Can less be more when it comes to stopping power of a given cartridge?
When I was a kid, I was raised in south central Oregon, where we had Belding's Ground Squirrels, a prolific, short tailed squirrel looking much like a prarie dog. Locals call them either squeaks or sage rats. They are very prolific, and like prarie dogs they can devestate agricultural lands. They have colonies much similar to prarie dogs, and seemily have no end to them.
They are so abundant there, that as a kid I have several times gone into a freshly cut alfalfa field (with permission), and sat next to a wheel-line to keep from shooting irrigation equipment, and shot an entire carton of .22 ammo from one sittin position, with a hit ratio of better than 2:1! Some fun!
Now, for my question of the week! Those little buggers were tough nuts. Often times you could hit them with CCI Mini-Mag Hollow-Points or Stingers (new then), and even then they would make it the four to ten feet to get down their holes before giving up the ghost. Most all of the cheap ammo of the day, Federal Lighning, Remington Thunderbolt, CCI Blazer and some cheap Brazilian Ammo that K-Mart used to sell all left them straggling into their holes unless you got solid spine or head shots.
Now for the interesting part. I started shooting them with .22 shorts because I was given two bricks of them. When I hit those squirrels with shorts, they would flop over, and kick a few times, and that was it! Finished, done, dry-ice, toast! Most of the squirrels shot with shorts would lay down on the spot dead! It was puzzling to be sure, and since I was getting paid by some ranchers for each squirrel tail recovered, you better bet that I tried to anchor every one I could on the spot. I came to love .22 shorts! Still do!
Now, a few decades later, I still find the same strange scenario. Crows are abundant here, and legal during the customary migratory bird season alloted to ducks and geese. When we lived in town, we had abundant crows that would steal the dog's food if left unattend. If I shot those crows with .22 shorts (any manufacture), most would simply flop out of the trees, directly to the ground without so much as much flopping around. Pull the same stunt with High Velocity LR, regardless of nose configuration, and those same crows would fly off, out of the tree, eight out of ten times to drop out of the sky fifty or seventy five yards away. Go figure that one!
Why am I writing this today? Well, just had another crow experience not long ago... same scenario. We now live out in the sticks, so noise isn't a factor when shooting is concerned, but I still like my .22 shorts. I had one up the pipe on my Savage 24C "Camper" model, and a pair of crows forty-five yards away in an aspen tree. I opted to use the .22 short instead of the .20 Ga. load of #5's. I shot the first crow with the .22 short, and he just tumbled from the branch, straight down to the base of the tree. A solid body shot settled his accounts. Undaunted, the second crow watched while I broke the action open and reloaded the .22 barrel. This time I quickly grabbed the most available ammo, which happened to be some Federal .22LR Hollow-points that Wal-Mart is selling at a very modest price (good ammo for the $$). I centered the front bead on the bird and squeezed, black feathers out the back side, a solid body hit, and the crow launched off the tree, and flew about twenty yards before a load of #5 shot finished him.
Upon examination, the second crow, the one hit with the Federal .22LR hollow-point had been hit squarely through the boiler room, missing the spine and taking out a very impressive exit wound. This bird flew off. The first crow, the one hit with the .22 short (Remington), fell dead at the base of the same tree stone dead, with an identical shot, but no exit wound of any kind. Interesting!
Is less more? Food for thought!
Have a great day and God Bless,