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.22 Hornet

9231 Views 35 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  .DIRTY-.THIRTY
I just bought a 22" barrel in .22 Hornet to go on my handi rifle. Looks to be a fairly tight shooting cartridge with Lil'Gun and a 34 to 45 gr bullet. Gonna go with the Lee dies with the Collet neck die, seems to be alot of folks also using the factory crimp on this load? Have any of you fellers got a favorite load or tale to tell of the .22 Hornet? .DT
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My Handi Hornet is my most used rifle, mostly for shooting squirrels in the pastures but also deadly on coyotes.
I have settled on 13.5 gr Lil'gun, Hornady 40 Vmax, Win Cases and CCI small rifle primers.
The Handi is not bound by the std COL, so you can load it long if that gives you best accuracy, it does for me.
Also, the 40 Vmax is a boattail that is easy to seat in the fragile hornet cases. I have't crushed a case since I started using the 40 Vmax. The 35 gr Vmax is really designed for the hornet and its short COL. It is a good bullet but doesn't have a boattail and you don't need to care about COL
13.5 gr of Lil'gun is a case full and a little hard to handle. You might find best accuracy between 12 and 13. I did a lot of testing and found the sweet spot at 13.5.

Enjoy,

Bob A
My experience mimics Bob A exactly. I don't use a crimp die and use their neck die as you do. I've taken to useing my Ruger without the magazine, cause i like this bullet so much and is so much easier on cases.
Ditto on the 40 grain V-Max and Lil'Gun. Kind of odd though when you consider the gun has a 1 in 9 twist. Still trying to find a cast load that shoots well at the 2500 fps range.....a no go so far though I've come up with a couple loads that do well at 1500-2000 fps at the 50-75 yard range.
Keep them tales of the Hornet coming, done a little figuring and counting on my toes and came up with this

Brass $28 /100

Primers $17 /500

Bullets Midway $42 /500

Powder $25 lb at 12grains = 583 loads per lb

comes to $4.40 per 20 loaded rounds and then after not counting brass will be $3.40 per 20 loaded rounds, gotta like that.
The K Hornet is similar enough to the regular Hornet that good powders in one are good powders in another.

The following are K Hornet loads:

Lilgun, for some strange reason, gets higher velocity (12.5 grains) in my K Hornet than Hornady reports with a full grain more powder in the regular Hornet.....this with the 40 grain VMax. I'm getting somewhat over 3100 fps with this combo.

I also favor AA1680 at 15 grains for 3000 fps.

Realistically, the K Hornet doesn't have much more than 100 fps over the regular Hornet given the same pressures, but case life is better when those same pressures are obtained.

2400 and W296 have also worked well. Reloder 7 is too slow but makes a good cast bullet powder. Lyman's 225438 and 225415 are great cast bullets for small game shooting, and of the two I prefer the 225415 for its flat nose. RCBS 55 FN also works well as long as you don't go too slow.

Small pistol primers are worth a try, as well, to see if groups improve.
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It's been awhile since I worked with the Hornet. Back in the mid eighties I bought a Kimber in .22 Hornet and did extensive loading and testing for it for a couple of years. It was tempermental and even small changes in charge weights could have a huge impact in group sizes, but persistance paid off and I found a couple of great loads for it.

I used this rifle for squirrels by loading it to .22 MRF velocities with the Speer 55 gr FMJ over 8.3 grs of W296, lit by Winchester small rifle primers, for 2025 fps. These loads averaged quarter inch groups at 50 yards and were no more destructive on squirrels than standard RN .22 RF/.22 Mag's. These Speers were the rounded nose FMJ's as the rifling twist of the Kimber refused to stabilize the long spitzer FMJ's at these velocities.

For fox, coyote, and woodchuck I settled on the 45 gr Nosler "Hornet" bullet over 11.9 grs of the now discontinued W680. Accuracy was improved when I made the switch to Federal 205 Match primers and this combo would do 2660 fps and gave average groups of less than 1/2" at 100 yards.

When Nosler discontinued the 45 gr Hornet bullet I located a dozen boxes at a Traverse City gunshop and bought them all, then picked up a few more boxes here and there. A year or two later, word came down that Winchester was ending production of W680 and I quickly bought the last 5 pounds available locally. I still have a fair amount of both and the Kimber still thrives on these loads...so much so, I never tried the various bullets that have been introduced since the Hornet has achieved it's resurrection. (Nosler re-introduced the 45 gr Hornet bullet some years ago)

The Hornet brass is thin and a little more care is needed during reloading. I chamfer the inside of the case necks and with a gentle feel during bullet seating, crushed necks can be avoided even with flat based bullets. I never used a crimp on any Hornet loads and see no need to do so. I was also careful to set my sizing die properly to prevent shoulder setback and extend brass life as much as possible.

