Lipsey’s Exclusive Ruger No. 1 Single-Shot 22 Hornet

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 30th, 2018

 

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The single-shot rifle is as much about attitude as it is about mechanics. In the mid nineteenth century, the single shot was a necessity, as repeating rifles were rare and still in development. Today, hunters and shooters have hundreds of choices in repeating rifles, from lever-actions to bolt guns to pumps to semi-automatics. These rifles have magazines with capacities from just a couple up to forty or more, yet some hunters still choose to go afield armed with a single-shot rifle. It is about attitude. A hunter who knows that his first shot is likely his best and maybe his only shot, is more apt to make that shot count, and to place it precisely.

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, some chose single-shot rifles because they cost less than repeaters. Today, with a raft of really good inexpensive bolt-action rifles available, that is rarely the case. Many who chose the single-shot are well-heeled and will pay a premium for a quality single-shot rifle. The rifle featured here is one of the best single-shot designs ever built; the Ruger No. 1. The Ruger No. 1 was first introduced back in 1967 and has been in constant production for over half a century now. The No. 1 has been chambered for cartridges ranging from the 218 Bee up through cartridges suitable for taking any game on Earth, and most everything in between. It is a wonderful design, and no more elegant rifle has ever existed than the Ruger No. 1.

Currently, the Ruger No. 1 rifle is available chambered for nineteen different cartridges, from big bores down through the efficient little 22 Hornet, which is the rifle featured here. The Hornet is a classic cartridge, uses very little powder, is relatively quiet compared to most centerfire rifle cartridges, and is a delightful little varmint cartridge. The Ruger No. 1 rifle chambered for the 22 Hornet cartridge is available exclusively through Lipsey’s, a large firearms distributor in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. They distribute firearms to dealers all across the United States, so chances are, there is a Lipsey’s dealer near you.

This Ruger No. 1 is, in addition to the chambering, done up in spectacular fashion. It is the No. 1A Light Sporter design, meaning it wears open sights on a slender twenty-two-inch barrel, has a barrel-mounted front swivel mount, and has the classic Alex Henry-style forend. Beautiful. As if all that wasn’t enough, this Ruger has a case-colored receiver, grip cap, and lever as well as a jeweled lever latch by Tyler Gun Works of Friona, Texas. Bobby Tyler and his crew do magnificent work and do the case-coloring of many firearms in the industry. The wood on the 22 Hornet shown here is checkered and beautifully-figured walnut. The barrel swivel studs and sights are a deep satin blued. The rear sight is adjustable, and the front wears a gold-colored bead. Like all Ruger No. 1 rifles, this Hornet comes with scope rings, and also included are sling swivels. The buttstock is fitted with a synthetic rubber pad. There is no finer-looking rifle on the market today anywhere near the price range of this Ruger No. 1.

22 Hornet ammunition is readily available, and very efficient, offering good velocities for its diminutive size. Reloading for the little Hornet is easy, and the two best powders available today, in my opinion, are Hodgdon’s H110 for lighter weight bullets in the thirty-grain class, and Hodgdon’s Lil’Gun powder for the heavier 45 grain and up class. Both powders give high velocities and excellent accuracy in the 22 Hornet cartridge.  The little cartridge is so efficient that a handloader will get around 600 loads from a one-pound can of powder! Bullets are available that are built to expand at Hornet velocities, and the little cartridge works well on small and medium-sized vermin out to around 250 yards. The Ruger has a one-in-fourteen-inch twist.

The fit and finish on this rifle is very good. Wood-to-metal fit is excellent, with no gaps, and the wood is only slightly proud above the receiver. The cut checkering on the stock could best be described as flawless. It seems that Ruger takes extra care with the No. 1 rifle, and it shows.

For accuracy testing, I mounted a Leupold 6.5 to 20 power target scope. Such a scope is overkill for the 22 Hornet cartridge, but it allows me to test the potential accuracy of the rifle. A good quality 3 to 9 power scope would be very versatile on this rifle. The little Ruger will shoot! No. 1 rifles as well as the Hornet cartridge are great hunting tools, but neither is noted for outstanding accuracy. However, the Ruger performed well. I fired three-shot groups at 100 yards on paper, and accuracy varied from the smallest group of one-half inch up to the largest at just over one and one-half inches, depending upon the ammunition. The smallest groups were fired with handloads assembled using the Barnes 30 grain Varmint Grenade bullet and Lil’Gun powder. The only factory load available to me was the Winchester 45 grain Hornet load. This is an excellent factory load, for those who do not roll their own. It uses a 45 grain hollowpoint bullet that is built to expand at Hornet velocities. From this rifle, it averages 2702 feet-per-second (fps) at ten feet from the muzzle. The 30 grain Varmint Grenade broke the 3000 fps ceiling using H110 and came very close with Lil’Gun. The 45 grain Hornady bullet did best with Lil’Gun, topping 2700 fps at ten feet from the muzzle. All accuracy and chronograph testing were done at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, with an air temperature of eighty degrees Fahrenheit and eighty-seven percent humidity, with a slight breeze.

Functioning of the Ruger No. 1 was flawless. As expected, extraction was easy. The trigger pull was heavier than I like for a varmint rifle, releasing crisply with five and one-half pounds of resistance. Recoil, as expected, was almost nothing. The Hornet does have a good report, but nothing like as loud as a 223 or 22-250 varmint rifle, but still can push lightweight bullets over 3000 fps. Dandy little cartridge, and perfectly suited to this Ruger single-shot rifle. The Ruger weighs in on my scale at seven pounds, two ounces without scope or rings. It handles very well; well-balanced and comes to the shoulder quickly.

There are those who scoff at the use of a single-shot rifle for hunting, claiming that one shot is not enough. The Ruger can be reloaded rather quickly by a competent rifleman. Not as quickly as one can fire a semi-auto or even a bolt gun, but a good marksman is not handicapped by using a single-shot rifle.

Then again, from an economic point of view, one can buy at least three excellent Ruger American bolt-action rifles for the price of this single-shot Ruger No. 1. That ain’t the point. Those who choose the Ruger No. 1 do so for various reasons; among them, simplicity, beauty, elegance, and the romance of doing that which needs to be done with one well-placed shot. The American is a good rifle, but it will never wear the grade of walnut that Ruger places on the No. 1. It will never be as short and handy, given equal-length barrels, and it will never exude elegance as does the No. 1. The Ruger No. 1 is a special rifle for special hunters, and this particular Ruger rifle, with the beautiful enhancements by Tyler Gun Works makes it even more special.

For the location of a Lipsey’s dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order quality 22 Hornet ammunition, go to www.midsouthshooterssupply.com and  www.luckygunner.com.

Check out the full line of quality Leupold optics at www.leupold.com.

For a closer look at the custom touches offered by Tyler gun Works, go to www.tylergunworks.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Leupold Target 6.5-20x scope.

 

 

100- yard accuracy.

 

 

 

 

Author's favorite bullets and powders for the 22 Hornet.