loved the .222 because though it was affected by wind, at 100yds it was more accurate than my dads Remington 700 .22-250 or his Savage .22 Hornet.
    Soooo…a friend of mine has offered me his Remington 700 in .222 topped with a Redfield scope of some sort for $400, which I think is a pretty good deal.
    Another friend piped up…’hey, what about the faulty trigger the gun has’…so I googled that and have found a lot of conflicting stories on the issue.
    So my questions to any of you who are more knowledgeble than I about firearms:
    Is this an issue I really need to be concerned about (one article said the problem only arises when you adjust the trigger to light)?
    Is it an ‘easy fix’…as in are there aftermarket triggers like airguns that could be installed and cure the ‘problem’?

    • CSD,

      I learned about rifle triggers the hard way. I had a Sako Vixen, which is completely different than the Remington 700. One morning in Germany when I was walking to the high seat to do a little roe deer hunting, I worked the bolt and chambered a round, whereupon the rifle promptly fired! Thank the Lord that I was pointing the muzzle of the rifle at the ground when it discharged. I did not touch the trigger blade.

      I had adjusted the trigger as light as I could get it, and of course I went too far. That’s why I am no longer a fan of super-light triggers in sporting arms.

      My guess, without any research or substantiation, is that nearly all of the “accidents” recorded with the Remington 700 came on guns that had triggers adjusted too light. I would get the rifle and then test it thoroughly with a series of bump tests to ascertain that my rifle had a safe trigger.


    • CBSDad,
      I saw the MSNBC (?) special on 700’s, and apparently the problem is dependent to some degree on manufacturing tolerances and random dislocation of some special link (the part that makes the 700 trigger so nice, apparently). My opinion is that it is a real problem although I have never witnessed it, and I would think twice about one after seeing the evidence. Keep in mind that I am pro-gun as anyone on earth and expected the news story to be typical smear job on a gun maker (there was a bit of that), but the people pursuing the case seemed like they were actually pretty dedicated shooters, and the designer of the 700 himself gave an interview, risking his pension. For the same price approximately you can probably get a new Savage C/F with accutrigger and no issues that I know of; it may not be as pretty, though I doubt you will have any problem with the accuracy; even the classic (walnut stock) runs about the price you are talking about. Remington also made a new model that fixes the bolt/safety/trigger problem (but still sells the old model 700), and there are other worthy brands in the same price range.

    • CowboyStar Dad,

      SOME Remington 700’s have accidental discharge problems that have nothing to do with how light the trigger was adjusted. Be careful.

      Remington was involved in a large lawsuit and forced to recall and gunsmith many guns as a result of a faulty trigger design. They added a connector that wasn’t directly attached to the trigger. The connector depended on a return spring to put it back into position. If the spring became fatigued or dislodged from the connector when the gun was on safe there was nothing to catch the sear when the safety is released. The gun will discharge!! I’ve seen some youtube videos of this happening and saw an expose on cable that demonstrated this phenomenon. They even interviewed a head designer/engineer that had retired from remington and he insisted that he had sent memo’s prior to and subsequent to his retirement to the heads at remington insisting that they fix this problem. Here’s a pretty good rundown on the models, years/serial numbers and calibers that were affected:



  19. Okay, I’ll add my 2 cents worth, 🙁 Sorry with today’s economy that was already about $10 🙂 .
    Anyway, what I wanted to say was that I don’t look at this as a strict Blog or even a Forum. I feel that we are a Community that enjoys air-gunning. We also have other interests. Here we are allow to voice them without condemnation. Off topic subjects are welcome, if no one responds the subject is dropped.
    Personally I feel, and this is only my opinion, if topics were limited strictly to air-guns this blog/forum/community would not be as popular as it is.


