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Old 02-09-2004, 02:06 PM
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Micro Groove vs Ballard Rifling

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I have seen a lot of sintement toward the Ballard style of rifling as opposed to the Micro Groove. I think I would like for Marlin to produce a Ballard style rifle, but I'm not really sure why. Will it produce a more accurate group? If so why hasn't Marlin released a batch for the hunting fraternity? Again I would like to see it happen but I'll have to say that my .35 will group some fairly impressive numbers with factory ammo, especially the 150 gr. Remington Corelokt ammo.
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Old 02-09-2004, 02:40 PM
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I don't think it makes any difference with jacketed bullets. It's trickier with cast bullets, as you need a properly fitted bullet and a uniform bore. If you've got them they're accurate, but you have more leeway with Ballard rifling and cast bullets. I get the occasional 1" 5 shot group at 100 yards with my .35 Remington and the rifling has some bad swarf marks. That's as good as my .30-06 will do and the barrel looks a lot prettier inside.

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Old 02-09-2004, 04:01 PM
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As Jack has pointed out, with jacketed bullets I doubt that you'll see any difference in the accuracy potential between the MicroGroove rifling and the Ballard style rifling.

However, with cast bullets this may not be entirely the case. I'll preface my comments with this observation: In my experience, the very best accuracy from cast bullets I've experienced has been with MicroGroove style rifling! However, bullet fit is the critical issue, and those writers and books that badmouth the shallow-groove rifling and cast bullets have simply not taken the time to properly fit the bullets to the barrel! It is that critical!

Now, with that being said, the Ballard style rifling is touted as being the best for cast bullet shooting, simply because it's the most forgiving with poorly-fit cast bullets. If you look at the deep lands and grooves of these barrels, it's immidiately evident that a coniderabe amount of deformation to the bullet is necessary to for it to conform to the configuration of that deep rifling with the tall lands. That being such, the lead that is swaged out of place by the lands is displaced and causes a swelling of the greater diameter of the bullet to fill out the bottoms of the grooves, even with a somewhat undersize bullet. This deformation effectively seals the bore, preventing gas blow-by around the bullet (in relatively low pressure loads), and thus the barrels give at least passable accuracy with most any reasonably designed cast bullet, even if it is somewhat undersized, and not well-fit to the bore.

The very finest guilt-edged accuracy I've attained in a lever-action rifle has been exclusively with cast bullets, properly fitted to the throat/bore of the rifle, and fired through MicroGroove rifling.... bar none! Here again, the bullet fit is everything!

If you don't want to go to the bother of custom fitting a bullet to your gun, then you would be best advised to adhere to the Ballard type rifling to get acceptable performance.

Just my 2 cents worth!

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Old 02-09-2004, 04:56 PM
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Marlin's gotten a lot of bad press about Micro-Groove, I think some of it from people who hadn't even tried it.

Be SURE to clean all the copper out first. That is probably one thing that often gets overlooked.

I've got a number of bolt guns that will not group any better than my 336 / .35, and my 39A works great with Stingers, despite what I read in a major gun magazine a few months back that says they won't work in Micro-Groove barrels.

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Old 02-09-2004, 06:31 PM
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Marlin's 44MAG with micro-groove was a consistant medicore-accurasy-past-50 yards. Key word, WAS. Trouble was that most ammo featured the .429 bullet and did not shoot real well with shallow rifling. Other problem was the slow 1 in 38 inch twist rate which favors a bulet that is approx same length as diameter. Round ball muzzle loaders have a 1 in 38 twist!

Hornady .430 200 grain hollow tip loaded to maximum safe velocities helped quite a bit.

But Marlin switched to deeper rifling awhile ago and better accurasy has been the norm. Marlin's current 44 MAG still has a slower twist rate than Ruger model 96 or even Marlin's own 444. This is a mystery to me.

In contrast, the 336 models chambered for 30-30 and 35 have never had accurasy problems asociated with micro-groove rifling. In fact, their 30-30's consistantly shoot higher muzzle velocities than the competition!
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Old 02-09-2004, 07:41 PM
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Its nice to see folks not bad mouthing micro groove rifleing for a change.

I've got a model 1936 Marlin 30-30 with of course deep cut ballard rifleing, and a model 1895 with micro groove in 45-70. How's that for backwards??

Truth told, I have my first press still in the box waiting to get in to reloading when I get some time. I shot the 45-70 before I bought it with buddy's 405gr Lee mold bullets and it seemed pretty happy although I didn't shoot groups. Marshall, I've heard your theory on this elsewhere; but not that microgroove can do BETTER than ballard style rifleing once the bullet meets the bore just right. That's encouraging!
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Old 02-09-2004, 07:44 PM
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Agree...Micro-groove is just fine but Ballard is better for cast bullets.

I don't shoot cast, so does not matter much for me which I have so long as my cabinet is full of lever guns my world is happy!
Best to all;
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Old 02-09-2004, 08:08 PM
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I should qualify my statements regarding MicroGroove cast bullet accuracy excellence. In my experience it only delivers the superb accuracy that they are cabable of AFTER FIRELAPPING these barrels. No offense to anyone, but many of those MicroGroove barrels appeared to have the rifling cut by a blind girl-scout using a cold-chisel! Man, are some of them rough! A little lapping however, and they're mirror bright, and glass smooth. Properly fit, cast bullets have no equal in any other barrel rifling design to my notion.

(This of course from a totally non-biased levergun/cast bullet shooter, you understand )
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Old 02-10-2004, 06:11 AM
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Thanks for the insightful replys. It is my understanding that these Ballard style rifles were produced in the early to mid 50's, different dates for different models, is this correct?

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Old 02-10-2004, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Jefferson Parish (via N.O.)
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Besides a smooth barrel, the other "rules of thumb" that have worked for me in micro-goove barrels have been:
1. Bullet a little larger (.430-431" in a .44 works fine).
2. Bearing area of the bullet more than 60% of the bullets overall length. Weight hasn't been as important as having more "butt" than "nose".

The faarther back you go, the more "Mulit" the micro grooves. Had two Marlin 62's (one in .256, one in 30carbine)...the .256 had 18 lands, the 30 carbine had 20).
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Old 02-10-2004, 10:14 AM
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Hi there Sidespin
It's 30-30 Man from the Marlin site. I know you have a great shooting 35. I miss that rifle. If I recall, I was loading 200 gr Remington RN that would group at 1 inch and under. It's good to see you have moved on over to this site. Sounds like those 150 gr. factory are working well.

30-30 Man
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Old 02-11-2004, 02:29 AM
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Well I guess I'll add my admittedly limited experiences.

I've got two marlins, one a 336 SC with microgroove and the other a 1894 CL with Ballard style. Both rifles are very accurate with jacketed bullets.

I just recently started working up cast loads for both, and right off got my 336 shooting just over 1" (five shots) with a cast bullet (50 yards/peep sights). But... that was a pointed style given to me that was sized at .311" so I still need to keep looking. Very encouraging though. I tried some store bought lead slugs that were sized to .309 and they sprayed all over the place, with some keyholing.

I haven't found 'the' load for the 1894 though, but thats what its all about, and why its so much fun.

Anyway, if your interested in cast bullets in your microgroove, try bullets sized a bit bigger than you might otherwise. You might like what you find.
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