A Brief History of the 22 Rimfire Cartridge


Chronological  development of the 22 caliber  rimfire cartridge.


                    By, John Del Savio


               I have prepared this brief history pertaining to the development of the 22 rimfire cartridge for those who wish to know the secession of events leading to the development of the 22 rimfire cartridge as we know it today.


    In  a 1831 patent  a thin walled cartridge case with priming compound  contained within the rim was filed. History is rather scant of what transpired over the next 14 years before the introduction of the Flobert 22 BB cap.


    In 1845 the Flobert  BB cap was introduced to the world. This is a 22 round ball pressed into a rimmed version of a percussion musket priming cap. Thus forming a self contained cartridge, but not having gun powder for a propellant. It relying solely on the priming compound to propel the projectile. The power level of this cartridge was not sufficient for much beyond short range target shooting. Never the less the tiny cartridge became very popular for indoor target shooting in what was referred to as Parlor rifles and pistols.

Much the way that people play dart, or other indoor games of skill so were the Parlor guns used.


    1857 the 22 short cartridge was developed for Smith & Wessonís first revolver. It had a longer case and a powder charge of 4 grains of black powder. This cartridge also used a conical shaped projectile.


    In 1871 the 22 Long cartridge was developed in an effort to add power to the 22 cartridge that would make it suitable for small game hunting. The cartridge case was lengthen and the powder charge increased to 5 grains of black powder. The long continued to use the same conical shaped projectile as the shot cartridge did.


    1880 the 22 Extra long cartridge  (or 22-7-45) hit the market in an effort to further push the 22 rimfire as a effective small game cartridge. This cartridge had a much longer case length , used a 45 grain conical projectile and a 7 grain charge of black powder. It was never very popular and reported to foul the rifles bore rather quickly. It is dropped from the ammo catalogs in 1935, but firearms produced  for this seems to have stopped in 1916 or earlier.


    1887 the J. Steven Arms & Tool Co. developed the 22 Long Rifle cartridge. They used the 22 Long cartridge case and gave it a powder charge of 5 grains of fine  black powder. The 29 grain bullet used in the 22 long cartridge was replaced wit a 40 grain conical. Stevens also recognized that the heavier projectile used in the new cartridge needed a faster twist rate to the rifling and thus they provided in their rifles. The success of this tiny rimfire cartridge is legendary. It continues to this day as the most ever produced firearm cartridge.


    1890 The 22 WRF and the Remington version of that (22 Remington Special) were introduced.


    1925 Marked another quantum leap for the rimfire cartridge (and center fire as well) in that a new non-corrosive priming compound was being used in the production of ammunition. The old original priming compound used in ammunition prior to 1925 is the main cause of the damage found in the bore of many fine old firearm.


    1959 Winchester introduces their new 22 Rim Fire Magnum. It was an instant success and continues to be so to this day. With itís copper jacketed bullet and a muzzle velocity of 1800 FPS+ it a great small game cartridge.