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Thread: Where do .22 and .177 come from? ...and Why?

  1. #1
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    Where do .22 and .177 come from? ...and Why?

    Hi guys...

    I've been debating a 'chicken and egg' question on the 'GENERAL' section:
    http://www.airgunbbs.com/showthread....is-the-history

    Feel free to shed any light on the origination of .22 as a starting point as per the original thread above.
    That's the 'Chicken' part, but the 'egg' part below is for the assembled throng in 'COLLECTABLES'

    Basically:

    I know .22 was originally a rimfire caliber, and that 'Flobert' developed the first examples of rimfire by placing a ball into a percussion cap.
    According to Wiki:
    His cartridge consisted of a percussion cap with a bullet attached to the top and the idea was to improve the safety of indoor shooting. Usually derived in the 6 mm and 9 mm calibres

    .22 is 5.6mm. The thread was to try and find out how/when the first .22 appeared....
    ...and when/how we ended up with .22 and .177 as the two main air gun calibres?

    SO, my questions to the assembled gurus are:

    1. who makes the first recognisable .22 pellet - and when?
    2. who makes the first recognisable .177 pellet - and when?


    NOTE: I believe the Sheridan/Crosman air rifle was the reason for the .20 after 1947. I'm presuming .25 is relatively new.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post
    Hi guys...

    I've been debating a 'chicken and egg' question on the 'GENERAL' section:
    http://www.airgunbbs.com/showthread....is-the-history

    Feel free to shed any light on the origination of .22 as a starting point as per the original thread above.
    That's the 'Chicken' part, but the 'egg' part below is for the assembled throng in 'COLLECTABLES'

    Basically:

    I know .22 was originally a rimfire caliber, and that 'Flobert' developed the first examples of rimfire by placing a ball into a percussion cap.
    According to Wiki:
    His cartridge consisted of a percussion cap with a bullet attached to the top and the idea was to improve the safety of indoor shooting. Usually derived in the 6 mm and 9 mm calibres

    .22 is 5.6mm. The thread was to try and find out how/when the first .22 appeared....
    ...and when/how we ended up with .22 and .177 as the two main air gun calibres?

    SO, my questions to the assembled gurus are:

    1. who makes the first recognisable .22 pellet - and when?
    2. who makes the first recognisable .177 pellet - and when?


    NOTE: I believe the Sheridan/Crosman air rifle was the reason for the .20 after 1947. I'm presuming .25 is relatively new.



    History
    The .25 cal. pellet is as old as the .177 and .22. Perhaps, the .22 is a little older than the others, but you have to get into esoteric shapes, such as cat slugs (solid lead bullets with felt bottoms), before that even takes effect. So, for all intents and purposes, the .25 is just as old. But, it was only as popular as the other two in the early 1900s. After about 1914, .22 and .177 calibers took off, leaving the .25 cal. in the dust…until now.


    https://www.pyramydair.com/blog/2010...pellet-part-1/

    plus this

    LEN AND ARTHUR JEFFRIES CONTINUED TO PRODUCE AIR RIFLE PELLETS IN CALIBRES .177, .22 AND .25 FROM THEIR PREMISES IN WHITTALL STREET AND STEELHOUSE LANE, LOCATED IN THE HEART OF BIRMINGHAM UNTIL 1960, WHERE DUE TO THE REDEVELOPMENT OF THE CITY WERE FORCED TO RELOCATE TO A NEW FACTORY IN SUMMER LANE.
    http://marksmanpellets.com/history/


    another quote here

    “In November 1900 the company obtained a number of air gun pellet making machines and the 1901 catalogue indicates these being made in sizes 1, 2 and 3, later to be defined as .177”, .22" and .25". The pellets made by the company were to be named the ‘Match’ weighing 10 grains and the ‘Witton’ weighing 8 grains. These were subsequently added to with the ‘Lion’, ‘Swift’ and ‘Mitre’ pellets."

    https://forum.cartridgecollectors.or...istory/11867/4


    slugs V pellets

    A) At the beginning of the last century most, if not all, ammunition for air-powered firearms was in the form of cup-shaped lead slugs. These were made by a number of manufacturers in various sizes – No. 1 bore (.177in), No. 2 bore (.22in) and No. 3 bore (.25in). Slugs were marketed for use in smoothbore airguns, and pellets were introduced for rifled airguns. They were not fully interchangeable, but pellets dominated the market despite being twice as expensive as slugs.

    The cheaper slugs were the most popular pellet until serious target shooting with air rifles
    became popular in the early 1900s. When air rifles became more sophisticated, better precision-made pellets took over the market. The cheaper form of the waisted pellet has replaced the old slug and they seem to work fairly well in smoothbore barrels.

    http://www.shootinguk.co.uk/answers/...rsus-slugs-525


    So you see , .25 is not a newish idea

    I would think that there would be some one in the section that can give a better idea
    Last edited by bighit; 12-01-2018 at 04:50 PM.

