Working with the 22 Hornet

ruger m77 ruger bolt action ruger synthetic ruger mkII

By Robert (Scott) Fairing

I have shot the hornet for about 6 years. It is a great round and I love shooting it. Here is some of what I have learned, mostly the hard way.

Always keep in mind when reloading the hornet that is was designed to be a hot 22 rf, not a slow 222. If you keep your pressures low and, as a result velocities low, you can get great groups and good case life.

I have a
Redding neck sizing die and size only 1/4" of the neck. This leaves the rest of the neck to help center the bullet in the chamber. I also put my case in the chamber of my TC the same way each time, this can be done by putting the R-P at the top or by filing a small notch in the rim and putting that at the top of the chamber each time you shoot.

Bullet seating depth can make a huge difference in pressure, as with all small case capacities. I have an old CH press that I take to the range with me and C-Clamp to a bench for hornet load development. I start by loading my test loads with the bullet as far out as the barrel will allow. Seat bullets farther in the case as I test and watch group size change and pressure signs begin to appear.

The hornet was designed for 40 to 45 gr bullets and early twist rates were for these sized bullets. Most reloading books say that heavier bullets will not expand because of lower velocities. Don't believe it. My 14" contender will stabilize 52 gr. bullets and newer bullets like the Nozler Ballistic Tip and the new V-Max bullets will expand for the hornet.

I swage a 52 gr. bullet with Corbin swage dies that use a spent 22 rf case for the jacket. An expensive hobby, but a lot of fun. My favorite load before the moly is 10.5 gr of IMR 4227 and one of my home made bullets. This combination averages only around 2000 fps but has been the recipe that has sent many
Central Oregon rockchucks to the "happy hunting ground". I am getting kind of soft in my old age and one shot kills have become very important to me. That is the way I would like to
go rather than drag myself down a hole and take a couple of days to die. The last two shot kill I had with this load was three years ago and that was my fault not the bullet's. I have not been to the range with the moly bullets that I loaded this spring. My range is pretty wet and shooting in the kind of weather is not much fun. I will let you know when I do get some results.

Most of my hunting is done in
Central Oregon. We have a friend who owns an 800 acre canyon with a year round trout creek in the bottom. She raises alfalfa in a 30 acre field with prime rockchuck housing on 2 sides. She asked me several years ago to "deal with that problem" for her. She is a widow and the Bible commands us to take care of the widows so what choice do I have? The hornet has been the only barrel I have used and it has served me well out past 175 yards.

If (or when) you do split a case, here is my favorite method of removing it. Take a 1/4 20 tap and insert into the chamber. Gently push and turn until you feel the case slip. It will then slide out on the tap. With moderate loads you may never need this.

Since I wrote this I have been experimenting with AA 1680 and moly coated bullets. I swaged 40 gr and 33 gr bullets using J-4 commercial jackets. I shot about 25 rounds and noticed a real difference in the moly coated barrel. group size went below 1" at 100 yards and a friends crony showed a 5 shot average of 2975 fps! Faster than I ever expected to see with this round. There are no signs of pressure.

Here is the load:
Case Remington nickel plated
Primer CCI small pistol
Powder AA 1680 13.5 gr

I came home from this trip to the range and swaged 100 33 gr bullets from the same jackets. Using the same load I got good group size but have not had the opportunity to shoot any through a crony.

Sage rats are out in
Central Oregon and in the next month I hope to be able to cross the mountains and try this new combination on a few of them.

I would like to hear about others experiences with this round. I think I will start to put together a list of your addresses for future

New Information added

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to take a mule deer doe at 250 yards with this load. I was hunting with another hornet shooter for rockchucks in the above mentioned canyon when several deer took over the alfalfa field. I shot high a couple of times to get them to leave the field. They just looked at me and kept on eating. The ranch foreman was with us and told me to kill one as he had several agriculture tags and entirely to many deer. I had been shooting squirrels at the same distance all day so I held for a spine shot just behind the neck and took my shot. She folded up and never even kicked. I am NOT suggesting
that the hornet should become the next deer round, but that with a well placed shot, it will do the job.

In HIS Service

Robert (Scott) Fairing
Canby, OR


Back to CenterFire Central

Last Modified: Wednesday, January 21, 2004 8:58 PM