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Smith & Wesson’s X frame 460 S&W Magnum Part I Ronald Reagan and the S&W X Frame Magnums

Internet Soliloquy? Sure. Why not?

One of the great frustrations regarding social media is the use of the word “opinion” and the lack of understanding of the difference between objective and subjective information. Case in point, a picture of the S&W Performance Center® Model 460XVR™ was posted to our Facebook page and, almost immediately, @ChuckyCheese showed up offering comment after 10 seconds of consideration, “Better off with a rifle. Much more power”. So, forever in search of understanding, I posted a reply, “200 grains, 2200 fps, 2149 ft/lbs and the revolver is half the weight of a typical sporter”. Chucky’s response, “That’s your opinion and others differ. I make up my own mind, buddy”. Which I did find a little curious, however, I kind of liked the name “buddy” as being called “Joe” for seventy three years can become a bit monotonous.

I actually didn’t care which firearm selection road he chose to follow. I did, however, view his post as a bit misleading, so I posted objective data for others to contemplate after reading Chucky’s proclamation. I did not conclude, guide, lead or otherwise attempt to mind massage anyone. Then I banned Chucky from the page, not for his opinion, but because I concluded he was a disrespectful worm with a chip on his shoulder. I also didn’t want weeks of concerted research and writing effort undermined by someone who suffered a brain fart. But then, that was just my opinion.

Returning from orbit…

I think the introduction of the X Frame revolver was the equivalent of the U.S. – Soviet arms race that was concluded with Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, with the exception of the X Frame’s actual existence. Smith and Wesson introduced the X Frame in 500 S&W Magnum in 2003, followed up with the 460 S&W Magnum in 2005 and competitors did not pursue further bigger bore cartridge and handgun development. S&W, happy to lead the big bore parade, currently offers seven X Frame configurations for the 500 S&W Magnum and seven for the 460 Magnum.

The S&W X Frame 460 S&W Magnum with a 7.4″ to 14″ barrel is a continuation, an evolution, of tools for the handgun hunter or for long range handgun competition. In 3.5″ to 5″ versions,  for someone of sufficient mass , the S&W X Frame makes for solid wilderness defense where very large and dangerous wildlife. No, the killer rabbit of Caerbannog would not fit that description.

My original intention was to address both 7.5″ and 14″ Model 460XVRs in a joint review. However, it soon became apparent that they represent two different types of applications, even if there is overlap. Based upon handling and shooting positions and circumstances, the 7.5″ gun aligns more closely with the Magnum Research BFR, Ruger Super Blackhawk and Super Redhawk. The 14″ version more closely aligns with the Nosler 48 NCH, Remington Model 700 CP and Thompson/Center Contender or Encore pistols in size and handling. Perception subject to change with experience.

S&W Performance Center Model 460XVR™
Manufactured Springfield, MA
SKU Number 11626
Type Action Double / Single
Caliber 460 S&W, 454 Casull, 45 Colt
Capacity 5
Construction Stainless Steel
Grips Soft Synthetic
Trigger Pull DA / SA 12 Lbs 3 Oz / 4 Lbs 4 Oz
Barrel Length 7.5″
Rifling Gain Twist 1:100″ – 1:20″
Rear Sight Adjustable W/E
Front Sight Green Fiber Optic
Type Safety Hammer Lock
Overall Length 15.2″
Overall Height 6.5″
Width At Cylinder 1.918″
Weight 78.1 Oz.
MSRP $1,779

Giving credit where credit is due

The best article I’ve read, in regard to the 460XVR revolver, appeared in American Rifleman, written by Aaron Carter, Managing Editor. Developmental history, pre-release product progress, instrumental contributors and released product performance. There is an expertise, access to people and information that I could not duplicate. If you have not as yet read this, I highly recommend you do.

My stuff… Immediate impressions

Looking for an analogy, picking up the 460XVR 7.5″ is like hefting a Colt Dragoon. Right, Joe, there is common familiarity with a mid 1800’s black powder revolver. Terrible analogy. OK, it is not like other modern revolvers in terms of mass, weight and balance.

