Hello and welcome back to another Edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its many guns, ammunition choices, and shooting sports. Last week we took a look at the CMMG Bravo 22LR conversion kit for AR-15 rifles. A lot of you had mixed feelings about the setup as many of you would just prefer to have a dedicated .22LR upper for your AR-15 which comes with its inherent benefits of being more accurate and using a dedicated receiver for its operation. However, on the other side of things, many of you also had great things to say about the CMMG Bravo. As far as my opinion on it, I quite like it and I think if you can afford one, they are quite handy to have in your inventory even if it’s just to have fun plinking with your favorite AR-15 rifle. This week we’re taking a look back in time to check out an oddity within the rimfire world – .22 rimfire tear gas cartridges. Whenever there are guns, there are almost always less-lethal options out there. So today we’ll take a look at them and give you all a brief overview of what they were, how they were used, and what their effectiveness was purported to be like!
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The Rimfire Report: The Obscure .22 Rimfire Tear Gas Cartridge Guns
According to my research, these gas guns were typically revolvers and it also seems like they first started cropping up, at least in their recognizable form in the early 1900s in Germany. However, these devices eventually spread across the world and were often found being used by various police and security agencies up until about the 80s when the much easier-to-transport pepper spray canister became much more affordable and more popular.
One notable example I found during my research was the Italian Mondial Model 1900 22 caliber tear gas pistol. This particular pistol was a semi-automatic design and featured an internal magazine that held 6 small 22-caliber tear gas cartridges which contained chloroacetophenone gas (similar to CS gas). Once fired, the 22 caliber rimfire shell would detonate and send aerosolized CN gas down the barrel and toward the assailant.
Other pistols like the American-made G-G 31 Tear Gas Gun used much larger rimfire tear gas canisters that had an outside diameter of .357″ and measured 2.5″ long giving the user access to much more tear gas. These cartridges for the Warner G-G 31 four-barreled tear gas pistol were purportedly made by CCI ammunition and featured the CCI diamond logo on the base of the cartridge.
A lot of these unique and odd 22 rimfire tear gas pistols can be found on auction sites like Gunbroker and they are still fairly inexpensive only costing about $100-$200, even in decent condition. However. the associated tear gas cartridges are much harder to find and many owners who want to demonstrate the pistol often resort to using .22 Short blanks.
Were they Effective?
According to the litany of online forums that I perused through, not a single person ever said these types of pistols were very effective in any sense of the word and many people said they would have rather used an actual aerosol pepper spray canister rather than one of these rimfires powered gas blasters. Despite their alleged ineffectiveness, many types of these pistols cropped up in the 1900s and the companies often marketed them as being “no skill needed” self-defense devices that could get you out of a jam.
Even if these devices were to be genuinely effective, I’d have to point out that they’d also probably be just as much of a deterrent to you as they would be to your attacker. Since the aerosolized gas would have no doubt been easily blown around in the wind, there was probably a likely chance that the CN gas would wind up in your own face in addition to the attacker’s face.
Ownership, sale, and purchasing of the CN 22 rimfire tear gas cartridges are still legal here in the United States but the importation of the foreign-made devices, as well as their associated tear gas ammunition, was outlawed decades ago and thus they’ve become quite the rarity even among rimfire enthusiasts and general firearm curio collectors.
As useless as these devices apparently were, I think it’s neat to see how throughout the years, companies continued to innovate and throw stuff at the wall to see what stuck. Perhaps 50 years down the road some of us will be laughing at a similar situation where the failed products of today are turned into collector’s items and curiosities.
I’d like to hear your guy’s thoughts and perhaps experiences with these rimfire tear gas cartridges. If any of you have had experience with them please share your thoughts on your weird pistol with us! Thanks as always for stopping by to check out The Rimfire Report and we’ll see you again next week for a guest post from TFB Writer Sam S!
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