Honoring the historic ‘Double Deuce’ rimfire

There is no doubt that the most popular pistol and rifle cartridge in this country is the .22 rimfire cartridge. Annual ammunition sales also show that it is the most fired ammunition in America and is extremely versatile for use in everything from target shooting and simple plinking, to small game hunting and even home and personal defense.

The fact that it is not overly strong with its report and lacks noticeable recoil makes the .22 rimfire the perfect round to introduce new and young beginners to the shooting hobby. Having shot the .22 rimfire in competitive shooting, I can also state that it is an inherently accurate round.

The fact that the .22 rimfire is still inexpensive doesn’t hurt its casing either. I shoot enough .22 rounds on a regular basis that I usually buy the ammo by the “brick” (500 rounds). I learned a long time ago that continued practice with my .22 rifles and pistols keeps me in tune with using the larger caliber and centerfire versions, and at a much lower cost. Many of my “twenty-twos” (both rifles and pistols) feature similar actions, sights, and handling characteristics to my larger caliber firearms to maintain absolute familiarity.

The .22 rimfire cartridge has a long and rather colorful history. Its earliest roots began in Europe in the mid-19th century.the century, and this self-contained cartridge was called a “BB” cap and used a round ball projectile that worked only with the priming compound in the rolled rim. Their primary function was for indoor target shooting on what were described as “parlor pistols” (most likely a favorite of the wealthy and elite at parties).

The BB cap would be followed by the “CB” cap (CB stands for Tapered Bullet), which contains a very small amount of powder for a bit more power. In fact, I still shoot .22 CB rounds today, as they are so quiet in plinking rifles, and when fired in my short barreled mini revolvers, they just make a similar shot to toy guns. This, however, does not mean they are harmless, because I have used .22 CB rounds (in both pistols and rifles) to eliminate barn rats that want to establish themselves near my barn and kennels.

Despite its soft nature, the .22 CB round is quite lethal for pest control with minimal noise. This is the round my granddaughter McKenna used to catch her first fox squirrel, and her furry tail never knew what hit her.

The .22 Short is the oldest self-contained cartridge in the United States still in use today, having been created by Smith and Wesson in 1856 for use in their new “pocket” revolver. (I recently got to handle one of these historic S&W revolvers that was an heirloom from a friend.)