by B.B.Pelletier

Announcement: I already mentioned this in the comments section of yesterday’s blog, but it’s worth saying again. Crosman has sold the first 100 Benjamin Marauders, so Pyramyd Air will soon receive their shipment of guns. This is the time to put in your order so you can get a rifle from the first shipment they receive.

When I was young and stupid (as opposed to now–when I am older) I wanted a .22 rifle. We lived on several acres in the country and were surrounded by large farms, so the location was ideal. And, by this early teenaged time in my life, I had owned several BB guns and a .177 Slavia pellet rifle without breaking any windows. Plus, I’d taken an NRA firearms safety course. The parental barriers had been breached. I could get whatever I could afford to buy!

That usually stretched out to as much as a month (I lived in a time warp in those days) of researching the market. That consisted of walking across the street to the hardware store and seeing what they had on their wall. Just before I got the green light, they had carried Remington Fieldmasters and Nylon 66s. As soon as I was allowed to buy a gun, they went into a starvation mode. All they had was a Winchester model 67 single-shot.

So, I researched that! My 1948 Shooter’s Bible told me that the Winchester 67 had a 27-inch barrel! Most sporting .22s had 24-inch barrels in those days, and several were even shorter!

Well, I’d been reading Guns & Ammo magazine for several months by this time and knew that the longer the barrel the faster the bullet went. I sort of overlooked the part where they related that barrel-length/bullet-velocity relationship to the type of powder being used, though, so I didn’t understand that it didn’t apply to .22 rimfires. Black powder works that way for sure, but smokeless doesn’t nearly as much and rimfire bullets actually go slower with barrels longer than about 18-20 inches.

Fortunately, I knew none of that. Kind of like how new airgunners today don’t understand that longer barrels hinder velocity in spring guns (well, they may not actually hinder, but they certainly don’t help) but they do help with CO2 guns and pneumatics.

However, for once my ignorance didn’t matter. I had an ace up my sleeve. I convinced that same hardware store that sold me the one Winchester model 67 on their wall to also special-order me a box of 250 .22 short gallery rounds with a special 27-grain “crumble ball” bullet. Made strictly for shooting galleries, these rounds had a muzzle velocity of over 1700 f.p.s.! And with that longer barrel, I was convinced that I would have almost the velocity of a .22 Hornet in my $50 single-shot.

Whether that ever happened or not, I never knew, for the personal chronograph was decades in the future and I barely had the money for cartridges. But one thing I did know for certain. With that ammo, I couldn’t hit a barn wall while standing on the inside! In fact, they were such a disappointment that I still have that box of shells and about 200 remain! They’re now considered very collectible because most were burned up by shooting galleries, where they were seldom shot farther than 20 feet.

With great reluctance, I learned that conventional .22 long rifle rounds worked best in my gun. They went much slower, of course, and they dropped faster over the course of 100 yards, but the harsh fact was–and still is–that ballistics don’t change regardless of your personal desires and preferences.

And that lesson is the moral of my little tale, of course. I read the articles, I read the ads and then I created a universe from the pieces of fact that could not coexist with each other. I see a lot of similarity between those days and today, with the crowd of new airgunners who want to mix and match the best traits of guns that cannot be combined. They want a hypersonic, ultra-accurate, flat-shooting projectile of limitless power and the silence of a tomb. And, could you please put all that in a pocket pistol I can carry into the woods, scoped with a compact 40x night-vision scope that sights-in by itself as you change pellets?

No harm in asking, I guess.