A Chronology of Development by Daniel E. Watters
Author’s Note: This chronology was inspired by the constant confusion on Rec.Guns regarding the intellectual and materiel origins of the .223 Remington (5.56x45mm) cartridge. Admittedly, Remington’s prolific release of .224 caliber cartridges in the 1950s and ’60s does not help. In order to provide a backstop for one of Dean Speir’s newsgroup posts, I developed the following timeline. It remains a work in progress, and the reader is encouraged to read the suggested texts for more in-depth analysis.Alone, the saga of the .223 Remington and AR-15/M16 is a long tale of “NIH” (not invented here) skulduggery, panicked R&D fixes, all-out marketing efforts, old boys network flesh-pressing, inter-service rivalry, procurement end-runs, and Congressional witch-hunts. However, the saga becomes almost epic when you consider the related weapon systems (both competitors and accessories) along with the intellectual heirs of the SCHV and SALVO concepts, including the various micro-caliber rifle experiments and the current PDW craze. A careful reader will note that many ideas, solutions, and yes, even problems keep popping up again and again as the years pass.1882…
Maynard Arms Company introduces the .22-10-45 Maynard. It is one of the first, if not the first, centerfire .22 caliber rifle cartridges.
Winchester introduces the .22 Winchester Center Fire (WCF). It is also known as the .22-13-45 WCF.
Gunsmith Adolph O. Niedner experiments with obtaining higher velocities from the .22 WCF and .22-10-45 Maynard cases. These experiments fail due to the limitations of the gunpowders then available.
Swiss experimenter Professor Friedrich Wilhelm Hebler develops a 5.3x64mm cartridge. (In the previous decade, research by Professor Hebler and Swiss Army officer Eduard Rubin had been influential in coaxing European armies away from large bore rifle cartridges to .30-.32 caliber cartridges.)
Professor Hebler develops a 5.5x50mmR cartridge.
Gunsmith Reuben Harwood begins development of a wildcat .22 high velocity cartridge using the .25-20 Single Shot case (not to be confused with the shorter and fatter .25-20 WCF). It is dubbed the .22-20-55.
In Mexico, the Mondragon M1894 repeating rifle is introduced with a 5x68mm cartridge. The cartridge was developed by Swiss Army officer Eduard Rubin. Rubin experiments with additional 5mm cartridges with case lengths up to ~73mm.
March: The US Army’s Chief of Ordnance, Brigadier General Daniel W. Flagler, orders the construction of experimental cartridges to determine the military suitability of calibers smaller than 0.30″. Eight barrels are made, divided evenly between .22 and .20 caliber, with rifling twists of 1 in 6″ and 1 in 5.5″ respectively.
In an article, the founder and editor of Shooting and Fishing magazine, Arthur C. Gould, dubs Reuben Harwood’s .22-20-55, the “Hornet”. The nickname sticks, and it is hereafter advertised as Harwood’s Hornet. (It should not be confused with the later Winchester .22 Hornet.) J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. even announces its intent to chamber rifles for it. (However, it is believed that Stevens never made it a production line item.)
August: Gunsmith William V. Lowe advertises his own version of the .22-20-55 Hornet. It uses a different shape than Harwood’s version.
January: Brig. Gen. Flagler instructs Frankford Arsenal to fabricate 250 .22 cartridge cases and 300 bullets. 250 of the bullets are 118 grain, while the remainder is split evenly between 112 grain and 120 grain bullets. Based on data developed by Springfield Armory’s Lt. Tracy C. Dickson, the cartridges are tested in modified Krag rifles. Performance of the .22 cartridge is 2,600 feet per second with the 120 grain bullet. (It is not known whether the proposed .20 caliber cartridge was ever fabricated or tested.)
J. Stevens Arms & Tool Co. introduces the .22-15-60 Stevens. The cartridge is designed by Charles H. Herrick.
Late: Experimenter Charles Newton experiments with a .25-25 Stevens case tapered down to .22 caliber. This is followed by experiments with the .28-30 Stevens case tapered down, and later, necked down to .22 caliber.
Adolph O. Niedner builds a rifle for a wildcat cartridge based on the .32-40 Ballard case necked down to .22 caliber.
January: In a letter, experimenter Dr. Franklin W. Mann announces his intent to rechamber a Winchester Lee rifle to a wildcat cartridge based on necking down the 6mm Lee Navy case for .226″ bullets.
October: Dr. Franklin W. Mann finally receives a barrel suitable for his wildcat .22/6mm Lee cartridge.
December: In a letter, Dr. Franklin W. Mann announces that he has tested his wildcat .22/6mm Lee cartridge. He reveals that he cannot exceed 3,000 fps without blowing primers and overly stretching cases.
November: In a letter to gunwriter Major Ned H. Roberts, Adolph O. Niedner reveals that he has completed a chambering tool for Charles Newton for a new wildcat cartridge. It is based on necking down a 6mm Lee Navy case to .22 caliber.
