Here is a gun we don't come across very often in the Southeastern US. Its a Number Five Ballard also known as the "Pacific Rifle" with a heavy frame and 32" octagon barrel in Caliber 40-85 aka .40-85 Everlasting. There are lots of nicknames for guns built during the 19th century but the "Pacific Rifle" has to be one of my favorite. Judging from the size of the chamber, the 40-85 Everlasting black powder cartridge must have been every bit of 4" long and suitable for bison and/or any other large North American game. This thing looks like it could have killed from both ends. The No. 5 Pacific was manufactured from 1876-1891. It features a wooden cleaning rod, closed loop lever, and double set triggers. The barrel measures 1 1/8" that slightly tapers down to 1" at the muzzle. Brophy's book on Marlins states the 32" Pacific rifle weighs approx. 11 1/2 lbs and sold for a price of $32.00 which was a lot of money back in the 1880's...even more than a nice Winchester. In today's money, a current production Pacific starts at $3350. If you had a little more money with some muscle to match, Marlin also made the 5 1/2 Montana rifle weighing in at a hernia-ripping 14 lbs for $34.00. As you can guess, this rifle is quite heavy for .40 Caliber and 11 1/2 lbs is not something a 19th century hunter would have run through the woods with. Original Marlin Ballard sights include the long style Ballard semi-buckhorn rear and Rocky Mountain front with German silver blade. The original factory tapped holes in the upper tang for attaching a folding ladder tang sight are missing their little plug screws...otherwise, the rifle is complete. The top of the barrel is marked in small simple font "40-85". Left side of the frame is marked:
MARLIN FIREARMS CO. NEW HAVEN CT. U.S.A
BALLARD'S PATENT NOV. 5 1861
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Good+ to VG- with the metal turned to a heavy brown patina that's smooth with no pitting. When we found this rifle, it looked like it hadn't been touched in 100 years and needed a little TLC. We got it presentable but it could use a good careful cleaning to get the dirt, closet rust, crud, and dried grease out of the corners and the markings. All screws are good and serviceable. The action works and most importantly, the set triggers still work beautifully. The bore is in surprisingly nice shape with strong lands and grooves...looks dirty but not dark and very well may clean to excellent. No rings or bulges. This gun is remarkably solid and only 3 minor areas that needed attending. One was a missing rod which we replaced with a hickory rod that's been aged to match the appearance of the gun. Another issue were the thin rod thimbles on such a massive barrel wear pretty beat so we contacted the Ballard Rifle Co. and purchased new ones that are exact to the originals. They have been aged to match the rifle and you would never guess they're not original to the gun. However, we will be happy to supply the worn-out originals with the gun upon request. The final area that needed some work was the thin forend had a thin piece broken off the top edge near the barrel. Fortunately, the original owner carefully tacked it back on with brass pins and we were able to properly mend this and you would never know there was ever a repair here. The forend is in good condition with some dings and bruises you'd expect to find on a rifle with such a heavy barrel. Stock is in VG shape and solid. We're also pleased to report that this gun is well-numbered internally and that all numbers that we found i.e. barrel, forend, stock, frame, etc. were matching. Quite amazingly, we were surprised to find that Ballard still makes all the parts for this rifle at its factory in Cody, WY. A nice solid example of scarce single shot rifle that's still quite affordable compared to a Sharps and the prices some others bring on the current market.