This old, originally black powder-loaded rimfire cartridge has had a long life.

How can a cartridge so old, yet so popular?

I wanted to investigate why the .22 short cartridge, which was debuted way back in 1857, will not go obsolete.

Sporting Collectibles

The .22 short cartridge has quite a long lineage. Originally, the cartridge was brought out by Smith & Wesson for their little S&W Model 1 Revolver, and it was a popular pocket pistol load. Back then they were loaded with black powder and the old guns that shot them would end up with bad pitting from the fouling.


Fast forward to the age of smokeless powder. Now, the generally 29 grain bullet has a bit more power and speed. With .22 short high velocity cartridges buzzing along in the neighborhood of 1200 fps. Needless to say, they get there fast. Put a hollow point bullet in the equation, and you’ve got yourself a very effective short range small game cartridge. Think about all the versatile uses they have. Trappers love the .22 short cartridge for quiet dispatching of caught furbearers. When shot from a longer rifle length barrel the .22 short cartridge can be very quiet, especially if the load is a CCI .22 Short CB Cartridge. It is clocked flying about 710 fps. and is as quiet as a standard air rifle. No bad for stealth right?

Ammo Sports-N-More

While most will never carry a .22 short caliber revolver for personal defense, people will use them for plenty of other tasks. From quiet backyard or basement gun range plinking to backyard vermin control, the little .22 short cartridge continues to shine.

It will indeed last many more years, and may just never go obsolete.

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NEXT: What happens when guns are no longer available?