.22 Hornet or .223 for varmit cal.


October 6, 2007, 02:16 PM
Just picked up a used T/C Contender with a .44 mag barrel. The fun has begun. Looking to pick up a varmit caliber. Looking at either a 22 hornet or 223. Any suggestions on a caliber? Would also like to possibly put a scope on it but not sure which type. I also do not reload my own. Thanks in advance.


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October 6, 2007, 02:16 PM
I prefer .223

October 6, 2007, 02:39 PM
I guess the obvious question is what exactly in the way of varmints you are after? Squirrels? Coyotes? Prairie Dogs? Wiener Dogs? And.. how far away will said varmints be?

October 6, 2007, 02:42 PM
.223 is much more powerful, and easier to find ammo/brass/bullets for.

On the other hand 22 Hornet is a neat old cartridge.

In the end, what floats your boat?

October 6, 2007, 02:47 PM
If you are shooting medium sized varmints at150 yards or less, particularly in built up areas, 22 hornet get's my vote - and 22 K-Hornet is even better. It has a very mild report and is super cheap to reload.

223 if you want longer range, easy availability of brass and larger varmints.

I use and enjoy both.

October 6, 2007, 02:48 PM
The Hornet will be much more pleasant to shoot in a Contender pistol.

But like 41magsnub said, the size & range of the varmint in question should be your deciding factor.


October 6, 2007, 03:01 PM
The Hornet will be quieter. Some Hornets tend to be very hard to get to shoot well. Ammo would be harder to find and probably considerably more expensive.

The .223 is cheaper, they tend to be accurate, and will have longer range, at the expense of being louder.

If you don't reload, the .223 would be my easy choice.

If you don't have a scope yet, I'd suggest a Weaver 2.5x8. That's what I've got on my Contender. Better in this application than the Leupold or Burris.

October 6, 2007, 03:05 PM
I have a 14" 204 Ruger. It's my favorite barrel. My next barrel will be a 23" 204......

October 6, 2007, 03:12 PM
Without knowing what your quarry is, I'd go along with the suggestion for getting a .204 Ruger. Ammo is stocked on most shelves, recoil and noise is less than a .223, and bullets are designed specifically for varmints. Also, ammo is cheaper than .22 Hornet in most locales.

October 6, 2007, 04:05 PM
noise is less than a .223

Nope, It's louder than a 14" 223 with factory offerings anyway. For what it's worth, I would never want to hear either go off without the correct PPE

October 6, 2007, 07:31 PM
It would be used for mostly nuisance animals like woodchucks and coons. Possibly some squirrel or whatever else seems to bother me. Ranges would be probably no more than 100 yards.

October 6, 2007, 07:42 PM
Then Hornet would be fine, tho I'm partial to the 204 Ruger. 17HMR would work at that range for what you listed.

October 6, 2007, 08:20 PM
Between .223 and .22 Hornet, I would go with the .22 Hornet, especially if you reload. There isn't a much easier cartridge to load for!

October 6, 2007, 09:52 PM
41magsnub , wiener dogs are your friends.

while the .22 hornet is a neat little round, .223 definitely the way to go.

October 6, 2007, 10:39 PM
anyone know where I can get the best price on a 223 barrel? Also wondering if this is a good round for paper at a distance (150-200) to play around with

October 6, 2007, 10:55 PM
Less than 100 yds I use 22mag in my Ruger 77/22. You wanna drop coyote, other small predators use 223 in Rem 700 SPS.

Zeke Menuar
October 6, 2007, 11:06 PM
Ream the .22 Hornet out to .22 K-Hornet. Makes the Hornet much easier to reload for and sort out.

If it were me I'd opt for .223.


October 7, 2007, 10:14 AM
Ditto on the K Hornet. I have two and they are great on small varmints (up to groundhogs) out to 250 yards and good on coyotes out to 175 yards. Accurate, easy to load, relatively quiet, cheap to reload, and fun to shoot.
If you want more range buy the .223 and load it up or down.

October 7, 2007, 12:11 PM

The scenario you describe is ideal for 22 hornet, or 22mag and 17hmr. However, if you handload, 22 hornet will end up being cheaper. My hottest K Hornet load uses 12gn of Lil Gun, so a pound of powder goes a long way. That will throw a 35gn VMax at 3000 fps, which puts it miles ahead of either rimfire magnum.

Here's 22 hornet, 22 K-hornet and 223


October 8, 2007, 01:31 AM
Nothing wrong with the .223, but I'd go for the Hornet.
Just cuz I like older cartridges, and I don't have one of those yet :)

October 10, 2007, 07:13 PM
I think that I will go with the 22 Hornet because of the versatility and noise. I like making a bang but don't need to impress people. There doesn't seem to be much of a price difference in ammo as far as I could find. Just need to find a barrel and figure out which scope is the best for it.


October 10, 2007, 08:58 PM
I have a bolt action .22 Hornet I bought in Ireland in 1990 and I love it.
It was the biggest caliber you could get at the time in IRL and I still have this rifle today living here in the US (no I was not Irish, I was German and I am now a US citizen).

Now, if I would have to buy a rifle and had the choice between .22 H ./. .223 I would go with the .223, because it's cheaper, more power and you will find ammo ANYWHERE in the US. Also, the .223 is more accurate on larger distance.

October 11, 2007, 12:01 AM

If you ream to 22 K Hornet, your brass will last much longer and won't stretch nearly as much, plus you get a bit more performance. You can safely fire regular Hornet in a 'K' chamber, and it just fire forms. Get a neck sizing die from Redding and you can use the brass a long, long time - even longer if you anneal the necks occasionally.

I'm not sure why K hornet didn't become to the defacto standard, as it is superior to regular hornet in every way. Of course the are a lot of old hornets out there.

October 11, 2007, 04:42 PM
I have had a Contender with a 21 inch barrel in .22 Hornet. It shot very well out to 150 yards. When Ruger came out with their 77/22-Hornet, I bought one and sold my contender.

I have a Ruger MK-II Ultra Lite in 223. The thinness of the barrel makes me down load it from 3200 fps to 2600 fps, to get a dime size group at 100 yards. HAY! 2600fps is Hornet velocity.

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