View Full Version : The Superb .22 LR

04-01-2006, 08:00 PM
Part One

The 22lr is widely considered to be the finest cartridge ever developed. Many of us have used this outstanding round for plinking, target shooting and small game hunting. Perhaps there are some of you who don't know how rich the history of the 22lr is. Here are a few tidbits...

Archaeologists had always been puzzled by the presence of a small hole in the skull of sabre-toothed tiger skeletons. It was Professor Indiana Jones who made the connection between small rimfire cases found near the tiger, and the hole in the skull. Although the cases were apparently made from animal bones one thing was clear...the 22lr had been developed earlier than first thought. Perhaps even before the invention of the wheel.

The first recorded use of the 22lr was in 48 BC, when Caesar defeated Pompey at Pharsalus in Greece. Caesar had the insight to equip his army with Marlin bolt action rifles. Although these were single shot rifles, they allowed Caesars army to swiftly defeat Pompeys troops. Alas, in 44 BC poor Caesar was shot dead from an assassins heavy-barrel sniper rifle, also in 22lr.

One of the great adventures in the early days of the US was the Lewis & Clark expedition, from St Louis to the Pacific Ocean and back. William Clark always had his 10/22 at his side, as there were hostile indian tribes along the way. Rumor has it he used a Ramline 25 round magazine, but this has never been confirmed. Meriwether Lewis prefered the MkII pistol and even took a grizzly bear with it. Upon their return to St Louis Clark exclaimed, "The journey was a bit tough but the 22lr pulled us through."

General George Armstrong Custer, a name we know well from the early American West. In June of 1876 the General made his last stand, against 5,000 Sioux Indians at Little Big Horn. The Sioux had a mix of Savage repeating rifles and Ruger Single-Six pistols, all in 22lr. Unfortunately the US Army had not yet adopted the 22lr for it's troops and the Sioux won.

Around this same time period, the American Buffalo was being heavily hunted. One favorite buffalo rifle was the Sharps, being chambered for the powerful 22lr cartridge. There were so many buffalo that a hunter with good eyes could easily expend a brick of 22lr during a weekend hunt. The superior ballistics and knockdown power of the 22lr made it a natural for buffalo hunts. The bullet would cut straight through the blowing winds of the Great Plains. When a buff got hit it went down for the count.

Many a skilled rifleman held the 22lr in high esteem. One of these men was Billy Dixon. In 1874 at the second Battle of Adobe Walls, Billy made his famed 'long shot' at a mounted Indian, 1,538 yards away. That Indian simply fell off his horse. The rifle used was a Sharps, in 22lr of course, that he borrowed from saloon owner James Hanrahan. Both men were convinced the 22lr was the cat's meow.

04-01-2006, 08:03 PM
Part Two

Theodore Roosevelt was not only the 26th President of the US, he was also a big game hunter. In 1909 Teddy went on a safari to Africa and shot hundreds of game. One rifle he used was new to him, a Holland double-barrel in 22lr. After killing a charging rhinoceros, and only having to fire one shot, Teddy was impressed to say the least. He immediately had his three Winchester 1895's re-chambered for the 22lr. As Teddy said, "Speak softly, and carry a big stick."

Elmer Keith was a proponent of the 22lr cartridge. He especially enjoyed the large S&W revolvers, and became quite good at shooting them. It had taken S&W quite a while to come up with a revolver they felt was strong enough to handle the 22lr, and Elmer had been the main driving force. In both 1960 and 1961 Elmer used his 4" S&W 22lr to harvest deer at over 200 yards. On other hunts he used the same gun on elk and grizzly bear. With the fabled knockdown power of the 22lr there should be no doubt in anyones mind that Elmer used enough gun.

Early in the 20th century the military had finally adopted the 22lr and by WWI much development had occured. One of the doughboys favorite close-up weapons was the Winchester Model 12 'Trench Gun'. A shotgun, using the 22lr shotshell, that could blow down half a squad of advancing Germans. Aircraft had finally come into play during warfare, and British pilots were glad to have the Twin Vickers 22lr machine guns aboard their Sopwith Camels. (Many Vickers jammed up due to the use of non-coated lead bullets being fired at such a high cyclic rate. By WWII the US and Britain had made copper coated bullets standard for all 22lr machine guns.)

The B-17 bomber was one of the most heavily armed aircraft the US produced during WWII. With thirteen 22lr machine guns aboard it's no wonder it was called the "Flying Fortress". Enemy aircraft had better watch out. During daylight bombing runs over Germanys industrial centers, B-17's dropped load after load of 22lr, pulverizing the German factories. Even though the B-17's were heavily armed, the daylight missions were extremely dangerous because there was no fighter escort. With the arrival of the new P-51 Mustang the bombers finally had a chance. The P-51 was fast, nimble, and carried six 22lr machine guns in her wings. Enemy fighters started to fall from the sky left and right.

Advances in technology have again brought the 22lr to the forefront of US military weaponry. The Abrams M1A2 tank will soon be replaced by the M1A3. The A2, with it's depleted uranium projectile was found to be lacking long range tank-killing power. The A3 solves that problem by using the 32gr Stinger Hyper-Velocity 22lr round. The Air Force's new F-22A Raptor Stealthfighter will use Sub-Sonic 22lr so it can remain undetected while firing at enemy targets. Naval Command is conducting tests on fleet armament at this time. So far the Mini-Mag HP 22lr is showing greater range and accuracy than the Tomahawk missile, and delivers much more energy to the target.

NASA has long been a proponent of the 22lr for space flight. Project Mercury put Alan Shepard into space and then John Glenn orbited the Earth. Project Gemini followed, and more was learned about what was needed for space travel. Finally on the Apollo missions NASA used the 22lr as the propulsion device and we made it to the moon.

*** The SDI 'Star Wars' program might also use the 22lr, but the information is still classified and cannot be published. ***

Hollywood movies have long glamorized the 22lr cartridge. A few were... 'Quigley Down Under', where Tom Selleck ably uses his 1874 Sharps 22lr to hit distant targets. "The Guns of Navarone", in which Gregory Peck and others are sent to blow up the Germans big 22lr shore guns. And of course the most famous for his usage of the 22lr, Inspector Harry Callahan. Like he told the bad guy, "This is a 22lr, the most powerful handgun in the world, and it can blow your head clean off. Do you feel lucky?"

Lucky? You bet. I'll take a 22lr gun anyday, for any chore. From the Stone Age to the Space Age, whether it's hunting big game or 1,000 yard target shooting, the 22lr can do it all.

Happy April, everyone! Stolen from the BSB Forum

04-01-2006, 11:17 PM
Waksupi, thanks for the update on the glorious history of the magnificent .22 LR. My April fool story, which I fooled my wife with, was from a "this date in history column" in the local paper. This part was real, "in 1996 two California sheriff's deputies were viderotaped repeatedly clubbing a ... man and woman suspected of sneaking across the border." I added, as if continuing to read from the paper, "The officers were awarded the Police Commendation Medal." Really had the wife going on that one!

04-20-2006, 03:29 PM
Much, much,much,MUCH too MUCH time on your hands!:mrgreen:

but still a good read!:coffeecom