Tuesday, 1 July 2014

.14 Walker Hornet, Mouse dropping size bullets at Warp factor Nine !

Small calibre`s really get the old juices flowing and despite what some uninitiated people think they have a real place in vermin control in Britain today. More familiar to us are the .17 calibre rounds such as the .17 Mach 2 or .17 HMR rimfires or the .17 Ak Hornet, .17 Fireball , .17 Remington and Hornady`s new .17 Hornet. However since the late seventies a chap from...

.14 Walker Hornet


Small calibre`s really get the old juices flowing and despite what some uninitiated people think they have a real place in vermin control in Britain today. More familiar to us are the .17 calibre rounds such as the .17 Mach 2 or .17 HMR rimfires or the .17 Ak Hornet, .17 Fireball , .17 Remington and Hornady`s new .17 Hornet. However since the late seventies a chap from the States called Bill Eichelberger has produced sub calibres from .14 diameter, in fact .144, .12 ( .123) and even the diminutive .10 ( .103 ) bullet diameters, that’s tiny! Bill designed a series of cartridges to shoot these projectiles that look no larger than a stout mouse dropping in cartridges ranging from reformed .22rimfire cases, necked down .25 pistol brass right up to the totally disproportionate .222 Rem Mag case as used by the .204 Ruger round.

Ten calibre loads such as the 10 Eichelberger Squirrel is based on a shortened Hornet case and will shoot a 7.2 grain bullet at nearly 4000 fps with only 6.5 grains of powder. Similarly the 12 Eichelberger Carbine based on a .30 carbine case can send a 10 grain bullet at over 4350 fps with 13 or so grains of powder. That’s very fast and frugal on the powder but problems really lie in bullet quality or more importantly consistency and trying to keep the bore clean.  .103 is a tiny hole to try and get a cleaning brush or jag down which is why the more practical, relatively speaking is the .14 calibre cartridge variants.

Rifle Spec

Therefore  to me the .14 Eichelberger Hornet or the earlier .14 Walker Hornet round designed by David Walker based on a .22 Hornet case with the neck reduced and body taper straightened or “improved” makes more sense.

Sourcing all the relevant materials needed to fabricate let alone feed such a rifle can be problematic  but as luck would have it I knew a chap  called Dennis’s who was selling a .14 Walker Hornet based on the Ruger No 3 action. Being a single shot rifle it suits the .14 Walker Hornet as trying to get these small rounds to feed reliably can be a problem with rimmed case construction. The forend was reworked with a tension screw through the bottom of the forend to allow you to achieve a perfect tension on the stock screw to the securing hanger to optimise accuracy. The real gem was the stainless steel barrel sourced from the States from Lawrence barrel works who specialise in .14 or smaller barrels although  www.pac-nor.com also now offer .144 barrels. The profile was pure sporter with a 24 inch length and rifling twist of 1 in 8.75 inch that seems a little fast but which is necessary to stabilise bullets of this size, weight and length.

Case Prep

In total there are four forming dies to reduce the neck diameter down from the parent virgin .22 Hornet brass to that of .144 inside diameter. You need to lube between each swaging procedure, to avoid bent, collapsed or stuck cases and annealing is highly recommended, I use a WoodChuckden Annealer. You now need to fire form or blow out the case in the rifles chamber to achieve the “Improved” case profile. But first because of all that case neck reduction it has meant the brass has thickened around the neck area so it will not chamber. You now need to neck turn the brass, again on specialised    K and M or Sinclair neck turners to achieve a 0.166 neck diameter (i.e. 11 thou per neck side), so that when a bullet is seated in the case you have an adequate clearance between it and the chamber walls.

I used a Wilson rotary cutter from Reloading Solutions to trim the case length to fit the chamber length and then deburr inside and out of the case mouth so as not to score the bullet on seating.

Finally you can load your first .14 case and fire form it in the chamber to achieve the final Walker Improved shape. Specialised reloading dies from Neil Jones from the USA make`s  set`s of decapping/ full length or neck sizing dies and bullet seater dies to your rifles specification. These are usually hand dies and need the use of an Arbor press (again Sinclair), they give a better degree of “feel” or precision when reloading small calibres that I have found over the normal threaded die sets.

I used a fire forming reduced load of 9 grains Reloder 10X which perfectly reconfigured the brass and hey presto one .14 Walker Hornet case.

Loads of  Fun

Great care has to be taken when reloading any small calibres as the minute increase in powder charge can cause pressures to suddenly sky rocket. Getting the powder into the tiny neck of a .14 calibre is tricky in the first place!  I used a Harrell pistol powder measure that deals with weights from 0-25 grains and when combined with a .14 powder funnel between the delivery tube and case and a bit of gentle “twirling” to create a vortex flow, I managed to fill the cases.

