It was in the used handgun counter, of my local gun store. I could tell through the glass it was a Colt, probably a clone. What I couldnít figure was the price being so low. One wonders whatís wrong with it. It appeared in pristine condition.
The clerk, an old friend, pulled it out of the glass case and handed it to me, the barrel was marked 22
R.F. It was a perfect clone Colt SAA with a 4 and 3/4ths inch barrel. He said the price was low because the problem with the revolver was it split the 22 rimfire cases. He also said he thought it might have been a 22 rimfire magnum cylinder but the rimfire mag ammo didnít completely chamber, sticking out about a tenth of an inch. He must have wondered at my smile, as I started filling out the paperwork.
When I got the sixgun home, I dug through my storage locker that holds my insanely large stash of rimfire ammo. Finding the old box I was looking for, I tried one of the rounds in one of the gunís chambers. It fit perfectly. The gun was chambered for the old 22 Winchester Rim Fire. For those unfamiliar with it, it is in fact approximately a tenth of an inch shorter than the 22 Winchester Rimfire Magnum (.960" to the magnumís 1.054" case length). Interestingly years ago when Remington loaded the WRF round they called it the 22 Remington Special. The 22 WRF preceded Winchesterís rimfire magnum by several decades. It was in itís day a popular rimfire rifle round giving about 1450 fps with a 45 grain gilded bullet from a rifle. About 200 to 300 fps more than standard and high speed rimfire ammo on the market, back then.
A friend suggested I run a 22 rimfire magnum reamer into the chambers. Certainly the sixgun is strong enough. But my feeling is it would completely change the dynamics of the revolver. The Winchester Rim Fire is a step up from 22 rimfire high speed ammo, and in between the 22 rimfire and the 22 rimfire magnum ammo. I have a good deal of experience with the rimfire magnum since the early 1970s. I like the little magnum round, I have several revolvers and a AMT autoloader chambered for it, also several rifles. It is a premiere short range, small varmint round, even up to the smallish coyotes we have in the southern part of Arizona where I live.
But when it comes to small eating game animals the magnum round in most of itís loadings, destroys a good deal of meat. Even with solids it can rip up small animals, especially on squirrels. The WRF comes from Winchester in a solid form, powerful enough to take small game but unlike the rimfire magnum, it does it without undue meat destruction. It is also not as noisy as the magnum ammo in handguns, and not as expensive either, about 40% cheaper.
Where 22 rimfire ammo, even high speed from handguns can sometimes be lacking on squirrels and cottontails and such, the 22 rimfire magnum can be too much. The 22 WRF is the perfect in-between from a handgun for this class of handgun hunting at reasonable ranges. I have been using this ammo in my 22 magnum rimfire revolvers for squirrel hunting mostly, since Winchester began offering it again a number of years ago.Our Rock squirrels are a variety that is larger and hardier than Gray and Fox squirrels. But the WRF ammo is deadly on them, without the mixed grill making attitude of the higher velocity 22 rimfire magnum. Also the WRF has a 45 grain bullet that is substantial. It is gilded copper over soft lead, and it has a controlled mushroom like expansion in small game. Not like the explosive varmint bullet in the 22 rimfire magnum. The Winchester RF bullet somewhat resembles a miniature Keith bullet shape.
The handgunís stocks are a reproduction of the old armories practice of branding the wood with the inspectorís mark or cartouche. But I donít think these are original to this Uberti
sixgun. These stocks came long after the age of this gun, indicated by itís 4 digit serial number. Also it appears the stocks were polished to a different frame. Not unsightly, just a hair not quite right.
My same size and barrel length Uberti 45 Colt revolver weighs in at 2 pounds 10 ounces, my Uberti 357 weighs in at 2 pounds 12 ounces and the 22 WRF is 3 pounds. Yet they are basically 99% the same size externally. Weight differences are because of the differing amounts of steel removed from each. The extra weight is not a hindrance, actually helping to hold it steady when aiming.
It has the traditional staked in blade front sight. And it shot very low, which is also usual for Colt type single actions in most calibers. So you can cut the front sight down to bring the striking point up for your eyes. It shot slightly to the right. I donít like turning barrels or bending front sights in one direction or the other. For me, I find that a small thin file will open the back sight notch to one side or the other as needed centering the impact . And it is not noticeable with a little cold blue. We just have to be careful to keep the notch square. I do this kind of work with single actions at the range. I sighted this WRF in at a half inch high center hold at 25 yards. It is right on at fifty yards and down only an inch at 75 yards with Winchesterís gilded lead bullet.
I know centerfire ammo fired in the air can be extremely dangerous out to very long ranges. But up until the early 1970s I thought the mile warnings on 22 rimfire boxes was stretching it with lawyer lingo. I used to think this was just lawyer talk. But I once investigated a shooting in Richmond Va. A young teenager fired his fatherís 22 rimfire rifle at a 45 degree angle, thinking the street was empty and late in the evening. The bullet struck a old woman standing in her back yard 3/4 ths of a mile away, rupturing an artery in her neck. No one else was home and the poor woman bled out. So now I tend to take the warnings even on rimfire ammo boxes seriously. The older boxes of Winchester WRF state they have a range of one and a half miles and still dangerous, the newer plastic boxes Winchester now packs them in call for a 2 mile warning.
The WRF is a deep penetrating round on small game. The little Keith like bullet expands even on rabbit sized small game out to 70 or so yards. Fired from a 22 rimfire magnum rifle I expect itís small game range would have at least another 50 yards of effectiveness.
I have a tough test for small caliber bullets. Fruit juice quart cans are made of soft steel, thin sheet metal steel. They use steel because of the acid in most fruit juices. I fill them with water and freeze them. And shoot them with the bullets Iím testing. The results are not indicative of what the bullet will or wonít do in game animals.... The test is to see how well the small bullets hold together even if they encounter heavy resistance. The very thin steel hit first is about as tough as it gets for a 22 rimfire of any persuasion, like a tough coyote bone. The ice behind the steel turns into what a snow cone looks like, shaved ice. By firing into a clear three liter plastic bottle filled with frozen water you can see the bulletís trail and the size of and length of the expansion cavity... by dumping the slush out. And of course easily find the bullet. Winchester Rim Fireís 45 grain copper washed bullet in the steel can test goes about four to five inches into the ice and mushrooms like the classic hunting bullet. I fire into the bottom of the plastic bottles and that gives a longer amount of ice to slow the bullet. I get six to seven inches in those bottles with the
Also the large plastic soda bottles work well, especially for standard and high speed rimfire twenty-twos. Again they show the bulletís path thru the ice, and wether or not the bullets are going to mushroom, shatter, or just drill through.. The velocity of the WRF from the handgun is just at 1220 fps about the velocity of a high speed 22 rimfire from a rifle, but with a 45 grain copper coated bullet of exceptional penetration and expansion. That gives the SA Clone 148 foot pounds of muzzle energy. With Federal high speed 40 grain copper clad 22 rimfire ammo from my CZ 22 rimfire rifle, it gives just over 1200 fps, but from a handgun it is about 980 fps (S&W 22 revolver) and only 89 foot pounds. The WRF ammo from this handgun even beats the Federal high speed from the rifle, itís 40 grain bullet at 1200 fps gives 127 ft. lbs. of energy.The handgun itself is 99% pristine. Someone kept it for years with very-very little use.
I wonder if they realized it wasnít as marked, not a 22 RF but a WRF? So this rare find of a 22 WRF chambered clone Colt SAA is certainly a keeper for me.