Comparatively speaking, a Ruger Single Action Super Blackhawk Bisley in 454 Casull is tiny in all places but the grip, where the two are very similar in size.  It is also significantly larger than a Super Redhawk 7.5″ 454 Casull, again, with the exception of the grip size. Which leads to the notion that the X Frame, 460 S&W or 500 S&W, is sized around these large, high pressure, S&W cartridges; 65,000 psi and 60,000 psi respectively. Not oversized, just accommodatingly dimensioned.

Revolver Barrel
Length”
Overall
Length”
Weight
Ounces
Cylinder
Diameter”
Cylinder
Length”
Cartridge Cartridge
Length”
MAP
PSI
S&W 460XVR 7.5 15.2 78.1 1.918 2.300 460 S&W 2.290 65kpsi
Ruger Super Redhawk 7.5 13.0 53.0 1.795 1.750 454 Casull 1.765 65kpsi
Magnum Research BFR 7.5 15.0 68.8 1.750 3.060 460 S&W 2.290 65kpsi

A comparison of the 460XVR to the Ruger Super Redhawk chambered for the smaller dimension 454 Casull is a good illustration of how cartridge drives firearm size. The table also illustrates how stout the S&W 460XVR is compared to the Magnum Research BFR. While the BFR cylinder is well over maximum SAAMI maximum cartridge length of the 460 S&W Magnum, this is primarily because the BFR must also accommodate the longer cartridges chambered in the BFR; 30-30 WCF, 450 Marlin, etc. While longer than the X Frame cylinder, the BFR’s 460 S&W cylinder is smaller in diameter than even the Ruger Super Blackhawk in 454 Casull. The X Frame 460 S&W’s larger diameter cylinder yields a breech end, exterior cylinder wall thickness of 0.134″ and an adjacent chamber wall thickness of 0.217″.

The revolver’s CG is at the forward surface of the crane, making for a long barrel revolver that is not muzzle heavy. The grip contours and size  make for a secure hold. Between it and the revolver’s balance, shooting from a standing two hand hold is steady. That basically means you can hold as you would a smaller magnum revolver and not have to constantly be in search of a branch or boulder to use as a rest.

The front cylinder latch is comprise of a spring loaded ball recessed in the frame and a recess in the crane that engages the ball when the cylinder is closed.

Lots of shooter accommodations

A rail was integrated into the barrel shroud to facilitate a variety of optical sights. The adjustable metallic sights are certainly suitable for 100 yard shots for youthful eyes, but a red dot sight strategically positioned does wonders for mature eyes. I mounted a compact red dot sight slightly forward of the tail end of the rail and it worked commendably. It was far enough aft of the brake and forward of the cylinder gap to avoid powder residue covering its lens.

The 7.5″ barrel 460XVR barrel is secured at the frame end with traditional threads, but it is also preloaded at the front end of the barrel shroud. This design approach spreads the load over the length of the barrel and allows reliably performance over the long haul with maximum 460 S&W Magnum loads. The soft synthetic grip is standard size, covering a traditional S&W round butt grip frame. The grip size makes it easy to get a secure grip and it is soft on the hand under recoil.

Why the 460 S&W Magnum and not the 500 S&W Magnum?

In terms of industry support, there are 16 factory loads available for the 460 S&W sold under 7 brands. There are 18 loads for the 500 S&W sold under 8 brands. Each cartridge type is supported with 2 brands of new brass, Hornady and Starline. For cartridges with a relatively narrow range of application, those are actually good support numbers for both.

It really comes down to cartridge versatility. Being able to shoot the 460 S&W Magnum, 454 Casull and the 45 Colt from the same revolver provides the gun owner with a lot of excellent choices. The 500 S&W Magnum is a boomer, but I’ve not found there to be the same relative bullet weight or construction range as there is with 45 caliber cartridges.

Finally, I routinely handload for the 45 Colt and 454 Casull, so going with the S&W 460 XVR allowed some degree of ammunition swapping with my other firearms and a better yield on handload development efforts.

Preliminary live fire

I did have the opportunity to shoot a few types of ammo in the S&W 460 XVR to get a better feel for the X Frame and an opportunity to compare velocity between this 7.5″ barrel gun and the 14″ barrel version.

