22 Hornet/K-Hornet Question


December 20, 2009, 07:54 AM
I have a Browning Micro-Hunter in a 22 Hornet..I've been shooting the Barnes Grenades 30 grain bullets with "Lil Gun" Hogden powder with some luck with groups...Then A guy at the range tells me he had a buddy that took a regular hornet and had the chamber machined to a K-Hornet..He said that the few grains more of powders tightened the group up...Then he says that the rifle cases are fire formed in the chamber to the new case...So I have looked at the RCBS website and cannot find where there are dies for the 22 K-Hornet...Is this also a custom die?...How many of you took a regular 22 hornet and modified it to a K-Hornet?..What was the outcome?..Do you wish that you would have left the hornet alone?...I looked in the archives but did not see any debate on this issue...My main question is really about the dies and where do you get them?...Carl

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December 20, 2009, 08:41 AM
My understanding was the K-Hornet was designed to increase velocity by reshaping the case.Hornet cases have to be fire formed and RCBS should be able to make the die. I have shot the Hornet for some years,now a 77/22Hornet. Using a 35 grain Hornady and Lil Gun, my groups are tight and will touch holes at 100 yards if I do what I am suppose to. I never saw the need to go to the K-Hornet as it does all I want to just being a Hornet. Byron

December 20, 2009, 09:40 AM
Chamacat: I have had some experience with and own a 22K-Hornet and a regular Hornet rifle. I became interested in a K-Hornet when I could only get two loadings out of my Hornet cases before case head splits started showing up on my cases. I had my gunsmth check head space and my Ruger 77-22H VT Rifle was right on. Since the Hornet chambers on the rim and the K-Hornet on the shoulder, I decided to rechamber to the K-Hornet. Best move I ever made as far as case life is concerned. I easily get 5-6 reloadings now before mouth splits occurs. More than several big advantages of the K-Hornet such as longer case life, increased velocity of 300 fps or better, and better accuracy. You can still fire the standard Hornet in your rifle, and that's how you form your K-Hornet cases, no other steps. My K-Hornet dies are Redding with both neck and FL sizing. RCBS lists 22K-Hornet Dies under their Group D dies. BTW, My K-Hornet shoots 3 shot groups under 3/4" now. My other rifle is an older Ruger 1B with a tight chamber that shoots under 1". That rifle will not be rechambered. :)

December 21, 2009, 12:29 PM
Quote from above, regarding K-Hornet advantages over standard Hornet:
"better accuracy"
Very interesting statement. Please explain.

dagger dog
December 21, 2009, 05:29 PM
The Hornet has been buried and left for dead many times over the years, but it must have zombie genes , 'cause you can't kill it. Yes the K Hornet has that nice little shoulder, in some eyes that makes it a more modern cartridge with a few more grains of capacity and a trifle more velocity, and there isn't ground hog out there or a paper target that can measure those differences. Go look at the difference in your loading manuals you might gain 100 fps,but accuracy, I doubt it, that being all else is equal.

If you are trying to develope a bug hole shooter and the little .22 calibers are where you want to focus, go with a 222 Remington .22 PPC or .22 BR then your talking some significant difference, heck even the 218 Bee or 221 Fireball in a bolt rifle have the edge, over the K and although the Bee was intended to be shot in a lever gun,loaded with the modern ballistic tip bullets it is as accurate as the K or the original, same said with the reativley modern Fireball cartridge.

The major thing in loading for the original Hornet is the twist question, along with the older .223 bore, the more modern 1 in 14 usually shoot the modern bullets better, and the 1 in 16 especially if they are .223 bore, usually shoot the old Hornet specific 45 grainers better.

