All about small calibre cartridges
Bruce Potts helps a reader who is wondering about rebarreling a rifle
Q: Do you have any information on the .14 or .12 calibre cartridges? I would like to rebarrel a rifle in one of these calibres but what’s your advice on small calibre cartridges?
A: There are some worthwhile small calibre cartridges around. The .14 is a unique calibre and a couple of cartridges are worth a look.
The .14-221 is based on a necked-down .221 Fireball case. It is really overkill on such a small bullet, but velocities of 4,200fps can be achieved with only 16 grains of powder. The .14 Walker Hornet is better balanced. It is a .14-calibre version of the .22 Hornet, but has improved body taper. A 15-gr Genco hollowpoint bullet on top of 12 grains of Reloder 7 powder achieves a whopping 4,003fps velocity and 534ft/lb energy, enough for any marauding squirrel or rabbit.
If you really want to get silly, the microscopic .10 and .12 calibres — the brainchild of Bill Eichelberger, from the US — are available in suitably necked-down cartridges as diverse as the .22 Jet, .30 Carbine or even .32 H&R pistol case, to name a few.
When you get to this small a size, cleaning rods and equipment become an issue, and sourcing reliable, accurate, expanding ammunition also can be problematic.
A more practical small calibre is the .17 Squirrel, which is a shortened .22 Hornet case, 0.965in long with the neck diameter reduced to accept .17 calibre bullets. It can shoot 15-gr Berger bullets at 3,500fps, with a meagre charge of only eight grains of powder translating into a mild 150-yard vermin rifle. Norman Clark Gunsmiths, of Rugby, is building one and might help you.
Wondering what is the best calibre for foxes? Rabbits? There are so many different species of pests – you can’t…
A little different
Personally I am always looking for something a little different. Not that the normal is insufficient for the task in hand, but sometimes it’s nice pushing the boundaries and exploring. I have owned many small-calibre rifles and have a passion for anything smaller than .22 calibre, especially in the form of speeding .17 or .20 calibres (0.172in and 0.204in).