Bullet seating too is fiddly as .14 calibre bullets can range from 10 to 18 grains which is .22 air gun pellet size!

Faster burning powders are best in small cases but ultimately with the risk of accelerated bore wear over time, particularly down that tiny bore. Typically Alliant Reloder 7 or the newer Reloder 10 X powders have worked well in .17 AK Hornet and .17 Squirrel cartridges I have used.

I had a small, supply of 10.5 and 12.0 grain Lucas and Accuracy Supplies bullets. Both being lead core copper jacketed bullets with small hollow point meplat. I used Quickload Ballistics program as a starting point, and a load of 9.5 gr of Hodgdon H4198 powder under a 10.5 grain bullet and ignited by a Federal small match primer yielded 4011fps. An increase to 10.0 gr gave 4207 fps and 413 ft/lbs with a top load and pressure of 10.5 gr and a whopping 4283 fps. Accuracy was ok 1.5 inches at 100 yards but nothing to write home about. The 12 grain bullets faired better with 1.0 groups and a top load of 10 grains of Vit N133 powder gave 4023fps and 431ft/lbs energy from the 24 inch Lawrence barrel.

Best accuracy and consistency however came from the 15 grain moly coated Genco hand swaged bullets which are beautifully made with a true hollow point design. Trying to pick up these bullets is hilarious and whilst reloading from the “Reloading Hut” in Scotland the draft from the shooting window kept blowing the bullets all over the reloading table!

10 grains of Reloder10X under a 15 grain Genco bullet and primed with a Federal small match primer  shot an average of 3203 fps over the chronograph to produce 342ft/lbs energy, still a bit slow so I upped the charge by one grain only to 11 grains 10 X powder. There was a big increase in velocity to 3484 fps and 404ft/lbs energy, that’s 281 fps increase with only one grain extra powder. The case was becoming full so I squeezed 12 grains of 10 X into the .14 Walker case and sent that Genco bullet flying at 3834 fps and 490ft/lbs, that’s more like it.
Accuracy for each of those loads shot below one inch at 100 yards with the occasional flier, small bullet defects or reloading technique are magnified and found out at this stage of the game.

I still wanted the magical 4000 fps velocity and so changed the powder from 10 X to the faster Reloder 7. This time I started straight at 12 grains load as all previous loads where not showing any pressure signs but you could not get any more powder in the case anyway.
These 15 grain Genco bullets and 12 grains of Reloder 7 powder screamed across the chrono at an average of 4004 fps and 534ft/lbs energy, absolutely perfect with 0. 5 inch accuracy at 100 yards.

I had no17 grain bullets at this time so they would have to wait for another day and hooded crow.


The.14 calibre 15 grain hollow point at over 4000 fps is a very safe round to shoot as it is highly frangible and deadly on game too. The 15 grain Genco is just dynamite on hooded crows and rabbits with instant expansion with lethal results. I would not use them on foxes although I suspect a head shot would be ok. On rats, feral pigeons or squirrels  12 grain solids act like air gun pellets and go straight through with little expansion so ground shots only but the hollow or soft points, how can I say this tactfully, are very very humane! With a muzzle can fitted you actually feel the rifle “jet” forward on the shot as the muzzle blast hits the first blast baffle, absolutely zero recoil or muzzle flip so all the hits can be seen. Only problem is that in a stiff  breeze well actually anything over 8 mph, causes the small bullet to drift and they soon lose their momentum beyond 150 to 175 yards. I have had some great 200 yard shots but would not recommend them. 

The only problem is cleaning the damn thing as .14 cleaning rods bend easily and brass jags are just small slithers of brass and are easily damaged or lost.  At 4000 fps I had to clean after 15-20 rounds otherwise accuracy tailed of a tad although the Moly coating certainly helped but that was bearable due to the enormous pleasure shooting the rifle gave. It may not be ever body’s cup of tea but if you enjoy reloading and experimenting with wildcats or odd cartridges then a .14 calibre may just be up your alley.

 label here

 label here

 label here

 14 Walker Hornet

 14 Walker Hornet

 14 Walker Hornet - Pest Control

Ballistic test

Reloading kit

Reloading kit

Reloading kit

14 Walker Hornet

14 Walker Hornet

By Bruce Potts


JMS Arms - 07771 962121 - Quickload, MAE moderators
email jmsarmsuk.gmail.com

Article and images by Bruce Potts

No comments:

Post a Comment