Cartridge Ammunition Bullet
Type
Bullet
Weight
Grains
7.5″ Barrel
FPS
14″ Barrel
FPS
Δ
460 S&W Magnum Hornady Custom FTX 200 2315 2344 29
454 Casull Hornady Custom XTP Mag 300 1681 1731 50
45 Colt Grizzly WFNGC Cast 265 1338 1385 47

Conclusions regarding barrel length and performance? None. Not enough of an evaluation and not with a broad enough selection of bullets and handload sets, but a place to begin. Coming soon.

In years gone by, if I wanted to participate in some recreational target shooting with a 45 Auto, I’d spend some time shooting a 44 Mag. By comparison, the 45 Auto recoil and report would be modest and it would be easier to concentrate when shooting for score. The 460 S&W Magnum may provide that same dynamic for shooting the 454 Casull, certainly for hot 45 Colt loads. That said, with the exception of report, the X Frame 460 S&W magnum recoil wasn’t bad at all. The effect of the X Frame on the 454 Casull was major in terms of softening recoil and getting muzzle climb under control and heavy 45 Colt loads could be shot all day without ice bucket end of day festivities.

The 460XVR can be shot one handed, although I don’t know why anyone would want to as a two handed stance is so steadiling. Shooting from a rest is not essential with the 7.5″ barrel version, but I did use one when shooting 50 yard groups with a red dot sight mounted.

The extremes in group size. Top – Hornady 200 grain FTX 460 S&W Magnum 0.9″ center to center farthest hits. Bottom 265 grain Grizzly hard cast 45 Colt 2.1″ center to center farthest hits. Conclusions? None. 454 Casull shot close to the 460 S&W group sized, both were copper alloy jacketed where the Grizzly was hard cast. I will have a better feel after I’ve had a chance to shoot more factory and handloaded rounds.

Considering the size of the cylinder being rotated with a double action trigger pull, and large rifle primer that needs to be reliably indented for ignition, double action pull was’t bad; smooth, relatively uniform in required effort. Single action pull was outstanding; also smooth, very short pull and light.

Closing…

Exposure to the S&W Performance Center 460 XVR has caused me to alter the perceptions that kept me away from this combination. I see a great deal of potential for New England deer hunting, and for Texas hog hunting. At the moment, I am looking forward to spending more time with the X Frame. Be back soon.

Winchester XPR SR Suppressor Ready The pragmatic hunter and the case of the 30-06 Short

I love to watch low budget SciFi movies, particularly where dinosaurs love people and will snack on them whenever the opportunity arises. Within these epic films, dinosaurs will do it at the end of time travel, they will do it in outer space, they will do it deep in the Amazonian jungles, and they will…

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Ruger’s 77/22 And The Sting Of The Hornet Part 2 Fortunately, with no Seth Rogen...

I was listening to “For What It’s Worth”, early Buffalo Springfield, and it came to mind how much 60s rock music sucked. With few exceptions, music lacked bass, brass and had way too much circus organ keyboard. Lyrics were redundant, banal, and lacking in… substance. Fans were the product of overindulgent parents, free spirits moved by the winds of a gifted MasterCard and way too many Peter Pan adults over the age of 25. Sort of like a  gathering at a Taylor Swift concert, or a  socialist democrat event. Drove me to country music and soul… neither which exists much anymore. I mean is it really “Bad Wolves”, or should it be “Naughty Doggies”? So, for now, some Hall & Oats “You Make My Dreams Come True”… and maybe a little Running Man before my coworkers show up?

Seven bear loads for the 22 Hornet. Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

The Ruger Model 77/22 has been a good sport through all of the handload development. Trigger stayed crisp, action remained slick and the magazine fed without hesitation. The action is a major overkill for the Hornet round but, compact in size and light in weight, the extra strength doesn’t come with a penalty.

The 22 Hornet does not need to be pushed, cajoled or otherwise inveigled to perform at a higher level. That includes modification to the K wildcat version, significantly over pressure loading or buying a 32″ barrel. It is a moderate range cartridge intended for recreational target shooting and varmint and small game hunting. The high performance version of the 22 Hornet is called the 222 Remington or 223 Remington or any number of cartridges with significantly higher capacity than 14.5 grains of H2O and operating with a greater than 49,000 PSI SAAMI MAP.

