This model is only estimated to have been manufactured from 1882 to 1884. In “Ballard: The Great American Single Shot” only 14 No. 5 ½ Montana rifles were identified and only a few more have since come to light. The 1882 catalog lists the No. 5 1/2 with this barrel length for $32 and $34 for a rifle with a 32 inch barrel and states: "This is a new style just introduced, suited to the Territory trade, where a heavy arm is required." It is very similar to the more common No. 5 Pacific but was only offered in .45-100 Sharps straight (2 7/8 inch) and was fitted with a heavy weight barrel. The heavy barrel allowed for greater sustained accuracy, and the 2 7/8 inch Sharps was more than capable of taking buffalo with proper shot placement. The longest known shot with a buffalo rifle killed an Indian warrior at a mile. This exact rifle is pictured and identified in John Dutcher's "Ballard: The Great American Single Shot Rifle," and is the highest serial numbered rifle Dutcher lists in the 14 Montana rifles known to him (page 167). On pages 168 and 169, photographs clearly show the matching serial numbers on the forend, buttstock, barrel, action, breechblock, buttplate and buttstock retaining tang. Like the No. 5 Pacific the rifle has a ramrod under the barrel, double set triggers, and a small loop lever. This rifle has a combination Beach front sight, an elevation adjustable rear sight, and mid-range tang peep sight. The barrel is correctly marked "45-100 2 7/8 S." on top near the breech. The left side of the action has the two line J. M. Marlin address and Ballard patent marking. Provenance: The Milan J. Turk Collection
Very fine. The barrel retains 85% original blue finish with thinning to brown on the balance. The receiver has faded to a smooth gray with patterns of highly attractive silvered out original case colors remaining. The wood is also very fine with a few faint cracks along the grain on the wrist and left side of the forearm, and some minor handling marks. Mechanically excellent. This is a rare opportunity to get your hands on one of the most desirable Ballard variations. This Marlin Ballard No. 5 1/2 Montana rifle would be difficult to improve on.
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