A .10th grain increase or decrease in powder or a change of primers in the original makes a big difference, in a small capacity case, might not in a cartridge like the .222 Rem. or .223, but you have to remember the old fella started out as a black powder round, and your trying to feed him fast food!
Case life is directly proportional to the charge weight, the more you stuff in there the less you'll gain,the old guy's used to fried chicken not hot wings:D

December 21, 2009, 06:11 PM
I have a Kimber of Oregon Model 82 I had re-chambered to K-Hornet in 1982. K-Hornet case allows a little more powder of your choice that will increase the muzzle velocity for a given bullet, but not necessarily the accuracy. That being said, after many groups before and after the re-chambering, I cannot say the K is more accurate. But will second the motion on case life. I use Redding dies.

December 21, 2009, 07:20 PM
Thank you Mr. Dagger Dog, I think you made a sincere effort to address my question about relative accuracy of .22 K-Hornet and .22 Hornet, for which I thank you for your effort. But there seems to be confusion on your part concerning the .22 Hornet and .222 Remington. They are definately not the same. There is a large book "Cartridges of the World" which describes each, with pictures of each. In the wildcat chapter of the book also a description of the K-Hornet, which again, is not the same as the .222 Rem, which apparently you have mistaken it for. You will find this book, and other chapters quite helpful, certainly moreso than gun related websites, which apparently, and very understandably, may have been the source of your confusion. Perhaps you will find other, less confusing, information on other wedsites or books. As to the response of Mr. mhblaw, (above) thank you Sir for your timely response. You obviously understood my inquiry and gave a valid answer. I think we will all learn something from subsiquent responses, which, hopefully, there will be more of.
Thank you all.

dagger dog
December 21, 2009, 08:07 PM

I may be confusing:confused: in my attempt to show the differences of powder charge increments in a more modern cartridge as the tripple duece over the older black powder Hornet.

sorrry Bud

December 22, 2009, 09:09 AM
Black Powder? I don't think either the .222 Rem or Hornet are loaded with black powder. Better check your sources. Hodgdon Powder Co. lists lots of loads for these and other cartridges but nothing about black powder. I think you will find it enlightening, and there are several other sources of basic information for beginning reloaders that you will find helpful. I think most experts will recommend that you get copies of reloading guides by Sierra or Hornady, they include tips for beginners that will get you started off safely.

Rancho Relaxo
December 22, 2009, 09:48 AM
From talking to other varmint shooters, I've heard the most important result of a rechamber to the Kilbourn Hornet was the extended brass life. Secondary was a higher velocity and I've rarely heard that it made their rifle more accurate. I love my hornet, but even with neck sizing, brass life is 2 or 3 reloads and they start to crack.

December 22, 2009, 10:37 AM
I missed the part where dagger dog said the Hornet or K Hornet was the same as the .222, both of which I have, or have had, over the years. No one can confuse the Hornet/K Hornet with the .222 if they have ever seen them.

I have never had a K Hornet, but all the K Hornet fans talk about better case life, a little more case capacity/velocity, and many say it is more accurate.

December 22, 2009, 12:00 PM
I've been asked why I claim my 22K-Hornet is more accurate after conversion and I can only reply with this statement. The increasd velocity at 2700 fps seems to better stabilize the Hornady 45 gr bullet with out of my 26" Ruger 1B barrel. My groups were almost halved since I converted to the 22K-Hornet. Nothing else was changed on my rifle except a chamber reamming.

December 22, 2009, 04:05 PM
I don't have my exact load data with me but I'm using the 35gr. vmax, 13.0 gr. of Lil-Gun @ sammi max lenght. cci small rifle primer. I have shot sub .700" 5 shoth groups @ 100 with this load. I let my 10 year old shot 12ga shotshell hulls off the boards @ 75 & 100 yards. It is crazy accurate considering this cartridge has been left for dead many times. It also makes a fantastic deer rifle for HEAD SHOTS ONLY. Ruger 77/22 stainless / lam stock. 3x9 50mm Var X II. 5 shot chrono avg is around 2850fps.

dagger dog
December 22, 2009, 04:50 PM
To set the record straight , the Hornet uses a case designed for blackpowder ,it is the 22 Winchester Centerfire converted to smokless powder around 1920, the 222 Remington was designed and brought into production 1950 well beyond the smokless era.

