Reloading 22 Hornet


March 8, 2012, 08:16 PM
I am going to start reloading 22 Hornet. I am plannng using Lee Dies and not sure which ones to buy. Midway has two choices:Lee Deluxe 3-Die Set 22 Hornet Product #: 691587 or Lee Pacesetter 3-Die Set 22 Hornet Product #: 378619. Any recommendations?

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March 8, 2012, 08:47 PM
Either one will work. One has a FL sizer and a neck sizer. No FCD. The other only as a FL sizer, but has the FCD to crimp. I have tried FL sizing and neck sizing with a bushing die, but my gun isn't good enough to tell the difference. I am FL sizing my .22 Hornet brass. I do not crimp, but hey, maybe it would help, but I doubt it.

March 8, 2012, 09:02 PM
What brand of die do you use? Do I need lube with the Lee dies?

March 8, 2012, 09:54 PM
I get longer case life with the 22 Hornet if I neck size but case life is still short.

I do not crimp the 22 Hornet.

My dies are RCBS.

Doug b
March 8, 2012, 10:18 PM
I found out the hard way the deluxe set with the dead length seating die makes seating a lot easier and saves a lot of casings when seating non-boat tail bullets.Follow instructions and adjust down to the shell holder,it will not crimp.

eta yes you need lube

March 8, 2012, 10:37 PM
^^^^ What I do and use also. Deluxe Lee dies. I use Imperial sizing wax for this one.

March 8, 2012, 10:52 PM
357 GUY; the 22 hornet id one of my favorites. My Son have 2 CZ 527 22 hornets and I have been loading for a 22 hornet for a long time. And what works best for us is the 35gr V-MAX hornday bullet. My Son shoots a FS CARBINE abd I shoot the AMERICAN model, we use 12 grs of H-110 for 3100 fps & 11 grs of IMR 4227 for about 2860 fps, don`t have a crony I am using the books figures. And I belive the IMR 4227 shoots the best. I seat the bullets as far out as the clip will let me on our rifles. I belive I would go with the Delux 3 die LEE model. WE have a few of them and I really like the crimp it does. Oh yes we shoot the same load in both rifles and they both will shoot under an inch at a 100, all day long. I trim the brass when it needs but Ishoot my brass till I find a crack or a split ar some other problem. I really don`t know how maney reloads we get for a case. Just remember to debur the inside if you trim and use the 35gr V-MAX bullet. can wrinkle the case but if you debur you should not have any problems. Good Luck To You: ken

March 8, 2012, 11:36 PM
I really like the 35 g V-MAX too. It's short and stubby looking, but boy does it shoot well! It has a flat base, but that's a good thing if you're seating the bullet shallow in the case. I use a little motor mica to lube the inside of the cases, and make sure I have a good inside chamfer also.

March 9, 2012, 07:39 AM
The Lee "dead length" seater does not crimp, but along with the collet neck sizer, it does an excellent job.

I have a Lee set with the Collet neck sizer and the dead length seater for .22 Hornet, as well as a Redding bushing style neck sizer, but right now I am just FL sizing with my Forster sizer. You must use lube if you FL size, but not if you neck size with a collet die or a coated or carbide bushing.

Vern Humphrey
March 9, 2012, 01:45 PM
I strongly recommend the Lee Collet die for the .22 Hornet.

The .22 Hornet is the first true varmint cartridge. In 1922, the Army decided to build a quality .22 rim fire rifle for training, target competition, and for sale to encourage marksmanship. The rifle was built at Springfield Armory, using the same tooling and fixtures as the M1903 Springfield -- and many M1922 parts will interchange with the M1903.

Craftsmen at Springfield were among the first civilians to buy this new rifle. As anyone who has shot one can tell us, the M1922 was not just a good competition rifle for its day; it was also a good hunting rifle. The boys at Springfield tried it on game including woodchucks. And there they encountered problems. First of all, a 'chuck is a pretty hefty critter, weighing several pounds -- much bigger than a squirrel or rabbit. Second, 'chucks are usually found in pastures, and your average 40-acre pasture is a quarter mile square, 440 yards on a side. So shots at 'chucks tended to be long range -- too long for the .22 Long Rifle.

The boys at Springfield cast around for a better cartridge, and the found one, the .22 Winchester Central Fire (WCF). The .22 WCF was developed in the mid-1880s as a black powder cartridge. Apparently the intent was to produce something with more oomph than the currently available rim fires and to be reloadable.

