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

  1. #16
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    I wonder if the odd sizes may have been influenced by rifling in barrels, weren't some early bore sizes measured from the lands and some from the grooves ?
    just a thought but may help explain the odd sounding fractions of an inch.

    Edit. Doh, just read the other thread and see this has already been mentioned, so thinking on my feet I'll go for my original thought on this that they found out that 200, 250 and 500 of all said sized pellets would fit in the re painted lozenge tins they decided would be handy to keep them in
    I'll just get my coat........
    Last edited by El Garro; 13-01-2018 at 06:06 PM. Reason: managed to pay attention.
    Rust never sleeps !

  2. #17
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    Gareth W-B is online now Retired Mod & Airgun Anorak Extraordinaire
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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post

    '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!
    Ahh-ha, a Kindred Spirt. Then I totally Sopport your M.O. Nice one, well done, and keep on keeping on with your quest. After all, every day is a school day (as I believe I may have said once or twice before ??? ). Ha ha. Atb: G.
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    Done my bit for the BBS: http://www.airgunbbs.com/showthread....-being-a-mod-… now I’m a game-keeper turned poacher.

  3. #18
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    Just wondered if any other manufacturers (not necessarily gunmakers) around these times was already making tubing with an internal diameter of .177. That way perhaps if an experimenter wasn't into barrel making they could source some tubing or perhaps commission a maker of tubing to produce some with a thicker wall more suitable to their requirements for developing an 'airgun'. I'm not saying an airgun inventor wouldn't or couldn't produce their own barrels but if there was already some sort of tubing available it might free them up from one aspect of airgun development, & if the size chosen was already established for one use or industry, then maybe it could conceivably become adopted or adapted for use by a new one.& if it was already common in one industry then perhaps it might explain how .177 caught on & spread...? Don't know, just a thought ...

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by trajectory View Post
    Just wondered if any other manufacturers (not necessarily gunmakers) around these times was already making tubing with an internal diameter of .177. That way perhaps if an experimenter wasn't into barrel making they could source some tubing or perhaps commission a maker of tubing to produce some with a thicker wall more suitable to their requirements for developing an 'airgun'. I'm not saying an airgun inventor wouldn't or couldn't produce their own barrels but if there was already some sort of tubing available it might free them up from one aspect of airgun development, & if the size chosen was already established for one use or industry, then maybe it could conceivably become adopted or adapted for use by a new one.& if it was already common in one industry then perhaps it might explain how .177 caught on & spread...? Don't know, just a thought ...
    Worth pursuing. Obviously I'm referring to 'spring powered' airguns (as various CO2 and 'PCP' predate in different bores and calibers)...
    ...wouldn't it be great to find the 'first' of each!

    One of the first who seems to be working in .22 is Mr Henry Quackenbush. His first patent is down as June 6th, 1871 for the Eureka Air Pistol.

    If I look at Haviland and Gunn, I find references for the '1872' airgun, and this maddeningly 'incomplete' entry (datewise i mean) from the Blue Book:
    http://bluebookofgunvalues.com/Airgu...D_GUNN_HISTORY

    "Most of the rifles produced by Gunn or Haviland & Gunn were combination guns which could function as either an air rifle or as a .22 rimfire firearm. Some models were strictly air rifles and some may have been strictly rimfire. A "patch box" in the buttstock of the combination guns stored the firing pin and/or breech seal. When used as a rimfire gun, the firing pin was installed in the air transfer port on the front of the cylinder face. When the trigger was pulled, the piston moved forward, without significant air compression, and struck the firing pin which in turn crushed and detonated the primer of the rimfire cartridge. The patch box on the Haviland and Gunn rifles underwent several changes in shape, style, lid type functioning, and location, finally ending up as round on the right side of the stock.
    A traditional "tee bar" breech latch is found on most Haviland and Gunn air rifles and combination rifles. A side swinging breech latch on smooth bore air rifles probably was an earlier design.
    Haviland & Gunn developed numerous "improved" modifications of their various models during the 1870s. They produced their last catalog in 1881. In 1882, H.M. Quackenbush purchased at least part of the Haviland and Gunn Company, including patent rights, machinery, existing stock, and equipment related to gun and slug manufacture. George Gunn agreed to work for H.M. Quackenbush but Benjamin Haviland did not.


