22 Hornet vs 223 Rem
Ballistics Performance Comparison of 22 Hornet vs 223 Rem Cartridges
While the .223 Remington is a very popular modern varmint hunting cartridge, the .22 Hornet has survived in the marketplace since the 1920s for a reason. Many hunters opt for the .22 Hornet thanks to its mild recoil and ease of shooting within 200 yards, while others will go for the readily available, higher velocity .223 Remington. In this guide, we’ll analyze several key factors between these cartridges so you can decide which works best for your unique hunting needs.
The following ballistics tables show a side by side comparison of the 22 Hornet vs 223 Remington based on bullet weight and performance metrics including velocity, energy, usage and recoil.
|22 Hornet||223 Remington|
|Bullet Velocity (Muzzle)||2,665 ft/s||3,100 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 100 yds||2,241 ft/s||2,751 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 200 yds||1,858 ft/s||2,428 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 300 yds||1,523 ft/s||2,127 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 400 yds||1,252 ft/s||1,849 ft/s|
|Bullet Velocity @ 500 yds||1,071 ft/s||1,597 ft/s|
|Bullet Energy (Muzzle)||710 ft⋅lb||1,323 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 100 yds||502 ft⋅lb||1,042 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 200 yds||345 ft⋅lb||811 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 300 yds||232 ft⋅lb||623 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 400 yds||157 ft⋅lb||471 ft⋅lb|
|Bullet Energy @ 500 yds||115 ft⋅lb||351 ft⋅lb|
|Hunting Usage @ 0 yds||Small Game||Medium Game|
|Hunting Usage @ 100 yds||Small Game||Medium Game|
|Hunting Usage @ 200 yds||Small Game||Small Game|
|Hunting Usage @ 300 yds||Not recommended||Small Game|
|Hunting Usage @ 400 yds||Not recommended||Small Game|
|Hunting Usage @ 500 yds||Not recommended||Small Game|
|Hunting Recoil Energy||1.3||3.9|
|Hunting Recoil Velocity||3.3||6|
|Hunting Recoil Score*||1.20||1.57|
|*Cartridge ballistics, usage and recoil figures takend from Sportsman's Warehouse rifle ballistics and rifle recoil tables. Recoil score based on weighted average of recoil energy and recoil velocity normalized between 1 and 10.|
When comparing cartridges, it’s useful to get down to the numbers and make a direct comparison. Here we see that the .223 Remington has a strong advantage over the .22 Hornet. Right out of the muzzle, it’s traveling 435 ft/s faster than the .22 Hornet. At 200 yards (the extent of the .22 Hornet’s effective range), the .223 is moving 570 ft/s faster. At 500 yards (though you wouldn’t want to shoot anything with a .22 Hornet at this distance!), the .223 Remington is moving 526 ft/s faster.
Knowing that the .223 Remington has a higher velocity and heavier bullets, it’s not a huge surprise that it has a significant advantage when it comes to energy. We’re comparing a 62 grain .223 Remington with a 45 grain .22 Hornet, and it’s important to remember that extra weight does mean extra energy in this context. Out of the muzzle, the .223 Remington has a big advantage of 613 ft-lbs over the .22 Hornet. At 200 yards, that advantage is 466 ft-lbs as the .223 Remington starts to lose steam. At 500 yards, the .223 Remington has an extra 236 ft-lbs over the .22 Hornet, but at this point the .22 Hornet has too low of an energy to reliably kill a target of any size.
The .223 Remington shoots flatter than the .22 Hornet, and it is viable for far longer. At 100 yards, both a 55 grain .223 Remington and a 35 grain .22 Hornet will see 0” of drop. At 200 yards, the .223 Remington will drop just 2.8”, while the .22 Hornet will drop double this at 5.6”. Past 200 yards, the .22 Hornet is not a usable cartridge, while the .223 Remington can be used on small game out to 500 yards.
Both of these cartridges have a nice light recoil that should be manageable for most shooters, even those just starting out. However, the lighter .22 Hornet does have an even lighter recoil than the .223 Remington. This makes it a nice choice for target shooting, plinking, or just a smaller framed or more recoil shy shooter who knows they’ll be primarily hunting inside of 200 yards.
The .223 Remington is a solid varmint and predator cartridge. Its increased weight over comparable varmint cartridges makes it a good choice for larger animals such as coyotes. The .22 Hornet has been successful primarily as a varmint cartridge, and can be used on small game (up to coyotes and foxes) within 200 yards. The biggest difference between these two cartridges is range: if you want to shoot anything reliably over 200 yards, you’ll need to go with the .223 Remington.
Price & Availability
The .223 Remington is an incredibly popular varmint hunting cartridge, and is therefore readily available at inexpensive prices from virtually all ammunitions manufacturers. While .22 Hornet has decreased in popularity over its long life, it is still fairly easy to find ammunition, even if you won’t have the same wide selection of factory loads as you will for the .223 Remington.
The .223 Remington is a significantly larger cartridge than the .22 Hornet. The .223 Remington has a rim diameter of .378”, while the .22 Hornet has a smaller diameter of .350. The .22 Hornet’s case length is 1.403”, while the case length of the .223 Remington is 1.76”. The .22 Hornet is typically chambered in 35 and 45 grain bullets, as the twist rate makes it difficult for them to handle larger bullets. However, it is possible to handload .22 Hornet bullets in heavier weights of 50 or 55 grains.
The larger case size also means .223 Remington can handle higher pressures than .22 Hornet. The .223 Remington cartridge has a maximum pressure of 55,000 PSI according to its SAAMI specs. The .22 Hornet tops out at 43,000 PSI. This will impact how safely these rounds can be handloaded.
Thanks to the popularity of the .223 Remington, there are plenty of rifles from virtually every manufacturer chambered in it. While many varmint hunting cartridges are primarily chambered in bolt action rifles, .223 Remington is available in many semi-automatic rifles, including on the AR-15 platform. This makes it a more realistic option for home defense purposes.
As an older cartridge, the .22 Hornet can be chambered in older, more traditional rifles. Many of these have a 1:16 twist rate, which can give them trouble handling bullets over 45 grains.
Which Caliber is Best?
We’ve seen that the .223 Remington outstrips the .22 Hornet in energy, velocity, trajectory, size, and availability, and can be chambered in semi-automatic platforms. So why might you want to shoot the .22 Hornet? If you’ll only be picking off small game within 200 yards, the .22 Hornet gives an even lighter recoil and a lighter punch, which might be useful if you’re managing pests in populated areas and want to keep collateral damage to an absolute minimum. Otherwise, it’s probably a better bet to go for the more popular and more versatile .223 Remington.
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