This is about the .22 Hornet. Too be honest, I never was a fan of it for the simple reason that it was a little bullet that didn’t do anything that other rounds couldn’t do better. It took some convincing from a friend of mine to show me that it did fill a niche that no other cartridge could do.
He approached me about threading the barrel on his T/C Encore so that he could mount a suppressor on it. I told him that although I could do that I didn’t think he would be happy with it because the Hornet round was just too fast and that the supersonic crack of it would be loud enough that he might as well not even have a suppressor on it.
“No Bob”…he said. “I’m downloading it to subsonic .22 LR speeds. Since .22 ammo is hard to find now, I thought it would be a good idea to have a cartridge that could be made quiet enough to suppress or by just switching out the round it could be pushed to almost .223 speeds”.
I must admit, that got my attention and the wheels began turning fast enough in my brain that smoke started rolling out of my ears. “ Ya know”? I said, as I was contemplating it. “That idea might actually have some merit”.
So he brought me his Encore barrel and I threaded it. He brought over some of the loads that he developed for it and asked me if we could shoot it with one of my suppressors on it. With a smile on my face, I graciously consented. We screwed it on there and began to shoot.
The sound of it was simply amazing. Or rather…the lack of it. This thing was quieter or as quiet as the several integrally suppressed .22 rifles that I own. Even I was amazed. Pretty much the loudest sound was the hammer whack and the bullet slapping a hole in the target. I was impressed. He was impressed. Had anyone else been standing there they would have been impressed. So cool was it that I immediately went on the hunt for a .22 Hornet rifle. As it turns out Remington and Ruger quit making them years ago and they weren’t so easy to find.
I wanted a bolt action because the striker fired action of the bolt would be quieter than a hammer slap on the Encore and the box magazine would allow some quick follow up shots if need be. I got on Gun Broker and saw that the average Hornet bolt action rifle was selling for around 700 bucks…not cheap for a pipsqueak round at all. After some checking my local sources I found one in a drug store, that one of my friends that owns and sells guns from it since he has a Firearms License, who everyone calls the “Drug Dealing Gun Runner” had for 500 bucks. The rifle was a Ruger M 77, and it came with the scope rings and it was in great shape. I bought it. He also had some unloaded bullets and even a set of dies which I needed anyway so I got them too.
As soon as I got it in the shop, I took the barrel off and threaded it. I loaded some 40 grain bullets with 1.3 grains of Red Dot and commenced to shooting it. Not only was it very,very quiet, but it was as accurate as any rifle that I own.
My friend Trent, the guy that started me on this kick, gave me some cast lead bullets that he had molded and powder coated. Powder coated bullets don’t need lube, you just load them up as they are. Since this was my first experience with them, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical. As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. They shot great and after shooting a few hundred of them there was absolutely no leading in the barrel.
For those that might wonder about the penetration characteristics of a 40 gain bullet moving approximately 1050 FPS, Trent tested some on some landscaping timbers. The subsonic bullet shot right through one and well into the one behind it. Even the full powered .22 LR won’t do that, it buries up in the first timber and stays in it.
The penetration of that lead bullet was impressive. There is no doubt in my mind that this would be a squirrel killing machine, or any other small game for that matter.
So, thinking that it would be cheaper to use lead bullets and it would also be an advantage to be able to make bullets for it when the next runs on guns and ammo hit due to the ramblings of the Socialists in Congress and the present Administration, I made a bullet mold. Here’s a picture of two of them, one of them is a hollow-point mold and the other is solid.
Here is a picture of the gun with a Huntertown Arms .22 can attached. This thing is an exceptionally quiet cartridge. In spite of the long cartridge with a small charge of powder in it, it does very well in this area.
The real utility of the gun lies in the fact that you can go from quiet to deer killing power if need be just by jacking the right bullet into the chamber. Nothing else is required. Its quiet, its accurate, its easy to load, it’s a light rifle and its good looking. Really…it doesn’t get any better than that.