Yesterday I went out to the desert with my buddies, Jim & Kenny for an afternoon of shooting fun. It was my first shooting trip in almost 2 years due to the scarcity of dollars to pay for ammo and fuel to get to our favorite shooting spot.
But go out shooting we did and we had a great time. The weather was beautiful and the ground was dry so it was a perfect day to be outside. Kenny had a new AK rifle to try out and Jim brought along his usual selection including his AR. I took my SKS as I hadn't shot it since replacing the hammer spring with the stock one some time ago. And we shot a bunch of centerfire flavors of rifle and handgun calibers but eventually the centerfire guns were put away and we broke out our favorite 22 rimfire caliber guns.
And we had a blast. We shot 22LR ammo until we were tired. I had my Beretta Neos pistol and my Taurus semi-auto rifle, (a JMB design, for the record) and there were several other guns in both guy's range bags that fed the diminutive and plentiful 22LR cartridges. When the shooting was all over and we were picking up the trash, I wondered why the guy, whoever he was, that designed the 22 Long Rifle cartridge wasn't as famous or as revered as John Moses Browning is for the plethora of gun designs still in active use 100+ years after he created them.
Turns out, it was Joshua Stevens, creator of Stevens Arms, who is credited with the creation of the 22 Long Rifle cartridge. Can you think of another inventor that has been more responsible for introducing people of all ages to the joys of shooting than J. Stevens? How many people around the world got their first opportunity to learn to shoot behind a rifle or pistol designed to shoot this cartridge? This familiar and beloved round was created in 1887, long before JMB created his iconic pistol. How many of us that own and enjoy centerfire guns of any caliber still love plinking with the humble 22? How many of us have a favorite 22 gun that love or money couldn't make us part with? I'm betting we all have one, (or more) favorite 22 gun that has a permanenent place in our safe and enough ammo to keep it fed for a long time tucked away on our ammo shelves.
So let's give credit where it is due, to Mr. J Stevens of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. I'm going to research his birthdate and make it a point to buy (another) brick of 22LR when it rolls around. Maybe we all could celebrate Josh's birthday with a new brick or two of his most famous creation. And when famous gun designers are being discussed around the interweb, maybe we can remember to give Josh his credit for a great invention- the 22 Long Rifle cartridge.
UPDATE: Mr. Stevens was born on September 10, 1814 so next September I'm stocking up!