One thing that's indispensable for a Hornet shooter/reloader is a .38 caliber bore brush. If you shoot and reload for the Hornet, sooner or later you are going to have a case separation. A .38 brass brush pushed into the chamber will quickly remove the stuck front half of the case with very little drama, saving what would otherwise be a ruined day at the range or woods.

So, all this data is ancient history and won't help you a bit, D-T, but you asked for Hornet stories and that's mine.


Kimber .22 Hornet w/ Squirrel Grand Slam

Roe
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I notice a disturbing number of Hornet shooters here often report short case life. If your cases die in a relatively few firings, you're way too hot.

Shooting cast bullets in my K Hornet was a real education.
I notice a disturbing number of Hornet shooters here often report short case life. If your cases die in a relatively few firings, you're way too hot.
Your mentioning this brought something to mind that I've recently experienced. I'm constantly tinkering and looking for that one hole group at 100 yards with the Hornet. Haven't found it yet but a lot of fun trying. I usually make up 10 test rounds using a digital scale to measure the powder, trying to be as consistent as possible with a particular load. I had 70 pieces of brass dedicated to this and normally loaded all 70 rounds with as mentioned 10 rounds for each particular load. I've never gone over max recommended load, usually running medium to almost max. I don't know just how many loads have gone through this brass but it has to be at least 10 and maybe even 12 loads without ever a failure of the brass. I've seen a lot of reports of short lived brass in the Hornet just as you have and I've wondered why. Anyway, to get to the point of the post, the last time out that I shot all 70 rounds I had 7 split cases. The splits were from the mouth to the shoulder of most of them. As is always with a split case, it will throw a flier and and my groups that day proved that out. So I decided it was time to chuck those cases and start another batch. Then a light bulb came on.......why not anneal the cases. I've never annealed a case in my life but thought what the heck so that's what I did. Since the Hornet case is so small and thin I figured I would probable mess them up. But, they turned out pretty good. I annealed from the shoulder up to the mouth, dropping the cases into water as soon as there was a color change of the brass. I then loaded up 60 of the remaining cases with the RD 50 grain bullet, running them up to about 2000 fps and there was not one single split case after shooting all of them.

So after all this jabbering my question is, have any of you ever annealed the Hornet case before and what were your results?
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Gohon said:
So after all this jabbering my question is, have any of you ever annealed the Hornet case before and what were your results?
I have never annealed the Hornet cases because the issues that I see are not with the fragile neck. I am actually getting pretty good life from the Winchester cases. I was very carefull to count the reload cycles until I got past 8. Then I quit counting.
I now carefully inspect the cases at the web. As soon as I seen any sort of line appear at the web, I toss the case. I have never had a case head separation. I have been warned by others that if I can see a light colored line at the web, it is already too late, but so far so good. When inspecting I alway err on the side of tossing the case.
When I first started out with the hornet, I purchased 3 boxes Hornady 35gr Vmax ammo. These shot very well but when I started reloading them, case life was very short - like 2 or 3 cycles. I suspect this is not due to the quality of the Hornady case but rather the high pressure of the Hornady ammo. My Lil'gun loads are max loads but very low pressure compared to H110 loads that Hornady uses.


Bob A
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I've read that there are many brands of .22 Hornet chambered rifles that are .223 sized instead of the more expected .224 bullet Shooting the .224 in the .223 has high pressure and short case life.
.DIRTY-.THIRTY said:
I've read that there are many brands of .22 Hornet chambered rifles that are .223 sized instead of the more expected .224 bullet Shooting the .224 in the .223 has high pressure and short case life.
Very true and Sierra still sells .223 Hornet bullets. However, your Handirifle barrel is .224.

