.52 Sharps & Hankins/.54 Ballard

Is this rimfire cartridge a .52" Sharps & Hankins Rifle or is it a .54" Ballard? Or are they both one and the same?

The case length is 30.01mm
Rim diameter is 16.67mm
Width directly above the rim is 14.42mm
Width below the casemouth is 14.15mm
Overall round length is 43.08mm
Cartridge weight is 576.8gn


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Jim:

MOST COLLECTORS STILL CALL THIS CARTRIDGE THE .54 OLD MODEL BALLARD. IT’S A CASE OF A CARTRIDGE GETTING THE WRONG NAME PUT ON IT YEARS AGO BY WELL-MEANING OLDTIME COLLECTORS. IT’S REALLY A SHARPS & HANKINS RIFLE CARTRIDGE. THE OLD TIME COLLECTORS SAID IT WAS A TWO-PIECE CASE, A FLANGED CYLINDER WITH A BASE PIECE CUPPED OVER THE FLANGED CYLINDER. I AM FAIRLY CERTAIN THAT MOST ENGINEERS WOULD TELL YOU THAT SUCH CONSTRUCTION WOULD RESULT IN SERIOUS LEAKEAGE AT THE JUNCTURE OF THE 2 PIECES WHEN THE CARTRIDGE WAS FIRED. MANY YEARS BACK, I SECTIONED 5 OF THESE CARTRIDGES FROM UNRELATED SOURCES AND THEY WERE ALL OF A ONE-PIECE CASE CONSTRUCTION. THE COLLECTIONS OF SEVERAL OF THE ADVANCED BALLARD RIFLE COLLECTORS OF THE TIME FAILED TO PRODUCE A RIFLE IN .54 CALIBER.

THIS IS A RATHER CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT AND YOU WILL LIKELY HEAR OPINIONS THAT DO NOT AGREE WITH WHAT I HAVE TOLD YOU. PERHAPS YOU SHOULD CALL IT BY THE NAME YOU ARE MOST FOND OF AND LEAVE IT AT THAT. NICE CARTRIDGE AND NOT AS COMMONLY ENCOUNTERED AS IT WAS YEARS AGO.

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Jim,

What GWB mentions of the .54 Old Model Ballard I would say is correct.

According to Charles Suydam’s “The American Cartridge” on page 138, there appears to be the same bullet style on the .54 O.M. Ballard in which you have shown in the photo.

On that same note, on page 136 - shows the .52 Sharps & Hankins cartridge. Much different bullet style, and no seam on the cartridge casing.

-Dave

Thank you both very much - .54 Old Model Ballard will do very nicely!

RinPin:

WHAT YOU CALL A SEAM ON THE CASE IS NOT - IT IS A MARK THAT WAS MADE ON THE CASE DURING THE DRAWING PROCESS PRIOR TO HAVING THE RIM FORMED - NOTE THE MARK CONTINUES ON THE RIM OF THE CARTRIDGE. JUST SO YOU KNOW, CHUCK MADE A FEW MISTAKES IN HIS BOOK - IT IS STILL A GOOD BOOK.

GWB, thank you for that correction. I will make a notation in the book for personal reference.

Regards,
-Dave

![image|690x517](upload://zSDRocj496ExYSkxWKP87j5I0e0.jpeg
A knowledgeable cartridge collector sold me a Sharps & Hankins cartridge some years ago, but I’ve mixed it up with other rim fire cartridges. I’ve measured (in mm) the overall length, case diameter just below mouth, rim diameter, and case length.
Can anyone help me pick out the Sharps and Hankins?
I could use help with the others, too…

Greetings,

I don’t think any of the ones you pictured are .52 Sharps and Hankins. The first two are 56-50 Spencers, Number 1 manufactured by Sage Ammunition Works (SAW) and #2 by Winchester “H”. The last 4 appear to be 56-56 Spencers (#3 Imp U by UMC)…

Paul

Here is 52 Sharps and Hankins.
.

Rim: 16.00 mm
Base: 14.22 mm
Case Lgt 30.50 mm
Blt. 13.70 mm
Total Lgt 44.60 mm

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