The .22 Hornet was one of the first centerfire cartridges made. It's origin isn't very clear, but it probably evolved from a combination of the 22 Winchester centerfire and the 25-20. Winchester was the first to begin production of the ammunition in 1930, and Savage produced the first rifle, the 23-D, in 1932. The hornet lost popularity over time, but experienced a revival in the 80's and 90's.
The Hornet has many great qualities. Here's a short list:
- It's Quiet - Compared to high intensity 22s, it's a lot quieter. This makes it ideal for varminting near more populated areas. It also is less likely to scare livestock, or wake the dead.
- It's Easy - The hornet is very easy to shoot, and has very little recoil.
- It's Economical - If you are reloading, you can get 600 rounds from a can of powder (about twice as much as a 223). This saves you quite a bit of change.
- It's Accurate - Despite arguments to the contrary, with care and good upkeep, a .22 hornet can be an incredibly accurate firearm.
- It's Practical - Relatively small and lightweight, plus powerful enough to get a rabbit from about 150 yards. Add in cheaply reloadable, and you've got quite a choice.
- It's called the Hornet - Seriously, that's a pretty cool name.
I prefer the hornet to most other small caliber rifles because it's also just a lot more fun to shoot. It has some heft, but not enough to be cumbersome. Altogether, a nice niche gun, with some history added.