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Rimfire Ammunition Development from .22 Short & Long to Parlor Pistols & .17 Mach 2 & More

The year 1857. The who is Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson the originators of Smith & Wesson firearms founded in 1852. The what is the .22 Short and their Number 1 revolver. Today the .22 Short rules the ranges during Olympic competition. The humble .22 short is 162 years old. This is the longest running record of production of any of the metallic cartridge in the United States. Developed as a self-defense cartridge it predated the Civil War by three years.

FFFFg Black Powder

Loading was a 29-grain bullet backed by about 4 grains of what would be called FFFFg, a finely granulated black powder. Modern smokeless loads can churn up to 1,132 fps velocity and 82 foot-pounds of energy. This diminutive round was originally just the .22 Rimfire, it received the ‘Short’ in 1871 when the .22 Long was introduced. A full 5-grains of FFFFg pushed a bullet of 29-grains to a velocity exceeding a 1,000 fps with modern smokeless powders.

.22 Long Rifle

The standard of the day is the .22 Long Rifle, probably the most popular cartridge in the world. It came along in 1887 and was introduced by J Stevens Arms & Tool Company. Case length is the same as the long but the bullet 30-40-grains with velocities exceeding 1.700 fps and up to 204 foot-pounds of energy. Loaded in Subsonic (below 1100 fps), Standard-Velocity at 1120-1135 fps, High-Velocity in the 1,200-1310 fps and the Hyper-Velocity loadings of over 1,400 fps.

Parlor Pistols

Indoor gallery shooting use to be popular in the late 1800’s to the turn of the century per World War 1 era. The .22 BB Cap (Bulleted Breech Cap) was designed for indoor gallery shooting. Living room, basement places like that. The guns were called ‘parlor pistols’. Quiet with low velocity they consist of the primer and bullet, no separate powder charge, with 18-20-grain bullet they churned up to about 780 fps, about what an air gun achieves. These were designed and in use in France about 1845. The 22 CB Cap (Conical Ball Cap) is a more powerful version of the .22 BB Cap. Louis-Nicholas Flobert introduced this round in 1888. Both the BB and CB cap where known as the 6mm Flobert. Modern loading can be pushed to 853 fps and 29 ft-lbs. of energy. Rare these are still manufactured and primarily used as a pest control media. Not many folks have ranges set up in their living rooms and parlors these days, most use air or spring guns for this activity today.

Heeled Bullets

One thing to note on all these .22 cartridges is that they use a heeled bullet with the exception of the BB Cap. The bullet is the same diameter as the casing, and a ‘stub’ of reduced diameter is what is inside the case holding the bullet and case together, a common reoccurring theme in 19th century cartridge design that sells this round short. In the Chechen War of Independence, rebels used .22 Long Rifle (LR) chambered rifles with plastic water-bottled suppressors to knock of Russian Federation troops from just a few feet away, interesting and effective combat expedient. Also the .22 LR is a more effective defensive round than the centerfire .25 Automatic and far cheaper.

.22 Winchester Rimfire & Magnum

Introduced by Winchester for their 1890 slide (i.e. pump action) rifle the .22 Winchester Rimfire was introduced with an encased (smaller than and fitting into the case) bullet which was more powerful than the .22 LR (Long Rifle). A 45-grain bullet is pushed to over 1,440 fps and up to 210 ft-lbs. of energy. Introduced in 1958 the king of .22 rimfires was introduced, the .22 Winchester Magnum, it pushes 30-grain bullets pass the 2,000 fps (2,300 fps) and over 322 ft-lbs. of energy. Nine-shot snub-nose revolvers make for fairly effective personal defensive platforms. The .22 Magnum was necked down by Hornady and loaded with .17 caliber jacketed 17-grain bullet that transited at 2,650 fps at the muzzle, creating a very effective, flat trajectory varmint round. Loaded with a 20-grain at 2,350 fps and 250 ft-lbs. of energy is has become extremely popular. This is the .17 HMR or Hornady Magnum Rimfire introduced in 2002.

.17 HM2 or .17 Hornady Mach 2

The last development in the modern rimfire legacy is the .17 HM2 or .17 Hornady Mach 2. Using the .22 Stinger (case slightly longer than a Long Rifle and is a Hyper-Velocity .22 LR loading) necked down to a jacketed 17-grain bullet traveling at 2,100 fps and pumping out 166 ft-lbs. of energy. Both the Hornady rounds use that companies V-Max bullet, jacketed with a polymer tip. The .17 PMC/Aguila or .17 High Standard are interchangeable with the .17HM2. The round was introduced in 2004.

Custom Shooting Range Design & Manufacture

Rimfires have long history, with more .22 Long Rifle ammo being sold than any other round. With proper adapters and magazines there are kits available to convert both AR-15 and .45Auto 1911’s to shoot the .22 LR rimfire round. And there is a plethora of handguns and rifles chambered for the humble Twenty-Two. Shooting Range Industries designs and manufactures custom shooting ranges for your convenience in firearm practicing and training. Contact us to learn more today!

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