Bob A
I do not have my data at the moment but have found in my 22 Hornet in H&R Hany GunII that the 45 grainer's shoot the best, I also use both IMR and H4227 powders. 22 Hornet, what an awesome cartridge. 8) 8) 8) I shot a javelina with mine last February. ;D ;D ;D
I used to shoot the 22 Hornet in the eighties. The short case life then was a way of life, mine was built on a converted Martini Cadet action, maybe the chamber was not as tight as some but it was a super shooter.
My loads (remember these were from the 80's) were,
45gr.bullet can't remember brand though with 10.5grs. of 2400 and it delivered about 2700fps. (very accurate.
I also used the Winchester 40gr (from the 22 mag. we could by these in bulk for peanuts, I still have about 1000 or more left. These were a 223' diameter not 224 as normal) I use these with 7grs of Unique for about 2650fps. They were not as accurate but great for plinking and the occassional rabbit or fox.
With regards to the high consumption of cases the brass was super thin and I myself had lots of problems with neck splitting, remember I mentioned the not so tight chamber. So my solution was to convert it to a "K" Hornet. Problem solved, I then loaded these with the same 2400 powder at 12grs. which gave almost 2930fps and it was even more accurate. With the 22mag 223 diameter I used Nobel's Rifle No.1 (not sure if it is still available, I have'nt seen it for yonks) with 10.5 grs. and it was running at about almost 3000 fps. These 223" diameter bullets were at the very extreme top of the loading as they were originaly designed to run at 2000fps in the .22 mag. But I must say there were plenty of explosive hits but no recovered projectiles. I sold off that Martini a few years back and I really regretted it but sometimes you have to eat. To me it was a very nostalgic rifle and was a great little shooter, my wife and both of my girls carried it when they came hunting with me, oh the memories.
Sorry about the Memory Lane trip. I think now you may have stirred up some old feelings again so I am on the lookout for another Martini (no not the drink) to convert to K Hornet.
I hope the above helps.
Graeme.
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Moody, just a comment, but I can't see using Unique to get 2650 fps in the Hornet as advisable.
Hi 35 Reminton,
Yes, it does sound like a very pushy load but in Oz we used between 6 and 7grs of Unique, the high end actually gave 2700fps. These were worked up originally by a very knowledgable firearms expert here in Oz by the name of Nick Harvey. He was the head guru here when it came to firearms. His loading manuals are now up to it's 9th edition. He was mates with Col W.Townsend, Skeeter Skelton and Elmer Keith, he was in cahoots with the best of them. Nick Harvey and Elmer Keith were both known for some of their heavy loading prowess but the loads were safe in the firearms they used. Nick Harvey is still alive and has only just now slowed his workload. He has written numerous books and thousands of gun related articles.
35 Rem, I also felt the same as you when I started to load for the Hornet, but time proved these loads to be ok in my rifle. But by the same token all loads should be worked up slowly while watching for pressure signs. Also my feelings of the load also worried me at first as the brass is so thin.
I am not trying to argue with you on this as I also realise you have had some experience with unique and you are showing caution.
Just a little insight to why the loads mentioned were the ones I used.
Hope this helps.
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rather than looking for the line around the case, make a probe out of a piece of coat hanger. twist a loop in one end for a handle, make it long enough to reach the bottom plus about an inch. Bend a 45 about a 1/4" long and sharpen to a point. Before reloading run it down the inside of the casing. You will feel the ring on the inside before you see it it on the outside. I check all my Bee brass this way as they also have a tendency to stretch.
How do these hold up to repeated loading? Given that the pressure claims of Lyman for similar weight, much lower velocity cast bullet loads seem to have some basis in reality, I should be very interested in how Mr. Harvey justifies these.

Can he say, without reservation, that these do not exceed current limits for the Hornet?

It matters. Unique at higher pressures is not a common thing, probably for a reason.

If he is a contemporary of Whelen, Keith, Skeeter, Sharpe, et. al. a lot of what they recommended then I can't counsel now. To what year does this original info date? How has it changed since that time, as it most certainly should have?
swshooter said:
rather than looking for the line around the case, make a probe out of a piece of coat hanger. twist a loop in one end for a handle, make it long enough to reach the bottom plus about an inch. Bend a 45 about a 1/4" long and sharpen to a point. Before reloading run it down the inside of the casing. You will feel the ring on the inside before you see it it on the outside. I check all my Bee brass this way as they also have a tendency to stretch.
Thanks for the tip, I'll try it

Bob A
swshooter said:
rather than looking for the line around the case, make a probe out of a piece of coat hanger. twist a loop in one end for a handle, make it long enough to reach the bottom plus about an inch. Bend a 45 about a 1/4" long and sharpen to a point. Before reloading run it down the inside of the casing. You will feel the ring on the inside before you see it it on the outside. I check all my Bee brass this way as they also have a tendency to stretch.
I made one of these with a paper clip. ;)
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