  20. BB: congratulations on your the aquistion of the fine Marlin Ballard. In my copy of Phil Sharpe’s book ” The Rifle In America”, he has a complete chapter devoted to the Ballard rifle and variations. The Union Hill No 9 model was introduced in 1884 and discontinued in 1891. It was the same as the No 8 gun ,except that, the No 8 model had a set trigger. It is supposed to have a nickle plated off-hand butt plate as standard . Yours has a butt stock that a No 8 Union Hill gun should have, and the same deluxe sight package that a No 7 A-1 Long Range gun had. If it is a “Long Range ” gun , it will say long range on the barrel. However, the cartridges that the long range model was chambered in ,did not include the .38-55 (Ballard). What I think you do have , is a Ballard Schuetzen Jr Rifle, No 10. It was introduced in 1885 and discontinued in 1891. It weighed 12 lbs, was produced only in .32-40 and .38-55. The barrel was like yours and 32″ long, had vernier rear and wind gage front, loop lever,and a high grade, select walnut stock. The “Junior ” designation refers to it’s midrange calibers , not it’s size, nor was it intended for a youth or boy’smarket, according to Sharpe. It was though, the very last model Ballard produced by Marlin. I just thought that you might find this information interesting, Robert.

    • BB: I’d like to correct my post above. On my reply I meant to add that you might have ( not that you do have),a No 10 Ballard Schuetzen ,with a medium weight barrel from a No 9 or 8, and with the special sights. It could have probably been special ordered back then, and that might explain the lack of the hooked off-hand butt plate, Robert.

      • Robert,
        Does you book have any pictures showing the butt with the hooked butt-plate? The butt on BB’s rifle seems to have a complex (shallow S) curve cut, whereas the (few) Shuetzens I’ve seen have either a simple concave or straight cut on the butt, where the heavy casting attaches, so I was just wondering if they changed the stock depending on the buttplate. The rubber buttplate definitely seems to be a factory option on this one.

        • BG Farmer and BB: Yes it does, on page 52 A in my copy, is a B&W picture of a Ballard Schoyen Special , with a special off-hand stock with hooked butt plate. It is a .32-40 cal , made by a George Schoyen, of Denver Colo., whom Sharpe said was the equal of Harry Pope. That is very high praise indeed, considering that Sharpe and Pope knew each other quite well. Another book that has pictures of the Swiss hooked butt plates mounted on Ballard rifles (and many other single shot rifles), and also much information on the them, is Frank De Haas’s book ” Single Shot Rifles and Actions”. He has a lot to say on the strength of this action, it’s (VERY!) few weaknesses, and shows some that were gunsmithed into some very fine target rifles ,that were converted to .22 rimfire. That ,of course, was back in the day( the 1950’s) when such actions could often be found very cheap. Ballard rifles are black powder guns, and while they are safe with very light loads of smokeless powder in .32-40 and .38-55 , they were never intended to be converted for modern high intensity cartridges, like the Winchester High Walls were, for instance. There are also numerous illustrations of blown up views of their actions and parts. Hope this helps, and I would just also like to say that the blog really does cover a wide variety of subjects , and I agree with the comments above that this is what keeps folks coming back here. It made me look up and share what I have on the Ballard rifle, even though I was dead tired from a roofing job I was on yesterday. The subject of the rifle BB aquired , really got me that interested. In fact ,I’ve waited all week to see what BB got. Take, care ,Robert.

          • Robert,

            I find that I don’t have Sharpe’s book, so another one for Santa to bring! I had deHass’ book of single shot actions but it was borrowed and not returned.

            As far as the loads I’m going to use in the gun, they will be smokeless, but with the power of black powder. I shoot a vintage Trapdoor Springfield, and it has an even weaker action than a Ballard. I load it with special loads of 4198 and find that I don’t stress it in the least.

            Suffice to say no jacket bullets will be used, either. I spent a couple hours Saturday casting some 255-grain lead flat-nosed bullets for the Ballard. I’m pulling the bullets of 40 new Winchester factory loads (at $40 a box, I might add) and reloading them with low-power loads for the rifle. I’d like to keep the bullet at 1,300 f.p.s. or less.


