The following article appeared in Magnum of August 1999 and is reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher.
Monolithics for the Hornet
By Koos Barnard
Left to right: Unfired GS Hornet for comparison; the two bullets recovered from the impala heads (see text); and the three recovered from the wetpack. Weight retention of all the GS Hornets was more than 90%.
The .22 Hornet is a low velocity centre-fire calibre meant for varmints and small game at distances up to 150m. Its small case capacity limits it to light 40 and 45gr bullets, and fast-burning pistol powders. American reloading manuals state that it is possible to obtain 2800fps with the 40gr bullet and 2700fps with the 45-grainer, but these velocities seem very optimistic. With South African powders (S265 or MP300), the best we can do is about 2600 and 2500fps respectively. South Africans have used 40 and 45gr bullets (particularly the heavier one) with total satisfaction in their Hornets and few have tried to 'magnumize' this mild little centre-fire by using lighter bullets.
When monolithic bullets arrived on the scene, they were soon being made for most popular calibres - except the Hornet. Weight for weight, monolithics are longer than standard bullets, and 45gr monolithics are too long to stabilize in the Hornet's 1:16" barrel twist. What was needed was a monolithic with the same overall length as the standard 45gr soft-nose.
GS Custom bullets came to the rescue of those who want to put a tiger in the Hornet's tank - with a moly-coated 35gr hollow-point with an overall length of l4mm and three horizontal grooves in the shank area to reduce the bearing surface and thus pressure.
A pamphlet, included with the test bullets, suggested a starting load of 6.7gr MP200.
I loaded five rounds with 6.7gr MP200 and five with 7.lgr The lighter load was very fast, 2750fps, but the primers were severely flattened and group size was 2.6". As my Brno ZKW action is very strong, I risked trying one of the heavier load - as expected, this was an overload that resulted in a blown primer. Fortunately no harm was done to the rifle or yours truly (Koos has been censured - we DO NOT recommend that anyone be foolhardy enough to follow his example. - Ed.) Pistol powders, like MP200, burn very fast and an increase of 0.2gr can have a significant influence on pressure in such a small cartridge case.
The safe route was to go back to my standard 45gr load of 10.2gr S265 and to reduce the MP200 loads drastically. With 10.2gr S265 my rifle, which has a 21" barrel, produced an average of 2603fps and printed a 1.65" three-shot group at l00m. My friend, Siegfried Kühn's Anschutz (24" barrel) was 34 fps faster and printed 4 shots in 1.53" with the fifth opening the group to 2.2".
With 5.5 and 6.0gr MP200 velocities dropped dramatically and pressures were low (going by the appearance of the primers). The lighter load was good for 2328fps and a MOA three-shot group, while the other load averaged 2503fps and printed a 1.37" three-shot group. I was a bit disappointed with the accuracy, because my Brno shoots MOA groups with Speer 45-grainers in front of 10.2 S265. Unfortunately overall cartridge length is limited to 42mm due to magazine length so I cannot seat the bullets out as far as I would have liked to. I have tried overall lengths of 40 and 4lmm, but it did not make any difference. As time is always a factor because deadlines have to be met, I could unfortunately not experiment more with the seating depth for better accuracy.
We also fired these GS bullets, loaded to three different velocity levels (2300, 2500 and 2700fps) into a wetpack from 25m. All three bullets retained 100% of their weight, but the slowest had hardly expanded, indicating that this monolithic needs higher velocities for optimum performance. I fired three of these 35-grainers (mv 2600fps) from 35m into the heads of two impala shot by another hunter. All three penetrated fully but only two could be recovered from the very hard sand wall that served as backstop. They did extremely well and retained 95% and 99% weight respectively.
The Hornet GS Custom is not cheap, but it is a quality bullet which can also be used for other .22 centre-fire calibres. From a .223 Remington you should be able reach about 3850fps with maximum loads, while 4300fps should be easy to reach from a 220 Swift or a .22-250. Although light, this little bullet is extremely tough and will not blow up. It penetrates on par with heavier soft-nose .224" bullets and should be devastating on small game. Contact GS Custom at 084 338 3006.
GS Custom Bullets,situated in Port Elizabeth on the East Coast of South Africa, manufactures solid copper, turned, monolithic bullets for hunting and sport shooting. These bullets are used by hunters on several continents, hunting from the smallest of antelope to the largest of dangerous game, using the smooth HP bullet, as well as the more popular HV, FN and SP bullets with the patented drive band concept. GSC bullets are configured for the highest possible ballistic coefficients. SP bullets are mainly used for sport shooting. All GS Custom Bullets are moly coated.