May 6, 2011 nor fowl nor good red herring; the .22 long

We didn't know anything about ballistics. We just knew .22 longs were a dime a box cheaper than .22 long rifles. Shorts were cheaper yet, but we were led to understand by our elder experts  -- mostly eighth and ninth graders  -- that they would ruin our guns.

So we happily shot longs up and down the wild (really) Des Moines River valley -- squirrels, rabbits, Blatz beer cans, floating debris, and spawning carp.

The .22 long was born in 1871 for S/W revolvers as a supercharged improvement on the short. It held  the same 29 grain lead with  a longer case and a black powder charge upped to 5 grains.  The ballisticians were divided on its actual worth but felt it might offer a small improvement on the  short in handguns. In rifles, the  powder burn pooped out before the bullet left the muzzle.

Re-specked for smokeless, it was routinely available for about 100 years, disappearing from the hardware store shelves when the makers could no longer offer it cheaper than the long rifle.

So it was neat to find this while sorting an auction-sale can of odd nuts and bolts. The head stamp is "U," from the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, later part of Remington. It's a treasure to be placed in my can of oddball cartridges, perhaps never to be examined again. So what?  As the philosopher Travis McGee wrote, the best collectibles are moments of pleasure.

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