I first encountered the dreaded Wound Ballistics Crank in the wild when I worked at Pachmayr in Pasadena, California, back in the early 1990s. This is the guy (the species is entirely male and it’s anybody’s guess how they reproduce in such profusion) who wants to discuss ad nauseum the performance of different calibers and bullets in the flesh of animal and man. Back in the day, the Black Talon bullet was a thing (decried as a “cop-killing bullet” and discontinued by Winchester). These guys could talk for hours about its performance in ballistic gelatin — which was, in fact, similar to any hollowpoint bullet, moral panic aside. Blah, blah, blah…. They never bought anything, and they could have better used their time out on the range.
The deadliest subspecies of the Wound Ballistics Crank — the one capable of boring everyone within a 30-foot radius to death in seconds — is the Caliber Crank. There are several varieties. Back then, the most common one was the type that considered Jeff Cooper a Prophet of God and would loudly proclaim that shooting somebody with a 9mm was as useless as hosing them down with a squirt gun and that you simply HAD to shoot anybody who needed shooting with a .45 ACP. This was amusing/annoying to several people on hand who had actually shot persons…
Another variety, and one you find lurking on internet forums to this very day, is the guy who insists that the humble .22 is an uber-deadly death machine. The Mob uses a .22 for hits! It bounces around inside you like a pinball and destroys all your vital organs! Why, you could even kill a grizzly with a .22! Which is actually true. Just ask Bella Twin.
No, not The Bella Twins! Criminy!
I’m talking about the diminutive Cree trapper named Bella Twin, who, on this date in 1953, slew a massive griz with a single-shot .22.
On 10 May, 1953, Bella Twin was hunting small game with her partner, Dave Auger, along an oil exploration cutline south of Slave Lake, in Alberta, Canada. She was 63 years old.
They saw a large grizzly bear coming toward them. Wishing to avoid an encounter, they hid off the side of the cut.
But the bear kept coming closer and closer. The bear got so close that Bella Twin thought it less risky to shoot the bear than to not shoot it. It was probably only a few yards away. Some accounts say 30 feet. Perhaps she saw it stop and start to sniff, as if it had caught their scent. We may never know.
She shot at the side of the bear’s head. Knowing animal anatomy very well (she was an experienced trapper, and had skinned hundreds, perhaps thousands of animals) she knew exactly where to aim to penetrate the skull at its weakest point.
She shot, the bear dropped. It was huge. She went to the bear and fired the rest of the .22 long cartridges that she had, loading the single shot rifle repeatedly, to “pay the insurance” as Peter Hathaway Capstick said. She made sure the bear was dead, and not just stunned. My father taught me the same lesson when I was 13…
Yeah, I know… There’ll be no living with them now.
I am a BIG fan of the .22. The vast majority of my shooting is done with the .22. I would NOT want to take a shot at a griz with a .22. Give me a Marlin 1895 Guide Gun in .45-70 stoked with 500-grain bullets. That’s some grizzly medicine. But Bella Twin made do with what she had, where she was, and though she was less than five feet in height, she stands tall in the annals of the Frontier Partisans.