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77/22 .22 Hornet

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Walkalong, Jun 12, 2009.

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  1. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    After many years of not having, and missing, a .22 Hornet, I bought a Ruger 77/22 last year. After a few months I finally bought a scope to go on it in place of the Tasco 3-9 it came with. I chose a Nikon Buckmaster 6-18 X 40 with a fine crosshair with a dot reticule. I think they are a very good value. After another couple of months I mounted it. Then I finally loaded some test rounds. I bough 40 new brass to work up a load with.

    Neither V Max bullets nor Li' Gun powder existed back when I was shooting my old Hornet rifles (Savage 23D & a Sako-Should have kept the Sako-arghh), and I wanted to try them both.

    I picked 12.2 Grs of Lil' Gun and 40 Gr V Max's using Fed 200 primers loaded at 1.808 O.A.L. That was as long as the mags would take. It barely kept the ogive out of the neck, but it did.

    I shot one shot at 25 yards, adjusted the scope up several clicks, and shot two shots at 50 yards. They were still low, but overlapped.

    Then I put up a target at 100 yards. I shot two shots at it. One in a relative calm and another in a good breeze quartering towards me, (A little bit right to left, but mostly at me)

    I adjusted the scope up some more and shot two more shots, both in a relative calm.

    Then I adjusted the scope up a bit more and shot two more times.

    Then I put up a small target at 100 yards, adjusted the scope right one click, and shot a fast 3 shot group (Under 30 seconds) in a relative calm.

    Then I put up another small target at 100 yards, adjusted the scope right one more click, and shot my second fast 3 shot group (Under 30 seconds) in a relative calm.

    Then I put up another small target at 100 yards, adjusted the scope right one more click, and shot my third fast 3 shot group (Under 30 seconds) in a relative calm.

    The black bull on the little target is 1 1/2". The 10 ring is 7/8".

    After shooting on target I ran 5 shots over the chrono. 8:30ish AM, 82 Degrees, near 100% humidity, sunny, and gnats for days.

    Hi-2807...Lo-2688...Avg-2730...ES-119...SD-45

    Not particularly good numbers, but I believe they will improve as I bump up the charge .1 at a time.

    Overall, for a box stock 77/22 with a gajillion pound trigger, I am real happy with its first outing. :D

    Any recommendations on 77/22 triggers?
     
  2. coop4u2c

    coop4u2c Member

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    That is one nice rifle! Good shooting too!!!
     
  3. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    Very nice! I need a benchrest like that setup, too...
     
  4. Candiru

    Candiru Member

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    Nice detailed write-up; thanks for posting it.

    I put a Timney sear in my 77/22 and that improved the trigger weight immensely. It didn't entirely remove the creep, which is probably introduced by the trigger itself. If that doesn't work out in another couple thousand rounds I'll probably swap out the entire trigger group.

    Timney sear
    a less expensive Volquartsen sear
    complete trigger groups for the 77/22
     
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Actually, here is my Benchrest setup and the home made box I keep it in.

    I need to get a better front rest for regular rifles. It has been on my "to do" list for quite some time. :)

    Thanks for the links Candiru. I have researched triggers a little, but I figured some folks here would have actual experience.
     
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    AC,
    That looks like a nice rifle and it shoots very well. I would say that recipe works quite well.

    With all the "new and better" calibers out there like the .17 Magnum the 22 Hornet has been somewhat forgotten these days. The 22 Hornet is a very capable round and will shoot just as well or better than any .22 Magnum or .17 Magnum. Also, you can reload for the 22 Hornet unlike the .22 & .17 Magnums.
     
  7. paintballdude902

    paintballdude902 Member

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    YOU HAVE FREAKIN PRIMERS!!!!!
    WHERE DO YOU LIVE!?!?!?! jk

    lol good work i wanna pick one up but i dont have the cash right now
     
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yes. After this go around I bet next time there will be even more people prepared than there were this time. ;)

    Hey ArchAngelCD.

