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Old February 24, 2013, 05:45 PM   #1
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.22 Hornet

My introduction into the world of "high powered rifles" was when my Grandad allowed me to take his Hornet turkey hunting in the early 60's. I think I was 12 and it was either a Savage or a Stevens, I cannot remember although it had a Weaver K4. In any case, some kind person has been leaving a nice pile of 20 or so once fired brass next to my shooting bench for the past couple of months. I have collected at least 100 or so. Enough to decide I need a new rifle in .22 Hornet. The mini-Sharps look nice but $1200 is too much in my mind. I own CZ rifles and like them. I don't like the NEF line very much. Ruger is a possibility. Any of you Hornet shooters have a favorite to recommend?
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Old February 24, 2013, 06:12 PM   #2
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When you say "Ruger" I assume you mean bolt action. On the other hand, I have two Ruger Single shots in Hornet, a No. 1B, the standard rifle, and a No. 3, the carbine version of the No. 1 that failed in the marketplace. The No. 3 has been the better shooter, overall. It will break 1 MOA with the right load. The No. 1 also shoots quite well but has needed more tweaking to get the best performance. I bedded the forearm area where the screw attaches the forearm to the end of the hanger, for example, and have played around with barrel pressure at the end of the forearm.

Whatever rifle you end up using, I will say that the Hornet rewards very careful case preparation during the loading process. You can have a lot of fun finding a good load.
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Old February 24, 2013, 08:12 PM   #3
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I have one of the bolt action ruger hornets with laminate stock and stainless barrel/action. Trigger could be better, I put a lighter spring in if from 22/77.
I handload for it and it is the one rifle that I have not been too successful getting accuracy from. It likes 40-45 bullets better than 50 grainers or above.
I will admit to not having made any new handloads since the 90s. I made so much ammo then that I am still shooting it in most of my guns.
I do intend to try something I read a few years ago when Ross Seyfried was writing for one of the gun magazines. He recommends using small pistol primers instead of small rifle primers for accuracy. Makes sense since the round is fairly low pressure.
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Old February 24, 2013, 10:55 PM   #4
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A big +1 for the Ruger #3 !!! Keep your eyes open for one. Mine is MOA with handloads and the Winchester 46 gr hp factory load. Use it for yoddle pups and jack rabbits so I never tryed the lighter bullets and there really isn't enough case capacity for heavier slugs
If you like your CZs, take a look at the 527. .22 hornet, under 6 lbs , mag fed, CZ fit and finish, very little to not like; saving my nicles and dimes as we speak.
Be sure to update your post when you decide and don't forget the pics!
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Old February 25, 2013, 04:19 AM   #5
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Once upon a time I owned/shot/hunted with a Ruger #3 Hornet, a Ruger 77/22H (Hornet) Sporter, and later a CZ-527 Lux Hornet.

The CZ was, by far, the better of them all IMHO - especially after I had the bottom metal web removed & a magazine shortened for a flush magazine. (I had a full-size spare if varmints charged me).

IIRC, CZ now offers the same config as the CZ-527 M1 American.

The issue/optional CZ rings rot, though - I opted instead for a set of beautiful Burris-CZ rings @ half the price of the CZ rings, and never looked back.
With a Leupy 2-7x28 Compact scope, it shot better than I could.

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Old February 25, 2013, 03:17 PM   #6
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CZ all the way. The Ruger #1 is heavy and expensive, and the 77/22 H is known for accuracy issues (easy to fix, though). Savage also offers a rifle in 22 Hornet, they shoot well but look like a toothache.
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Old February 25, 2013, 04:05 PM   #7
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I have a Ruger No.3 (actually 3 of them, .22 Hornet, .30-40, and .45-70) and love them dearly.

Also have a T/C Contender with a 10" hornet barrel. It's great, too. Can't see a carbine T/C Hornet being less.

A word of warning about reloading the Hornet. The brass is VERY thin. If you aren't extra careful (and chamfer the case mouths well) you will wind up ruining some cases.

One beauty of the Hornet is, after you master the pain in the butt reloading, you can have a reloadable .22LR, .22WMR, or full Hornet, by selecting the right loads. Stick with the 40-45gr bullets for best overall use.

The Hornet can shoot the 55gr stuff, but its lower speeds with heavier bullets means they don't act like explosive varmint bullets, but more like solids, as nearly all the 50gr+ bullets are designed for higher speed.

The real downside to the Hornet is that it is a niche round, and factory ammo is on the high side of spendy.

Also, be aware that early hornets used .223" bores and some bullets for these old guns are still out there. Guns made in the last few decades are all .224" standard bore.

