If there ever was a cult classic varmint cartridge it's the .22 Hornet, a cartridge that can trace its factory roots back to the 1930s. Now Hornady has decided to neck down the case to .17 caliber, creating the .17 Hornet.
Loaded with Superformance powder, the new round promises 3,650 fps at the muzzle with a 20-grain V-Max bullet, and its trajectory is comparable to a 55-grain .223 — but, the company says, with the recoil of a .22 WMR. Hornady also says the .17 Hornet will produce less fouling, barrel wear powder and pressure compared to the .17 Rem. and will have lower cost when compared to shooting the .17 Fireball and .223 Rem.
The .17 Hornet will have the same OAL as the .22 Hornet so actions that take the original Hornet will work for the .17 version. Hornady has found a partner in Savage for this new introduction, and my buddy at Savage tells me they will be chambering the Model 25 (Light Varminter) in .17 Hornet. The rifle is available in both synthetic and laminate stock versions.
I'm not blowing smoke when I say that Hornady has become the innovative cartridge developer of our time. Witness the .17 HMR, 6.5 Creedmoor, .375 and .416 Ruger, the Marlin Expresses and more. And I'll be the first to admit I was totally wrong when the company brought out the .17 HMR. I never thought it would become such a huge commercial success.
But what about this new Hornet? Will current Hornet shooters flock to the smaller caliber? Will non-Hornet devotees jump on the new cartridge? Come on you varminters out there — what do you think about the .17 Hornet? Are you going to get one?