Rimfire Cartridges

The rimfire gunners are a bit a different shooting world compared to centerfire shooters. The rimfire cartridges were the first successful self-contained metallic ammunition, with .22 caliber rounds being the main players on the rimfire scene for a very long time. For an illustration, at some point, American ammo makers offered about 75 different rimfire cartridges, but today, rimfires are not the most common form of ammunition.

Anyway, many gun authorities suggest that every firearm aficionado should have a rimfire rifle or handgun in their collection.

.17 Caliber Rimfires

Although .22 rimfire ammunition has been prevailing for a long time, a recent rimfire development has spawned the lighter, smaller caliber bullets that deliver impressive ballistics and pack plenty of punch.

In the beginning, the first .17-caliber rounds were necked-down versions of the .22 cartridges. Due to the lack of the factory .17 caliber bullets, some wildcat ammo designers and enthusiasts made these bullets from tempered copper wire.

From the wildcat-type, today, these “Sweet seventeen” rimfire cartridges are offered in many bullet weights and propellant loadings by all major ammo companies.

 

.17 HMR Cartridge

Currently, one of the most popular and widespread rimfire cartridges is a sub-caliber .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire or .17 HMR for short. Introduced in 2002, it was created as a joint project of Hornady, Marlin and Ruger to compete with .22 Winchester Magnum.

As the most petite commercial round, the .17 HMR is based on a famous .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire by necking down a case to accept tiny and more aerodynamic .17 caliber bullet.

Besides its flat shooting abilities, the .17HMR round provides more power at a long range than .22 WMR, enabling varmint hunters to take out rodents up to 200 yards. Zippy 17- to 20-grain projectiles exit the muzzle in excess of an astounding 2,600 feet per second (fps) and generate muzzle energy of 245 ft. lbs.

Compared to .22 WMR, .17 HMR also comes in a greater variety of bullets designs, including polymer tipped with boat tails, hollow points, soft points, and FMJ. Though the .17 HMR is a favorite among target shooting fanatics because it shoots really flat, Hornady advertises the .17 HMR as a primary varmint bullet with a controlled expansion.

These sophisticated projectiles are designed to fragment in a small game and disintegrate if they hit a hard surface. The frangible nature of the bullets makes .17HMR rounds safer to use as there is less chance of ricochets.

The rimfire .17 HMR is a cartridge with an exceptionally flat trajectory and almost non-existing recoil and muzzle blast. On the other side, you should not overestimate it because, like any lightweight bullet, seventeen’s susceptibility to the wind is its biggest weakness. But with more practice and experience, you will easily overcome this flaw and learn to reliably take out small varmints to 200 yards using the 20-grain hollow points.

.22 Long Rifle (left), .17 HMR (center) and .22 WMR (right) compared.

 

Sidenote

Technically, the .17 HMR shoots whisper-tiny projectiles the same diameter as the BBs, but precisely looking, the .17 HMR rimfire cartridges are loaded with bullets measuring .172 inches (4.37 mm), whereas the .17 caliber airguns use .177-inch projectiles (4.50 mm).

 

.17 HMR Firearms

Since .17 HMR originates from a necked-down .22 Magnum case, it can be used in most .22 LR-sized actions with alterations only needed to the loading port and magazine length. However, besides the re-barreled versions of the .22 LRs and .22WMR models, several manufacturers launched new rifles to help squeeze every ounce of performance out of this zippy tiny cartridge.

If you decide to buy a .17 of any size, you have to be aware that finding .17 HMR rifles has never been an issue compared to other .17-diameter counterparts. As a result of one coordinated project, the three major US gun makers, Marlin, Ruger, and Savage, have offered their rifle designs chambered in a .17HMR cartridge.

Moreover, aside from classic 17HMR bolt action types, there is quite a comprehensive selection of the firearms market. That said, this diminutive rimfire is chambered in semi-automatic firearms, single-shot and lever actions, but wheelgun enthusiasts also have a couple of excellent hunting handguns to choose from.

The Ruger was first to come out with a .17 HMR chambering it in their M 77 model, a classic turn bolt rifle. While this Ruger specialized varmint rifle was probably the best .17 HMR rifle, today, it is discontinued.

Fortunately, Ruger’s fans and the rifle handlers got a Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) and its Magnum Rimfire version in .17 HMR.

Although the little RPR Rimfire in .17 HMR is based upon the excellent Ruger’s American Rimfire rifle line, it merged the accuracy of the M 77 model and tactical specs of larger, high-powered RPRs.

Resembling an AR-type rifle chambered in .17 HMR, the Rimfire Magnum (RM) has many features found in big brother’s centerfires.

The RPR in .17HMR is equipped with a chrome-moly, 1137 steel barrel, molded, one-piece chassis and adjustable buttstock assembly.

Since the .17 HMR is a very flashy round, the cold hammer-forged 18″ target barrel is threaded for standard muzzle accessories like flash hiders or suppressors.

The RPR rifle furniture is based on a 15″ free-float M-LOK handguard with M-LOK slots on all four sides.

Besides a Magpul fore-end made of hard-anodized aluminum, the Magnum Rimfires has a Quick-Fit adjustable stock manufactured with glass-filled nylon for stability and strength. While it doesn’t fold to the side like one in its big brother, it offers an adjustable length of pull and cheek height.

For more comfortable hold and control, Ruger incorporated an AR-pattern pistol grip and reversible safety selector.

The Magnum Rimfire version in .17 HMR comes with an oversized bolt handle. As a smart tip, you can adjust the bolt for a short rimfire pull or a longer one to mimic the feel of a “big rifle.”

The Ruger Marksman adjustable trigger with a pull weight range of 2.25 to 5.0 pounds also contributes to the excellent accuracy.

The Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle is shipped with two magazines (9 and 15 rounds) based upon the rotary magazines for the 10-22.

The Ruger RPR rifles chambered in .17 HMR are best suited for hunting, range shooting and competitions.

Specs:

  • Price $499.99
  • Brand: Ruger
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 18 inches
  • Overall length: 35.13 – 38.63 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Magazine: 15+1 Rounds

2. Savage 93R17 TR-V

Compared to Ruger rimfires, Savage rimfire designs represent another school with greater practical value and more affordable rifles.

The Savage 93R17 is an adult-sized bolt-action rimfire rifle and part of Savage’ Magnum Series’.

Unlike hunting-oriented B17 rifles, the popular 93R17 series of rifles are designed with accuracy in mind. Instead of a 16½in or 18in barrels found on Savage B17s, all 93s sport heavy contour 21″ long barrels with a 1-9″ twist.

The 93R17 comes in 19 varieties and our TR-V model chambered in .17HMR features a durable green synthetic stock that is better-suited to target-rifle shooters.

Besides attaching a rifle sling, you can also attach to the forward swivel stud a bi-pod to the forend.

The 93R17 TR-V is shipped with a detachable stainless-steel box magazine. This single-stack magazine holds ten rounds of ammo.

Like most of the newer Savage’s accurate “plinkers”, the 93R17 TR-V boasts Savage’s AccuTrigger. This user adjustable precision trigger enables rifle handlers to obtain exceptional accuracy with .17 HMR while reaching out over 150 yards to take varmints and small predators efficiently.

Specs:

  • Price $460.99
  • Brand: Savage
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 21 inches
  • Overall length: 39.5 inches
  • Weight: 6 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 10+1

3. Alexander Arms Tactical

When Hornady introduced the.17 HMR, it captured the attention of many in the shooting community. The rimfire is small and compact, but it offers a high level of performance.

When the Alexander Arms rifles were looking to expand the AR-15 platform’s versatility, it was only natural that this would be the rimfire caliber. We started from a blowback mechanism but avoided the traditional layout of the 22RF conversions. Instead, we created a simple, elegant design.

The.17 HMR semi-automatic is equipped with an extra-large extractor, fully-chromed interior components, and even a monolithic mag block. It is specifically designed to take the HMR cartridge’s performance into account. The gun features a fluted barrel measuring 18 inches and threaded 1/2-228. There are many options for handguards or alternative fluting. It is easy to use in the field, and it can be used for casual target shooting and light varmint work.

Although the basic unit comes with an A1 flash hider, the Comp-X from Black Weapons Armory makes a great alternative. It is usually sold as an upper receiver set, which includes all necessary ancillary items to convert the lower to the caliber. You can also purchase it as a complete rifle and telescoping stock.

This conversion is accurate and capable of converting to distances up to 200 yards and beyond. It far surpasses the capabilities of the 22 LR. The muzzle velocity is 2600 fps, and the semi-automatic action can be used to quickly follow up shots. The 10-round plastic, molded magazines are economical and easily available.

The standard.17 HMR convert kit and full rifles in the.17 HMR caliber are compatible with the standard semi-automatic military-style trigger group. Substitution of target-type fire controls groups with lightened hammers or hammer springs to increase bolt speed will result in significant function problems.

Specs:

  • Price $1,280.99
  • Brand: Alexander Arms
  • Action: Semi-Automatic
  • Barrel Length: 18 in.
  • Overall Length: 36-1/2 in.
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Capacity: 10+1

 4. Browning T-Bolt Sporter 17 HMR

 

Browning T-bolt Composite Sporter from 2006 revived an original classic Browning T-Bolt with a straight pull bolt-action.

Browning’s T-Bolt Sporter in unique .17 HMR caliber offers a superb accuracy due to the free-floating medium sporter tube and straight-pull bolt that locks up tight to the barrel.

The unusual “T” shape bolt gave the name to this extraordinary Browning rimfire series of rifles. Another signature of this Browning topnotch product is their single-stage gold-colored trigger with three adjustable settings.

Along with functionality, elegance and refined lines, Browning’s T-Bolt Sporter’s main selling point is a patented 10 round Double Helix rotary-box magazine. Resembling the Ruger’s rotary magazine, this transparent mag has positive, spring-loaded ejection and almost sits flush within the bottom of the action.

Browning equipped this T-Bolt with slender composite stock and 22-inch fluted barrel to reduce weight at only 4.6 pounds, making it one of the lightest options in the rimfire world of sweet seventeen.

Combining somewhat outdated operating action from the ’60s with polymer-composite stock and an ultra-modern magazine, the Browning T-Bolt is one of the most accurate and easy-to-shoot rimfire rifles on the market. Currently, it is the only straight-pull action in the US markets.

Note:  In advertisements, Browning often brags its straight-pull bolt action nearly as fast as a semi-automatic. In real life, T-Bolt fast-operating action offers a slightly higher rate of fire than a traditional bolt action.

Specs:

  • Price $737.99
  • Brand: Browning
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 22 inches
  • Overall length: 40.25 inches
  • Weight: 4.5 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 10+1

5. Anschutz 1727L F

The straight pull repeater action is easily operated with the index finger to open it for reloading. You can close the action again using your thumb. The shooter can reload his rifle by simply moving the wrist. The hand operating the trigger will remain at the grip and even the elbow does not have to move.

Thus, the shooter only needs very little time for focusing. The lock time is extremely short which allows for high hit rates. Anschutz is the first company to produce a rifle of this caliber. Anschutz’s reputation for quality and precision combined with the world’s fastest cartridge create the ultimate solution to the varmint hunter with minimal pelt damage.

Specs:

  • Price $4,195.00
  • Brand: Anschutz
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 22 in.
  • Overall length: 41 in.
  • Weight: 7 Lbs. 8 oz.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 4+1

6. Steyr Zephyr II

Steyr Mannlicher Zephyr II was created to resurrect the original Zephyr rifle. This rifle takes cues from the original Zephyr and sets standards for the hunting-style, bolt action, rimfire gun segment. It is constructed from European walnut with a Bavarian cheekpiece.

The fish scale checkering is also included. It has a tang safety feature and a detachable 5-round magazine. The Mannox finish cold-hammer forged barrel makes it a reliable, durable design that can withstand the elements.

Specs:

  • Price $952.39
  • Brand: Steyr Arms
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 19.7 in.
  • Overall length: 39.2 in.
  • Weight: 5.8 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 5+1

7. Ruger American

The Ruger American Rimfire rifles come with two interchangeable stock module options that allow you to adjust the comb height for iron sight or scope use. This lightweight, black composite stock features sling-swivel studs. It is easy to use and has a 13.75″ pull length.

Marksman adjustable trigger has a pull weight that can be adjusted by the user, ranging from 3 to 5 pounds. The barrel of the Marksman adjustable trigger is free-floated hammer forged and features an ultra-precise, target-crown rifling system that ensures exceptional accuracy, long-term durability, easy cleaning, and a satin blued exterior.

Smooth magazine removal is possible with the 10/22-style extended magazine release. It features a fiber optic rear sight, adjustable V slot in 10/22, folding leaf rear view, and a 3/8-inch rimfire scope. The receiver is also tapped and drilled for Weaver #12 bases (not supplied).

Specs:

  • Price $350.89
  • Brand: Ruger
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 22 in.
  • Overall length: 41 in.
  • Weight: 6 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 9+1

8. Tikka T1x

The Tikka T1x is an excellent rimfire rifle that is built with great craftsmanship. It can be used for everything from small game hunts to practicing at the range. The barrel is cold hammer-forged and has a crossover profile. This provides stability but does not add weight. The bolt made of weather-resistant stainless steel is smooth and reliable.

The synthetic stock is modular in design and can be adjusted to fit the user’s needs using interchangeable pistol grips. You can modify the T1x with any accessory for the T3x.

Specs:

  • Price $619.00
  • Handedness: Left Hand
  • Brand: Tikka
  • Action: Bolt
  • Barrel Length: 16 in.
  • Overall length: 33.7 in.
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 10+1

9. Savage A17 Target

The Savage A17 semi-automatic rifle was the first to be designed for the 17 HMR cartridge’s fast flat-trajectory 17. The button-rifled barrel of this gun measures 22 inches in length and is made from high-luster carbon steel. This gun is virtually identical in appearance and material to its 22 LR chambered Savage A22 counterpart.

What are some similarities? The Savage A17, and the Savage A22, which are both semi-automatic rifles that weigh 5.6 pounds, are very similar in their mission. The A17 and A22 measure 41.5″ and 41 inches respectively. They have synthetic matte black sporter stock, carbon steel receivers, and high-luster finishes. For comfortable carrying, both guns have fore- and rear slings studs.

These guns have some trade-offs. The A17 and A22 do not have Savage’s AccuStock or AccuFit components. This helps to keep the prices down. AccuStock allows for easy removal of the barrel, and AccuFit allows for precise configuration of both the buttstock and the butt stock to ensure a perfect cheek- and shoulder fit.

This pair comes with Savage’s AccuTrigger, which is a great selling point for many buyers. AccuTrigger allows gun owners to set the trigger to their preferred pull. AccuTrigger improves safety by stopping the rifle’s discharge from being jarred or dropped.

As with other Savage guns, the Savage A17 comes equipped with a 10 round rotary magazine. These magazines are popular, but some people don’t like them as much as they should.

The A17 has a lot of twist, with a ratio of 1 in 9. This provides excellent stabilization for departing rounds. The A22 has a 1 in 16 ratio. A17 has a delayed blowback action, while A22’s uses straight-blowback.

Specs:

  • Price $599.39
  • Brand: Savage Arms
  • Action: Semi-Automatic
  • Barrel Length: 22 in.
  • Overall length: 41.5 in.
  • Weight: 6.5 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .17 HMR
  • Round Capacity: 10+1

Final thoughts

As you found until now in this guide, the .17HMR has a bit of extra reach over .22 rimfire cartridges and delivers more reliable kills due to the radically different bullets.  All of these .17 HMR rifles offer exceptional accuracy for hunting varmint and small-sized game out to 200 yards.

If the difference in ammunition price is not an unbearable burden to you, the .17 HMR will be an excellent choice for target practice, firearms training, or plinking.

The .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire was initially designed for use in rifles, but it was quickly adapted to revolvers and pistols for hunting small game or camping/survival activity.