Read Microsoft Word - Reloading the .22 Hornet text version

RELOADING THE .22 HORNET Introduction Reloading this excellent little cartridge was a natural follow up to my previous article "Selecting a rifle in .22 Hornet". The test rifle for that report was a Ruger 77/22 Rifles are a method of delivery, it is the cartridge which does the work and therefore cartridge/bullet selection is critical to the task in hand. Selection Criteria The Hornet is primarily a hunting round, you may use it for target work but at the end of the day it is designed to despatch small and medium sized vermin. I use the word vermin because in the UK it is illegal to use this cartridge to despatch deer. My criteria selection criteria were as follows: · The bore should be .224 calibre so as to take advantage of the wide range of modern bullets. · Must be reloadable and reloading components easy to obtain. · Intended target was crow, rabbit and fox · I wanted a cartridge that would reliably hit a coke can sized target r at 150200yrds and die out rapidly after that distance. · Cost should be minimal as ammunition usage is relatively high. · Must have a low report so when used in conjunction with a moderator, gunshot noise is low, therefore avoid upsetting the locals. The Hornet was the only selection open to me that filled the above criteria. .222 & .223 Remington was far too powerful for my needs especially in the heavily populated area that I intended to shoot but also for the intended prey. One of the best and easiest ways to complete the above is to sit down and write a similar list to the above and then read up on the various cartridges available using the manufacturers reloading manuals. Reloading Equipment There is plenty of reloading equipment available for the Hornet within the UK. With companies such as Midway UK it also a pain free process obtaining the correct equipment. Most reloaders will have a range of equipment that fore fills most reloading needs with common cartridges such as .308, .243, .223 as an example, however reloader beware, the hornet is slightly off the beaten path and you will need more specialised equipment unique to the Hornet if you are going to reload with a high degree of accuracy. Reloading tray Universal reloading trays do not work for the Hornet; the case is rimmed and to slim and therefore it is unstable in anything but a dedicated tray. Frankford Arsenal supply inexpensive reloading trays specifically for individual calibres, so I would recommend the purchase of a Hornet tray. Reloading funnel Again universal funnels do not fit the Hornet; the cartridge mouth is far too small. I remedied this situation by purchasing a funnel with a set of different sized nozzles. The other option is to purchase a funnel especially for the Hornet but this is a slightly more expensive route.

RELOADING THE .22 HORNET Powder dispenser When I am working up suitable loads for cartridges such as the .308, I normally reload in 0.5 grain increments, for example 40.0gr, 40.5gr, 41.0gr and so on. To reload the Hornet in this manner is dangerous. This cartridge's internal volume is very small, so any large increment of powder, even 0.5gr will increase the pressure dangerously. Therefore when working up a load, increase the powder charge in 0.1 increments, for example 9.1gr, 9.2gr, 9.3gr and so on. With mechanical scales this task becomes laborious, so if you plan to reload Hornet in any great quantity you may wish to consider investing in an electronic powder dispenser. I purchased a Lyman unit which is the cheapest in the UK, however it depends on your budget and to maximise the outlay I now use the dispenser for all my reloading needs. Bullet Puller Another tool where standard sizes are a problem is a bullet puller. Dedicated pullers that screw into your press, were totally unsuitable, as the collets couldn't grip the bullet and the cartridge is simply too small. Only with the kinetic pullers did I have any success with this cartridge. Reloading Dies (Seating Die) Another peculiarity of the Hornet. Bullets are typically short and stubby for this cartridge and therefore require seating squarely. Any misalignment of the bullet to the bore and the bullet will enter the rifling off centre and accuracy will suffer accordingly. I purchased a Fosters seating die which is designed to align the bullet with the cartridge therefore alleviating this problem. Cartridge storage boxes I use MTM casegard products and the .222/.223 will work but the cartridges are sloppy, so you should consider buying the correct container especially for the Hornet. Powder As this is a small cartridge you will need a fast burning powder, I only use Vihtavuori as it is in my opinion the best powder on the market, so this report only deals with that brand. Various manuals recommend the use of N110 for lighter bullets or N120 for the heavier rounds. I already had plenty of N120 in stock as I had used it previous when reloading 7.62x39mm ammunition, so that was going to be my starting point. I will talk about bullets in the next paragraph, however I wanted a fast, flat round, so lighter bullets 4045gr were going to be my choice. I loaded 11.1gr to 12gr of N120 and achieved poor results, using the Hornady 45gr Bee, velocity spread was a high 95fps and the maximum velocity was a meagre 2429fps. Using the Nosler 40gr BT was equally unimpressive with a velocity spread of 85fps and a maximum velocity of 2399fps. Loading 9.6gr to 10.5gr of N110 was considerably better with both the 45gr Speer and Sierra both achieving a velocity spread of less than 50fps. The 45gr Speer with 10.3gr of N110 achieve the best velocity spread with 13fps. Both rounds achieved a maximum velocity of 2647fps.