Trying to stress my point, is that in loading the Hornet you have to remember you are shooting a case designed to use black powder ,22 WCF the parent case of the Hornet, in loading with smokless powder (Lil' GUN) very small changes cause GREAT results, not so in a modern cased cartridge (222Rem.) which is designed from the consepction to use smokless.

December 22, 2009, 05:23 PM
Dagger Dog, at this time, just what is your point?

December 22, 2009, 05:28 PM
re read the thread and it should be obvious

Vern Humphrey
December 22, 2009, 05:49 PM
in loading the Hornet you have to remember you are shooting a case designed to use black powder
Correct. The .22 WCF was overbore for a blackpowder cartrige. Depending on formulation, from 40 to 60% of the combustion products of black powder will be solids, and much of this gets deposited in the bore. When you eject the case, smoke can be sucked back into the chamber, fouling it. The .22 WCF fouled the little bore and chamber badly.

To compensate for this, Winchester made the chamber bigger (relative to the case) than is the modern practice. They also made the case quite tapered, to allow it to break free from a fouled chamber with the first movement of the case.

The big chamber and tapered case affect accuracy, which is why the Hornet has such a poor reputation for accuracy. My formula for accuracy in the Hornet (I get 0.5 inch 3-shot groups from my M82 Kimber) is:

1. Fire form your brass. Once fire-formed to the chamber it fits properly.

2. Disturb the brass as little as possible. I use a Lee Collet die. I make the collet activate early by putting a couple of washers on the shell holder. As a result, only the front half of the neck is resized, leaving the back half to act as a "pilot," centering the bullet in the throat.

3. Use Hodgdon's Li'l Gun. I use the case itself as a powder measure, dipping it full and tapping the case to settle the powder. The cases are placed in a loading blockand examined by flashlight to be sure all powder charges are at the same level.

4. Seat the bullet well out -- almost touching the lands.

5. Use Hornady 35-grain V-Max bullets. In the V-Max, all the changes in weight are in the nose. The 35 grain bullet has a much shorter nose than the 40 grain and heavier bullets. This allows you to seat the bullet until it touches the lands and still have an OAL that will feed through the magazine.

6. Cheat. I can see most of my pasture from my front porch. I know exactly where to hold for every rock and stump, so when a crow lands there, I know where to hold. I like to lie flat on the porch, with my hand on the lower railing, the rifle rested on it -- steady as a bench rest.

December 22, 2009, 06:35 PM
Dagger Dog, thanks to others who have sent me private messages and explanitions, I now understand the confusion about black powder. As an astute and apparently experienced member pointed out, you must have been shown some smokeless powder which you apprently assumed was black powder because smokeless powder is actually black or quite dark. Therefore your miss-identification is understandable. I'm sure other beginning amateurs have made the same mistake. However, understanding this difference will make it more clear to you that smokeless powder used in loading .22 Hornet and .222 Rem. is actually NOT black powder which you obviously thought it to be. I trust this simple clarification will be of help to you and further aid your introduction to different cartridges and the science of reloading. Please buy or borrow some books on cartridges and their seemingly endless loading optons. They have been most helpful to me and I'm confident you will benefit similarly.

dagger dog
December 23, 2009, 06:14 AM

December 23, 2009, 08:57 AM
Thank you everyone for your imput, this has been most instructive. It should all be put in a book. But, back to my original question about the relative accuracy of the .22 Hornet, vs K-Hornet: There have been statements that the K-Hornet is more accurate, but noone as yet has explained why this may, or may not, be true. It really is a puzzle.

Merry Christmas Everyone, and I hope there is at least one new gun under the tree for each of us. Santa has already told me he's bringing one to my wife.

December 23, 2009, 11:17 AM
Offhand & DaggerDog - I think I followed exactly what DaggerDog was saying: small changes in smokeless powder charges, in a small volume cartridge case that evolved from the blackpowder era, can cause substantial variations in ballistics, pressures, etc.. That is, the Hornet can be ESPECIALLY sensitive to changes in powder charges and primers. A cartridge with a larger case capacity (e.g., the .222 Rem), may not be as sensitive. I'm willing to bet DaggerDog knows the difference between black and smokeless powders, and that the .222 is not a BP cartridge.

