The .22 Short was introduced in 1857 and it the first American metallic cartridge to be produced. It was a rimfire cartridge, meaning that the priming compound was applied inside the rim of the cartridge which ignited the powder charge held in the case. The result was an entirely self-contained cartridge which was moisture resistant and more quickly reloaded than other firearms of the era.
Smith and Wesson's first revolver was chambered for the .22 Short. The cartridge was designed to be used as a self defense cartridge and soldiers in the Civil War sought after this weapon to be used as personal weapon. The .22 Short remained popular after the war and was chambered in a growing variety of rifles and small pistols. Many youngsters of the late 19th century and early to mid 20th century received .22 Short rifles as their first gun. The .22 Short was eventually replaced by the more popular .22 LR, however there are still dedicated fans who have kept the place of the cartridge secure in the world of shooting.
The .22 Short saw a great deal of use in shooting galleries. Shooting galleries were widespread from the late 19th century until the mid 20th century, and the .22 Short was a frequently used cartridge. It had a very mild report, no recoil to speak of, and was sufficiently accurate. The .22 Short had a reputation for being able to take small game and control pests.
The .22 Short fires a lead round nose bullet weighing 29 grains that reaches a velocity of 1,045 feet per second. This results in 70 foot pounds of muzzle energy. Though initially developed more than one hundred years ago as a self defense cartridge, a few modern self defense weapons are chambered for the .22 Short.
Several manufacturers have produced rifles for the .22 Short. The best known names include Marlin, Winchester and Remington. The rifles were most commonly made as pump and lever action guns, with single shot rifles a close third. Browning produced a semi-automatic rifle for the .22 Short, and Winchester accepted special orders for bolt action rifles that fired the .22 Short.
The .22 Short is a great cartridge. It shoots accurately and quietly, and has a nearly imperceptible recoil, especially when firing subsonic rounds. This is a good cartridge for first time shooters, and also a fun plinker. The .22 Short is one of the great almost forgotten cartridges.