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Thread: Ballard 56-56 carbine 6xx serial number

  1. #1
    enduro2 is offline
    Visitor (non-N-SSA Member)
    Join Date
    Jun 2016

    Ballard 56-56 carbine 6xx serial number

    I acquired this carbine several years ago and would like to have more information about it. It is in very good condition and has a MM inside of oval cartouche on wood. It also has a round shaft for the manual extractor. Some where I read that early ones would have had a lever not a rounded shaft. I have read some were made for state of Kentucky but they changed order to 46 cal. This one is not marked Kentucky. Does anyone have information on how many may have been made in the 56-56 / 56-52 caliber? Not sure which it is. Any discussion / information would be much appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    NWT area
    Northwest Territory - Michigan, Ohio and Indiana


    I think you have a 56-56 "Big Frame" carbine. All were sold to Kentucky except for the first 150 or so. Your hammer is swept down and not up like the Small Frames. Serial number is less than 2000. Mixed serial numbers inside. Your serial number is in that range and what else does it say on the frame?
    Last edited by Bruce Cobb 1723V; 06-13-2018 at 09:52 AM.
    N-SSA Member since 1974

  3. #3
    Carolina Reb is offline
    2nd South Carolina, Co I, Palmetto Guard
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Carolina - North Carolina and South Carolina
    A 56-56 Ballard should not have the MM cartouche. (But, there are all sorts of oddball Ballards, so one can't say 100% that it's not right.) They were made on a federal contract by Dwight, Chapin & Co., but the company could not get them to pass inspection and went bust. Merwin & Bray (the agents on the contract) transferred the parts to Ball & Williams, who put together about 1000 carbines and 600 rifles from the best parts. In the process they buffed the Dwight Chapin markings off the frames. By that time the Feds were no longer interested, so both the carbines and rifles ended up in Kentucky (although they are not marked Kentucky). There are a very few carbines that did get federally inspected. They have a JM cartouch. Some of those are still marked Dwight Chapin as well. Those are extremely rare. By the way, a federally inspected 56-56 was recently sold by College Hill. It is #607.

    One of the issues with these arms is that they were supposed to take Spencer 56-56 ammo, which was loaded with 0.54" bullets. However, the barrels are 54 caliber and need 0.56" bullets. Regular 56-56 doesn't shoot worth a hoot! There was some 56-56 loaded with oversize bullets and marked "For Ballard", but that may have been after the war.

    The MM cartouched carbines are all 44 caliber and were made by Ball & Williams. About 1500 were delivered.

    John Dutcher's book, "Ballard, The Great American Singe Shot Rifle" is the best reference on CW Ballards, although most of it is devoted to the later arms.

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