The pistol grip has more of a deliberate curve
to it, suggesting this rifle is made for shooting in the prone position. There is no
pistol-grip cap, but the stock does taper gently toward the butt end. There is no
cheekpiece on the buttstock, but there is a very moderate monte carlo type comb. It is
very subdued and is just right for lining up your eye with the center of the scope’s
reticle without looking like a canoe paddle.
The rifle does come equipped with a pair of
Weaver bases on which I attached Burris Zee rings that not only add a bit of style to the
rifle but also mate perfectly with the Weaver system. I mounted a Bushnell 6-18x scope.
The action is new and warrants some attention.
The engineers at Savage opted for a sleeve type arrangement between barrel and receiver.
Most of us are familiar with such an installation, as many successful benchrest shooters
use this type of system to stiffen the action for greater accuracy potentials. Less
movement within the receiver and barrel (i.e., vibrations) lead to more consistent
The barrel has been threaded so it screws into
the front end of the receiver. The rear of the barrel is then press fit (in a manner of
speaking) into the receiver. In effect there is a sleeve that covers the last 4 1/2 inches
of the barrel for additional rigidity of the whole assembly.
The barrel is 24 inches and has a heavy
contour that tapers from .805 inch at the receiver to .745 inch at the muzzle. It is
button rifled and is free floating. The stock is relieved quite generously and finished
inside for all-weather protection. Inside the stock, the receiver has a forward, circular
recoil lug that is dovetailed into the base of the receiver then carefully fitted into the
stock. Twin screws hold the action to the stock, and since the rifle is a single shot,
there is no magazine or floorplate to mar the sleek underside. The receiver, barrel and
related parts are polished brightly and blued to a high luster.
The bolt is rather long and measures 7 inches
overall when cocked. The bolt handle acts as one part of the locking system as it locks
into a recess within the receiver. On the opposite side, there is another locking lug that
locks into the rear part of the receiver. The bolt body is finished brightly and is
flattened on the bottom. On this part of the bolt, there is a guide that fits into a
receiver raceway and a slot for the mechanical ejector that is housed at the rear of the
loading platform. Ejection is very positive and throws empty cases forcefully.
The Hornet rifle has twin extractors held by
an extractor spring clip and is very similar to what youd see on a rimfire. Because
the Hornet is a rimmed case, this type of system works well. On the other hand, the .223
Remington and the .204 Ruger are rimless, and on these models Savage employs the
plunger-type ejector (off the Model 110) and a hook extractor. To remove the bolt for
maintenance or travel, pull it to the rear until it stops. Then pull back on the trigger,
thus allowing the bolt to be pulled out of the receiver.
The trigger is outstanding and is set at the
factory for around 2 1/2 to 3 pounds. According to Savage this trigger assembly is
imported from its Lakefield Canada facility and was used on its Biathlon rifle. Apparently
Savage has recently tweaked this trigger system, as the sear let go without a hint of
creep. The safety is located just aft of the bolt handle. Move it to the rear for
safe, forward to fire.
Chambering the rifle in the .22 Hornet was a
very smart move for Savage. Not only is this round a true varmint cartridge, but also with
urban sprawl closing in all the time, its perfect for careful shooting of chucks at
moderate distances. The brain-child of such great riflemen as Wotkyns and Whelen, it was a
varmint round that could satisfy small game hunters out to 200 yards or so.
Factory ammunition is confined to 45-grain
bullets in hollowpoint and softpoint versions, but handloaders have a wide choice of
components. Most manufacturers include weights from 35 to 55 grains in a variety of
designs. Powders range from Whelens original preference of 2400 to IMR-4227. Because
of its very small internal (usable) capacity of approximately 12.2 grains of water,
depending on the case brand, the Hornet is very economical to shoot. With 7,000 grains to
a pound of powder, 9.7 grains of 2400 (a maximum load with some bullets) under a 45-grain
bullet will yield about 721 refills per pound. That puts the cost at about $0.02 per round
This year Remington is offering
itsConsumer Packs of .22 Hornet brass (number RC22H). No longer do you have to
shoot hundreds of rounds or purchase case lots from a distributor to get a cache of brass
for reloading. The Hornet uses Small Rifle primers, and while the so-called
benchrest type primer can be used, Ive found that with a case of limited
powder capacity like the Hornet, its unlikely you will notice any difference. Dies
are no problem, and a neck sizer would be a good addition to your bench once youve
fireformed the brass.
The Hornet is not, nor will it ever be, a
high-velocity varmint round. That can be left to the likes of the .223 Remington, .220
Swift or even the .204 Ruger.