If we arbitrarily and capriciously cap anticipated shooting distances at 150 yards… 200 yards on show off days, I do not know if the higher velocity of the 33 grain Speer or the better ballistic coefficient of the 55 Grain Remington bullet is the better choice. Actually, I do know, but if I spilled the beans at this juncture, there would be no point in me writing this piece, or you reading it for that matter. So let’s pretend I don’t know, let the suspense build, and we’ll all find out together. Remember to look surprised.

Time was spent rummaging through early reloading manuals, late 50s to early 60s in hopes of finding long lost data that could yield better than average accuracy, velocity and moderate average pressure. Instead, the manuals served as a reminder that, with few exceptions, most smokeless powder has been around since WW II. In this case, Lil’ Gun is the newest kid on the block.

Beware of the turtle

In some ways, the 22 Hornet requires a little finesse. Hornet bullets are stubby, regardless weight. A short ogive is necessary to seat a heavier weight bullet and still fall within the overall cartridge length specifications, but all have a modest ballistic coefficient. Above, bullets L-R 1,2,3, and 5 are examples of short ogive, or short nose bullets. Numbers 4, 6 and 7 are not actually intended for the 22 Hornet, but can be accommodated for the benefit of an improved ballistic coefficient.

Leave it alone – Seated within maximum cartridge overall length, bullets not intended for the Hornet, labeled 4,6 and 7 above will seat with the transition from parallel shank surfaces to curvature of the nose below the case mouth (Above far left). I don’t care for it out of concern the edge of the case mouth will hang on to something when being fed and it looks sloppy. Beyond that, the recessed bullet presents no real issues. Ask anyone who has ever shot a 1895 Nagant Revolver and 7.62x38mmR ammo (Above).

Clean it up – Trim case back 0.080″ to 1.320″ and seat to a 1.720″ cartridge overall length. Same approach as using long ogive Hornady FTX bullets in cartridges like the 45-70 to keep cartridge maximum overall length in spec.

Load the cartridge to an overall length longer than specification. Checking the Ruger Model 77/22 with an overall length gauge for each extended nose bullet planned and checking rotary magazine clearance, it was found that a maximum length of 1.800″ would work cleanly. Subsequently, rounds were loaded to the length noted on the data table and charges adjusted to those lengths and resulting net case capacity.

Lee Precision out – Hornady Custom dies in

The Hornet has a long neck and case material is relatively thin. After seating a few bullets it became obvious that cases and bullets were having a hard time getting together on a common longitudinal axis with runout in excess of 0.008″. The problem appears to have been due to a combination of high neck tension and a lack of neck support in the seater. Not a general problem with Lee Precision dies as I use them with some routine. The Hornady seater surrounds the case neck and provided greater support and a concentric assembly. A significant consideration for accuracy.

Sorting brass is essential to accuracy as the capacity is small and the variances in case capacity are more than a little. A change in pressure and/or velocity will result in a measurable change in point of impact. Using a constant powder charge with a changing net case capacity within a population of handloads will open open up group sizes. So none of the brass conditions noted below are bad, they are just different.

Case Dry Weight Grains Wet Weight Grains Case Capacity H2O
Prvi New 57.4 68.8 11.4
Prvi FL Sized 57.4 70.3 12.9
Prvi Once Fired 57.4 71.6 14.2
Federal Plated New 47.3 61.9 14.6
Federal Plated FL Sized 47.3 61.9 14.6
Federal Plated Once Fired 47.3 62.1 14.8

This is usually where the writer suggest neck versus full length sizing to maximize capacity, but I am not making that suggestion. Even the smallest capacity case had enough capacity to use full charges, with some requiring only mild compression as indicated on the data table that follows. It is only important to group them in broad strokes by capacity.

Assembled, they look a lot like the picture above. A secondary issue with the Lee Precision dies surfaced with the shorter rounds. I use a Redding T7 reloading press for most of my work. The combination of short Lee Precision dies and the thick turret head on the Redding press left me with barely enough adjustment range to properly seat bullets. Another issue cleaned up by changing to Hornady dies.

