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In Memoriam: Jim Ballou, 1941-2016

By Dan Shea

4-22-2016 1500 hours: Longtime machine gun aficionado and gun culture personality James Lester Ballou died today at the age of 75. He was pre-deceased by his wife Pat, whom he married at the North Country Shoot in Stratford Hollow, NH. They were married during the machine gun shoot, sealed the nuptials by firing twin Thompson Submachine Guns, and then rode off for their honeymoon atop a live Sherman tank.

Jim was a regular at machine gun shoots around the country from the mid-1980s on, and he wrote articles for Machine Gun News and was a regular contributor to Small Arms Review among other magazines. His passion was for any John Browning invention, but in particular it was the 1918 series Browning Automatic Rifle. His pride and joy was a genuine, original transferable Colt Monitor, one of 150 or so made, the FBI’s first “Fighting Rifle” from the 1930s. Jim was extremely proud of this and the trip to Idaho he took to see his friend, the late Kent Lomont, when his transfer came in.

Jim may hold a world’s record of sorts, his personal hobby was to fire every known machine gun, have his picture taken doing so, and he would only top that if he could fire one in each hand. The count was well into the high 300s
when last reported.

He donated his excellent collection of 1911 series pistols to the NRA Museum, where they are on display.

Many who knew him will remember his kindness, and the time he would take to teach, explain, and demonstrate various firearms, interspersing the discussions with historic tidbits.

Jim considered his magnum opus to be the BAR book: Rock in a Hard Place: The Browning Automatic Rifle, with 500 pages and 751 illustrations. This has always been “The” book on the BAR, published by Collector Grade Publications.

Many of Jim’s articles from SAR are available online at and we continue to post more there in The Archives on a monthly basis. Jim requested that we include his articles from the old “Machine Gun News” and we will do so in the future.


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