Fall: Savage introduces the .22 Imp (later known as the .22 Hi-Power). Work had begun using Charles Newton’s wildcat based on the .28-30 Stevens case necked down for .228″ projectiles. At Savage’s request, Newton later switched to the .32-40 Ballard case based on the experiments of Adolph O. Niedner and Dr. Franklin W. Mann. In the end, Savage ultimately decided to use the .25-35 WCF case.
Encouraged by Dr. Franklin W. Mann, Charles Newton begin experiments with the .30-40 Krag case necked down to .22 caliber.
DuPont introduces the first of its Improved Military Rifle (IMR) powder line. IMR is intended to replace its earlier Military Rifle (MR) powder line, which includes the former standard powder for the .30’06: Pyro DG. However, US military use of IMR does not begin in earnest until 1925 with the standardization of the new .30 M1 Ball cartridge.
Charles Newton develops the .22 Newton, based on the 7x57mm Mauser case necked down for .228″ projectiles. This follows experimental work based on necking down the 6mm Lee Navy and .30’06 cases.
Now a rifle manufacturer, Charles Newton presents gunsmith Jerry E. Gebby a sample of a wildcat using the .250-3000 Savage case necked down for .226″ bullets. Newton has abandoned work on the cartridge due to excessive pressures with existing gunpowders.
Gunsmith Hervey Lovell begins importing 5.6x35mmR Vierling cartridges and cases from Germany. It is essentially the .22 WCF loaded with metal-jacketed bullets.
Adolph O. Neider designs the .22 Neider Magnum, in both rimmed and rimless versions. These use shortened .22 Hi-Power and .25 Remington cases respectively.
Captain Grosvenor L. Wotkyns begins work on an improved smokeless-powder variant of the .22 WCF cartridge. The test bed combines a BSA No. 12 action with a rechambered Springfield .22 LR barrel. Because of the smaller diameter bore used in rimfire .22 caliber rifles, Wotkyns uses bullets smaller in diameter than the original 0.226″ projectiles of the .22 WCF and the 5.6x35mmR Vierling. Springfield Armory employees Captain George A. Woody and Albert L. Woodworth conduct their own experiments, working on a conversion of the Springfield Model 1922M1 training rifle. Commercial interest grows after a visit to Winchester by Colonel Townsend Whelen and Capt. Woody.
March: Dr. Fredrich Olsen of Picatinny Arsenal files a pair of patent applications related to the purification of nitrocellulose. This involves the removal of excess nitric and sulphuric acids left over from the nitrating process. Dr. Olsen developed this process while experimenting with methods to prolong the life of gunpowder, and possibly reclaim surplus cannon powders, all of which deteriorate due to these excess acids. On the basis of these developments, Dr. Olsen is hired by the Western Cartridge Company.
January: Aberdeen Proving Ground’s Robert H. Kent publishes “The Theory Of The Motion Of A Bullet About Its Center Of Gravity In Dense Media, With Applications To Bullet Design.” It is shown that the size of a bullet’s yaw in test medium is approximately independent of the striking velocity and the rifling twist. Giving examples for .30, .25, and .20 caliber projectiles, Kent notes that bullets with light noses are prone to early yaw, and suggests that lightweight, high velocity, small caliber bullets will cause more damage than heavier, slower, large caliber counterparts. Kent then argues the other benefits of SCHV rounds such as flat trajectories and low recoil.
February: The American Rifleman magazine carries an advertisement from the United States Cartridge Company (USCC) announcing that it is commercially manufacturing Wotkyns’ .22 Express wildcat as the “.22 WCF Improved.” (USCC is owned by Winchester.)
March: Dr. Fredrich Olsen receives US Patent #1,798,270 titled “Purification of Cellulose Esters.”
November: Franklin W. Olin begins negotiations to purchase Winchester. Winchester has been in Federal receivership since January.
December: The Olin family purchases Winchester. Olin’s Western Cartridge Company is to take over Winchester’s operations on January 1, 1932.
Winchester introduces commercial ammunition for the .22 WCF Improved as the “.22 Hornet.”
March: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone file a patent application related to the manufacture of Ball Powder.
June: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone file another patent application related to the manufacture of Ball Powder, specifically concentrating on the reclamation of nitrocellulose from deteriorating cannon powders.
Western Cartridge Company commercially introduces its trademarked “Ball Powder,” based on the developments of Dr. Fredrich Olsen. (Over the years, the trademark has been carried by WCC‘s owners, Olin. In 1996, the “Ball Powder” trademark was passed along when Olin’s Ordnance division was spun off as Primex Technologies. General Dynamics purchased Primex in 2000, and “Ball Powder” production continues by St. Marks Powder.)