    The Good News is the highlighted section sort of bears out a previous thought: 'was there a barrel around that was adapted from rimfire to air rifle...?'

    But the entry then refers to the air rifle mode as "without significant air compression". If that's the case, then i can't really see how this can be claimed as an example of an early air rifle. Seems more like the description is an accidental air rifle by nature of the rimfire trigger mechanism. Or am I reading this wrong?

    However, the article also says "Some models were strictly air rifles" but frustratingly - NO DATES!!!!

    So: does this mean Quackenbush is our winner of first .22 air rifle?

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post

    So: does this mean Quackenbush is our winner of first .22 air rifle?
    If you look at my post 5 you will see that I pointed out that Hawley was already advertising .22 inch calibre for his Kalamazoo air pistol in 1870, before Quackenbush’s first patent. In addition, apart from a few early experimental models that were not a commercial success, and his Model 5 combination air /rimfire rifle, Quackenbush’s pistols and air rifles were in fact all calibre 0.21 not 0.22, and this calibre was kept for all the spin-off air pistols and rifles that he had a hand in (including his own rifle-air pistol contrary to what the Bluebook says, and Bedford’s Eureka, the Champion and the Pope). I think this was deliberate, as you just can’t shoot .22 pellets or darts in these .21 guns and owners would have had to buy Quackenbush ammunition rather than Haviland and Gunn’s. So we can definitely rule out Quackenbush as a contender for introducing and popularising the .22 calibre.

    I have a catalogue advert for the Haviland and Gunn air rifles, which predate Quackenbush's air rifles, and it is stated that they were 0.22 caibre.

    Concerning the Bluebook description of the combination gun, it is only when the firing pin is place and the gun is set up for rimfire use that there is little air compression in the cylinder. When the firing pin is not there, normal air compression takes place.

  6. #21
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    Why .177?
    Just wondered if it may not have been driven by available tube sizes as speculated in my last post. Could it be that an airgun developer would have popped down to his local shooting supply shop or hardware store & bought a big bag of shotgun reloading shot or popped round to a shot maker & asked what he'd got in the way of lead balls that gave a nice number for weighing out into smaller packs, say around 50 to the oz? With a view to selling ammunition for a new airgun he was developing & thinking about the supply of ammunition for it if it took off & the market opened up.
    Looking around the turn of the century (1900 ish) although shot designation seems not to be too standard at all, for instance there are differences between French, Belgian, USA & Britain. Even within Britain there were differences between them AS or 2A shot from Walker Parker, gave 40 per oz new chilled Newcastle AA shot gave 48 per oz. So manufactures method, production variability, lead alloy or pure, would have given a variety let alone anything else so conceivably with the right conditions etc 50 balls per oz could come close to 4.5mm & perhaps suit the purpose of our developer. Just an idea, not sure if it's a good one or not but maybe something to contemplate...

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by trajectory View Post
    Why .177?
    Just wondered if it may not have been driven by available tube sizes as speculated in my last post. Could it be that an airgun developer would have popped down to his local shooting supply shop or hardware store & bought a big bag of shotgun reloading shot or popped round to a shot maker & asked what he'd got in the way of lead balls that gave a nice number for weighing out into smaller packs, say around 50 to the oz? With a view to selling ammunition for a new airgun he was developing & thinking about the supply of ammunition for it if it took off & the market opened up.
    Looking around the turn of the century (1900 ish) although shot designation seems not to be too standard at all, for instance there are differences between French, Belgian, USA & Britain. Even within Britain there were differences between them AS or 2A shot from Walker Parker, gave 40 per oz new chilled Newcastle AA shot gave 48 per oz. So manufactures method, production variability, lead alloy or pure, would have given a variety let alone anything else so conceivably with the right conditions etc 50 balls per oz could come close to 4.5mm & perhaps suit the purpose of our developer. Just an idea, not sure if it's a good one or not but maybe something to contemplate...
    I'm sure there is an element of 'chicken and egg' to any development - and in the case of a new caliber for air rifle, whoever came up with the first .177 would have also needed to find and source a supply of ammunition. I think your idea of 'based on lead shot ball' is probably correct.

