Discussion Ballard breech loading rifles, half stock rifles, carbines, and musketoons.

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Aug 25, 2012
Although the federal government purchased over 1,500 Ballard carbines they only purchased 35 Ballad rifles. It appears the federal government believed the breechblocks of both the rifles and carbine did not work properly so they only purchased a small number of Ballards. The state of Kentucky purchased a large number of Ballard carbines which they used mostly to arm militia mounted infantry units. Ballard rifles were a fairly popular sporting arm after teh Civil War and they were manufactured until 1891.

So did the breechblock of the Ballard rifles and carbines not work properly? If so did the Kentucky militiamen find the carbines useful? It appears that the 35 Ballard rifles were used by the 34 USCT, 3rs USCT, and 54 Mass. to arm sharpshooters. Why would sharpshooters be armed with Ballard rifles, was the accuracy of the Ballards an improvement over the long arms of their infantry?


Regimental Armorer
Retired Moderator
Feb 20, 2005
South of the North 40
The Ballard Rifle and carbine both had a good reputation for accuracy. The Army worry about the breechblock was more at the complexity of the system... which is rather foolish as it was no more complex than many others. Interstingly enough I've read several accounts by marksman after the war that judged the accuracy and reliability of the Ballard superior to any other long arm of the war. This has always struck me as odd when considering the ammunition available at the time. while I can perhaps understand the reliabity due to the superior method of extraction I can't wrap my head around the accuracy claim. That said I have an acquintance who swears by the Ballard. He has an original carbine that has been rebored to fire the .38-55 cartirdge (IIRC) and he can consistently put rounds into the same hole at 100 yards.

I won't lie, I've been lusting after a Ballard rifle for more than a decade now. Gunderson Militaria has a couple that keep tempting me... now if the wife will let me. No, I'd likely get beat to death with it when it arrived and she'd keep it or try to trade it towards her 1866 Winchester.
Last edited: