Date: Mar 01 2011
In May 1968, Handloader magazine ran an article entitled: “412 Bullets Per Pound! Now A .14 Caliber Rifle” by Maj. George Nonte. I never knew this article existed until I started doing research, trying to find the origin of a wildcat cartridge known as the .14/221 Walker.
Generally, my first step in research involves an investigation of books in my library. If that fails to produce any leads, as it did in the case of the .14/221 Walker, I go to the Internet. They say you can find anything on the Internet, and I did find mention of the .14/221, but it was only in passing with no historical data. Somebody had to know something about this cartridge, so I called Pat Ryan at Redding. Expecting nothing, I asked Pat, “Have you ever heard of the .14/221 Walker?”
“I think so.” Pat replied, after a few seconds of silence. That is where the Handloader No. 13 article came from. Pat faxed me a copy, and most of the riddle was solved.
Apparently there were two brothers with the last name of Walker who owned and operated the Walker Machine and Tool Company in Louisville, Kentucky, during the 1960s and 1970s. They made their own .14-caliber barrels, rifles and bullets. Thanks to Maj. George Nonte, a former staff writer at Handloader, this was recorded for gun guys like us to reference many years later.
From Bill Eichelberger, well known for his work with .14 calibers, I discovered that Dave Walker of Mount Washington, Kentucky, developed this cartridge that is based on the .221 Fireball. With the help of Robert “Red” Shearer, a barrel and die maker in Walker’s employ, they actually developed two cases: the .14 Walker Hornet and the .14/221 Walker. Walker got out of the gun business about 1976, and Eichelberger purchased the last two .14-caliber barrels Red Shearer made.
I acquired a rifle in .14/221 Walker after shooting one a friend owned. His rifle was built by Jeff Lawrence of Lawrence Rifle Barrels. I was intrigued by the itty-bitty bullets and wanted one to experiment with. I contacted Jeff, and he was kind enough to put a test rifle together using a Remington Model 700 action and one of his barrels. The rifle and some loaded ammunition arrived just in time for a prairie dog shoot in Montana, and I used it to assassinate about 50 prairie dogs. The farthest shot attempted was at 320 yards and was successful. The little 15-grain bullets Lawrence had loaded worked fine, but just as Major Nonte had observed in 1968, they did not offer the explosive kills some of the very frangible, larger-caliber bullets produce.