January: Dr. Fredrich Olsen receives US Patent #1,893,677 titled “Purification of Nitrocellulose.”
Late: Capt. Wotkyns asks gunsmith Adolph Lukes to assemble a Springfield M1903 rifle chambered for a wildcat using the .250-3000 Savage case necked down for 0.224″ bullets. (There are claims that Wotkyns and J.B. Sweany had worked with a version using 0.222-0.223″ bullets as early as the mid/late 1920s.)
Capt. Wotkyns approaches Western Cartridge Company with test data regarding his .22/250 wildcat, dubbed the .220 Swift. After testing the wildcat, Western passes the information along to its subsidiary Winchester, who begins its own testing.
Jerry E. Gebby begins work on modernizing the .22 Newton by altering the case profile. The resulting cartridge is named the .22 Gebby. (After the introduction of the .22 Varminter, Gebby renames the longer cartridge the .22 Senior Varminter.)
May: Hervey Lovell announces the wildcat .22/3000 Lovell in an article for The American Rifleman magazine. It is based on the .25-20 Single Shot case, necked down to .22 caliber. While similar in concept to Reuben Harwood’s .22-20-55, Lovell uses the smaller diameter bullets of Winchester’s .22 Hornet.
November: Fred C. Ness, an editor for The American Rifleman magazine, sends a Springfield rifle action and barrel to J.B. Sweany to be chambered for Wotkyns’ .220 Swift. At some point in the future, Sweany convinces Ness to allow the rifle to be chambered for a new wildcat cartridge of Sweany’s own design, the .22×55. The wildcat is the result of experiments with necked down 7x57mm and .30’06 cases shortened to 62mm, 60mm, 55mm, and 48.5mm. As the designation indicates, the 55mm case length proves the most successful. Sweany claims that this cartridge will be superior to the forthcoming factory .220 Swift.
On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen files yet another patent application related to the manufacture of Ball Powder.
Following previous work with the .22 Niedner Magnum, Experimenter Harvey A. Donaldson begins experiments with .25 Remington cases necked down to .22 caliber, both full-length and shortened. The shortened case ultimately proves more successful, and becomes known as .220 Donaldson Wasp.
January: In correspondence to firearms editors and writers, Capt. Wotkyns announces that Winchester intends to release his .22/250 wildcat as the .220 Swift. Upon learning of Wotkyns’ pronouncement, Winchester contacts various gunwriters asking them to refrain from publishing any additional data on the forthcoming .220 Swift as changes are being made in its configuration.
April: Fred C. Ness publishes an article in The American Rifleman discussing high velocity .22 caliber cartridge developments.
Winchester finalizes its specifications and drawings of the .220 Swift. Instead of the .250-3000 Savage, the cartridge is based on a modified 6mm Lee Navy case with an added semi-rim. This change leads to the original Wotkyns design being nicknamed the .22 WOS (Wotkyns’ Original Swift).
May: Fred C. Ness publishes an additional article in The American Rifleman showing Capt. Wotkyns’ version of the .220 Swift and discussing Ness’ decision to allow J.B. Sweany to chamber his rifle for the .22×55.
June: Fred C. Ness publishes another article in The American Rifleman discussing his testing of J.B. Sweany’s .22×55 wildcat.
On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen files an additional patent application related to the manufacture of Ball Powder.
Summer: Custom gunmaker Reginald F. Sedgley introduces the .22/4000 Sedgley. The cartridge was developed by J. George Schnerring, the former Proof House Foreman of Frankford Arsenal. It is based on the 7x57mm Mauser case necked down for .224″ bullets. The .22/4000 Sedgley is later withdrawn from the market when it is discovered that the smaller .220 Swift can be chambered and fired in the larger Sedgley chamber with deleterious results.
July: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone file a patent application related to the reclamation of nitrocellulose from deteriorating cannon powders, emphasizing the use of Calcium Carbonate to neutralize acids.
August: Fred C. Ness publishes yet another article in The American Rifleman discussing high-velocity .22 caliber experiments by Reginald F. Sedgley, Harvey A. Donaldson, Capt. Wotkyns, and Jerry E. Gebby.
September: The American Rifleman magazine publishes a Winchester press release announcing that rifles and ammunition are now available for the .220 Swift. The press release includes the claim that the cartridge is suitable for wild game as large as deer. The cartridge is the first commercial offering to break the 4,000 fps barrier. It quickly gains a reputation in certain circles of being a spectacular killer of game, including large animals.
While stationed in Corregidor (Philippine Islands) during 1935 and 1936, Major Frank T. Chamberlin (US Army Medical Corps) later conducts a series of lethality tests, pitting the .220 Swift against Army mules in a variety of scenarios. (The mules were already slated to be destroyed, so Chamberlin had a fairly free rein to do as he pleased.)
