History books are filled with scores of “giant leaps for mankind”-like the Space Age and moon landing, the Industrial Revolution, the atom bomb, the discovery of the New World, the medical application of antibiotics, the invention of the wheel, the use of sharp sticks to jab at hairy, dangerous things, and the squirting of fake cheese from the nozzle of a spray can, just to name a few. But how many of us can ever recall the history books paying fair tribute to one of the really great historical events, namely, the dawn of self-contained, pre-loaded ammunition in cartridge form?
Sure, Roger Bacon’s gunpowder recipe in the 1200’s has made the significant event list a few times, but recent historical research has indicated that even the ancient Greeks, Persians and Chinese were using their own versions of similar explosive concoctions many eons earlier. And yes, centuries of battles and wars were successfully won and lost with crude weapons using chunks of metal, gobs of loose black powder and various sparky-things to make it all go BANG. But I maintain that it was during the second half of the 1800’s, when mankind could finally stuff his pockets full of cartridges and shot shells without worrying about the wind blowing his powder or his ramrod snapping, that the world experienced the unsung but truly significant advent of loaded ammo. And the world would never be the same again.
While I, like most of us, seldom stop today to ponder 17 wsm ammo the wondrous spectacle of an ammo cartridge, I often did so as a young child. And what intrigued me the most was the common.22 rimfire. Small enough to get lost forever in a tuft of grass, capable of fitting by the hundreds in a tin can, it could nevertheless flatten a huge hog at butcher time! One sharp CRACK, a tiny grayish-lined hole in the forehead, and the 350-pound swine buckled so quickly it made the ground shake.
I used to marvel as well when Dad would rest the forearm of his 30-06 in his palm, atop a corner post, and send a 125-grain bullet (his preferred coyote load) toward the unsuspecting four-legged thief at a full 300 yards away. The late-arriving WHACK confirmed the dramatic impact that occurred a few seconds prior. Dad intended to use such experiences to teach me, I’m sure, the tremendous power of such inventions and the somber responsibility on those who would use them effectively and safely.