Modern ammo in old rifle?


September 5, 2013, 10:57 AM
Have a early 1960s Marlin bolt action .22 magnum. Haven't shot it in years. Question: is it ok to use modern .22 mag ammo in that rifle? Rifle is clean and in good shape. I've given it to my son and hes a little spooked to fire it and he has me concerned also.:confused:
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September 5, 2013, 11:55 AM
As long as it is in good shape, not damaged or abused.

September 5, 2013, 12:51 PM

There has been no pressure standards change in .22 WMR ammo since it was introduced in 1959.

There really is no 'old' or 'new' ammo, as the cartridge has not changed.

As far as your gun knows, it's all just .22 WMR ammo.


Ron James
September 5, 2013, 05:29 PM
1960 is an old rifle ???:). Uncertain on shooting "modern" ammo in it?:)

Jim Watson
September 5, 2013, 06:04 PM
1960 .22 WMR = old?

I guess it is time for me to make that appointment down at the glue factory.

September 5, 2013, 08:20 PM
Make a line!!

I'm gonna be right behind you, soon as I find out where the line is forming!


September 5, 2013, 10:54 PM
Actually the .22 magnum of today ain't what it was when it first came out. Original ballistics was 2,000 fps with a 40 gr. bullet. Today's stuff is 1,910 and 1875 fps depending on the manufacturer. RWS still makes a load that pushes a 40gr pill at about 2200 fps., but it's so expensive nobody bothers with it.

Yes your gun, if in good condition should be just fine.

September 5, 2013, 11:02 PM

But that 2,000 FPS was advertising copy.

In fact, back then, no reloader and very few publications had access to a chronograph.
So the ad people could claim whatever they wanted to claim, and nobody would be the wiser.

Today, chronographs are a dime a dozen among serious shooters.
And the ammo companies have to fess up and be reasonably honest now to keep the complaint desk phone from going up in smoke.

BTW: I have a 1972 Winchester 9422M, and I have some Winchester Super-X 40 grain ammo from that time period.

It shoots to the exact same POI as todays Super-X 40 grain at 100 yards.
I can tell no difference at all.

Except it costs 6-8 times more then it did then.


September 6, 2013, 11:02 AM
1960 is an old rifle ???:). Uncertain on shooting "modern" ammo in it?:)
My newest rifle is a 1953!* I'd hardly consider a 60's rifle old, even though it's older than me.


*If you don't count the Marlin 60 in my safe. I'm holding it for my brother because his wife won't let him have it in their house until they get a safe.

September 6, 2013, 01:54 PM
I shoot modern ammo out of mil surplus rifles from the early 1900's all the time - No issues but lots of fun.

Jim K
September 6, 2013, 03:22 PM
With a VERY few exceptions, that modern vs old ammo business is nonsense. So is the black vs smokeless powder issue. Ammunition makers keep the old cartridges (like .45-70, .44-40. .45 Colt, .32 S&W) to the same pressure levels they had when they were first introduced, and "modern" ammunition is safe for firing in any reasonably well made gun from any period that was originally made for that ammunition.

Among the exceptions: Damascus barrel shotguns should not be fired with smokeless powder shells; revolvers made for .32 S&W and .38 S&W should not be fired with .32 ACP and .38 ACP/.38 Super; old Spanish revolvers should not be fired at all and should be discarded or deactivated.


September 6, 2013, 03:53 PM
Metallurgy was a mature science by the time you get to WW2. Any post WW2 rifle, in good shape, made by a reputable manufacturer, can fire modern ammunition.

Smokeless weapons of the WW1 era and previous decades are made of plain carbon steels, were made under primitive process controls, those old weapons should be safe with factory ammunition, but there is always more risk with those things.

Shooting old ammunition in new firearms is a lot higher risk than new ammunition in old firearms. Ammunition has a shelf life, a rule of thumb is 20 years for double based and 45 years for single based propellants. Heat drops this lifetime by decades, can drop it to weeks if the ammunition is exposed to constant temperatures above 120 F. The lifetime is in days if exposed to constant temps of 150 F. Cold extends the shelf life, storage under arctic conditions of unchanging cold and bone dry is ideal. When gunpowder reaches the end of its lifetime the stuff has broken down, the burn rate unstable, and pressures spike. Lots of guns have blown up with old surplus military ammunition that was scrapped because it was past a safe shelf life.

September 6, 2013, 04:20 PM
A few other exceptions:

Old .32-20 revolvers should not be fired with hi velocity rifle ammo
Old 1873 Winchesters should not be fired with .44-40 ammunition marked for 1892 Winchesters only; not sure any exists any more, anyway
The original Colt .38 autos should not be fired with .38 Super ammo

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