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The .218 Bee

Man, I love the .218 Bee. I can’t even tell you how much I love this round. It is one of my favorites of all time. It’s fun, it’s accurate and its versatile depending on the rifle. I hold it right up there with the .243 WC in my personal top 5 list of favorite rifle rounds.

but first off, ignore all factory loads

Winchester developed the round in 1937 for the growing popularity of varmint shooting with high velocity rounds. The Bee is was made from necking down the .25-20 to .22cal. The case is rimmed as most were at the time. Everything about it should have been a winner in it’s day. Where they messed up was introducing it in a lever action. Sine it was a lever gun, the bullets were the blunt nosed type used in lever guns due to the magazine requiring projectile tips to be touching the primer of the round in front of them. Those bullets didn’t ,and really still don’t, usually equal very accurate performance. Winchester eventually brought out the excellent Winchester model 43 bolt action in the Bee, but by then it was too late. The .22 hornet had won the popularity race by then. The Hornet could be had in the excellent Model 54 and Model 70 and was promoted by the big name gun writers of the day, Townsend Whelan having Springfield 1903 sporters made in .22 hornet. The Bee found a home in single shot rifles like the Winchester 1885 or the Sako L46 later on.

I would walk over 100 rifles in 22 hornet for one good .218 Bee . You may talk to some old timer who will say its not as accurate as other rounds. This isn’t the case when handloading and using something other than the original bullet styles. I don’t recommend the lighter bullet weights either, even though the velocity is slowed. I found the 50 and 55 grain nosler ballistic tip varmint bullets give accuracy very much like a .223 within the Bee’s range. The most accurate one I ever fired being a custom Martini Cadet converted to centerfire and chambered in .218.

35 gr (2 g) VMax3,205 ft/s (977 m/s)799 ft⋅lbf (1,083 J)
40 gr (3 g) BT3,130 ft/s (950 m/s)870 ft⋅lbf (1,180 J)
46 gr (3 g) JFP2,708 ft/s (825 m/s)749 ft⋅lbf (1,016 J)
50 gr (3 g) BT2,654 ft/s (809 m/s)782 ft⋅lbf (1,060 J)

I owned a Ruger Number 1 in .218 that was very accurate and very fun. Hitting clay pigeons at 300 yards with it was as easy as falling off a frog. People will blabber about the .22 hornet but I never had a hornet I could get to shoot under an inch even at 50 yards. I despise the .22 Hornet.

The rimmed case shines more in a single shot action than a bolt gun. That’s what I would always recommend getting if you wanted to try the Bee. Something like the Winchester high wall or low wall. Above is a classic example of a vintage varmint rifle used by a serious rifleman of the day.

The downsides or limits of the Bee are range. It’s not a long range round, But you should be able to deduce that just by looking at it. Within 300 yards it a pure joy. The other downside is case life. You don’t get many reloading from .218 Bee cases. The parent case was originally a blackpowder cartridge. It was never intended to take shot after shot of modern propellants and be reused dozens of times. I recall getting about 4-6 uses per case before they went Tango Uniform during re-sizing. About like a .22 hornet in that regard.

The 9x23MM

The 9×23 is one of those rounds quickly being forgotten with time. The idea was to offer up a round designed to win the various action handgun competitions. The case was stronger than the .38 super and so it can operate at higher pressures. It did away with the semi rimmed case of the super and over all would designed to eliminate the feeding problems of the Super.

The case is slightly tapered but not by much . Because of this you can get more rounds in a magazine than you can with it’s 9mm peers.

Announced to the public in early 1996 at an NRA convention, the 9×23mm Winchester cartridge was claimed to have the lowest recoiling load and still qualify for Major Power Factor designation in the IPSC.The IPSC Power Factor (PF) is equal to bullet weight in grains times muzzle velocity divided by 1,000. A PF of at least 175 was needed to qualify as Major within the Power Factor designation used within IPSC competitions. A Minor power factor carried scoring penalties and so there was an incentive to make the Major qualification. As the power factor calculation is proportional to bullet momentum and as the very large proportion of recoil is proportional to bullet momentum, it is immediately clear that the 9×23mm Winchester had essentially the same power factor and recoil as .45 ACP. The true benefit of the 9×23mm Winchester came from two things. Firstly, more rounds could be fitted into the magazine and that, in general, allowed fewer magazine changes to be made in the course of a contest task spread over multiple targets. Secondly, the higher operating pressure of the 9×23mm Winchester meant that a compensated pistol, where holes or slots in the barrel project high pressure gas upwards before the bullet leaves the barrel, had a greater ability to reduce the upward flip of the muzzle under recoil. That meant that users of the 9×23mm Winchester were able to return to target in less time than with a compensated .45 ACP pistol of otherwise identical design. Since speed was a major element in the scoring system within IPSC competitions there was an obvious advantage to the 9×23mm Winchester over the .45 ACP.

None of that really mattered in the end. Some complex law suits and delays meant that the round never really caught on before rule changes made the benefits of the round moot.

