Wildcats usually arise when a varmint hunter or shooter identifies a need not met by a factory loading. For most wildcats – especially all the “improved” versions of existing rounds – the goal is to wring out more velocity from the parent case without exceeding equivalent pressures. The other “wildcat line” is to neck down or neck up cartridge cases to a caliber different from the original chambering.
Most factory chamberings actually began life in this way, and sometimes the wildcats gain more fame than their parent cases – think of all the wildcats on the .284 Winchester case or the .22-250. Beyond these two schools of thought, however, the “need” for a wildcat can become a bit more esoteric.
Friend Paul Neidermann is a consummate tinkerer, inventor, gunsmith, stockmaker and ground squirrel shooter. He is also a fan of single-shot Martini Cadet actions for their compactness and simplicity. When he decided to build up a varmint rifle just for his regular trips to a large California ranch to shoot ground squirrels, the small Martini single shot was to be the heart of the rifle.
Next came caliber/cartridge choices. The first concern was that they must be short enough to get around “the corner” to chamber in the small, falling-block Martini action with its curved loading ramp. That limited cartridges to around 2 inches long for easy feeding and extraction. He considered factory chambers: The .22 Hornet or .218 Bee didn’t give the desired performance on ground squirrels, plus the old cartridges had thin brass that was loaded to modest pressures. Even at that, case life wasn’t great. The .221 Fireball was considered because it had good ballistics for squirrels, but it used a rimless case and Neidermann decided a rimmed case would function more easily and reliably in the single shot. That didn’t leave many other options in factory varmint cartridges. He liked the idea of the .22 Jet, but its long sloping shoulder ate up a lot of case capacity and left the round a little anemic. The ideal option quickly became an improved .22 Jet – the .22 Super Jet (sometimes called the .22 Cotterman, .22 Jet Improved or the .22-357 Magnum Improved).
Neidermann took a .22-caliber barrel that a friend had given him with the throat shot out. He cut off the old chamber and warn part of the barrel, rechambered it to .22 Super Jet and fit it to the action. It ended up being 22 inches long. Neidermann also did a little action work by removing a little metal from the right side of the action adjacent to the loading ramp to make reaching brass easier for loading and unloading.
The action was sent off to engraver Barry Lee Hands, who did a simple but beautiful bold scroll on both sides of the action. The receiver was color case hardened and a gold inlaid kangaroo graces the top of the receiver (unfortunately mostly hidden by the scope). Neidermann then used a lovely piece of highly-figured walnut and made a slim forearm and buttstock that left the rifle trim, handy and striking. The rifle was finished off with a Leupold VXII 3-9x scope and weighed just a snick over 7 pounds. Completed in 2003, it has been beat around on ranch roads and carried through a lot of oak woodlands, fulfilling its intended function.
Continue Reading with Magzter GOLD
Log-in, if you are already a subscriber
Get unlimited access to thousands of curated premium stories and 5,000+ magazines
READ THE ENTIRE ISSUE
Rifle Special Edition Varmint Fall 2019