It isn’t always the rifle

So I cranked out several sets of each handload for some preliminary assessment and to collect some chronograph data and shot three shot groups with each… that looked like this examples…

Left to right, above – 1.6″, 1.3″, 2″. Beyond the large group sizes, the patterns of point of impact consistently placed 2 shots every close together and then put up a flyer. Worse, after the first two groups I pulled the barreled action from the stock and checked for weird pressure points, scoped the bore, re-tightened, the scope rings and shot the third group, the worst group. I did what any experienced enthusiast would do, put the rifle down, scratched my head and got a cup of coffee.

Just as one more element to isolate, I swapped the scope out and re-shot all of the groups, the worst and best above… let’s call it 1.0″, then 0.5″. It seemed a bit ironic that the Leupold scope was purchased nearly twenty years ago for, and heavily used on, an Ultra Lightweight 257 Weatherby, before being moved to a 338-378 Weatherby, before being moved to a 416 Weatherby, before being moved to a 500 Jeffery, and then it croaked on a 22 Hornet.

Handload Data… after sorting out

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All loads should be reduced by 5% as a starting point for development where cartridges have greater than 40 grains in capacity and 10% for cartridges with less than 40 grain capacity following safe handloading practices as represented in established mainstream reloading manuals. Presentation of these loads does not constitute a solicitation for their use, nor a recommendation.

Cartridge: 22 Hornet (49,000 PSI MAP)
Firearm Ruger 77/22
Barrel Length 24.0″
Min – Max Case Length 1.403″ +0.0″/-0.020″
Min – Max Cartridge Overall Length 1.660″ – 1.723″
Primer CCI BR4
Bullet Diameter 0.2245″ +0.000″/-0.0030″
Reloading Dies Lee Precision

 

Bullet Type  Bullet Weight
Grains
Net H2O
Grains
Capacity
COL” Powder Type Powder Charge
Grains
Muzzle Velocity
fps
Muzzle Energy
ft/lbs
100 Yd
3 Shot
Group”
Speer Hornet HP 33 12.9 1.680 AA 9 10.5 3102
705 1.1
Speer Hornet HP 33 12.9 1.680 H110 13.0C 3182
742 1.0
Speer Hornet HP 33 12.9 1.680 Lil’ Gun 13.5C 3179
741 0.6
Nosler Varmageddon 35 12.3 1.705 Alliant 2400 10.5 2966
684 0.9
Nosler Varmageddon 35 12.3 1.705 H110 12.7C 3164
778 1.0
Nosler Varmageddon 35 12.3 1.705 Lil’ Gun 13.5C 3227
810 0.8
Hornady V-Max 35 12.4 1.715 H110 12.8C 3194
793 0.8
Hornady V-Max 35 12.4 1.715 Lil’ Gun 13.5C 3238
815 0.5
Hornady V-Max 35 12.4 1.715 RS Enforcer 11.2 3031
714 0.9
Sierra JHP 40 12.0 1.800*
H110 12.2 3036
819 0.4
Sierra JHP 40 12.0 1.800* Lil’ Gun 12.7C 3096
852 0.9
Sierra JHP 40 12.0 1.800* Win 296 12.2 3007
803 0.7
Remington JHP 45 12.5 1.720 H110 12.2 2947
868 0.6
Remington JHP 45 12.5 1.720 Lil’ Gun 13.2C 2981
888 1.0
Remington JHP 45 12.5 1.720 Win 296 12.0 2903
842 0.5
Berger FB 50 10.6 1.800*
H110 10.5 2730
828 0.6
Berger FB 50 10.6 1.800* Lil’ Gun 11.5 2761
847 0.5
Berger FB 50 10.6 1.800* RS Enforcer 10.5 2607
755 0.8
Remington PSP 55 10.7 1.800*
H110 10.4 2582
814 0.9
Remington PSP 55 10.7 1.800* Lil’ Gun 10.2 2594
822 1.0
Remington PSP 55 10.7 1.800* RS Enforcer 9.5 2423
759 1.2
*All exceed SAAMI Maximum cartridge length of 1.723″. All were verified to clear Ruger rotary magazine and rifling of subject firearm.

Last, lasting impressions

I don’t know about you, but I had fun. The Ruger Model 77/22 is a slick rifle, accurate and reliable. It doesn’t sound like a hollow drum when you tap on the stock, the finish is top notch both metal and laminated stock. Controls are smooth, bolt stroke is short and the rotary mag setup is handy. It worked for me for recreational target shooting, it was responsive to handloading, it was excellent at dispatching the local rodent population. If there is one think I could pick at, it would be nice if Ruger could upgrade the trigger to the quality they designed into their American rifle series. Pull is smooth, moderate in pull, but a tad on the long side. Another nice rifle, as we might anticipate, from Ruger.

