THE degree of perfection that has been attained in the manufacture of ammunition is remarkable. Generally speaking, the smaller the charge the more difficult it is to make it accurate. Notwithstanding this, we have in the .22 caliber ammunition a tiny cartridge the accuracy of which falls little short of marvelous.
Until 1907 black powder ammunition was used almost exclusively for pistol and revolver shooting. In central-fire ammunition smokeless powders are now invariably used, especially in military shooting, where the regulation full charge is required. In the .22 caliber pistols, the fouling of the black powder is not a very serious matter, and it is not uncommon to shoot fifty or a hundred rounds without the necessity of cleaning. In the larger calibers, however, the fouling is frequently so excessive that it affects the accuracy after the fifth shot. The incessant cleaning that is necessary in order to get good results with black powder ammunition was a great drawback, and detracted much from the pleasure of revolver shooting. Fortunately this objection is now entirely eliminated by the use of smokeless powders.
Nearly all the cartridges referred to in this chapter were originally designed for black powder. The various manufacturers now supply them loaded with smokeless powder at a very slight advance in price. The cartridges are loaded so as to give approximately the same velocity as the former black powder charges but the new charges are rarely the exact equivalent of the old ones.
The accuracy and uniformity with the smokeless powder was not at first equal to that of the black, but with a better knowledge of the action and behavior of the smokeless powders, these difficulties have been overcome and the smokeless ammunition now gives not only superior accuracy and reliability, but also causes much less fouling and smoke and has a lighter report. In " gallery " ammunition light conical bullets have entirely superseded spherical bullets and smokeless powder is almost invariably used.
To obtain the best results, the proportions of any charge must be adapted to the caliber, length of barrel, and weight of the arm in which it is to be used. These proportions are generally determined by experiment.
The accuracy of the cartridge depends largely upon the uniformity exercised in the operations of loading, the fit of the bullet, its shape, and the reliability and uniformity of the powder. The primer must be of uniform strength also, especially in reduced charges. In ammunition for military service the shells are crimped on the bullets to hold them in place. This does not increase the accuracy in black powder ammunition, but it is necessary and advantageous in all smokeless ammunition including gallery charges, in order to confine the powder and produce uniform results.
Himmelwright, A.L.A.. Pistol and Revolver Shooting. New York: MacMillan, 1922.
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