            • BB: Not dis-agreeing, I shoot reasonable loads with smokeless powder in black powder guns all the time. I was just mentioning it as a caution as some folks may not know the difference. Old guns need to be loved, not stressed! I shoot a load in my Ruger .375 H&H #1 that mimics the .38-55 and it is superbly accurate and very pleasant to shoot in that gun. It is 13.0 grs of Unique with a 200 gr flat pt jacketed bullet, Robert.

              • BB; Also I have a new mould for the .375 cal, a Lyman cast bullet # 375248 (249gr) but haven’t used it yet in the Ruger but bet it would be a good one for it and for .38-55 too. Is that what you cast? In my copy of the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook, they list a load of 7.0 grs of Unique as a starting load with this bullet. Maximum is 9.5grs for 1170 fps . Gun used was a Stevens Model 44 1/2 Single shot rifle , barrel length 29″, 1in 18″ twist, and .379 groove dia. Good luck on your project,Robert.

                • Robert,

                  I have cast about 100 255-grain flat-point bullets from a Lee double cavity mold. The bullet is specifically for the .38-55 and is supposed to drop them .379 from the mold. I don’t care for the look of these bullets, but they are enough to get me started.

                  The Ballards had bores as large as .381, though .379 is the nominal size.

                  I plan to start with 16 grains of H4198 and advance to 18 grains. With 18.5 grains, a 250-grain cast bullet is supposed to just top 1,400. I think that’s too fast for a lead bullet, but until I discover the correct bore size I won’t be able to trust anything. I haven’t slugged the bore yet, though it’s on my list.

                  Right now I’m pulling 40 jacketed slugs and prepping the cases for the lead bullets. I will use no over-powder Dacron filler wads with these, though I do use them in my .45-70, where the load is 25 grains of 4198.


      • Robert,

        Well, this is what makes all of this so interesting! I have Sharp’s book (I believe), and I will read that chapter today.

        I am also supposed to be getting the bible on Ballard rifles for Christmas, so I hope to discover even more there.

        Thank you for this information.


  21. B.B.

    I forgot to tell you and all.
    Not long ago I mentioned MP-656 “BB TT” CO2 pistol. Just a few day ago news came, that Ukraine “СОБР” company began selling their own BB TT pistol.
    It seems to be a much cheaper copy of Izh work, with poorer outer appearance, however it has an advantage of more pistols being assembled from a same s/n parts. From what I’ve read and seen on it, innards are a bit inferior too – magazine is a lower-quality copy of Izh’s, poor quality barrel, handle grips are held together by 2 screws and so on.


  22. BB:
    For want of looking like a guy who just watches TV (Ok,I’ve been busted).
    ‘Tales of the gun’ last night, on the History channel,focused on the guns designed by John Browning.
    The last couple of episodes have dovetailed a treat with this forum topic.

    I went shooting Thursday(hurrah) but although the rain stopped the bloody wind kicked up.
    95mph in places.
    So my chance to shoot the HW long range has been foiled again 🙁
    We built a hide using camo netting and set out the pigeon decoys and waited and waited.
    5 mins before we were about to leave,what waddles into the target area?
    A pheasant the size of a small turkey.
    My mate Steve got a clean shot at 30 yards with his shotgun.First blood.
    He took it home and without doubt has already eaten it.
    When it comes to money,Steve is as tight as a fishes bum at forty fathoms.
    He wouldn’t pass up on a free lunch.lol

  23. Well, well, well, I see that you managed to outdo yourself again, BB. I don’t want to spend too many adjectives, but this blog is really superb, truly exciting. That rifle is the deal of a decade, I think. I don’t own any firearms, but I’d love to collect those kind of vintages for sure. They are pieces of history.
    It must be the age, but I learn every time more to appreciate this kind of stuff, sometimes I remind myself of my father when taking care of my airguns. In my case, collecting is a double pleasure; when shooting, and when cleaning and taking care of well made airguns. It is a family thing I suppose.

    I recently made a good deal on a brand-new IZH 46M (some 200 bucks) and its a good deal because we don’t see them often in my country. They are available twice the price in PA. I love the gun, but I realized how do I suck at 10-meter pistol. I will practice every day, and again BB, your blog on pistol-shooting is teaching me this time too.