    I recently helped a buddy from work sight in his Savage in .17 Hummer. I can see why folks like them. Very flat shooting. Popping clays offhand at 100 yards was a piece of cake. That little Savage shot some nice 100 yard groups. I was impressed, but I'd rather reload for the Hornet than buy ammo for a .17.
     
  9. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    The Hornet will shoot rings around those rimfire wonders.

    Conquest of the .22 Hornet​



    The .22 Hornet actually started out in the late 19th Century as the .22 Winchester Central Fire (WCF), a black powder cartridge. Apparently the intent was to produce something with more oomph than the .22 Long Rifle, 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 Springfield Armory began building honest-to-gosh .22 rifles. These rifles, the M1922, in various marks and mods, were intended for training and competition, and were also sold to civilians to encourage marksmanship.

    Among the first civilians to buy M1922s were the craftsmen who made them, who found they were also nice small game rifles. However on heavier game, like groundhogs, the .22 Long Rifle was lacking in power. It was also lacking in range for shooting sod poodles across pastures. This led the boys at Springfield to look at the .22 WCF. They 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 Whelen 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 centerfires, but it has seen occasional times of modest popularity. The general pattern is a new generation of shooters are 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. It's 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 the right powder. I use Hodgdon's Li'l Gun. Li'l Gun has a lower but more prolonged peak, than other powders. It is therefore able to achieve high velocities at lower pressure. 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 comes 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.

    Follow these five steps, and you will produce .22 Hornet ammunition that will shoot as accurately as any other varmint cartridge, and will bring out the full potential of this fine little round.
     
  10. cdet69

    cdet69 Member

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    i tried using a rifle basix trigger in my 77/22 hornet and found it had way more creep than i liked. i wound up putting the old trigger back in and am still debating over wether to try something else.
     
  11. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Like it or not, a trigger adds or detracts from actual shooting accuracy. I personally have no use for heavy, gritty, creeping triggers.
     
  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Like this Vern? I used epoxy to attach it. I used to use it with a Lee collet sizer. This test was done with new unsized cases. I must get some 35 Gr V Max's and try them like you specified. I also have a Forster sizer now. I may do some side by side testing using the different sizing methods. I have considered getting a Redding insert type neck sizer as well, if they make em in .22 Hornet that is. :)

    [​IMG]

    You bet.
     

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  13. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Yep, just like that. Sizing only half the neck really makes a difference.
     
  14. cal74

    cal74 Member

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    Put a volquartsen sear and you should be happy. Made a world of difference in my 77/22 mag.
     
  15. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

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    first off, try reloader 17 powder, it is bran new, and really made for the small stuff. next, go over to Rimfirecentral.com, check out the ruger threads, and look for the sticky, on repairing or trigger mods to the 77 style rifles. I am no metal worker, but with a simple handheld file, I got my 77/17m2 trigger down to no creep , no crawl, and about a 12 oz. pull, so simple.
    http://www.rimfirecentral.com/forums/
    never mind, here you go...
    http://www.centerfirecentral.com/images/trigger.gif
     
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Thanks rangerruck. If I screw it up I can always buy a trigger and sear. It should not be too hard. Worth a try.
     
  17. rangerruck

    rangerruck Member

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    it is so easy to do; just follow the blackened out patterns with your file, I just used a simple file, that was barely bigger than a fingernail file, I would say I used no more than 20 strokes per angle,and proly no more than 5lbs pressure per stroke, and got the job done right, baby!!!
     
  18. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Well. I did it. I don't have a trigger gauge, but it breaks clean, no creep, and is significantly lighter than the factory pull. :D

    I need to try it out in the field now. I tried to make it slip the sear and it would not do so. I used the factory spring. (Short notice and all) I am sure a Wolff spring would improve the pull as well.

    Thanks again for the link.
     