The black powder heritage is apparent when you look at the case. Black powder combustion products are from 40% to 60% solid (depending on composition) and that's what creates all that fouling. A small bore, plus a large charge makes for real fouling problems. The case is therefore tapered, with a sloping shoulder -- that makes it easier to extract from a badly fouled chamber. That same shape also makes for less than stellar accuracy. Especially when coupled with 19th Century standards in manufacturing -- a standard .22 WCF case is a pretty sloppy fit in a standard .22 WCF chamber.

The .22 WCF didn't set the world on fire, but it did hang on until the 1920s, when the boys at Springfield developed a smokeless powder load that better than doubled the velocity of the .22 Long Rifle, and with a 45 grain bullet, rather than a 40 grain bullet, which was more or less standard in the .22 LR. They then re-chambered M1922s for the .22 WCF, and modified the bolt, firing pin and extractor. The story is that when Colonel Townsend Whelan first shot the smokeless powder version of the .22 WCF he remarked, "Boy, that's a hornet!" and the name stuck.

The Hornet was adopted by Winchester, and was soon surpassed by other .22 center fires, but it has seen occasional times of modest popularity. The general pattern is a new generation of shooters is intrigued by the idea behind the Hornet -- a little case, a little bit of powder, and a fairly mild report with very low recoil. But then reality sets in, the Hornet just isn't that accurate.

I admit to falling prey to the lure of the Hornet -- my Hornet is a Kimber M82, and I've had it for many years. Here in the Ozarks, it makes a fine crow and coyote rifle. Sharp-eyed people may note that Arkansas game laws specify "nothing larger than .22 rim fire" for crows. But there is an exception -- during coyote season. Coyote season runs from the First of July through the 28th of February, then starts again about a week or so later with the opening of spring turkey season, and runs through the 13th of June. In other words, it's pert' near always coyote season in Arkansas, and you can use the Hornet on crows to your heart's content.

My M82 is a beautiful little rifle, but it just wasn't all that accurate. To me, the Hornet is like a red-headed woman -- alluring, frustrating, attractive and capricious. Being a rather stubborn type, I set out to master the Hornet, and eventually developed a load that will regularly shoot sub-inch groups at 100 yards. Here is the secret to the Hornet.

1. Fire form your brass. The case is a sloppy fit in the chamber, but once fired in your rifle, it is a perfect fit -- in your chamber.

2. Disturb the brass as little as possible. The standard reloading die puts a lot of stress on a case, and Hornet brass is thin. We have to remember that when neck resizing, all the force is transmitted from the head to the neck through the walls of the case. I use a Lee Collet Die, where the only stress is radial.

3. Don't resize the whole neck. The Lee Collet Die is designed to size the whole neck and activates when the base of the collet tube contacts the shell holder. You can't adjust it by screwing it in or out. I put a couple of washers on the shell holder, around the case. The collet tube contacts the washers and activates early. You can look at my neck-sized cases and see a line around the neck, about half way between mouth and shoulder. The unsized portion of the neck acts as a pilot, centering the neck in the chamber.

4. Use Hodgdon’s Li’l Gun – it develops lower pressures than other powders, but with its prolonged peak, it produces high velocities. Typically, a case full of Li'l Gun will develop about 28,000 CUP, and the Hornet's max is 40,000 CUP. I don't weigh my charges; I use the case itself as a dipper. I fill the case and strike it off (draw a straight edge across the case mouth to brush off any excess powder) then tap the case lightly to settle the powder a fraction of an inch. This load breaks 3,000 fps over my Shooting Chrony.

5. Use the right bullet. No rifle will shoot more accurately than the bullets it is fed. I use the 35 grain Hornady V-Max. It shoots accurately, and is deadly on everything from crows to coyotes. But it has one even more important characteristic. Hornets usually shoot best when the bullet is loaded close to the origin of the rifling. This usually results in an overall cartridge length that won't feed through the magazine. V-Max bullets in .22 caliber all have about the same shank length -- the weight differences come in the length of the nose. The 35 grain looks like it started out to be a round-nose bullet, and changed its mind at the last minute. You can load the 35 grain V-Max out to where the shoulder of the bullet actually touches the origin of the rifling, and still have an OAL that will feed through the magazine.

March 9, 2012, 01:59 PM
I don't have a Hornet but that was excellent.

