by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, I’m heading to Ohio today to be at the Pyramyd Air moving sale tomorrow. Please stop by if you can, and please introduce yourselves, so I know who I have met.
The early issues of The Airgun Letter had a “Balderdash” column, where I would quote a widely held/believed myth and present evidence to either prove or refute it–a sort of early Mythbusters. Here’s the first one I wrote in March 1994.
The .22 pellet is inherently less accurate than the other calibers.
I love this one. “Why is it less accurate?” you ask.
“Well,” they say, “it just is. That’s how things go, sometimes; you know how it is. Bigger calibers are less accurate.”
Balderdash, balderdash, balderdash, balderdash! Don’t you believe it for one second! As a former U.S. Army mortar platoon leader, I can assure you that my 4.2-inch (106mm) mortars out-shot the 81mm mortars every time. And don’t tell me that it was due to the larger weapon being rifled; because on the M68 gun cannon, which is the main gun on an M60-series tank and a rifle far more accurate than any you or I will ever own, the most accurate ammunition, APDS (armor-piercing discarding sabot), is fin-stabilized to STOP the spinning induced by the rifling!
Any artilleryman can tell you that the most accurate ballistic field artillery piece the U.S. ever had is the 8-inch (210mm) gun. In fact, it’s far more likely to hit its mark than the 155mm or the 105mm–both smaller bores. And, for real accuracy, there’s the incredible 15-inch naval rifle fired from our so-called obsolete battleships, that seem to get recommissioned every time there’s a crisis.
I once had a .458 Winchester Magnum that fired 558-grain Lyman cast bullets in front of a pinch of 2400 powder. It was like shooting a big .22. Ten of those leaden footballs would spiral through a ragged 2-inch hole (outside diameter) at 100 yards any time I cared to try. I bet you could have done even better.
The reason people don’t use .22 cal. target air rifles is because we don’t have .22 cal. target air rifles. They aren’t made, so they aren’t going to be used–period. There’s simply too much inertia to overcome. If you’re still in doubt, then answer this for me: Why is it that a Beeman .177 and .20 R1 will out-group a .22 version–but so will the .25? Those are Beeman’s figures from their 1994 catalog (remember–this Balderdash was written in 1994). Is the .22 pellet, perhaps, a handier perch for demons to sit upon as they steer the pellets astray? Should smallbore cartridge match weapons also be made in .18 caliber? Or possibly .12 caliber? Or maybe 0.0 caliber? Would 0.0 caliber guns be infinitely accurate? Science demands an answer.
“Well, with all the technology available to the airgun manufacturers in the world today, don’t you think someone would make a .22 if they were as good?” Right! With logic like that, American car manufacturers would have made quality cars all along, wouldn’t they? And our educators would have insisted on a quality education for American kids, and….
Nope–it’s inertia all right. Someday, some genius is going to “discover” that the .22 pellet is accurate; then we’ll have known it all along. Meanwhile, my iron-sighted Anschutz model 1954 .22 underlever (see page 144, Airgun Digest, Second Edition) that was salvaged from the Egyptian Army continues to poke .10-inch center-to-center holes (and under) at 10 meters–off a wadded-up down comforter rest!