The Best Cartridge Ever Made by Shane Hurkmans
When it comes to understanding cartridges we need only to look towards history and the retrospect it provides. Firstly, you might expect to hear that the center fire cartridge is the best. This may not, necessarily, be the case. The center fire cartridge has a rich history but lets take a long look at the first metallic cartridge, the .22 rimfire.
The .22 rimfire has been around for over 150 years. The .22 rim fire was the first successful self-contained cartridge consisting of a case, bullet and powder. It was first developed by, Louis Flobert, A French gunsmith in the early to mid 1800’s. Flobert took a 15-grain lead ball and pressed it into the mouth of a percussion cap. Further developed into the first cartridge, it was named the BB cap.
The BB cap with its 18-grain ball gave ballistics of 780 fps (feet per second) with 24 foot-pounds of energy. As the BB cap was further developed the CB cap (conical bullet) was similar to the BB cap but sported a 29-grain bullet going 720 fps and 33 pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Smith and Wesson developed the first .22 rimfire cartridge in United States in 1857. Smith & Wesson made significant improvements on the Frenchman’s first effort and developed the “S&W .22 Rim Fire,” Smith & Wesson started with the same basic principle but made the case longer and came up with a folded rim design in which the priming compound was contained. And, while Flobert’s BB Cap was powered only by the charge contained in the percussion cap, S&W put 3 grains of black powder under the 29 grain, conical bullet. Making the first .22 Short. It kicked off a revolution in the U.S. This little cartridge gained popularity in bigger cities for self-protection in the means of pocket pistols and other concealed weapons like canes that held one shot inside the cane for that nightly walk.
The .22 short is the longest running manufactured ammunition made in the U.S. today. The .22 long is the next one that came to be. This little cartridge sports the same 29-grain bullet on a slightly longer case that held two more grains of powder capable of sending the bullet out at 1240 fps. Then the .22 long rifle, pushing a 40 grain bullet around 1375 fps with an 158 foot pounds, came to be. The .22 long was all most discontinued, but the consumers and dealers revived it. Today, the .22 long rifle is the most popular of all the .22s.
The arrival of the .22 Long Rifle cartridge in 1887 was another important development of the .22 rimfire. There are conflicting stories about the origins of this important cartridge. Its research indicates that the U.S. Cartridge Co., the Union Metallic Cartridge Co., and old Joshua Stevens of the Stevens Arms & Tool Co., all have to be given credit.
There were two things that contributed to the improved accuracy for which the .22 LR would become noted: 1) the 1:16″ twist barrel which gave better stabilization to the 40 grain bullet; 2) crimping the cartridge case. The crimping of the case around the bullet provided much more efficient powder burning characteristics. The little round became predictable in its trajectory and ballistic performance. Used both for hunting and target shooting, this little cartridge is the most powerful and most accurate of the three cartridges today.
This cartridge can be a lot of fun for the beginner shooter to get used to shooting and making each shot count or for the experienced shooter to tune his or her skills?
Most people know the three types of .22s. There are other .22s that don’t get much mention. Some have come and gone but they were in the family. One such .22 was the .22 extra long was which was inferior to the long rifle in fps by a few hundred feet. Then there was the .22 auto, which was designed for the model 1903 Winchester. At the time .22 lr and longs did not push the action open. The other little .22, and I don’t know if it’s still made, is the .22 WRF also called the .22 Remington special.
Then the last of them all is the biggest and mightiest of all the .22s is the Winchester rimfire magnums. Winchester developed this cartridge after World War II. The .22 magnum, as we know it today, is the only one in this family that has a jacketed bullet.
I think the .22 is the greatest caliber ever made. I like most of you have one or two in the gun rack. I know as a boy I spent may a summer with a .22 single shot in hand shooting rabbits, ground squirrels or the red squirrels in the barn. To this day I still do most of my shooting with a .22lr. I go back to the .22lr when I have a problem with a varmint or with my form that I just can’t solve with shooting my center fire rifle.
The next time you are just sitting round and have just nothing to do pick up that old .22 and go out and shoot, be it a pop can or punching paper in a tournament. It’s good practice. Be safe out there in the woods and think safety at all times with a gun.