The American Rifleman magazine also publishes a press release announcing that J.B. Sweany is ready to modify existing rifles to chamber the .220 Swift and Sweany’s own .22-4000 wildcat, based on a modified .303 British case.
Springfield Armory issues the report “Test of ‘Swift’ Rifle, Cal. .220, and Ammunitions for Same, Manufactured by Winchester Repeating Arms Co.”
Adolph O. Niedner develops an improved .22 Niedner Magnum. Instead of using the .22 Hi-Power case, Niedner reverts to the .25-35 WCF case and alters the case profile.
January: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone receive US Patent #2,027,114 titled “Manufacture of Smokeless Powders.”
On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone file another patent application related to the manufacture of Ball Powder.
On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Harold F. Schaefer files an additional patent application related to the manufacture of Ball Powder.
April: In order to improve accuracy, Winchester changes the rate of twist of .220 Swift barrels from 1 in 16″ to 1 in 14″.
Jerry E. Gebby and J. Bushnell Smith introduce their own .22 caliber wildcats based on the .250-3000 Savage case. Due to Gebby’s trademark of the name “.22 Varminter,” most refer to the resulting wildcat as the .22-250. Harvey A. Donaldson claims to have worked with a version using .228″ bullets as early as 1916, and that he had designed a .224″ version in 1934 and submitted it to Savage in 1935.
German gunmaker E.A. Vom Hofe introduces the 5.6x61mm Vom Hofe Super Express. Both rimmed and rimless versions are produced.
Canadian gunsmith G.B. Crandall introduces the .22-303 Varmint-R. It is based on a shortened .303 British case. Cases intended for machine gun use were reportedly preferred over commercial cases.
May: Winchester introduces the .219 Zipper. It is based on the .25-35 WCF case necked down for .224″ projectiles.
Harvey A. Donaldson later begins development of what becomes the .219 Donaldson Wasp using modified .219 Zipper cases, both full-length and shortened. As before, Donaldson has greater success with the shorter case.
Soviet designers, including Federov and Simonov, reportedly experiment with various .22 caliber rifle cartridges.
Gunsmith Parker O. Ackley introduces the .219 Improved Zipper.
Custom loading die maker L.E. Wilson contacts Capt. Wotkyns regarding ideas on improving Winchester’s .220 Swift. Wotkyns suggest keeping the existing case profile with the exception of changing the shoulder angle. The resulting cartridge becomes known as the .220 Wotkyns-Wilson Arrow.
April: Winchester announces the .218 Bee to gun magazine editors. It is based on the .25-20 WCF case necked down. Under development for nearly two years, it borrows from existing wildcats such as Emil Koshollek’s .22 Kosholleck and its more famous derivative, Adolph O. Niedner’s .22 Baby Hi-Power.
May: Winchester commercially releases the .218 Bee.
In The American Rifleman magazine, an improved version of the .22/3000 Lovell is introduced as the 2R Lovell (AKA: 2-R, R2, or R-2). The name derives from the design representing the second chamber reamer profile produced by M.S. Risley. Harvey A. Donaldson takes credit for the change in case profile. (Some suggest that the case profile is close to that of William V. Lowe’s .22-20-55 of 1894.) Hervey Lovell continues to alter to the .22/3000 case’s shape at least four more times within the next ten years.
December: The Research Division of Aberdeen Proving Ground is renamed the Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL). Robert H. Kent is named an Associate Director of the BRL.
May: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Harold F. Schaefer receives US Patent #2,160,626 titled “Explosive.”
October: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone receive US Patent #2,175,212 titled “Manufacture of Smokeless Powder.”
Gunsmith Lysle D. Kilbourn develops an improved version of the .22 Hornet, dubbed the .22 K-Hornet. This was reportedly developed in cooperation with G.B. Crandall.
Gunsmith A.E. Mashburn develops an improved version of the .218 Bee, dubbed the .218 Mashburn Bee.
Gunsmith Leslie Lindahl develops the .22 Lindahl Chucker in both rimmed and rimless versions. These are based on shortened .219 Zipper and .25 Remington cases respectively.
July: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone receive US Patent #2,206,916 titled “Manufacture of Smokeless Powders.”
September: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen, Gordon C. Tibbitts, and Edward B.W. Kerone receive US Patent #2,213,255 titled “Explosive.”
March: On behalf of Western Cartridge Company, Dr. Fredrich Olsen receives US Patent #2,235,298 titled “Manufacture of Smokeless Powder.”
After unsatisfactory experimentation with the .257 Roberts, .30’06, and .300 Holland & Holland Magnum cases necked down to .22 caliber, custom gunmaker Roy Weatherby develops an improved .220 Swift dubbed the .220 Weatherby Rocket. Weatherby later experiments with a shortened .300 H&H Magnum case necked down to .228″. The development becomes known as the .228 Weatherby Magnum.
