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Are .22s dangerous at a mile’s range?

MIKE GEORGE says: It probably is, but by a surprisingly small amount. And in these days when people do not hesitate to rush into litigation for the slightest injury, the range of the bullet is well worth remembering. You have had me searching through both my memory and my records.

Twenty-six years ago I wrote a magazine article on this very subject with the help of a wonderful guy called Ernie Spiriti, who was Eley’s ballistics ace at the time.

Of course, .22 rimfire rounds come in a big variety of bullet weights and velocities, but Ernie calculated that a round with a muzzle velocity of 1,100fps, fired into the air at a 30-degree angle, would reach a height of between 1,000 and 1,200 feet, travel approximately 1,500 yards in 16 seconds, and strike the ground at 81 feet per second.

Also in Ernie’s records were details of the longest-range UK fatality caused by a .22 bullet up to that time, and the story is worth re-telling.

A shooter fired at a woodpigeon perched in a tree, and missed. The bullet passed over a 200ft hill, travelling through woodland without hitting as much as a twig, and hit a chap enjoying a family picnic on the other side.

The unfortunate victim, who was struck in the head, was 700 yards from the shooter and, of course, well out of his sight.

That was, to me, the ultimate lesson in shooting safety: don’t shoot when you are not sure where the bullet will end up.

Also in the records were details of severe injuries caused by .22 rimfire bullets which had passed through more than an inch of timber. Another point worth remembering!

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