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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
Wolfe Publishing Group
  • reloading manual
  • alliant reloading data
  • reloading brass
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The Ultimate Reloading Manual
hodgdon load data

.22 Hornet (Rifle) (using Hornady bullets)

Author: Brian Pearce / Wolfe Publishing Co.
Date: Jan 07 2015

The .22 Hornet dates back to the 1920s and was a product of Springfield Armory, with Colonel Townsend Whelen, Captain G.L. Woytkins and others being involved in its design. Ultimately, it would serve the U.S. military in survival arms during World War II. Winchester began offering sporting ammunition in 1930 and rifles began appearing from Winchester, Savage, Stevens and others soon thereafter.

The Hornet served as a pioneer in modern .22-caliber center fire varmint cartridge developments and quickly became popular. Additional developments eventually began surpassing its ballistics – the .220 Swift (1935), .218 Bee (1938), .222 Remington (1950), .223 Remington (1964) and others – all of which resulted in the Hornet’s declining popularity. It still offers effective varmint ballistics at around 200 yards, a low muzzle report, long barrel life and can be housed in small actions and light rifles. As a result, there has been a resurgence in popularity with Ruger, Savage, CZ, New England Firearms, Anschutz, Browning, Thompson/Center and others offering modern guns.

Traditional factory loads from Remington and Winchester advertise 45- and 46-grain bullets at 2,690 fps; however, recent developments from Hornady and Remington list 35-grain spitzer, plastic tipped bullets at 3,070 and 3,100 fps respectively. In checking velocity of currently available factory loads, most are very close to their advertised velocities when fired from a 24-inch barrel.

The Hornet case is rather thin and case life is not generally long. Watch for case separation just forward of the head, splitting at the mouth etc., and discard accordingly.

The Hornet is sensitive to primer choice, with the accompanying data being fired with Winchester Small Rifle Primers. Powder charges are comparatively small, usually between 8.0 and 12.0 grains, and primers that produce the least heat (or energy) usually produce the lowest extreme spreads and illustrate the best accuracy potential. Modern small pistol (non-magnum) primers should be considered such as the CCI 500, or Federal 100. Both feature a cup with enough strength to handle the industry pressures associated with this cartridge (currently 43,000 CUP). Any of the accompanying data can be used with these primers; however, be certain to begin at least 5 percent below maximum listed powder charges.

Most pre World War II rifles had a .223-inch groove diameter, while most post-war rifles were more standardized with a .224-inch barrel. Most bullet manufacturers offer bullets in both diameters.