Summer: Leslie Lindahl develops longer versions of the .22 Lindahl Chucker in both rimmed and rimless versions. These are dubbed the .22 Super Chucker.
June: The US Army’s General Staff creates the civilian General Research Office (GRO). Its mission is to supply the Army with scientific advice on conducting operations in an age of nuclear weapons.
September: The General Research Office begins operations.
December: The General Research Office is renamed the Operations Research Office (ORO).
Roy Weatherby develops what will become known as the .224 Weatherby Magnum. He shelves it in wait for a suitable rifle action. In the mean time, he abandons commercial sales of the .220 Rocket and .228 Weatherby Magnum.
January: Remington commercially introduces the .222 Remington as a varmint cartridge. Filling a “market gap” between the .22 Hornet and the .220 Swift, the “Triple Deuce” also gains quick acceptance in the benchrest community then dominated by the wildcat .219 Donaldson Wasp. Development of the .222 Remington is reportedly the end product of several Remington experimental cartridges, originally intended as a means to exploit existing cup blanks intended for the production of .30 Carbine cartridge cases. However, these experimental cartridges were considered too short to reliably feed in Remington’s Model 722 rifle.
Summer-Fall: The ORO‘s research mandate quickly spreads out to conventional weapons, especially when the US enters the Korean “police action”. One of the first projects for the “Infantry” division of the ORO is Project ALCLAD: the development of improved body armor. The head of the division, Norman A. Hitchman, reasons that in order to improve body armor, one has to know how wounds are created and where they are received. A mathematical analysis of three million casualty reports from both World Wars are entered into the ORO‘s computers, along with on-the-spot analysis from ORO staffers in Korea. This leads to the creation of Project BALANCE, a study of infantry rifle use.
To Colonel René R. Studler, US Army Ordnance’s Chief of Small Arms Research and Development, this sounds as though the ORO is infringing on his turf. Between his distrust of ORO‘s civilians and the increasing pressure applied by the British for adoption of a mid-range cartridge, Studler attempts to buttress his position supporting a “full-power” cartridge. Studler requests that the Aberdeen Proving Grounds’ Ballistics Research Laboratory (BRL) prepare its own report on the effectiveness of the infantry combat rifle.
August: On behalf of Olin, Dwight A. Alderson, Ralph V. Wakefield, and Emerald P. Reichardt file a patent application for reclaiming single base gunpowders possessing high percentages of modifying agents such as dinitrotoluene and dibutylphthalate. These include surplus cannon powders and small arms gunpowder. (DuPont IMR is given as a specific example.) The inventors claim that recycling these powders using Dr. Olsen’s patents result in a dirtier gunpowder due to the modifying agents causing incomplete burning of powder grains when fired.
November: Donald L. Hall of the Aberdeen BRL begins the before-mentioned study of rifle effectiveness. Much of the two year study is theoretical, building on earlier research by the BRL‘s Robert H. Kent, but Hall also experiments with a .220 Swift firing a 60 grain bullet roughly homologous to that of the issue .30 M2 ball. The test firings are performed by William C. Davis, Jr. and Gerald A. Gustafson of Aberdeen’s Small Arms and Aircraft Weapons Section. (Remember those names….)
The crux of Hall’s experiment is that a smaller caliber could equal (or even exceed) the performance of a larger bore. Moreover, a smaller bore weapon might have superior hit probabilities at shorter ranges. Thus, combined with the additional cartridges carried per unit weight, a soldier carrying the smaller caliber weapon would be able to inflict more casualties upon the enemy than another soldier with a larger caliber weapon.
February: Irwin R. Barr, Chief Ordnance Engineer and cofounder of Aircraft Armaments Inc. (AAI), publishes the proposal “Study of Ammunition Improvements.” Barr promotes the use of a shotshell loaded with 37 “ice pick projectiles,” properly known as fléchette. He also proposes a saboted fléchette cartridge fired from smoothbore rifles.
August: The ORO publishes the “ALCLAD Final Report” written by Hitchman, John H. Gardner, and Robert J. Best.
December: Edgewood Arsenal publishes the report “Wound Ballistics of a .22 Caliber Brass Scale Model of the .30 Caliber M2 Rifle Ball.”
March: Hall’s study, “An Effectiveness Study of the Infantry Rifle,” is published.
April: Thomas F. Colleran, the Director of Development and Proof Services (D&PS), and COL J. D. Armitage, the Chief of the Arms and Ammunition Division at Aberdeen, grant verbal approval to a project proposed by Gustafson to investigate the merit of “small-caliber, high-velocity” (SCHV) cartridges for use in rifles and carbines. COL Studler also gives oral approval to the preliminary investigation with the understanding that a program will be authorized by his office if the cartridges prove promising in early tests. However for now, Gustafson is instructed to proceed in such manner as to not interfere with the course of assigned development testing under the direction of the Office of the Chief of Ordnance (OCO).