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    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  19. loadedround

    loadedround Member

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    If your case life ever becomes a problem, consder recahambering your rifle to the K-Hornet. I converted my Ruger 77/22 VT rifle to the K-Hornet and doubled my case life and halved my group size. I now get 6-7 reloads by neck sizing only and my 100 yd groups went from 11/4'' to less than 3/4''. You can also shoot regular Hornets in your rifle but they will fireform to the K-Hornet. :)
     
  20. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Went to the range with the Hornet today. Conditions were not so good, but what the heck. On at least 4 or 5 shots I could feel the wind or see the mirage change and I pulled the trigger anyway. It showed immediately on target. All in all some decent groups. (My measurements are not precise and could vary +/- .010) With patience they could have been better.

    While the trigger was much improved, it had a little hitch in it before letting off pretty nicely. I will have to address it because it bugs me.

    There was such low pressure on the first load I jumped all the way to 12.7 Grs Lil' Gun with the 40 Gr V Max and Fed 200 primers loaded to 1.808. (Still under max) This time it was once fired cases partially neck sized with a Redding bushing type sizer with a .239 bushing. I misspoke earlier in the thread. My first load was new cases, but full length sized with my Forster sizer. (checked my notes)

    [​IMG]
     

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  21. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    Not bad at all.

    Don't worry about max loads with L'il Gun. A friend was shocked when he learned I don't weigh charges for the Hornet, I just dip the case full and tap it to settle the powder so I can get a bullet in. He reported me to Hodgdon and they replied, "You can't get enough L'il Gun in a Hornet case to damage the gun."

    The only reason not to use all the Li'l Gun you can get in the case is if you aren't getting good accuracy and want to see if a lighter load will change that.
     
  22. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    12.7 Grs filled the case about 98% full. I was thinking of machining a new brass drop tube for the measure that would trickle the powder in a bit slower and get it down in the neck a bit more. Not absolutely needed, but could help if I go up on the charge more. Compressing the powder a bit more in this load did not affect O.A.L. (no rebound)

    I still got primers that were backed out a hair with this load. Zero pressure signs.

    I already changed the case sizing and powder charge, so I stuck with the 40 Gr V Max this time. I did buy some 35 Gr V Max's, and they are next. You are right. I can load them out to touch the lands and still get them in the mag. If I had more test cases, I would have loaded some of them this time. :)
     
  23. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    A lot of Hornet shooters say having the bullet actually touch the lands is best. I know in my Kimber, that's how I load them, and I get gilt-edge accuracy.
     
  24. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    35 Gr V Max test

    I finally got out and shot the 35 Gr V Max loads.

    12.9 Grs Lil' Gun. Fed 200 Primer. 1.785 O.A.L. This O.A.L. will fit the mag, and has light enough neck tension so the rifling actually seats the bullet back to around 1.777 O.A.L. I used a Redding bushing type seater with a .239 bushing.

    It proved a bit erratic on target. I shot 5 groups on the first target. TL, TR, BL, BR & one in the middle at the bottom where one shot missed the paper down.

    Then I switched targets and shot one more group with this load. Then I broke out Load # 2 (Not including the old loads from way back in my hand written load book) with the 40 Gr V Max and 12.7 Grs Lil' Gun loaded to 1.808. and shot one group. It shot just fine, about like it had before. My best group of the day.

    I am going to try a .238 Bushing next. Maybe tweak the powder charge.

    I shot the last five 35 Grainers over the chrono quickly. I found the results very interesting.

    Shot #1: 2818
    Shot #2: 2904
    Shot #3: 2911
    Shot #4: 2943 :scrutiny:
    Shot #5: 3159 :uhoh:

    ES-341....SD-127 :eek:

    Back to the drawing board. :)


    Five groups with Load #3 - Swithed rear bags after first group.
    [​IMG]

    One group with 35 Gr V Max (Load #3) & one with 40 Gr V Max (Load #2)
    [​IMG]

    Group with Load #2 - 40 Gr V Max
    [​IMG]
     
  25. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    That may cause erratic seating depth -- the action itself is not designed as a bullet seater.
     
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