Bull Nutria
March 9, 2012, 03:33 PM
wow what an excellent write up and how to on relaoding the hornet. i don't have one but i lust for a hornet. it would be a hell of a nutria killer!!


March 9, 2012, 03:59 PM
If your Hornet has a crappy chamber, full length sizing may work better for you. Mine isn't crappy, but it isn't great either.

March 9, 2012, 04:59 PM
Thanks for the excellent post. I use lil gun with 40 gr vmax and the Lee collet die. I have a single shot follower for my CZ as they will not fit in the mag. I have some 35 gr Vmax bullets I am going to try again. I am also going try the washers when I size the cases. I never thought of that idea. 22 hornets are great when you get them shooting. It has become my favorite g-hog and fox gun. Thanks

March 9, 2012, 06:44 PM
There is a lot of good information in this thread but the best info is about using Lil'Gun in the 22 Hornet. That powder has single handedly breathed new life into the 22 Hornet. That powder increases velocity with less pressures in everything it's use in...

March 10, 2012, 04:18 PM
VERN: Best right up on a 22 HORNET, I have ever read, I am printing it off for futher reference. You think that H-110 is better than IMR 4227. From the knowledge you have I am going to give H-110 another look I could have been mistaken thinking that IMR4227 is best. I am glad we agree on the 35gr V-MAX bullet. I use my CZ 22 hornet for just about every thing, great walking around rifle. I shoot mostly PD`S, FOX`s, GROUND HOGS, and COYOTE`S and that 35gr V-MAX works for ME and my SON that is all we have shot for a long time. We truly enjoy our hornets and hunt with them a lot and they are cheap to reload for. Again VERN thanks for your great wrigtht up. Good Luck To You; ken

March 10, 2012, 04:34 PM
SCOTCH 827; Where did you find your single shoot follower and how much did it cost, and was It hard to put in. (( I am dangerous with a screw driver)). My Son and I really like CZ rifles and have a few and they all shoot great, and have never had a problem wiith any of them. Our CZ`S will all shoot an inch or less at a 100 yds. in every one of them. We really like that 35gr V-MAX bullet. GOOD LUCK TO YOU; ken

March 10, 2012, 07:38 PM
Great info on the 22 Hornet. So do you only use the Lee Collet die or do you use it with the full length sizing die? I have been reloading straight wall cases for years and I am new to rifle reloading. Thanks.

March 10, 2012, 09:48 PM
You can use a Collet die as long as the brass was shot in your rifle. If it's from another rifle you will have to full size the brass the first time and then you can neck size. After 5 or 6 times you may have to full length size again to bump the shoulder back if it gets hard to close the bolt.

March 10, 2012, 10:00 PM
SCOTCH 827; Where did you find your single shoot follower and how much did it cost
Here you go. Click on the price list then scroll down to the bottom of the page. It drops right in. No tools needed. It is machined steel and blued. It will last as long as your rifle does :)

March 10, 2012, 10:56 PM
Thanks Arch.

March 11, 2012, 12:59 PM
scotch827: Thanks you very much I have heard people talk about them, but never seen one. Am I right thinking with this I will be able to seat my buletts as far out as I want as if my rifle was a single shot. I am not a very technical type person, I am (( dangerous)) with a screw driver, I have been told. I shoot with several guys that shoot those little martiney actons and they seat their bullets farther out and use spizer type plastic tip bullets. I will call and get one Monday morning. Thanks again for you help. Good Luck To You. ken

March 11, 2012, 01:47 PM
Single shot followers are handy things to have around. I have them for a couple of my Remington 700's and have converted a couple AR magazines to single shot. (A good use for magazines that are a bit flaky feeding the rifle!) I like them for when I want to shoot slow and deliberate.

My 22 Hornet is a Contender Cabine, so no option there.

March 24, 2012, 08:26 PM
I have loaded up some Hornet rounds using Vern Humphry's method for my rifle. It is an old Stevens model 219 Single shot. It seems to be accurate with anything 50 grains or under at this point. Hope this works better yet.:) I will try them tomorrow if it is not raining for a spell when I get done the mornings chores.

Vern Humphrey
March 25, 2012, 09:32 AM
One point -- because the original Hornets were re-chambered M1922 Springfields, the standards were established based on that, which includes a 1 in 16 rifling pitch. For that reason, Hornets will not shoot long and heavy bullets accurately.

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