    I can't remember - (just scanning back through posts) - who commercially sells the first .177 labelled air rifle ammunition?
    Presumably ball or slug rather than skirted?

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccdjg View Post
    If you look at my post 5 you will see that I pointed out that Hawley was already advertising .22 inch calibre for his Kalamazoo air pistol in 1870, before Quackenbush’s first patent. In addition, apart from a few early experimental models that were not a commercial success, and his Model 5 combination air /rimfire rifle, Quackenbush’s pistols and air rifles were in fact all calibre 0.21 not 0.22, and this calibre was kept for all the spin-off air pistols and rifles that he had a hand in (including his own rifle-air pistol contrary to what the Bluebook says, and Bedford’s Eureka, the Champion and the Pope). I think this was deliberate, as you just can’t shoot .22 pellets or darts in these .21 guns and owners would have had to buy Quackenbush ammunition rather than Haviland and Gunn’s. So we can definitely rule out Quackenbush as a contender for introducing and popularising the .22 calibre.

    I have a catalogue advert for the Haviland and Gunn air rifles, which predate Quackenbush's air rifles, and it is stated that they were 0.22 caibre.

    Concerning the Bluebook description of the combination gun, it is only when the firing pin is place and the gun is set up for rimfire use that there is little air compression in the cylinder. When the firing pin is not there, normal air compression takes place.

    Whoops.... my apologies: so - Quackenbush seems to now be down in at least 3rd place on the leaderboard.
    But does this make HAWLEY the first .22?
    Or does the Haviland and Gunn catalogue predate?

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post

    Whoops.... my apologies: so - Quackenbush seems to now be down in at least 3rd place on the leaderboard.
    But does this make HAWLEY the first .22?
    Or does the Haviland and Gunn catalogue predate?
    Well, Hawley's patent is dated 1869, Haviland & Gunn's first patent appeared in 1871, and Hawley's Kalamazoo was already being sold in 1870 in .22 calibre, so I think we can safely say that Hawley pre-empted H & G in introducing the .22 calibre onto the airgun scene. However, we still can't say yet if there were .22 calibre rimfires around before Hawley, which might have inspired him to adopt this calibre for his air pistol. We need someone with very early (pre-1870) firearm catalogues to do some research.

    Although there are a lot of pre-1870 airguns known, these are in all sorts of weird calibres, usually very large. I have never come across mention of .22 calibre in any of these.

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    Just looking back at one of the posts & saw a mention of Flobert. I've seen references say that the rimfire bb cap he invented was from around 1840, in .22, so this could have established a market that believed .22 was the way to go for indoor training/fun shooting. Hence when someone wanted to get into that market with an air rifle the .22 would have been the way to go as it was already an accepted calibre for thst purpose. Dont know why Flobert adopted the .22 in tbe first place though.....

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by trajectory View Post
    Just looking back at one of the posts & saw a mention of Flobert. I've seen references say that the rimfire bb cap he invented was from around 1840, in .22, so this could have established a market that believed .22 was the way to go for indoor training/fun shooting. Hence when someone wanted to get into that market with an air rifle the .22 would have been the way to go as it was already an accepted calibre for thst purpose. Dont know why Flobert adopted the .22 in tbe first place though.....
    Flobert is 1840'ish... the suggestion being his indoor guns (a novelty 'parlour' toy) originally developed out of putting a lead ball into a percussion cap. Eventually refined into 'Rimfire' in .22, which predates any airgun caliber by decades.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by chieffool View Post
    Flobert is 1840'ish... the suggestion being his indoor guns (a novelty 'parlour' toy) originally developed out of putting a lead ball into a percussion cap. Eventually refined into 'Rimfire' in .22, which predates any airgun caliber by decades.
    Very interesting. I had a quick look on the net and found this, which describes a signed Flobert pistol dated to about 1855, and definitely .22. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/24936
    (In France the metric system was in place, so Flobert would have considered his calibre to be 5.6 mm rather than .22 inches)
    So we can now push the date of .22 calibre back to the 1840-50’s period, and can assume that airguns played no part in developing this calibre. The question now remains, did Flobert come up with the size himself, or was he just using 5.6mm percussion caps that were already in common usage at the time? We now need an expert historian in early nineteenth century firearms to comment.