June: The ORO publishes Hitchman’s report: “Operational Requirements for an Infantry Hand Weapon.” Hitchman finds that the majority of combat rifle use does not exceed 300 yards, and that marksmanship is severely degraded by terrain and visibility at ranges beyond 100 yards. In fact, the chance of being struck by a rifle bullet is seen as being nearly as random as being struck by a fragment from a high explosive shell. The time and amount of target exposure had more bearing on whether a target was hit versus marksmanship skills. Given such, an infantry weapon designed to provide controllable “pattern-dispersion” within a 300 yd range might be preferable to a weapon that provides precise single shots at longer distances. Furthermore, at the shorter ranges, a smaller caliber weapon might give acceptable “wounding effects” and allow for controllable “salvo or volley automatic” fire. The key to effectiveness is control; an uncontrollable automatic weapon is seen to be no more advantageous than a semi-auto counterpart. Hitchman projects that a four round salvo with a predictable 20″ spread might provide double the hit probability at 300 yards over a single shot fired from a M1 rifle. A lighter, smaller caliber cartridge would have the side benefit of allowing enough ammunition to be carried for an equivalent number of fired salvos to the individual cartridge capacity of the current rifle. Hitchman even references Hall’s earlier findings.
Appended to Hitchman’s report is “Analysis and Application of Results of Rifle-Range Tests” written by Scott E. Forbush and George J. Blakemore, Jr.
July: The ORO publishes “The Effects of Terrain on Battlefield Visibility” written by D.F. Bayly Pike and Charles Gopel.
November: After considerable delay in obtaining appropriate barrels and chamber reamer stock, Gustafson begins a SCHV modification of a M2 Carbine on a “spare-time” basis. A .224″ barrel is fitted and is chambered for a cartridge based on the .222 Remington case shortened to 1.32.” (This is not to be confused with the many .22 wildcats of the .30 Carbine case, such as the 5.7mm Johnson/.22 Spitfire.) The ballistics of the .22 Gustafson Carbine (.22 APG/.22 SCHV) are approximately 3000 fps with a 41 grain bullet. Case and chamber drawings are also prepared for a cartridge based on the .30 Light Rifle case necked down to .224″.
Hitchman’s concept of controlled “volley/burst” fire leads to the creation of the multi-agency Project SALVO. The BRL offers the most conventional design: Gustafson’s modified M2 Carbine. The Office of Naval Research, in cooperation with Aircraft Armaments Inc. (AAI), creates 12 gauge shotgun shells loaded with 32 steel fléchette. In contrast, the ORO‘s favored platform is a single barrel rifle using duplex or triplex loads (2 or 3 bullets in one case). Taking the opposite approach, Springfield Armory and Winchester both create multi-barreled weapons.
As part of the SALVO program, Winchester introduces the “Homologous Series” of cartridges. This are based on the .30 Light Rifle case necked down to .18, .22, .25, and .27 caliber. Both simplex and duplex version are made of each, except for the .18 caliber, which is loaded only with single projectiles.
Springfield Armory designs and tests a five-barrel .22 caliber test fixture.
Fabrique Nationale (FN) experiments with the .280/30 case necked down to 4.5mm.
June: The OCO approves moving SCHV research at D&PS from a “not-to-interfere” status to an assigned project to be continued at an accelerated pace.
On behalf of Olin, Dwight A. Alderson, Ralph V. Wakefield, and Emerald P. Reichardt receive US Patent #2,642,350 titled “Method of Reclaiming Single Base Smokeless Powder.”
August: The Chief of Small Arms R&D COL Studler retires from the US Army. The former Chief of Small Arms Ammunition R&D, Dr. Frederick H. Carten, replaces Studler on an interim basis. (It appears that the position of Chief of Small Arms R&D was normally held by active duty Army officers and not civilians. While Dr. Carten would ultimately be bumped back to Assistant Chief of Small Arms R&D, he continued to wield a great deal of power over the process, so much so, that most authors assume he that remained Chief.)
September: Gustafson publishes his findings in the report “Design and Fabricate a High-Velocity Caliber .22 Cartridge, Modify a Standard M2 Carbine to Fire the Cartridge, and Evaluate the Weapon-Ammunition Combination.” Gustafson concludes that the .22 APG cartridge and carbine is superior to the .30 caliber M2 Carbine and may prove to be a worthy successor to even the .45 ACP submachinegun. However, Gustafson probably pushes his luck too far when he states that the modified carbine “compares favorably with the M1 rifle” against targets out to 300 yards. Gustafson recommends that five converted carbines and 20,000 rounds of ammunition be procured and tested at Aberdeen, in the presence of members of Army Field Forces Board No. 3 (AKA: the Infantry Board).
The US Army Medical Laboratory publishes “Wound Ballistics Tests of .22-Caliber Bullets for the M4 Air Force Survival Gun.”
