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Firearms Facts Episode 1:

The .22 Long Rifle


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A Brief History of .22 Rimfire Ammunition

Chuck Hawks

The rimfire principle was used to create the first successful self-contained metallic ammunition. Rimfire cases are constructed with the priming compound spun inside the rim of the copper or brass case, which is crushed by the blow of the firing pin to ignite the main powder charge.

The first rimfire cartridges were .22s, but after the type became established many larger caliber rimfire cartridges were developed in the mid to late 19th Century. Some of these had a good run of popularity until they were superceded by the development of higher pressure centerfire ammunition.

Calibers ranged from the .25 Short to the .58 Miller. Probably the best known of the larger caliber rimfires are the .25 Stevens, .32 Long, and .44 Henry Flat. The latter was the cartridge for which the seminal Henry and Winchester 1866 "Yellow Boy" lever action rifles were chambered.

Guns and ammunition for the last of the larger caliber rimfires was discontinued in the U.S. in the late 1930's and early 1940's. According to Cartridges of the World by Frank C. Barnes...

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