The Hornet was the first commercial varmint round, and still very useful within its limits. Also it just looks so freaking cool, like a miniature 88mm Tiger tank shell!
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old February 25, 2013, 04:19 PM   #8
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All handloads

I started with the Ruger 77/22hornet. I tried everything and never did get it to shoot better than 1.5 moa, and that was when I was lucky. Finally gave up and traded it in on a new CZ hornet.
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Old February 25, 2013, 04:23 PM   #9
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It would be pricey, but a Winchester model 43, if you could find one, would probably be nice. Shoot with a gent who owns one. Rifle shoots quite accurately for him.

Me, I kinda gave up on coming across a 22 hornet rifle I could afford. Finally just bought a very old Martini cadet rifle that was unshootable due to barrel and had it rebarreled to 22 hornet. Its quite a shooter.
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Old February 25, 2013, 05:10 PM   #10
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I have a Browning 1985 Low Wall. The finish on the metal is exquisite. The stock is French Walnut and it shoots well. I use it as a "working gun", inasmuch as it sits next to my loading room window, over-looking my Goose pasture. It has accounted for many varmints including, Fox, Racoons, Oposums, and the Woodchucks that like to eat my barn cats' dry cat food. I shoot right out of the window. They die like they have been hit by lightning. It is my hands-down favorite rifle. I do not know if they are still being made, but a search of Browning's web site should tell you. They were listed at about $900 a few years ago...but worth every penny.
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Old February 25, 2013, 06:30 PM   #11
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Thanks for the input. I like the suggestions. I have considered the #3 and the CZ but did not think about a Browning. I have a #1 in '06 and love it. I see the older Winchester's in .22 Hornet are priced into the stratosphere. I think the Ruger 77's are out. I have heard elsewhere about accuracy problems and I agree with Scorch about the ugliness of the Savage. They are hard to shoot when you put a bag over them. My shopping has begun and there are a number of shows coming up in Houston, SA and Corpus. I like shopping. It is much like hunting. At least I'm not shopping for an AR! I'll let you know what I end up with. 44AMP, I also think the Hornet looks like an artillery round in minature. Regards.
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Old February 25, 2013, 08:51 PM   #12
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Too bad you don't like the Handi-Rifles by H&R. I didn't either until I bought a couple. I don't have a 22 Hornet but I do have a 223. The very first load I tried in it shot under and inch at 100 yards for 5 shots. I shot a 30 round group that was just over an inch. And that was with ammo I loaded for the Mini-14 that was crimped in the cannelure and was just plinking ammo.

They are ugly guns but the price is right and you can sell it for what you paid for it.
"Those who cannot cleanly dispatch their game using a .30-30 are either shooting too far, hunting inappropriate (too large) game, or are simply incompetent." Mic McPherson
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Old February 26, 2013, 09:42 AM   #13
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I have 5 or 6 ( counting the Contenders )... my favorite is my Ruger 77-22 Hornet that I converted to fast twist ( now wears a 1 in 9" twist barrel )

but my most accurate out of the box, was the CZ I bought used... a guy traded it in to my LGS one day... I happened upon it later that day & I bought it the same day... next day original owner came back to LGS & wanted to buy it back...

found out he had traded it in on one of the "new" Rugers ( this was many years ago, when the 77-22 Hornet 1st came out ) & the Ruger wasn't anywhere near as accurate as the CZ... sorry dude... I love the rifle, fits nicely in the Czech rifle collection my FIL started
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Old February 26, 2013, 02:21 PM   #14
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I would like to follow up on my earlier comment about the Hornet rewarding careful case preparation. I sort cases by weight and use only a narrow range when loading for accuracy. I debur the flash holes. I measure the case neck thickness with a Sinclair gauge and use only cases with even measurement all around. I neck size only, and I weigh every powder charge. I keep cases trimmed to uniform length. I measure COAL for each bullet used with a Stony Point gauge, now sold by Hornady, so I can experiment with different bullet seating depths. Close to the lands usually works best, as popular belief dictates.

This sounds like a lot of busywork, but the smaller the case, the more important is case preparation, and the Hornet is about the smallest case you will find. With a very small case, "normal" variations in case or loading parameters have a much bigger effect than they would with, say, a .30-06. I once bought 100 WW Hornet cases that showed a weight variation of 8%!!! If you have Hornet that does not shoot, try these things before giving up. It it sounds like too much work, then find a .222.