RELOADING THE .22 HORNET N110 was therefore the way forward, with good obturation and no sooty deposits. One advantage with the hornet cartridge is that your 1kg of Vihtavuori powder goes a long way, so this is a very cost effective round. Bullets The reloading manual recommends bullets between 36gr and 55gr for the Hornet. Personally I think the 50 55gr bullets are too heavy for such a small cartridge, especially if you want to make the most out of this cartridges range, so therefore I researched the following bullets: Nosler 40gr Ballistic Tip No good for the Ruger as it won't seat correctly in the cartridge and fit in the 77/22 magazine. Shame as I think this is a good bullet. Hornady 45gr Bee This is a short stubby bullet with a large expanding cavity. Bullet alignment with the cartridge is a must to achieve reasonable accuracy. Bullet seating is not a problem and as a result this bullet will work well with the Ruger magazine. Whilst acceptable I did find this round to be not particularly accurate. Speer 45gr Spire Softpoint This bullet was bar far the best that I had researched for this cartridge. Although a softpoint, the bullet was very aerodynamic with only a very small amount of the lead core visible through the jacket. Ballistic coefficient is 0.143 and this bullet was the most accurate of all the bullets tested. Bullet function well with the Ruger magazine Sierra 45gr Hornet Softpoint This is what I regard as a traditional bullet. Its performance/accuracy was good, bullet profile was sufficient to allow good functioning with the Ruger magazine. As a result this bullet came runner up to the speer. Barnes 36gr Varmint Grenade Is not suitable for the Hornet, velocities of 2700fps were insufficient for the bullet to explosively fragment and were the most inaccurate of the bullets tested. This is not the fault of the bullet, more of an inaccurate gun/Hornet combination. The round is superb in higher velocity cartridges such as the .222 for example. Hornady 35gr Ammunition As a comparison to work from, I purchased factory manufactured ammunition which uses the Hornady 35gr VMax bullet. Accuracy was good and the round functioned well in the Ruger magazine. Velocity was fast for the Hornet at 3150fps, however I am unsure as to the bullets performance at hornets maximum range of 200yrds.

RELOADING THE .22 HORNET Primers The reloading manual recommends small rifles primers but many people recommend small pistol. This is due to the small dimensions of the of the Hornets case. I have used both primers and have found both to be reliable. Due to the inaccuracies of the original test gun, I cannot comment on the primers effect on accuracy. However my experience tells me that the small pistol primer would have less effect on the Hornets small powder charge. Reloading I found the hornet easy and a pleasure to reload, however it has some quarks that you should be aware of: · The cartridge walls are thin, if you don't chamfer the neck sufficiently when seating the bullet you will crush the walls · The cartridge is very light and moves easily in its shell holder. As a result, when resizing the case can become misaligned with the die and the die will damage the case. · Only certain bullets are suitable for the Hornet, long boat tailed bullets are unsuitable due to Ruger's magazine. Summary This is an excellent little round and I found it most enjoyable to reload and shoot. It is devastating on Rabbits, Crows and Fox's out to 200yrds. Its low report makes it ideal for suppression and for shooting in and around conurbations. My principle criticism of the round, is not the round itself but the considerable amount of reloading equipment you need to obtain if you are going to reload this round with accuracy. Trays, funnels, bullet pullers etc are inexpensive but electronic reloading scales are the same price as an S/H rifle. If you are buying a good quality Hornet rifle at the same time, then matters get pricey. Paul Green Thames Valley Guns


Microsoft Word - Reloading the .22 Hornet

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