• The .22 Savage Hi-Power Cartridge

    The 22 Savage Hi-Power was the product of the inventive genius of Charles Newton and first appeared about 1912 in the Savage Model 99 lever-action rifle. The cartridge was first called the “Imp,” and in Europe it is known as the 5.6x52R. The Hi-Power was created by necking down a 25-35 Winchester case to accept a .228-caliber bullet, and was one of the first successful attempts at creating a truly small-bore high-pressure cartridge.

    In the United States, only Savage produced a commercial rifle in this chambering, although a great many custom rifles were chambered for it. In England, the BSA Martini single-shot rifle was chambered for it starting in 1912, and in Europe the Hi-Power has retained limited popularity to this day for use in combination, break open rifles where it is considered adequate for hunting Roe Deer over farmland.

    The Hi-Power was primarily designed for use on varmints, but Savage hoped the cartridge would also be ideal for larger medium-size game. Original factory loads for the 22 Savage used a 70grain FMJ or soft-point pointed bullet with a muzzle velocity of 2800 fps and 1218 ft-lbs. of muzzle energy. The remaining velocity at 100 yards drops to 2431 fps and the energy to 917 ft-lbs. Factory ammunition for the .22 Hi Power is no longer produced in the U.S., but ammunition is still available from the European manufacturers Norma and Sellier & Bellot.

    Brass for the .22 Hi Power can be sourced from Norma importers world-wide, or it can be formed from .30-30 Winchester brass. A small resurgence of interest in the .22 Savage in the United States has lead Hornady to offer a .227 caliber 70 grain soft point bullet for reloaders. While this bullet is advertised solely for use on varmints, it is also adequate for smaller medium-size game weighing less than 100 pounds.

    The 22 Savage Hi-Power enjoyed considerable popularity through the early 1900’s, and was perfectly adequate for smaller deer out to about 100 yards. Savage claimed in their marketing that the Hi-Power downed some of the biggest and toughest game, not only in North America but throughout the civilized world, even listing that it had taken lions and tigers. In fact, Karamojo Bell wrote of using it for shooting Cape Buffalo, his point of aim being just behind the ear. Personally, I wouldn’t be too comfortable using the Hi-Power to pursue anything much more aggressive than a bobcat or coyote.

    In the United States and UK the Hi-Power remained popular for some time for use on varmints and occasionally smaller medium game species, but was finally surpassed and made obsolete by the .222 Remington. One of the biggest detractors for the 22 Savage was that accuracy was often marginal for small game and the bullets sometimes failed to penetrate adequately on larger game. Considering the general quality of jacketed bullets of that era, there is little doubt that the Imp was greatly handicapped by poor bullet quality.

    The Rifle in America by Philip B. Sharpe
    First Edition © 1938 by Wm. Morrow & Co.

    Cartridges of the World by Frank C. Barnes
    Eleventh Edition © 2006 by Krause Publications, Inc.

    Terminal Ballistics Research Knowledgebase
    © 2007-2011 Terminal Ballistics Research

    Comments 4 Comments
    1. Jeff518's Avatar
      Jeff518 -
      Thanks for taking the time to highlight this cartridge. My meager experience with the cartridge agrees with your summary that it is hampered by limited bullet selection. Buffalo Arms Co. is still making three different weights in their soft-point .228" bullets. Some have experimented with using .224" diameter bullets to inconsistent success, but worth trying in individual rifles. I think it's primary attraction remains as a unique and historic varmint caliber chambered in the venerable Savage 99.
    1. charles wood's Avatar
      charles wood -
      I have a 22hp serial number 125435, 1912, 5.6x52R is mainly European available..other 22hp is 1929 sn 327228 both takedowns...killed a Texas hog with the 1912...CRW
    1. NYHunter444's Avatar
      NYHunter444 -
      Does anyone know what the case volume of the brass is ?
      I'm have a formula for Leverevolution powder that works extremely well and it's based on a percentage of total case volume.
      Thank you in advance !
    1. Reloder 43's Avatar
      Reloder 43 -
      New member here, just saw your question about the case capacity of the 22 Savage Hi Power.
      Page 118 of my 1987 copy of The Handloader's Manual of Cartridge Conversions by John J Donnelly shows 2.37 cc, or 36.70 g water.
      The Improved version, with 24.54 degree shoulder angle per side, is on the next page, 2.70 cc, 41.70 g water.
      The original parent case, 25-35 Win, with 8.93 shoulder angle (both sides), is 2.31 cc and 35.68 g water,
      the 30-30 Win, 15.25 degrees per side is 2.88 cc, 44.50 g water.
      Donnelly suggests using new 30-30 brass to re-form to the Hi Power case, probably because 25-35 brass is rarely available. No mention is made about the thickness of the reformed brass or the possibility that new 30-30 cases are built heavier to contain higher pressures than the OEM 25-35 brass.
      The first reference book of case conversions that I am aware of was authored by Maj. George Nonte in the early 70s and is long out of print.
      My more recent copy of Ken Howell's book of cartridge conversions is out on loan right now, but it is a worthwhile reference also. The sources may not agree on the numbers, however, depending on the method of measurement, but comparisons by percentage may be useful.
      I hope this may offer you a little help in your calculations. Sounds interesting, please post your findings.