    Incidentally, it is very true as noted earlier that it is often the simplest questions that are the most difficult to answer. A classic example is the waisted airgun pellet. Despite being one of the most important advances in airgun technoloigy, no one has yet been able to determine who invented them, or who was the first to commercialise them.

  13. #28
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    Probably shouldn't rely on my memory but if I stick to generalities I might be ok.
    Muzzle loading firearms ; originally powder, wads, patches ball or shot were all seperately carried. Then someone decided to use pre measured powder charges possibly in Europe at any rate in France for the first time but then more widely adopted, which was wraped in paper. Some reports suggest they were in use as far back at 14th or 15th Cent, And yes I think that's where the term"cartridge paper" comes from. Then someone decided to add a ball to this & hey presto the next step was taken, then the next stage was someone adding a priming cap to the base of the powder charge to make the needle fire. Dreyse was the first to get all the individual components to come together around 1835/1836 But parented a few years later(?) but he'd been working on it for years before. Then it was a matter of time & increments before the full metallic cartridges both rimfire & centrefire. The thing about the Dreyse system wasnt just the assembly of the components, it probably introduced the breach loader into becomming a popular, practicality.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccdjg View Post
    Very interesting. I had a quick look on the net and found this, which describes a signed Flobert pistol dated to about 1855, and definitely .22. https://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/24936
    (In France the metric system was in place, so Flobert would have considered his calibre to be 5.6 mm rather than .22 inches)
    So we can now push the date of .22 calibre back to the 1840-50’s period, and can assume that airguns played no part in developing this calibre. The question now remains, did Flobert come up with the size himself, or was he just using 5.6mm percussion caps that were already in common usage at the time? We now need an expert historian in early nineteenth century firearms to comment.

    Incidentally, it is very true as noted earlier that it is often the simplest questions that are the most difficult to answer. A classic example is the waisted airgun pellet. Despite being one of the most important advances in airgun technoloigy, no one has yet been able to determine who invented them, or who was the first to commercialise them.
    http://www.airgunbbs.com/showthread....is-the-history
    The other thread covers derivation of .22 as a caliber - first introduced in 1845:
    "...A gallery gun, Flobert gun, saloon gun, or parlor gun is a type of firearm designed for indoor shooting. These guns were first developed in 1845 when French inventor Louis Nicolas Flobert modified a percussion cap to hold a small lead bullet." [source: wikipedia]

    In the same year: "Flobert modified the cap further by creating a rim at the edge so that the cap and bullet could fit in a chamber of a pistol

    So we already know use of .22 in rimfire appears well before airgun.



    HOWEVER: I am intrigued to know when the first waisted pellets are invented - I believe someone has already offered this to be after 1900?

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ccdjg View Post
    Well, Hawley's patent is dated 1869, Haviland & Gunn's first patent appeared in 1871, and Hawley's Kalamazoo was already being sold in 1870 in .22 calibre, so I think we can safely say that Hawley pre-empted H & G in introducing the .22 calibre onto the airgun scene. However, we still can't say yet if there were .22 calibre rimfires around before Hawley, which might have inspired him to adopt this calibre for his air pistol. We need someone with very early (pre-1870) firearm catalogues to do some research.

    Although there are a lot of pre-1870 airguns known, these are in all sorts of weird calibres, usually very large. I have never come across mention of .22 calibre in any of these.
    I think we are so near to an answer - that it is probably worth putting it as a separate question to others in this section. So if no one minds, I'm going to stop following this thread and pose this as a new thread as follows:

    Is Hawleys's Kalamazoo the FIRST example of a .22 airgun?

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