17 Hornet Handload Data

Warning: Bullet selections are specific, and loads are not valid with substitutions of different bullets of the same weight. Variations in bullet length will alter net case capacity,  pressure and velocity. Primer selection is specific and primer types are not interchangeable. These are maximum loads in my firearms and may be excessive in others. All…

Real Guns is a membership supported publication. Membership offers access to: all current and archived articles, handload data, ballistic calculators, and the Real Guns Image Gallery. Membership is available for $29.95 for twelve months.

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Ruger’s 77/22 And The Sting Of The Hornet Part 1 How to relax and enjoy firearms...

No rock-a-billy, no 60’s rock, no Neil Young, no Jackson Browne… not even the Eagles. Today it is all Commodores and singing along with front man Lionel Richie. Great voice, mellow fellow and I can actually understand the words to his songs. Anyway…

The Ruger 77 Series rifles: 77/44, 77/357, 77/22, 77/17 represent the useful side of firearms, as there is something in that mix for just about everyone. Available in a number of configuration, with a variety of barrel lengths and in broad selection of chambers. I sense a table coming on…

Model # Caliber Material Barrel
Length
Barrel
Type
Stock
Type
Sights*
7212 17 Hornet Stainless 24.00 Heavy Laminate None
7217 17 WSM Alloy Steel 20.00 Sporter Walnut None
7218 17 WSM Stainless 18.50 Heavy Laminate None
7201 22 Hornet Alloy Steel 20.00 Sporter Walnut None
7204 22 Hornet Stainless 24 Heavy Laminate None
7405 357 Mag Stainless 18.50 Sporter Synthetic Adjustable
7401 44 Mag Alloy Steel 18.50 Sporter Walnut Adjustable
7402 44 Mag Stainless 18.50 Sporter Synthetic Adjustable
7403 44 Mag Alloy Steel 18.50 Sporter Synthetic Adjustable
*All models include Ruger scope rings for Ruger mount system

 

All Model 77/22 and derivatives share a common design, short throw, short actions with 90° bolt lift. Sporter weight barrel guns weigh 5 – 5.7 lbs, heavy barrel models from 7 – 7.5 lbs. They all have the same length of pull and drop at comb and heel. Subsequently, moving from one caliber to another, any experience in one, plays out in all others. i.e. training invested with rimfire models or varmint rifles, will serve medium size game hunters with heavier calibers.

With a bit more specificity…

The Ruger Model 77/22, as is the case with all Ruger firearms, 100% manufactured in the United States. It is not one of those products with “Made in the U.S.” hang tags, but are actually assembled in the U.S. from all foreign made parts. So in addition to a high quality product, there is the bonus of lots of American jobs and lots of very nice people who share our interest in firearms.

The Ruger Model 77/22 rifle, chambered for the 22 Long Rifle cartridge became a concept for a high grade rimfire rifle in 1982; a discussion between Roy Melcher and Bill Ruger. The design was completed in 1983 and the product was introduced in 1984.

Jay Jarvis modified the 77/22’s design by elongating the rifle’s action, trigger guard, magazine aperture, and magazine to accommodate the 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cartridge for a 1990 introduction. The 22 Hornet version of the Model 77/22 was another Jay Jarvis effort, with another iteration of elongated pieces, plus a change to a threaded barrel shank. This model was introduced in 1994 and proved to be a very popular combination of rifle and cartridge. 1)

 

Ruger 77/22®
Manufacturer Ruger – Newport, New Hampshire
Model # 7204
Type Bolt Action
Caliber 22 Hornet
Mag Capacity 6
Barrel Length 24″
Rifling 1:14″ RH 6 Groove
Weight 7.0 Lbs 8 Oz
Overall Length 43.25″
Stock Green Mountain Laminate
Hardware Stainless Steel
Length of Pull 13.5″
Drop at comb 0.5″
Drop at heel 1.0″
Sights None
Scope Ruger Rings Included
Trigger
4.5 Lbs
Safety Thumb 3 Position
MSRP $1,069
 

The long barrel, 22 Hornet version was selected as the subject firearm because it suits both novice and experienced firearm enthusiasts. The combination is a solid choice for recreational target shooting and for varmint and small game hunting. It is virtually recoil free and produces a relatively low level of report. Beyond these characteristics and the combination’s accuracy and reliability, it is inexpensive to shoot with factory ammunition and the Hornet is an easy and inexpensive cartridge to handload.