    About collecting, I once saw in a small town what I now know is a Mexican Remington rolling block. It was mint, and the family that kept it for generations never touched it, they thought it was only and old rifle of little value. I hope to find it again, — this time I wont let it go.

    • Anthony,

      That Mexican Rolling Block sounds nice. It would be in 7mm Mauser, right?

      I remember in the 1960s when those sold here in the U.S. for under $20, though never in the condition you describe. A nice working one now brings $400-700 and a really nice one should top $1,000.

      Keep after it!


  24. It’s the weekend, almost over thank goodness!
    Not much of this is air-gun related so I’ll get that out of the way first the you can skip the rest.

    Don’t you hate those times when you think you’ve locked in your target, (in my case 16oz water bottles hanging from tree branches) just as you’re pulling the trigger you feel that gust of wind and see the target move. Almost like a slap in the face, everything lined up and gone in an instant.
    That was part of my Friday. Now for unrelated issues.

    I also had to bring my service dog Charlie to the vet. He had large growths on both front knee joints. They call it “Hygroma”, he has temporary braces on both front legs for a month, but will have to wear something they call adjustable dog legs from now on. I love my Charlie so nothing is to good for him.
    Saturday…more bad news.
    I was exiting the driveway and seen one of our cats (Jimmy) dead on the side of the road in front of our house. I really don’t feel much like going on about how special he was. He was one of triplets we adopted. It seems as if his brother and sister know something is wrong.

    Hope I did not waste anyone’s time.
    One positive, we adopted another rescue dog couple weeks ago!


  25. B.B. (and all),

    Thank you for this article. I find it fascinating. This is the fifth time I read it this weekend!
    Please keep on writing about firearms, air guns, flashlights, anything. It all helps

    I am sorry I did not reply to your question to my question a couple days ago. Now I have three questions (they reproduce quick):

    – Now that I have a TX200 and now that I understand that it is absolutely fantastic. What do I do now? I mean in terms of taking care of it (lubrication, cleaning, so forth). How about the walnut stock? should I just do not mess with it (KI know nothing about wood care).

    – After firing about 300 shots with it, I can hear some noise when pulling the lever as the loading port opens. It sounds like something needs lubrication. Velocity has not decreased and it is not harder to cock, it is just a faint “factory siren” type frequency. Not too worried about it.

    – When I asked about e-matches in the Airgun Arena is because I could not figure out what they are about. I have only shot in silhouette matches, so I do not know really much about matches in general. Airgun Arena’s web page just refers you to the NRA and ISSF rules. I want to shoot the air rifle 60/60 and Air Rifle Silhouette. Then I go check NRA’s of ISSF’s web pages, and that’s where I get lost. If there is a single link to take me where I need to go to find the rules, I would appreciate it. If not, it will only take me longer to figure it out, not a biggie.

    Thank you

  26. TE,
    Don’t worry about the ISSF rules for the Airgunarena matches. Follow the simple rules on their web page and enjoy. The scoring rules are posted there, too. Your TX200 is a good entry. The 60/60 looks like a demanding event. I have only done the bench rest 20/20 so far and I can’t imagine doing 60 shots standing offhand. At least you get to use any sights.

    So far I have done the bench rest with my Talon SS and Daisy 953. What I do is try to simulate a real match, but you don’t have to. I pick a day and time and no matter what I shoot, I accept that as my score and enter that. That’s how it would work in the real world. You won’t believe how much pressure that puts on you to do good. And that is real world, also.

    Come on and join us. You’ll go crazy trying to read ISSF rules. But if you insist go here:


    and go to page 283 for specs details.


  27. Hi folks,

    A new poster, casey, and CJr were having a conversation about an R7 and iron sights. I am going to move them here so casey can get some help–thanking you in advance for supply him with same.


