Antique Ammo: Depression-Era .22 Long Still Kicking After 87 Years

    Surviving for Generations

    Jeff from TAOFLEDERMAUS frequently explores some more exotic and less well-known loadings and cartridges. Recently he’s dug up a relic of the depression-era – some Sears and Roebuck Co .22 Long ammunition dating back to 1932.

    oxidized .22 lr

    An example of Remmington .22LR that hax oxidized after just 25 years of dry storage

    In an era where corrosive primers were the norm this could have been a great selling point for a rifle owner who would have rather spent more time doing pest control than meticulously cleaning their rifle. Despite what many think, lead does oxidize. The rounds, however, do not show any signs of oxidation due in part to the wax coating that was put on the bullets themselves.

    Still plinkin’ or plain stinkin’?

    So the ammo has managed not to disintegrate after sitting around for 90 years, but does it still work? In a follow-up video on the same box of ammo, Jeff and his friend Danny explore the reliability of the eons-old ammunition. Now depending on how much experience you have with modern .22LR plinking ammo, the first result in the video may or may not surprise you. The first few rounds were duds right off the bat. Danny and Jeff did not discard them right away though.

    .22 Rimfire Second Chances

    As many of the more experienced shooters here will know, .22 rimfire cases often have issues with primers breaking up and leaving a void in the rim where there is no primer material. This results in a failure to fire. However, chances are if you rotate the round in the chamber and re-strike the rim in a different location, the round is likely to go off without a hitch. This is exactly the result that the Taofladermaus crew got when they attempted to fire the “dud” rounds for a second time.

    modern vs antique .22

    From Left to Right: Modern .22 Long, Depression-Era .22 Long, Modern .22LR

    Age-old Accuracy from the depression-era

    Proving to be just as accurate as some modern .22LR offerings, the rounds seemed to behave with relative accuracy. However, they did happen to have a lot of failures to fire. Some of the cheaper options today will often have misfirings like the Depression-era rounds. I suspect that the duds from modern ammo result from the same primer issue as the older 1932 ammo, perhaps just an inherent issue with rimfire ammo.

    Much to the surprise of Danny and jeff, the .22 Long, which is a shorter lighter round than .22LR cycled somewhat through a 10/22 rifle. It seems that even if the rounds are quite old, .22 caliber rimfire can be stored and fired even after decades of storage. Make sure to check out the full video with Jeff and Danny testing the ammo with both a revolver and a semi-automatic 10/22.

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