Offhand - for what it's worth, I'm still fine tuning loads for my CZ 527 in 22 Hornet, and my best so far has been about 0.80" (five shots, 100 yds). That was using Hornady 35 gr V-Max and Lil'Gun. So it can certainly be a good shooter. But I've shot a lot of other combos that were much worse. My experience with the Hornet is true to its reputation: It can be very finicky. But I absolutely love it! :D


December 23, 2009, 11:25 AM
... But, back to my original question about the relative accuracy of the .22 Hornet, vs K-Hornet: There have been statements that the K-Hornet is more accurate, but noone as yet has explained why this may, or may not, be true.

The K-Hornet has more accuracy potential because it can be made to headspace on the shoulder, as opposed to the rim.

twice barrel
December 23, 2009, 12:50 PM
That makes two good explanations!

dagger dog
December 23, 2009, 03:46 PM

You're my main man!

Vern Humphrey
December 23, 2009, 05:32 PM
My experience with the Hornet is true to its reputation: It can be very finicky. But I absolutely love it!
The Hornet is like a red-headed woman, intriguing, exciting, and totally exasperating.

December 23, 2009, 11:35 PM
Right on, DaggerDog. :cool:

And VernHumphrey, I'm laughing 'cause you're soooo right. The Hornet really IS like a beautiful red-headed woman. ;) And I'm ready to try the washers to get my Lee collet neck sizing die to activate early. I've seen some good pics in previous posts here on THR about the washers. Just looking for some advice on the total thickness for the washers. What works for you?



December 24, 2009, 05:28 AM
and I understand there's a diffference between reading and perusing.

Tow ponts:

1.) The Hornet has been around for many years and I have probably owned a couple dozen. I'm a sucker; I love that little cartridge. But, the best thing you can do for it is turn it into a K-Hornet. As mentioned above, there are two areas of concern that can be remedied/improved by re-chambering:head space and case capacity.
The rimmed case headspaces on the rim and as the round is chambered, can cant the cartridge in the chamber causing a different point of impact. If you put a micrometer on the rim and measure the thickness you will notice variations from case to case and sometimes on the same case. Not good for accuracy. With the K-Hornet case you can have it headspace on the shoulder and the problem is solved. Case capacity as above, 'nough said!

2.) Ever try annealing your case necks? After a few firings, (and before reloading) stand the cases up in a flat pan of water with the water right at the intersection of the shoulder and the necks. Heat to red above the water line, and tip the case over in the water to cool. This softens the work hardend brass and prolongs the case life. I neck turn my brass for accuracy and generally get 20-25 uses of the case.

After that, it's time up the barrel and matching the bullet to the barrel. FWIW.


dagger dog
December 24, 2009, 09:14 AM

If headspacing on the shoulder for the K, is the accuracy gain, then neck sizing is the the ticket for the rimmed and slope shouldered older brother. With the length of the neck being what it is, run out during bullet seating is a major factor especially when full length resizing.

Most older rifles chambered for the Hornet were not what you would call masterpeices, and a lot were bargian basement types. The chambers were not reamed concentric with the bore and this compounded the run out factor,along with the previously stated problem of case rim thickness differences ,(there are gauges made for 22 rimfire target shooters to measure this difference to segregate their ammo) so fire forming the case to the chamber of these not perfect guns and neck sizing after is a must do for any type of accuracy.

More modern Hornets are free of this problem, and optmizing your load,bullet weight and type,and powder with neck sizing ,usually will give good results.

The Hornet was designed from the start as a VARMINT load and most rifles which in my opinion if it can put the bullet in a 2" circle @100 yds, it is doing what is was intended. This is at normal velocity 2500-2800fps, if you push it faster cases will be stressed and their life is shortened.