    • Here’s casey’s question(s):

      I take it you don’t have a scuba tank or convenient access to a shop, or you’re plain tuckered out from pumping 50-60 pumps all the time.
      Is that why the Talon and Disco are lying fallow? You know the Talon is convertible to CO2? And the Disco, too. But then you have to find a convenient place to fill CO2 bottles every two to four weeks.

      there is no place i know of convieniently close to refill, i have the benji pump and and purchased some adapters to fill the talon ss, I don’t shoot co2 because it isn’t free. I believe you shouldn’t have to pay money all the time to shoot, plus with co2 weather plays a roll and i live in Fort Worth Tx,
      well my talons air tank and the adapters got stuck together (i believe it was a seal of sorts that maybe was taken off) but now id have to buy a tank 170.95 plus AirForce 1/8″ and 1/4″ BSPP Refill Adapter set 21.80 so already looking at spending 200 dollars on a gun i dont personally like to much, the disco is too heavy after the moderator, and leapers 9*40

      But that’s not why you’re calling. You want a springer and in .22. The question always begs to be asked: are you planning on hunting? If not, then go with .177. There is no other reason to shoot .22. I am not a hunter, I’m a 10m target shooter.

      i have a 177 cal springer its a winchester 1000x and its way to loud and way too heavy plus all my other air guns are 22.cal. I really want to try a 20. cal but beeman is the only option really and that r7 is the best option for what im looking for i emailed that guy and he sent me a link for the hw30 which is a 177 cal. he gave me no info on the cost to actually have open sights put on the r7, i was hoping tom would update this post with some sort or open or peep sight option.

      I am mostly a PCP guy and I have a scuba tank and a place to fill it within 10 miles. I have the Talon SS .177 on air (but CO2 ready), Marauder .22 on air, Daisy 953, Walther Lever Action, Crosman 1077, a S&W CO2 revolver, and just recently an IZH-46M single pump pistol – no I don’t because it’s sick and I just sent it back to the PA hospital – yes I do because I know it will come back healthy and ready to play. I love PCP.

      How do you like the Walther lever action? I’ve eyed that a few times over would be a nice replacement for my crappy red ryder lol, please give me some info on this PA hospital you speak of, is this open to the public? i bought almost all my airguns from PA (sorry the benjamin 392 is way cheaper at academy

      For springers I have an IZH-61, a Ruger AirHawk, and a Gamo Recon. So you see I’m not much of a springer guy. Probably because I just never connected with the right one. I don’t know what I’d buy for a springer. Maybe a TX200, but I sold my wheelbarrow and now I don’t have anything to carry all that money in.

      the tx200 is over 9lbs without a scope. which would be ok if i was bag resting but thats not what im looking for right now, want something no heavier than 7lbs with open sights in 20. cal or 22. yes i shoot the ocasional crow and rats backyard backs into a small lake with a big wooded field, rats get in my small shed and like to chew on crap, they also run on my fence. i live in a neighborhood so i need something not loud. the disco is quiet with the moderator, but cant have open sights at the same time and i prefer those to a scope i know its weird right but much more fun, lighter and easier in low light.

      I hope you get some help tomorrow.

      thanks but so far your the only one to help me and i sincerely appreciate all the helpful info youve provided. living the left handed live makes everything harder, oh p.s. if i deciede to try 177 again it will most likely be an air arms s200 target, THAT THING IS LIKE A DREAM!


  28. casey,

    I’d suggest a talk with Boris at PA’s “hospital” about your Talon SS tank. The hospital that CJr was referring to is PA’s repair department I’m guessing that you’ve got it under pressure and cannot get the adaptors off. Perhaps they’ll have a suggestion.


  29. When you read the casey comment Mr B sent keep in mind the paragraphs alternate between me and casey. casey’s were originally in bold type but that seems to have been lost.

  30. First, I would like to thank DaveUK, Bruce, B.B. & Edith for their sympathy in the lost of one of my pets. Secondly, I would like to thank this community (blog/forum) for not complaining as I poured my heart out last night.
    Thank you all.


