You have probably read of the Hornet Project here on this blog. We achieved what we set out to do which was duplicate .22 Long Rifle specs for suppressed rifles in a cartridge that could be reloaded. That project was a huge success and we were very pleased with the results.
The only issues with that project that we had is that a typical Hornet is either a 1/14 or 1/16 twist depending on the manufacturer. While that works great for the lighter bullets at high speeds, its less than ideal for subsonic bullets of more than 50 grains. Anything heavier than that just would not stabilize. Using 55 grain bullets would see the bullets hitting an 8″x 10″ sheet of paper sideways…if it hit the paper at all.
So…we got to thinking about that. My friend Trent, the one that really brainstormed this project and I thought that we might try a faster twist to stabilize heavier bullets, sort of mimicking the .300 Blackout concept, but with a .22 caliber.
Looking around on the net, I found some Green Mountain .223 barrels that were on sale for 99 bucks. They were stainless 1.06 barrel blanks, just the thing for re-barreling the Hornet. I ordered the Hornet reamer and the headspace gage and when it came in, I fabricated the barrels. I chose to leave them at 1″ diameter and eventually cut mine back to 18″ and threaded it for a .22 suppressor. Trent wanted a longer barrel so his was cut to 22″.
Testing with various bullet weights, these rifles are accurate. I started out with 55 grain bullets that I had a bunch of for loading the .223’s and they did well with Red Dot. These loads were quiet and accurate.
Next, I tried some 62 grain bullets, running approximately 1000 FPS. No issues there either, they were quiet and accurate.
Finally, we settled on 69 grain Sierra Boat Tail Match Hollow points. These are as accurate as I can shoot them and using 2.6 grains of Red Dot, they are as quiet as anything out there. I took it out to the range and started popping 4″ steel gongs with it. They hit the gong so much harder that the subsonic .22 Long Rifles that it was evident to anyone that was there to hear it. Where as the .22 Long Rifles would hit the gong with a “ping”, the 69 grainers were hitting it with a rather loud “WHACK” and tried to rip the gong off of the chains holding it.
Comparing the 69 grain bullets to the standard 35 grain bullets used by most .22 Long Rifles and using the JBM Ballistic Calculator available on the Internet, we more than doubled the kinetic energy and range by using the heavier bullets. The penetration capabilities of the heavier bullet aren’t even in the same league as the .22 LF, due to the spitzer shape of the streamlined bullets with a much better ballistic coefficient than the round nose design of the .22 LF.
We already know that the subsonic .22 LR bullet when fired through a suppressor is a great small game killer. Squirrels, rabbits, crows, possums and other small critters are no match for it.
By doubling the energy using the .22 Hornet with 69 grain bullets, we are moving from a small game getter to a medium game getter. Large coons, foxes and even coyotes are fair game with a suppressed rifle. For the pelt hunters out there, this could be the ideal round that is quiet, accurate and wont tear a pelt up.