Reading Verns' statement about using the case as a dipper for his charges of Lil' Gun, I was surprised when I read in my 10th Edition CARTRIDGES OF THE WORLD, that the original factory black powder loading for the 22 WCF was 13 grs FFFg.

Most black powder cartridges were loaded just as Vern stated, by dipping the case full, of one of the three small arms rated powders, Fg ,FFg ,FFFg.

Almost all Hornet shooters have came to the same end, that APPROXIMATLEY 13 grs of Lil' Gun is the sweet spot .

Conclusion, It took modern reloaders (self included) and propellant chemists about 90 years to re-invent this loading for the little 22 caliber smokless wonder, and I'll bet this is just one of many reasons, once the HORNET STINGS:what: It takes a long time for the swelling to go down.:D


Vern Humphrey
December 24, 2009, 09:52 AM
Just looking for some advice on the total thickness for the washers.
I use two ordinary hardware store washers. You want to size the front half of the neck. The washers should be about as thick as the lower half -- more or less. So just hold your stack of washers up to the neck and see how far the sizing line would move up.

December 24, 2009, 10:51 AM
Wow! Now we're really getting somewhere on K-Hornet accuracy. Many thanks to all. A few more questons: Mr Kerf, you mention turning your brass for accuracy. I'm assuming you mean turning the necks like target shooter do. What size are they before turning? And after? And how do you do this, I mean what kind of tool?
Thanks again, Everyone

dagger dog
December 24, 2009, 12:10 PM

Usually case neck turning is only used with match chambered rifles where the tolerances are kept at a minmium during reaming, turning necks on stock production rifles is moot because of the wide tolerances in ammo and these chambers have such wide variations in neck diameters . The thickness in case necks differ from side to side on each case and the turners shave the thick portion down to the thickness of the thinest side, this supposedly lets the case neck release the bullet equally when the charge is ignited. Also in match chambers the thicker portion of the case neck could jam that side of the case tighter in the chamber causing uneven pressure, to release the bullet.

RCBS sells a neck turner that mounts to the case trimmer, Forster, Wilson offers a hand held which most benchrest and target shooters like because of the "feel" they can attain with the hand held unit.

December 24, 2009, 02:24 PM
Dagger, thanks again for your effore to help, but please read again my question to Mr. Kerf. I was asking specific before and after dimensions. And what kind of tool HE uses. I'm well aware there are several different brands of neck turners, including some, such as K&M and Sinclair, that you didn't mention. Or are you referring to case trimming, rather than turning, as mentioned my Mr Kerf? They are quite different operations. Wilson makes a case trimming tool, but was not aware of them also offering a neck turning tool.
again, my thanks.

December 25, 2009, 10:36 AM
Offhand, I donít do a full neck turning, just a partial turning on one side of the neck. Hopefully, this will make the neck of the brass more concentric to the chamber when fired.
Another trick I use is to spin the loaded cartridge for run out and mark the high side with a file on the base of the brass. I usually fill in that score line with magic marker and it is used to orientate the brass during reloading and when firing in the rifle. I also do a partial neck sizing, just enough to grip the bullet tight. Every little bit helps with the finicky Hornet.


December 25, 2009, 11:15 AM
Yea, I use the L E Wilson neck turning tool which is kinda' "Old School" but it's what I started with and stuck to over the years. I have several of them set up for trimming purposes and neck turning. You can adjust them gradually to take off the amount of brass from the neck you think is necessary and I like the solid lathe turning aspect of the tool. I've never used the hand held type turners, which I'm sure do as good of job as the Wilson, or they wouldn't be so popular on the benchrest circuit. It's just the road I went down.
I also use the Wilson straight line seater, which, IMHO, is the one item that has contributed most in terms of accuracy.
4-5 years ago, I picked up a K-Hornet on a Martini action and it was shooting 3" groups, if you can call three inches a group. (I like the Martini for the fast lock time with their triggers.) Today, after applying all of the above discussed techniques, (and consulting with various witch doctors in the trade) that same rifle is still shooting three inch "groups". Be that consolation to you!


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