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.