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.22 Hornet

History


Developed by American wildcatters in the 1920's, the .22 Hornet was adopted and officially introduced by Winchester in 1930. At the time, the most commonly used rifle for converting to .22 Hornet was the 1922 Springfield .22 long rifle. Because the groove diameter of the .22 long rifle measured .223”, the Hornet was loaded with .223" caliber bullets. The Production of commercial rifles eventually saw the change from .223" to .224" groove diameters, today, Hornet projectiles are still offered in either .223" or .224" calibers.
The Hornet gained huge popularity in the states around the world for varmint shooting. In Australia and New Zealand, the Hornet was not only used for small game but also as a cadet training round during the years of compulsory military training. 
 

Performance


The Hornet is an adequate varmint cartridge with a low report that makes it pleasant to shoot. It has an effective range of around 150 yards. With chest shots on light bodied medium game weighing less than 40kg (88lb), projectiles will usually reach vitals but become lodged in offside ribs.

The Hornet is far too underpowered for general use on medium sized deer species, however this cartridge has been used to take head and neck shots on medium game out to moderate ranges. For youths who are new to centerfire cartridges and have access to an older .22 Hornet rifle, this cartridge makes for an excellent training round, ideal for small game and range shooting.
 

Factory Ammunition


Factory ammunition is still produced for the Hornet although it is not as economical as it once was. Both Winchester and Remington produce 45 grain soft point loads with listed velocities of 2690fps however, realistic velocities are just over 2400fps to ensure pressures are kept low in older firearms. Winchester also produce a 46 hollow point load.
 

Hand Loading


Traditionally, handloads using 45grain soft point bullets are pushed to 2700fps with many rifles giving best accuracy at velocities around 2500fps using powders such as ADI2205, H110, IMR4227 and W680. More recently, Hodgdon Lil Gun powder has breathed new life into the .22 Hornet, boasting velocities of up to 3000fps with 45 grain bullets, along with mild pressures and excellent accuracy. Sierra produce both 40 and 45 grain flat base soft point projectiles while Hornady produce a similar soft point 45 grain bullet. All are similar in construction and terminal performance.

Top velocity handloads place excessive strains on Hornet projectiles during impact if used on medium game. At normal velocities, using Sierra and Hornady soft point projectiles, complete penetration on smaller deer can only be expected with neck shots.
 

Closing Comments


The Hornet continues to remain popular today, finding favor with hunters in the 60 year age group, men born in the 1950's who began shooting and hunting during the mid 1960's. Hodgdon Lil Gun has certainly livened the Hornet up more recently, producing real, worthwhile velocity gains.

A further development of the Hornet is the 22 K Hornet wildcat, achieved by reaming the existing Hornet rifle chamber to improved dimensions. The K Hornet was a very popular wildcat in its day and although case capacity is increased by a seemingly meager 1 grain, velocity gains are in the order of 250 to 300fps.

Following the Hornet, Winchester introduced the .218 Bee in 1938. The .218 Bee gave superior power to the original Hornet, was chambered in the model 65 lever action rifle however, less than 6000 models were made. The Bee was for a time chambered by other manufacturers including Sako, Krico, Browning and Ruger. Olin’s sole remaining load features a 46 grain hollow point varmint bullet at 2760fps. 

 
Suggested loads: .22 Hornet Barrel length: 24”
No ID   Sectional Density Ballistic Coefficient Observed  MV Fps ME
Ft-lb’s
1 FL Remington 45gr PSP .128 .130 2400 575
2 FL Winchester45gr SP .128 .129 2400 575
3 HL Sierra/ Hornady 45gr SP .128 .130 2500 624
 

 
Suggested sight settings and bullet paths     
1 Yards 100 150 175 200 250
  Bt. path +1.9 0 -2.1 -5.2 -16.5
2 Yards 100 150 175 200 250
  Bt. path +1.9 0 -2.1 -5.2 -16.5
3 Yards 100 150 175 200 250
  Bt. path +1.7 0 -1.9 -4.7 -13.5
 
 
No At yards 10mphXwind Velocity Ft-lb’s
1 150 8” 1540 260
2 150 8” 1540 260
3 150 7.8” 1613 283
 

22 hornet final.jpg
 
  Imperial Metric 
A .350 8.89
B .295 7.5
C 5deg 38’  
D .277 7.03
E .243 6.17
F 1.017 25.8
G .386 9.8
H 1.403 35.6
Max Case 1.403 35.6
Trim length 1.393 35.3
 
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