This is the first of four planned articles. I will cover rim fire, pistol, rifle and shotguns as four different articles. That said let’s start with some basics: Rim fire ammunition refers to a type of metallic firearm cartridge. It is called a rim fire because the firing pin of a gun strikes the base's rim to ignite the primer. The rim fire cartridge was invented in 1845 by Louis-Nicholas Flobert. Many other types of ammunition types have been tried but only the rim fire and centerfire technology survive in modern times.
In this article I will try to demonstrate the different types of rim fire cartridges and how they are used. I will also touch on the different types of guns that utilize the rim fire cartridges. The most common of rim fire cartridges today is the 22 long rifle. Most fire a lead bullet that weighs between 30 and 40 grains which is about .09 oz. The velocity of test barrels (long) firing the cartridges will vary from about 720 feet per second to 1640 feet per second. The slower rounds are considered subsonic and are much quieter than the hyper velocity rounds. Suppressors sometimes incorrectly called silencers can make a subsonic round virtually silent. Suppressors are good at disguising the shooters direction of attack from those being targeted and off course lessens damage done to hearing.
22 long rifle guns can be found in single and double barreled derringers, revolvers, semi-automatic pistols, bolt action rifles in single shot, tubular magazine and magazine configurations. 22 Long rifles are also found in semi-automatic rifles that feed from a tubular magazine or removable magazines. There are too many different models to give my opinion on all of them but realize these are my opinions based on my experiences.
I recommend that you avoid derringers of all kinds and mini revolvers like the North American Arms. I also recommend avoiding cheap foreign revolvers and semi-automatics that are made from zinc alloy metals. Any gun that has RG or Jennings should be avoided. Stick with name brands like Colt, Smith and Wesson, Ruger, High Standard, Browning, and Beretta when purchasing a 22 revolver or semi-automatic pistol. In rifles I would again avoid any ones that are made with a zinc alloy frame. These include Ithaca single shot and lever actions and Winchester 190 series rifles. I like Winchester rifles just not the ones made with the inferior materials mentioned. Again rifles made by Winchester, Remington, Ruger, Browning, and Smith and Wesson are good choices.
I want to talk next about some specialty rounds in rim fire. Relatively new cartridges in 17 caliber are popular for varmint hunting. The smaller lighter bullet allows for higher velocities and more effective ranges. Another cartridge that is popular is 22 Winchester Magnum. It is a physically longer cartridge with more powder and more range. The down side is this ammunition is many times more expensive than the 22 long rifle. The 22 short has been around since 1857. It was developed for Smith and Wesson’s first revolver. The 22 long came out in 1871 followed by the 22 long rifle in 1887. Larger rim fires were used during the American Civil War in 30, 32, 38, 41 short, 44 Henry, 56-56 Spencer up to the .58 Miller. These large caliber rim fires were later replaced with center fire cartridges.
22 long rifle cartridges are also available in 22 shot shells. Instead of a lead bullet you will have a crimped end or a plastic capsule containing 1/15th of an ounce of #12 shot, about the size of a grain of salt. These rounds are good for rodents, snakes, and birds within a very limited range of about 15 feet. These rounds will not hurt an animal at a distance. I have used them to discourage stray dogs and even ran a bear out of my trash can once. Kind of like being stung by bees at a distance. I’m not recommending you face off a bear with any rim fire and when I did I had a large caliber backup.
There are guns that were made to shoot 22 short cartridges and some that shoot 22 long cartridges also. Older tubular feed guns will fire 22 short, long and long rifle. I even know of one Remington 550-1 model rifle that will fire all 3 in a semi-auto. Most semi-autos will only fire the 22long rifle or if designed for it will only fire the 22 short.
A 22 cartridge is capable of taking small game like squirrels and rabbits. I have heard since I was a young boy that more deer have been killed with a 22 than any other gun. I have heard it often enough over the years that there must be some truth to it. However, it is not legal to shoot a deer with a 22 in any state that I know of. A 22 is not a recommended weapon for self-defense but better than nothing. A deadly shot with a 22 is preferable to a miss with a 44 magnum. I have always recommended a 22 pistol or rifle to a novice shooter because of the lack of recoil and noise. It is better to train someone with good habits from the start, then allow them to move up in caliber till they reach their comfort level.
I shoot in a competition using rim fire rifles. I shoot up to 100 yards. Using a target rifle a 22 round drops about 8 inches from 50 yards to 100 yards. If hunting small game I would recommend 50 yards or less depending on the individual’s skill with a rifle as being the maximum effective range. If using the 22 magnum or the 17 rim fire you could add another 50 yards to the effective range.
I will recommend a couple of 22s to the novice shooter. Both of these guns can be purchased new for a little over $300 and used for under $300. Both are Rugers. My wife loves her SR-22. It has many safety features like a de-cocker. It fires the first round double action which means the hammer cocks itself with a pull of the trigger then stays cocked after the first round is fired. You can put the gun on safe and the hammer drops without firing the round in the barrel. Until you place the gun back in the fire position the trigger won’t shoot the gun. The second gun is a Ruger10/22. It is a semi-automatic rifle that fires 100 22long rifle shells from a rotary magazine. There are aftermarket magazines for the 10/22 that will increase your capacity up to 100 rounds with the 25 round magazines being the most user friendly and popular. There are also a great deal of accessories sold for the 10/22 that you can buy to jazz it up to your liking. Goggle 10/22 accessories and you will see what I mean. Since I have recommended a couple of guns I feel the need to give CCI ammo a plug. Some semi-auto pistols are finicky about their ammo. I have found that those guns will almost always work properly with CCI ammo. I also use that ammo for my completion shooting. No matter what brand of ammo you find that your gun likes, keep with that brand. There are slight differences in the ballistics and the resulting trajectories of the different brands.
Bravo Echo Out,