Now that’s different…

Nomenclature as defined in the Model 77/22 parts diagram and parts lists. The Model 77/22’s locking lugs are at the front of the bolt handle assembly, midway into the receiver, which makes for a very rigid assembly. Pushing ahead of the bolt handle assembly is a long, non-rotating breach block that glides in the receiver and makes for very smooth bolt travel behind a cartridge. Neither the bolt handle assembly or Breech Block share a cross cartridge common part number.

The bottom side of the 77/22 is flat, making for a steady hold when shooting from the standing position and a good surface when shooting from a rest. The familiar Ruger rotary magazine sits flush with the stock, holding 6 rounds of 22 Hornet. The stock is a dyed, hardwood laminate that is colorful, but actually it is an effective camouflage outdoors as they are all colors of woodland nature. Bottom metal is all stainless steel.

In view, the 3 position thumb safety just aft of the bolt handle; fire, safe with free bolt motion, safe with bolt locked in battery. The Ruger proprietary scope mounting system provides three scalloped clamping surfaces to accommodate short and long tube scopes. The rings clamp on with cross bolt fasteners and have a horizontal nub that keys to the receiver top to prevent any longitudinal shift. The rings are available in low, medium and high, 1″ and 30mm scope tube size, stainless and blued alloy steel. In this case, medium high rings supplied with the rifle provided credit card thickness clearance for a scope with a 50mm objective lens.

The 22 Hornet

L-R 22 Hornet, 223 Remington. You would think, because of its diminutive size, the 22 Hornet is a very young cartridge but, in fact, it is not. The 22 Hornet was developed from the 22 WCF in the late nineteen twenties at Springfield Armory. By 1930, commercial ammunition was available and it quickly became popular world over. In Europe the 22 Hornet is known as the 5.6x35Rmm, and a Quarter Pounder with cheese in France is called a Royale with cheese… which mostly proves I’ve read portions of Cartridges of the World and I’ve seen all of the movie Pulp Fiction, several times.

Cartridge Bullet
Grains
Muzzle
FPS
100
FPS
200
FPS
300
FPS
22 LR CCI 36 1260 1003 874
22 Win Mag CCI 35 2100 1561 1031
22 Hornet Hornady 35 3100 2271 1590 1126
223 Remington 35 4000 3354 2795 2299

Compared to the 22 LR the 22 Hornet, like the 22 Mag, has jacketed bullets for a better BC and controlled expansion on game. The Hornet also offers 146% greater velocity than the 22 LR and 48% greater velocity than the 22 Mag. K versions? It is a lot of work to make a modest velocity cartridge ever so slightly less modest. Adding a half grain to the Hornet’s capacity and improve case life. I’ve never had an issue with standard Hornet case life, and I have never seen the K version add velocity to measurable degree without the handloader bumped up pressure above the standard Hornet  49,000 PSI SAAMI MAP. The Hornet will never be a 223 Remington as it was never designed or intended for that level of performance.

The 22 Hornet is a terrific transitional cartridge for folks moving up from rimfire to centerfire firearms, it is a terrific cartridge for those with a developing interest in handloading. For the experienced shooter, the 22 Hornet represents inexpensive recreational target shooting, pest patrol and small game hunting comfortably at 100 to 150 yards, no recoil and ear friendly low report. For the experienced handloader, the 22 Hornet promises hours of low cost, high reward, handloading projects. The trick to appreciating the 22 Hornet is to recognize its superiority to the 22 Long Rife and magnum rimfires and its performance as subordinate to the 223 Remington.

We’re going to take a break here and collect some fresh live fire data and see if we can’t develop some new handloads.

 

1). R.L. Wilson, 1996 “Ruger & His Guns – The History of the Man, The Company and Their Firearms”
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