I am happy to see there are some Ruger No. 3 fans here, but if you find a used No.3, it will carry a hefty price tag. So will a Winchester Model 43, which is much less rifle, IMHO, because of what Winchester lovers are willing to pay. For roughly the same dough I would take home the No. 3. A Browning 1885 Low Wall would be great, and I think right out of the box the Low Wall might do better than a No.3 because of the way the 1885 attaches the forearm. After finding the right load there won't be much difference. Failing all of these, I would go for a CZ, or, feeling rich, an Anschutz.
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Old February 26, 2013, 03:08 PM   #15
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My Ruger 77/22H has covered a lot of country with me. I handload mild loads for it as the thin case necks tend to split if pressures get very high. 45 gain HPs are its chosen poison and it is deadly. the only thing I really did to mine was to float and then bed the barrel to the stock. It routinely shoots better than I do, though I almost never put it on a bench anymore, it will consistently hit crows further away than I should be shooting at them, and has counted for a couple of coyotes and one deer. (very underwhelming performance on the deer). I really like the light trim little rifle.
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Old February 26, 2013, 07:03 PM   #16
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I recently found and ordered a Winchester 1885 Low Wall in 22 Hornet and yes , I do think they are a bit too expensive but I' wanted one for a long time and am stoked about trying the 22 hornet cartridge in general ! I think it will fill the gap between my .22 rimfires and the .243 varmint boomer nicely !
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Old February 26, 2013, 10:34 PM   #17
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I'll second the Winchester 43 recommendation, they are still out there to be found. My 1951 model is still shooting < dime size groups.

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Old March 1, 2013, 06:57 AM   #18
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You have to keep in mind that the hornet is a old BP round and case that dates to the 1880s...just smokless vs BP is all. A win high wall would be in .22 WCF..they just say hornet as it sounds better is all.
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Old March 1, 2013, 11:38 AM   #19
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Smokeless Hornet is a close relative to the older BP 22 WCF. Whelen tinkered with smokeless versions of the WCF in the 20's but when introduced in the 30's it had a slightly larger head and base diameter than it's parent...... probably to keep the "hotter"(relative term) Hornet out of the older chamber.
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Old March 1, 2013, 12:13 PM   #20
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The Savage 25 with the accutrigger is a tackdriver. I had one in .204 but have heard they are great in .22 Hornet as well. They can me had for around $400 whereas the Ruger 77/22 will crowd $700
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Old March 1, 2013, 12:21 PM   #21
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i got a savage thas awesome....the factory ammo is kinda high but they look like 223 for a 22
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Old March 1, 2013, 12:23 PM   #22
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If you have a C&R I would recommend the Stevens model 325 or the Savage model 340, same rifle different badging, you know the deal. They were made in .22 hornet and with a little patience you can get one direct mailed to you in the $225 to $275 range. I just ( a year ago now) picked up a 1947 Stevens 325 in 30-30 with the butter knife handle and a beautiful stock on it for $190 shipped to my door!
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Old March 1, 2013, 12:42 PM   #23
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I started out with a Handi-Rifle in 22 hornet, and it worked well... especially once I disabled the auto-eject feature so I wouldn't have to chase the little cases. It was a consistent 1 1/2" rifle at 100yds. I bought a Ruger bolt gun in the gray stainless, laminated stock version, but didn't like being limited by the magazine length. Plus it was a hog of a gun... too heavy to be a walk around plinker.
I traded it off and got a TC Contender Carbine with a 16" hornet barrel, that was probably the most accurate of the hornets I've had. It would consistently group around 3/4" at 100yds with my less-than-benchrest skills, and I got to shoot one group at 200yds with it... 5 shots into about 1 1/4".
I decided I wanted to go to the K-Hornet, so I sold that barrel and got a 21" (less muzzle blast) Bullberry barrel in the K version. It's the one I still have. It is a day in/out 1" shooter at 100yds. The carbine with synthetic handles on it probably weighs a whopping 5 pounds, and is a pure delight to carry around. It is great for turkey hunting (where legal), kills coyotes dead, and is just a stone cold jackrabbit taker.
3100fps with a 40gr bullet over a measly 13gr of powder is pure joy..
I always felt that if I got to the point where I thought it was time to bury my firearms, it was actually time to pick them up..
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Old March 1, 2013, 01:34 PM   #24
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You have to keep in mind that the hornet is a old BP round and case that dates to the 1880s...just smokless vs BP is all. A win high wall would be in .22 WCF..they just say hornet as it sounds better is all.
While developed from the black powder .22WCF, the Hornet was not just replacement of the black powder with smokeless. .22 Hornet rifles got to the shooting public beginning in 1932-33, with just a bit of developement time from the 1880s blackpowder round on which it was originally based.

The Hornet was the first commercial smokelesspowder centerfire cartridge marketed for small game and pest control. It is the original "varmint" round of the modern era.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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Old March 8, 2013, 10:16 PM   #25
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Has Browning's bolt-action Micro Hornet been mentioned yet? The only one as nice as the CZ 527; hard to find, though. Thanks to the Big Panic, I've had to settle for the Savage 25 in .22H, a decent package in the laminated stock and longer barrel, but a notch below the Browning or CZ.
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