    • Rikib I’m so sorry about your cat I must have missed that post during the week-end.
      I’ve lost so many cats (and a few dogs) to cars or a-holes neighbors when I was a kid…
      Now that I have my own cats (if you can all a cat “your own”) I don’t let them go outside for fear of never seeing them come back.
      Lots of people don’t make a difference between cats, raccoons and all the other similarly shape animals and kill them. I don’t see much of a difference between them either and that’s why I let them be 😉 “live and let live” Hey I just posted a quote too 😉

      What is this “adjustable dog legs” you are talking about? I googled it but can only find the buggy looking thing for the rear end of the dog.


  31. Re: machete cuts “paper.”


    This is most informative and beautifully illustrated article, which proved very useful to me for a chapter in my book in progress “Love and War in Cuba.” The chapter in question has a running title of “A Tale of a Broken Gun,” it narrates an action bit of history that occurred during the Cuban (1868-1878) Ten Years War for Cuban Independence:

    “When I was young so long ago in the 1950s at the Escolapios of Guanabacoa, this tale was told to me very simply. In some battle for Cuban Independence, sometime between 1869 and 1895, a machete blow had cleaved a Spanish rifle in two. Supposedly in a museum in Madrid there was the weapon cleaved in two. I was most impressed, and seeing the mainly inaccurate illustrations in Cuban history books I thought it must have come about in some glorious cavalry charge. ”

    It turned out that this action was a very short range hand to hand ambush, and it involved one of my maternal great grandfathers Colonel Don Benjamin Ramirez.

    ” On October 28th, 1868 on a mountain road at a place called “Pinos de Baire,” not far from the town of that name on October 26 1868. This is a place where the Contramaestre River comes out of the Sierra Maestra and there runs between cave ridden limestone hills. ”

    “There the Cubans were under General Máximo Gómez’s orders and included Don Benjamín’s command of 70 men equipped with 60 ”Miniet” carbines (presumable breech loading Springfield models but not repeaters) and machetes. The Spanish were most probably also equipped with breech loaders either .50 caliber Remington Model 1863 or .46 (.45?) Peabody Model 862. These rifles in trained hands could, loading each round between shots, deliver about ten rounds per minute. Assuming weapon description is either correct or the rifles similar these weapons had only one round in the breach-chamber, at such close quarters the Spanish could at most fire one shot. In addition, it is possible that the Peabody sites were set to shoot at short ranges; as much as 14 inches high at fifty yards by one report. [This is sentence is cited to this publication of yours]

    “After that, there would be no chance in the next few seconds to take a round from their cartridge pouches and reload, thus the Spanish soldiers had the choice of using the bayonet if that had been fixed, or holding their rifles with both hands extended outwards at chest level to try to block the oncoming machete strike. ”

    “Grandfather (who later would be Consul General of Cuba in Liverpool, England), who also experienced extensively this kind of fighting in the later 1895-1898 Final War for Cuban Independence, describes the horror of such close combat thus (my free translation:: ‘…they threw themselves into combat in a crazed and raging delirium, chopping heads, slicing off limbs, and driving their machetes up the hilt into the chest of the enemy…”

    There were two charges and that was the end of the Spanish. When all was said and done the ground among the Spanish dead, lay a broken rifle cut in half by a Cuban rebel. This was the first use of the Mambí tactics, and from then on the Cuban rebels became Mambí (that is machete fighters).

    “As the Cuban (1868-1898) Wars for Independence progressed, repeating rifles, and even some early machine guns became a factor on these Cuban battlefields, charges with machetes even when supported by firearms began to become more lethal to the attackers, tactics changed. ”

    If you have any comments they would be most appreciated…


    • Larry,

      That was hand-to-hand fighting of the first order! I can imagine what a snake pit it must have been.

      There are other reports of rifles cut in two by swords, specifically one by a Samurai sword in a WW II battle. Your description doesn’t sound so impossible to me.

      And the Peabody they talk about is very likely close to the one that’s shown in this report.


  32. Tom:

    Thank you very much for your useful and kind words

    Can I use your comments as an end note?

    It would be also of value to me if I could use your image of your Peabody rifle, with citation to your report as source.


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