November: The ORO publishes “The Causative Agents of Battle Casualties World War II.”
March: AAI conducts independent trials of a saboted fléchette rifle cartridge.
April: Davis and Gustafson submit a new report discussing the theoretical advantages of SCHV cartridges. They outline their preliminary testing of additional experimental SCHV cartridges made from modified commercial and military cartridges, including the modification of existing weapons, including an automatic rifle. They propose designing a bullet and cartridge combination with suitable military characteristics. Gustafson and Davis already have a design in mind: a .224″ 68 grain homologue to the long-range .30 M1 ball projectile. The projectile is intended for a cartridge based on the .30 Light Rifle (7.62mm NATO) case necked down to .224″. After approval is received for further research, the proposed bullet design is procured from the Sierra Bullet Company. The ballistics for the .22 “NATO” are 3400 fps with the 68 grain projectile.
The Ordnance Corps embraces the commodity command concept. The various product specialties will become individual commands. Responsibility for weapons development and production is tasked to the Ordnance Weapons Command (OWC), ammunition production to the Ordnance Ammunition Command (OAC), and so forth.
July: AAI applies for patents for its saboted fléchette cartridge designs and sabot stripper muzzle devices.
October: Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation creates its ArmaLite Division. George Sullivan is named president of the division. Charles Dorchester and Eugene Stoner are hired as plant manager and chief engineer, respectively.
November: Davis begins formal development and testing of the .22 “NATO.”
Psychological Research Associates publishes “The Assessment and Prediction of Rifle Squad Effectiveness.”
December: The OCO publishes the report “Development of Weapons for the Defeat of Personnel.”
The US Army Medical Laboratory publishes “Wound Ballistics Assessment of the .30-Caliber Ball, Carbine, M1, and an Experimental .22-Caliber Ball, Carbine.”
Olin designs and tests a double-barrel .22 “NATO” test fixture. They discover that the recoil of two rounds being fired simultaneously is 25 percent greater than that of the M1 rifle. No further consideration is given to building double-barrel SALVO weapons in larger calibers.
January: Ordnance Weapons Command officially begins operations at Rock Island Arsenal.
Dr. Carten approves Davis’ request for further testing of the Sierra bullet with the .22 “NATO,” along with testing of the wound ballistics of the combination by the Army Chemical Center.
The BRL publishes “A Provisional Criterion for Incapacitation by a Dart.”
February: The US Army Field Forces are renamed US Continental Army Command (CONARC). With this change, Field Forces Board No. 3 is now known as CONARC Board No. 3.
March: Liberty Powder Defense Corporation’s Robert R. Buell files a patent application for reclaiming the nitrocellulose and other components of double base gunpowders. (Liberty Powder Defense Corporation is owned by Olin Industries.)
April: Davis forwards the request for wound ballistics testing of the .22 “NATO” to the Army Chemical Center. Davis specifically requests that the report be prepared in a similar fashion to their December 1954 report on the .22 Carbine.
The US Army Medical Laboratory publishes “Wound Ballistics of an Homologous Series of Bullets in Gelatin Tissue Models.”
June: The US Army Medical Laboratory publishes “Wound Ballistics of an Homologous Series of Bullets – Animal Studies.”
August: The BRL publishes “A Provisional Criterion for Incapacitation by a Dart – II.”
September: Davis completes testing of the .22 “NATO.”
Springfield Armory begins work on a three-barrel, semi-automatic .222 Remington test fixture.
November: CONARC Board No. 3 publishes “Evaluation of M2 Carbine Modified to Fire High Velocity Caliber .22 Cartridges.” The report recommends that the SCHV concept be given a high priority status, with the goal of developing a SCHV rifle.
The US Army Medical Laboratory publishes “Wound Ballistics Assessment of an Experimental .22-Caliber Lead Core High Velocity Rifle Ball: Comparison With the 7.62-mm NATO (.30-Caliber) Rifle Ball.”
At Springfield, David C. Fletcher completes drawings of a .222 three-barrel SALVO rifle.
Late: Springfield Armory nears completion of the .22 “NATO” T48 conversions (the FN FAL, manufactured in the US by Harrington & Richardson for the US Army’s rifle trials).
December: Davis publishes his findings on the .22 “NATO” in the report “An Investigation of an Experimental Caliber .22 High Velocity Bullet for Rifles.” Davis requests that additional weapons and ammunition be acquired for further testing. Gustafson and Davis are ultimately denied funding for additional SCHV/SALVO designs and experiments. They have proposed the development of yet another .224″ cartridge, intermediate to the .22 SCHV and the .22 “NATO“. The new cartridge would have launched a 55 grain boattail projectile at 3,300 fps. (Remember those numbers….) In his denial for funding, Dr. Carten insists that Aberdeen is in the business of testing weapons and ammunition, not creating them.
