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.221 fireball

Discussion in 'General Firearm Discussion' started by sixfoot674, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. sixfoot674

    sixfoot674 canby Member

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    trying to find out some info on this round. is it just a shortened 5.56 nato? or is it some one off trial round?
     
  2. chainsaw

    chainsaw East side of Or. Active Member

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    Not based off any cartridge.If anything it is closer to 222
     
  3. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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  4. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Howdy Six,

    Wikipedia notwithstanding, here's what I know from messing with the Fireball since 1971: You were actually on the right track with your speculation about it being a "short version" of something, and basically it IS a short version of the .222 (or .222 Magnum). And, therefore, for all practical purposes, a short version of the .223. Chronology isn't really important here (rim size/case diameter are the important things it shares), but if it were, we would consider that the .223 was actually developed in 1957 as a military experimental round, and so yes, the Fireball can be considered to be "based off" that round, as well, the Fireball making its debut in 1963.

    Remington decided to build their very first pistol since the Remington Derringers and auto of 1935, and went way way radical. The XP100 was a bolt action gun, with a "Space Age" design, Zytel stock, 10.5" barrel. Remington tested the .222, shortening the case incrementally to find what case capacity would allow complete (or near complete) combustion of powder in a barrel of reasonable length for a hand-held gun. All sorts of things were adjusted besides the cartridge capacity: they messed with barrel length back and forth. They designed a transfer-bar system for the M700 trigger, in order to place the trigger guard/pistol grip in a favorable point of balance on the gun (rather than way to the rear). The Savage Predator pistol, which came out much later, is an example where this was NOT done, and as many Contender owners can tell you, the .223 is quite out of place in a pistol: far too much powder capacity for efficiency.

    The XP100, as designed, even has recesses in the interior of the forearm for the insertion of weights (I believe .38 or .357 lead slugs fit in there nicely) to improve balance should the shooter desire such. Handgun hunting was in its infancy, and the .221 Fireball on the XP100 platform was to be the very last word. For many handgun hunters, it still is.

    Incredibly accurate, these pistols will still outshoot even some modern custom rifles, producing sub-moa groups even with factory ammunition, and a 2x scope. Handloading even betters what Remington was able to do with the cartridge. Although a "short .222", the round is no pipsqueak, actually delivering more energy than a .357 Magnum.

    In 40 years, I have seen everything from English Sparrows to Elk fall to the Fireball. Personally, the biggest animal I have taken is a Pronghorn Antelope (with a rifle), and a Cougar (with the pistol).

    There was a relatively huge gap (rarer and rarer as time goes) in the centerfire .224 diameter cartrdige list, between the Hornet and .222/223 brethren. Especially if one disqualifies the .218 Bee (as primarily a lever-gun round, and nearly obsolete). The Fireball fills this gap admirably, and many riflemen who want better ballistics than the Hornet (or K version) can provide, but not the rather loud report of a .223, find the Fireball a perfect cartridge upon which to base their new rifle project. My own is a Sako. A buddy converted an Interarms Mini Mauser. I know a woman who has a Contender Carbine in the caliber. The cartridge is extremely efficient, very economical to load, and rifle performance is not far off its "parent rounds": .222 and .223.

    Fireball Spooky History: Al Goerg was a gun writer from Washington, early worldwide handgun hunter, and when the Fireball came out, he took a trip to Alaska with the XP100 in 1965. He'd already documented killing Black Bears with a .22 Jet hangun in an article for Outdoor Life, and wanted to see how the newest, best hunting handgun would do. After more than a week overdue to return, the search for the plane began. It was not located until July of '66. Goerg's duffel, located at the crash site contained (among other things), his Fireball pistol, with 2x Redfield scope, and 14 exposed rolls of film. Six other guns Goerg had with him on the trip were not to be found. It is believed the wreckage was found and looted prior to the official locating of the site.

    The developed pictures revealed that Goerg had taken with the XP100 Fireball, Red Fox, Caribou, and Moose!

    In May of '68, one of Goerg's rifles turned up in a Seattle gunsmith shop. Tracing ownership, police located a man that had discovered the wreckage just prior to the official discovery. Seeing no human remains, (only a few scattered bones were ever located) he believed the wreck was an old one, and the gun legitimate salvage. It was returned to Goerg's wife, as had been the Fireball. Al Georg's other guns were never found.
     
  5. oregonty

    oregonty Salem, OR Active Member

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    Thanks for the info. I have never know much about the fireball.
     
  6. sixfoot674

    sixfoot674 canby Member

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    thanks for the info, Spitpatch.
     
  7. Spitpatch

    Spitpatch Forest Grove, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Everything you always wanted to know about the Fireball, but were afraid to ask (continued): Remington sort of "resurrected" it a few years back, offering their M700 Classic in the cartridge one year, and later, in their VSSF (700 Varmint Stainless Steel Fluted).

    A little too late for me and my Sako, but I still want one (or the other). The 700 short action is not nearly as petite as the little Sako (or Mini Mauser, as my friend used for the Fireball), but I think it would be a heck of a nice "walking varminter". Rifle velocities can attain 3300 fps or better with the 40g Ballistic Tip, and 3100 fps with a 55g bullet. Very respectable, and running right along with .222 factory velocities. It is a cartridge like the .17 Remington or .22 Hornet, in that you can actually watch your Prairie Dog do a "Mary Lou Retton" back flip in your scope when you shoot him. Even though velocities approach .223, the recoil is noticeably less due to the significantly less powder used to achieve good velocity: sight picture is retained throughout the shot.

    With the resurrection, came brass availability: for a number of years it was hard to get. Now it is easy to obtain. The factory loading is also still available, but specifically loaded for the XP100 in 10.5" barrel length (2650fps for the 50g), handloading for a rifle grants the ability to try somewhat slower powders and other bullets with great results, and of course, significantly higher velocities.

    One outfit took the Fireball case and necked it up to even .30 caliber: achieving what is known as the Whisper line of cartridges: subsonic, and able to be effectively silenced with a supressor. I honestly believe the Fireball is now here to stay: those who have stumbled upon it swear by it. Original XP100's are amongst the most desirable Remington guns for collectors. A good specimen will easily bring $700-1000 dollars. The action is a hard standard for pistol Silouette shooters, and has been chambered in nearly every cartridge applicable to that sport. It was also the base design for the Remington 600 series, and later, the Model 7. (The 600 and some Model 7 varieties sport the XP-originated barrel-length vent rib, and/or "Buck Rogers" front sight, a historical nod to the XP.)

    The Al Georg story ran in the May of '68 issue of Outdoor Life, including some of his post-mortem-developed pictures. One shows a harvested Alaskan Brown Bear (Grizzly on steroids), but Al is carrying his bigger pistol (unknown if he shot it with the Fireball, and had the big gun for backup, but keep in mind the trip was dedicated to the Fireball).

    One of my fondest memories of introducing a youngster to shooting was allowing a 13-year-old boy to shoot my XP100 off the bags at a Pepsi can full of water at 100 yards. The very first pistol he had ever shot. He was enthralled with the "Ray-gun" design, and with his first shot, hit the Pepsi can dead-center in the swirly-globe Pepsi emblem. The exit was a perfectly sectioned hole about 2" diameter, with six petals of the aluminum "flower" peeled back symetrically. That young man is now about 47 years old, and he still has that darn Pepsi can!