J.B. Smith 2R Lovell

Here’s a not too common headstamp that the UPS man delivered today.

The little information I have on this is that J.B. Smith was J. Bushnell Smith, a Vermont gunsmith who had these cases made for him by Winchester; he apparently died in a workshop accident in 1948.


Since Winchester made the properly headstamped brass, and it was made for the person whose name appears on the headstamp, I would say this is definitely a “Proprietary cartridge,” not a wildcat. The ongoing saga of definition, but I think by any standard I have known as a cartridge collector, this one is pretty clear cut. O.K. Now permission granted to beat me up.

Great headstamp. Never heard of it. This is one that if I found one at a show at not tooooo much money, I would buy it and keep in in my “cheat” drawer. A “cheat drawer” by the way, is where you put all the rounds you want to keep, but claim that you do not collect that category.


Correct on all counts. A wildcat of a wildcat. (Sorry John, I can’t agree).

Notice that Smith had his cases headstamped 2R whereas Lovell, Risley, and Donaldson (the original designers) called it the R-2. Maybe to avoid a legal fight since Smith was making the cartridges commercially.

The R is for Risley and the 2 means it was the 2nd reamer design.

Griffin & Howe chose a different tack. They had Winchester headstamp their cases with the original name, 22-3000.

That is a Wotkyns-Morse 8-S bullet BTW. One of the most popular of the pre-war varmint bullets.

We’ll make a wildcat collector out of you yet.

Another BTW. Smith was killed when he was working some loaded ammo through his rifle to check for fit when one went off and into a keg of rifle powder which promptly (and very quickly) exploded.

Good find. Not particularly rare but not common either.


Ray–Regarding what the “R” stands for in the “J.B. Smith -2R-” headstamp I have the following in my notes for my copy of the carridge:


I have no idea where I got that info. I think it came from an article by Wotkyns in Handloader magazine back about 1985.


That’s correct. Risley was the reamer grinder/gunsmith. Donaldson asked him to make a reamer for an 'Improved" 22-3000 Lovell but it didn’t give the desired results. So Risley made a second reamer which seemed to work to everyone’s satisfaction.

I suppose they didn’t have the imagination of today’s wildcatters when it came to monikers so they called it the R-2.

At least that is the story as told by Donaldson. Others say that Donaldson was a wind bag who often glommed onto the ideas of others and then claimed them for his own. Another version is that Lovell designed the cartridge along with Risley but that the part about the “2” is basically correct.

We’ll never know now, will we???


To clarify my comment about the demise of J. Bushnell Smith - that is one version of how he died. There are others. But only he knows for sure and he isn’t telling. I guess the explosion didn’t leave much in the way of evidence and in those quaint old days they simply cleaned up the mess. No long drawn out forensic investigations.


I’m confused. In fact I have always found the relationship between the 2R Lovell and .22-3000 to be less than clear. Are the 2R and the .22-3000 the same cartridge? In your first response, you mentioned that Winchester headstamped the G&H cases with the ‘original’ name (.22-3000), whereas Smith used 2R and the other folks used R-2. This suggests to me that they are the same cartridge.

Or, is the 2R a modified, or improved, 22-3000 per your later response?


A picture is worth . . .

Here’s a photo that I pulled from my files. It doesn’t show all of my “22-3000” cartridges but enough of them to answer your question.

On the left is a late 1890s wildcat, the 22-20-55 Harwood Hornet. The 25-20 SS case necked to 22 caliber.

Next is one of the orginal Lovell 22-3000. The 25-20 SS case necked to 22 but with a different neck and shoulder.

Third is a 2R J.B.Smith which is the 22-3000 improved with a sharper shoulder.

Fourth is an R-2 Lovell. Same as the Smith but made from the G&H brass which, as I said is headstamped 22-3000 but is actually the R-2 configuration.

Fifth is a 22 Lovell Short Neck, 15 degree shoulder. Again, an improved 22-3000. This one made from a 25-20 SS case.

Sixth, same with a 20 degree shoulder.

Seventh, same with a 30 degree shoulder.

As I said, this is not all of them.


Guy–Here is a dimension chart of the 2 cartridges:

This is from the article I mentioned before from Handloader Magazine, Jan-Feb, 1983, Page 14. The article is “The R-2 Lovell” by Ken Waters. The article is 4 pages long. If you want the whole article, let me know and I will email it to you.

“Twenty-Two Caliber Varmint Rifles” by C.S. Landis .
1947 -Small-Arms Technical Publishing Co.

Chapter 4 The Lovell cartridges - page 73-93.

This is an excellent book on .224 caliber wildcat cartridges complete with history ,loading data and cartridge drawings .

Try a interlibrary loan for this book .



Careful when using that drawing. There are some errors, particularly with regards to shoulder angles. And it only shows 3 cartridges. I’d have to pull mine out but I think I have at least 10 different versions.


That is a good reference. But you have to be careful to read the whole thing because there are references to the different cartridges scattered about.


In point of fact Julian Hatcher was called in to examine Bushnell Smith’s workshop the afternoon of the incident. General Hatcher (in the later editions of his Notebook) specifically states Smith died in a fire, not an explosion. This is in a chapter Hatcher devoted to fires and explosions of quantities of propellants in which he had, in many cases, first-hand knowledge. JG


That’s the 3rd explanation for his death that I have heard. All 3 involve an explosion and a fire or a fire and an explosion.


Thanks all for the great input. I think Ray has made it a little less cloudy with the pictures, but I’ll be printing this out and adding it to my growing file of Cartridge Forum information.

Perhaps a 4th explanation would have Mr. Smith sectioning a cartridge at the time of the fire/explosion.