The ORO publishes “Rifle, Carbine and Pistol Aiming Error as a Function of Target Exposure Time.”
Springfield Armory ships 12 converted T48 (.22 “NATO“) to Fort Benning for SALVO tests.
The BRL‘s Donald L. Hall and Ed S. Smith publish “Evaluation of a Salvo Rifle.”
Gunsmith Jim Harvey introduces the .224 Kay-Chuk, based on a shortened .22 K-Hornet. Harvey converts Smith & Wesson revolvers for the cartridge.
February: Gene Stoner files a patent application for the aluminum magazine design later used in the AR-10 and AR-15.
Winchester begins contractual work on a double-barreled SALVO rifle. Chambered for the .22 “NATO” Duplex (long-neck), Stefan Janson’s design appears to be a pair of FN FAL grafted side by side with a single trigger and gas piston. (Janson is better known as the inventor of the British EM2 bullpup rifle.)
The BRL publishes “The Probability of Incapacitation by a Steel Sphere or by Darts When Portions of the Body Are Rendered Vulnerable.”
March: Psychological Research Associates publishes “A Study of the Infantry Squad TOE.”
May: CONARC Board No. 3 publishes “Evaluation of Light Weight Rifles.”
In support of an Army contract, AAI continues to develop its saboted fléchette rifle cartridge designs. The stated goal is to achieve a velocity of 4,000 fps. AAI creates three separate designs, each using a .22″ sabot with a 10 grain fléchette. The differences lay in the exact sabot attachment method.Ordnance Technical Intelligence publishes “Firing Test: Soviet 7.62mm Assault Rifle Kalashnikov (AK).”
June: The BRL publishes “Relative Effectiveness of Conventional Rifles and an Experimental ‘Salvo’ Weapon in Area Fire.”
Stefan Janson files a patent application for the design of Winchester’s double-barreled SALVO rifle.
Summer: The first comparative test firings of SALVO concept weapons are performed. Included are the Gustafson .22 Carbine and the modified .22 “NATO” T48 rifle.
July: Robert H. Kent retires from the BRL.
August: Gene Stoner files a patent application for the gas system and bolt carrier design later used in the AR-10 and AR-15.
September: At Springfield Armory, Charles F. Packard submits “Feasibility Study of Caliber 0.222 SALVO Type Shoulder Rifle.”
October: The ORO publishes “Preliminary Report on SALVO.”
Springfield constructs a prototype triple-barreled SALVO rifle in .222 Remington.
November: On behalf of the US Army, David C. Fletcher files two patent applications for the design of the .222 three barrel Salvo rifle.
Late: A copy of Gustafson and Davis’ 1955 denied funding request “somehow” makes it to General Willard G. Wyman, Commanding General of CONARC. With the urging of Colonel Neilson, Wyman recommends that CONARC Board No. 3 submit a formal request for a SCHV rifle based around the Gustafson and Davis cartridge parameters. Furthermore, Wyman “hints” to ArmaLite’s Eugene Stoner that a scaled-down version of Stoner’s 7.62mm AR-10 rifle prototypes might fit the Infantry Board’s forthcoming SCHV request.
(Next: 5.56mm 1957)
by Daniel E. Watters, Small Arms Historian
Post questions or comments at The 5.56mm Timeline’s Facebook page.
Document History Publication: 12/10/1998 Last Revised: 05/17/2009
This article was originally published at The Gun Zone — The Gunperson’s Authoritative Internet Information Resource. My friend and mentor Dean Speir has graciously hosted my articles at TGZ for nearly 16 years. These articles would likely have never appeared online without his constant encouragement and assistance.
With TGZ’s closure in early 2017, Dean encouraged me to find a new home for my scholarship so it wouldn’t be lost in the dustbin of the Internet.
Daniel E. Watters’ suggested syllabus
The Black Rifle by R. Blake Stevens and Edward C. Ezell. Second Edition. Collector Grade Publications, Toronto, Ontario, 1992.
The Great Rifle Controversy by Edward C. Ezell. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA, 1984.
The M16 Controversies by Thomas L. McNaugher. Praeger Publishers, New York, NY, 1984.
The History and Development of the M16 Rifle and its Cartridge by David R. Hughes. Armory Publications, Oceanside, CA, 1990.
The SPIW: The Deadliest Weapon that Never Was by R. Blake Stevens and Edward C. Ezell. Collector Grade Publications, Toronto, Ontario, 1985.
Black Rifle II: The M16 into the 21st Century by Christopher R. Bartocci. Collector Grade Publications, Cobourg, Ontario, 2004.
The Last Enfield – SA80: The Reluctant Rifle by Steve Raw. Collector Grade Publications, Cobourg, Ontario, 2003
The Gun Zone (Internet Archive)
Fléchette / SPIW
Multiplex / SALVO