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    "...IN 1888, HE RELOCATED TO A LARGE PREMISES, AT 48 WHITTALL STREET AND LINCOLN JEFFRIES BEGAN DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING AIR RIFLES..."

    Then apparently they move to "A MUCH LARGER PREMISES AT 121 STEELHOUSE LANE, FROM WHERE HE PRODUCED HIS WORLD FAMOUS ‘LINCOLN AIR RIFLE’ ".

    So - somewhere between 1888, and 'whenever' Lincoln Jeffries designs the Lincoln Jeffries air rifle?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post
    "...IN 1888, HE RELOCATED TO A LARGE PREMISES, AT 48 WHITTALL STREET AND LINCOLN JEFFRIES BEGAN DESIGNING AND MANUFACTURING AIR RIFLES..."

    Then apparently they move to "A MUCH LARGER PREMISES AT 121 STEELHOUSE LANE, FROM WHERE HE PRODUCED HIS WORLD FAMOUS ‘LINCOLN AIR RIFLE’ ".

    So - somewhere between 1888, and 'whenever' Lincoln Jeffries designs the Lincoln Jeffries air rifle?
    Bsa made their first one in 1905 according to their website

    1905 Manufacture 1st Lincoln Jeffries air rifle

    http://bsaguns.co.uk/about/history.aspx

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    The following may add a bit more into the story:

    The earliest airgun catalogue I have is for Hawley's Patent Target air pistol, otherwise known as the Kalamazoo, from 1870, and the pistol was advertised as available in three caibres .22, .26 and .28. [The calibres are actually expressed as 22-100, 26-100 and 28-100, in other words 22 hundredths of an inch etc.]
    A later catalogue, from 1880, advertises the Haviland & Gunn air rifles (which pre-date the Gems) in calibre 22/100. Quackenbush on the other hand at that time sold his airguns in "21/100" calibre. The .177 calibre is not mentioned anywhere.

    I am not suggesting that Hawley originated the .22 calibre, but it does seem that there were a lot of arbitrary calibres around by 1870, so could the .22 size have become dominant just by chance?

    The first catalogue references I could find for .177 (as the metric equivalent 4.5mm) were actually German, and this calibre was evidently in common use in Germany for airguns by 1890. Possibly German manufacturers introduced the calibre around the time that mass produced airguns first came onto the market in the late 1870's, when the Germans adopted the Haviland & Gunn designs. If they wanted something substantially smaller then the American .22, then 4.5mm would have been a reasonable size to choose and is a more or less round number when expressed in mm. With the subsequent importation of Gems from Germany into the UK, the 4.5mm would then have become better known as .177 inches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccdjg View Post
    The following may add a bit more into the story:

    The earliest airgun catalogue I have is for Hawley's Patent Target air pistol, otherwise known as the Kalamazoo, from 1870, and the pistol was advertised as available in three caibres .22, .26 and .28. [The calibres are actually expressed as 22-100, 26-100 and 28-100, in other words 22 hundredths of an inch etc.]
    A later catalogue, from 1880, advertises the Haviland & Gunn air rifles (which pre-date the Gems) in calibre 22/100. Quackenbush on the other hand at that time sold his airguns in "21/100" calibre. The .177 calibre is not mentioned anywhere.

    I am not suggesting that Hawley originated the .22 calibre, but it does seem that there were a lot of arbitrary calibres around by 1870, so could the .22 size have become dominant just by chance?

    The first catalogue references I could find for .177 (as the metric equivalent 4.5mm) were actually German, and this calibre was evidently in common use in Germany for airguns by 1890. Possibly German manufacturers introduced the calibre around the time that mass produced airguns first came onto the market in the late 1870's, when the Germans adopted the Haviland & Gunn designs. If they wanted something substantially smaller then the American .22, then 4.5mm would have been a reasonable size to choose and is a more or less round number when expressed in mm. With the subsequent importation of Gems from Germany into the UK, the 4.5mm would then have become better known as .177 inches.

    i think the concept of .22 being adopted and developed as a main caliber for airgun could quite possibly fall into the area of "...QUITE BY CHANCE...".

    ALSO:
    Just to enlarge on your earlier point [lifted from an earlier post #18 from the thread mentioned at the beginning sitting in GENERAL] i didn't realise fully the following until I started poking around for this thread:

    Because a CALIBER is expressed in 'decimal inches'....
    Essentially, a "caliber" is one inch.
    So a .45 caliber bullet is 45 1/100ths of an inch in diameter (and a .50 caliber...One half-inch)


    Which means a 0.22 is actually 22 x 1/100ths of an inch

    Seriously - what twisted 'genius' comes up with this stuff?

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    Does this mean (if expressed as a caliber) that .177 is actually 17.7 x 1/100th of an inch?