The 9×23 is used in pistols with the same sized frames for the .45ACP and the 10MM and performs better than the now nearly equally forgotten .357 SIG in factory specs. That also worked against it. Most people who CCW want to stick to a smaller lighter handgun and are willing to give up better performance for comfort and ease of carry.. Ahem..

2x23mm on far left

It was a neat idea for the time. And It still is. If you aren’t afraid of a full size gun it has a lot to offer for a variety of uses. It would be one flat shooting 9mm for hunting. recoil is comparable to the .45ACP so anyone can manage it. Pistol hunting deer or hogs with it would be pretty nifty, especially for hand loaders who have a nearly endless choice of bullets available that didn’t exist in it’s early years.

I have seen exactly two Colt M1911 chambered in the 9x23mm. The First was butchered by the owner to use the Safety Fast Shooting thumb safety abomination. This idiocy lets you carry the 1911 in condition one with hammer down and safety on. Deactivating the safety cocks the hammer. But if you don’t shoot and need to re-safe the gun, it turns into a nightmare maneuver. The owner was a retired Airforce Colonel who bought it to use in bullseye shooting. Strange choice, but he was ancient and died about a year later after buying it.

The second was the model on the cover of the slick gun rag pictured at the top. It was basically a Combat Target. That is to say a Gold Cup with a Matte finish and different roll mark. Very good guns no matter what round they chamber.

I never have gotten to shoot one yet. I would like to try one out to see what may have been had delays from law suits and production not kept it out of the competition world.

7,070 Yard Shot

This was posted over on BARFCOM. The poster’s friend’s uncle, ( I know, I know) and some friends made the extremely long range hits. So far I can’t seem to find any info that the shot was taken under any kind of “official ” record attempt. That doesn’t much matter to me though. A lot of amazing shooting accomplishments are made without some OFFICIAL GOVERNING BODY there to stamp it with their seal of approval. I know because some of my biggest accomplishments didn’t have an NRA official anywhere in sight.

Congrats to the fellas for their amazing shot.

“Evidently there are no limits. 7,070yds!

What a year !!!

2018 NRA ELR National Champion
2018 King of 2 mile 3rd place finish and 2nd round impact at 2 miles.
2019 3.4 mile Exhibition Shot on a 32×48 plate.
2019 king of 2 mile Champion, 3rd and 4th.
2019 king of 2 mile France 2nd place
2019 NRA ELR light Champion rifle, load and ballistics. Ray Gross guest shooter
2019 NRA ELR heavy Championship spotter for David Tubb shooting
2019 4.01 mile Exhibition shot on 1 moa square plate.

This 4.01 mile shot was the cap of a great year for Team GPG.

Team GPG accomplished a goal of shooting 7070 yards or 4.01 miles in the Nevada desert this past weekend.

The goal was to see how far we can push the limits and learn how to shoot ELR better. We learned a ton and have so much information and video to share. The biggest surprise was how quickly we made impact. It took 69 shots to make an impact inside a 1 moa square plate at 4 miles. This took a little longer then our 3.4 mile shot, but 4 miles is a long ways and we needed more shots to figure things out.

The other surprise was once we had a zero, we were able to put a cold bore shot within 10-15 feet on the second day. After this initial cold bore shot we were able to keep our group centered within 3-5 moa from the plate with 20-30 shots. We have a lot of video to edit and will have more details of the exact number of shots, group sizes and time of flight soon. I think anyone in the ELR community will be impressed with the videos and data that we were able to obtain.

This was a team effort and we would like to recognize everyone that helped make this goal happen. We could have not accomplished this without everyone helping out.

Team GPG (shooters and wind coaches)

Paul Phillips
Derek Rodgers
James Devoglaer (guest shooter)

Forward Observers

John Droelle
Mauro Del Mastro

Super Cameras (operator/inventor)

Alex Cordesman

Safety Officers / Range Officers

David Parish
Dimitri Bogatirev

Film Crew (Rustic River Media)

Joshua Milligan
Eric McCampbell

Special Guests and witnesses

Guy Desbiens (Labradar Owner)
Wes Karmazin
John Armstrong

The 4 mile shot…

We had been shooting 20-25 round strings throughout the first day. On the third and last string James Devoglaer took his turn behind his new Team GPG spec 416 Barrett rifle. It didn’t take long for us to get James centered up around the plate. We all felt something great was going to happen. Until we heard the clang and forward observers yell, “impact”. We all celebrated with joy. Make no mistake. We needed the help of our forward observers, super camera, wind coaches and velocities, to be successful making impact on our 69th shot. It was all captured on HD cameras on the firing line and at the target. History was made!”

Some MACVSOG History

Here is a pretty neat bit of US Special Forces history. One of my friend’s on FB that is a MACVSOG vet shared this the other day. It is an encryption pad for use over the radio while on missions.

From what I understand, 3 letter combinations were substituted for words or phrases commonly used for daily communication. These changed daily or weekly or some pre determined schedule. I’m sure Hognose could have made better sense out of this for you. Time’s like this I’m sure we all remember how much we miss him.