Perhaps I should say I am looking forward to my 20th year with the dinky little .17 HMR, as it isn’t quite two decades old— but we are getting very close. I have owned a .17 of some type since its introduction.
My first .17 HMR was a neat little Taurus pump-action rifle. It was more accurate than its .22 Magnum counterpart. Today, my .17 is a Savage Arms Model 93R.
The 93R is a beautifully stocked rifle with a gorgeous target-grade thumbhole stock.
The 93R17, topped with a Bushnell scope, is among the most accurate rimfire rifles I have ever tested. The little .17 deserves a good rifle and the Savage is affordable but more accurate than most of us will be able to hold.
The 17-grain Hornady V-MAX loading runs at 2500 to 2600 fps in most rifles. The 15.5-grain Hornady load is a bit faster.
The 20-grain bullet isn’t a heavyweight, but at 2350 to 2400 fps offers a bit more penetration for larger groundhogs. The advantage of the .17 for most of us is accuracy and flat shooting.
A ground squirrel is in real danger to 125 yards, perhaps more with good optics and a trained shooter.
A caution— it is possible to hit with the .17 HMR at greater ranges than those that guarantee a quick kill. A crow may explode at 50 yards, but over 100 yards the wing bones may stop a .17. Know the target and know the range.
It isn’t difficult at all to be down at the bench rest with the Savage rifle and turn in excellent groups at 100 yards.
As an example, it doesn’t take extraordinary effort to punch three shots into .8 inch with the 20-grain load. Even the lightweight 15.5-grain load will secure a careful shooter a 1.0-inch group.
The 17-grain load, the original loading, remains the one I use for ninety percent of my chores.
It will group .7 to 1 inch in this rifle, depending on how the author presses the trigger and controls breathing.
There are other versions of the 93R17 line of rifles, including more affordable versions with plain-wood stocks and a synthetic stock version.
I am certain they are useful rifles. I simply like my racy thumbhole stock version.
It Has Other Advantages
If you look closely at the Savage action, you find a rifle that cocks on the upstroke on opening, and features a fixed ejector along with dual extractors.
The magazine holds five cartridges and the safety is positive in operation. The rifle features the much-copied Savage Accutrigger. This is a very nice trigger that may be set for a super sharp, crisp and lightweight trigger press.
The Savage features a stainless steel barrel and action, a good choice for an outdoor rifle. The rifle isn’t a burden at just over six pounds with the Bushnell scope mounted. The heavy barrel is 21 inches long and the overall length is just at 39.5 inches.
The thumbhole stock feels right and offers good stability for accurate fire from a solid, braced position. Advantages of the cartridge over the .22 Magnum include limited expense, greater destruction at moderate range and a flat trajectory.
Generally, the .17 HMR is more accurate than its .22 caliber counterparts. Don’t overstretch the caliber, shoot straight and you will have a fine field companion.
What are your experiences with the .17 HMR? Let us know in the comments below.