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    .
    There was a thread on this very topic in the General Airgun section a week or so ago, with many of the answers, and much of the info you are looking for.
    _______________________________________________

    Done my bit for the BBS: http://www.airgunbbs.com/showthread....-being-a-mod-… now I’m a game-keeper turned poacher.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gareth W-B View Post
    .
    There was a thread on this very topic in the General Airgun section a week or so ago, with many of the answers, and much of the info you are looking for.
    I know... I started it. But although it helped gather a lot of the ballistic history of the caliber and it's development for rimfire, it still didn't produce a definitive answer for the WHO and WHEN concerning the adoption of .22 and .177 for airguns....
    ...which is why the thread is reiterated here among the gurus and Illuminati of COLLECTABLES.

    'Cos sometimes it is GOOD to be a pedantic geek, and I really want to know the history of the stuff I like to do!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post
    Does this mean (if expressed as a caliber) that .177 is actually 17.7 x 1/100th of an inch?

    Yes, that's right. 0.01 inches means 1 hundredth of an inch, so 17.7 of these comes to 0.177 inches. Althernatively you can think of .177 inches as 177 thousandths of an inch, or as engineers would say: "177 thou'.

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    I now take back my earlier suggestion that the .177 calibre probably started in Germany around 1880-90, as 4.5 mm. I had forgotten that examples of the American Haviland and Gunn air pistol (or perhaps more accurately referred to as the Morse pistol) from the 1870's are known with .177 calibre.
    So could Haviland and Gunn not only have been the first to introduce break-barrel airguns, but also the first to popularise the .22 and .177 calibres?

    In the 1870's there were really only two companies driving the popular airgun manufacturing scene, Haviland & Gunn favouring 0.177 and 0.22 calibres, and Quackenbush (who was heavily into airgun pellet and dart manufacture) favouring 0.21. When the break-barel design migrated to Germany and the Gems started to appear in Europe, it seems that the H & G calibres were preferred and won the day.

    I can understand that gunsmiths experimented with 0.20, 0.21, 0.22, 0.25 calibres, and probably also 0.23 and 0.24 at some point, and by chance 0.22 became the most accepted, but I can't understand where .177 came from. Why not 0.18 inches, which would be the next size down in this series?

    The only logical explanation I can think of is that the calibre did start off as a perfectly logical 0.18 inches (probably by H & G), and when their designs migrated to Germany this was metricised to a nice round 4.5 mm (it would actually have come to 4.57mm without rounding down). Then after the German Gems has been imported into the UK for a few years and British gunmakers began to make ammunition and even their own guns to this calibre, they converted 4.5mm back to inches, which would be 0.177 inches if done precisely.

    It would be nice to have old catalogue information about the H & G Morse pistol which specifies the calibre, but I do not know of any such thing. If it did, the chances are it would say 0.18 rather than 0.177. So according to my theory, the 0.177 calibre arose by a sequence of misleading events ( a bit like a Chinese whisper).

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    Dear ccdjg - I think we are getting nearer to truth for .22 if we consider development of these calibers for airguns as an accidental progression from the likely tooling base that the introduction of rimfire made available. Basically, if you have the machinery to make the barrel for one, then you can adapt and make the barrel for the other.

    If so: do we have any evidence of 'identical' barrels for both air rifle and rimfire to mark the first 'prototype'?

    ....which then still leaves us with the oddity of .177. Perhaps six of one and half a dozen of the other?.

    OR Does this mean Havilland & Gunn are the first makers of .177?

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    Inches, yards, chains, furlongs, miles, not forgetting the fathoms and leagues, along with pints quarts gallons, pounds and bushels etc. etc. then four, eight, twelve or 20 balls to the pound of lead, you never expected a simple answer did you?
    Last edited by mel h; 13-01-2018 at 05:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mel h View Post
    Inches, yards, chains, furlongs, miles, not forgetting the fathoms and leagues, along with pints quarts gallons, pounds and bushels etc. etc. then four, eight, twelve or 20 balls to the pound of lead, you never expected simple answer did you?
    Not necessarily a simple answer - but I thought I'd get an answer by now. Afterall, AIRGUNBBS is devoted to all things to do with this sport - so you'd think a question as basic as 'where did it all start?' would get a definitive response by now. At the moment we seem stuck on identifying the very first .22 and first .177 airguns. I don't even know if the first was a rifle - or a pistol?


    ...and i only asked because i genuinely don't know the answer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post
    Not necessarily a simple answer - but I thought I'd get an answer by now. Afterall, AIRGUNBBS is devoted to all things to do with this sport - so you'd think a question as basic as 'where did it all start?' would get a definitive response by now. At the moment we seem stuck on identifying the very first .22 and first .177 airguns. I don't even know if the first was a rifle - or a pistol?


    ...and i only asked because i genuinely don't know the answer!
    I have to say that it is a question that I have myself pondered in the past. I always assumed that it came from the continent, there were other increments of linear measurement before the metric system. I would be happy to hear the answer if there is one to be found.

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