Henry Lever Action Octagonal No. H001TV 17 HMR
It has been said in the industry that "when all else fails, invent a caliber." Part and parcel of any highly new-product driven industry is the constant attempt to invent new lines of price and performance where none exist in a tangible, real-world sense. One fairly recent cartridge development that has gained traction and popularity is the Hornady 17 Magnum Rimfire introduced in 2002. It is remarkable in many respects, gaining distinction as the first successful rimfire cartridge to hit the market in over 40 years. The last rimfire considered to be a "successful" introduction was the 22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire in 1959.<>Most all of the 17-caliber cartridges offered today are either 17- or 20-grain. With such flyweight bullets, as a practical matter they are most suited for ground squirrels, rabbits, and similarly fragile and small-sized game or varmints. CCI reportedly manufactures most all 17 HMR ammunition, though there are slight differences between the brands themselves. As far as we know, this is still the case. As for the case itself, it is the 22 WMR necked down to accept the 17 HMRs 0.172-inch-diameter bullet.
Billed as the "worlds fastest rimfire," it appears to be just that, although there are a few caveats. The sectional density of the projectiles (about .084 for the 17 grain; .097 for the 20 grain) suggest it is not a great platform for penetration, and the ballistic coefficients of the respective bullets (about .123 for both) also promise that windage is a consideration at longer ranges. It clearly is, with just a 10-mph crosswind blowing either bullet horizontally 8 inches or so at 150 yards. Unless your shooting conditions are very calm and consistent, despite the 17 HMRs high initial velocity, it remains a 100- to 125-yard gun for most small-game applications.
What this cartridge promises and delivers on is the fun factor. With negligible recoil and a reasonable cost per shot compared to most centerfires, the Hornady 17 HMR is easy on the shoulder and not especially damaging to the wallet, either. In our quest for value, performance, and fun, we looked Henry Lever Action Frontier Model No. H001TV Octagon-Barrel 17 HMR, $550.
The Henry impressed us with its dashing good looks right out of the box. The medium-stained walnut stock was far better figured than average, the bluing was dark and rich, the lever action was buttery smooth, and its trigger was a very light and crisp 3.5- pound break. The heavy octagonal barrel made it look like a real gun, not a Tinkertoy, and the gold "Henry Repeating Arms" barrel lettering set off the gun nicely. Though traditional, the buckhorn iron sights are a long ways away from our favorites, and we half-expected the Henry to be a bit of a pain to scope up. We were wrong, though, finding that a set of Millett 1-inch Angle-Loc Windage Adjustable 3/8-Inch Dovetail High Rings ($20) mounted our Sightron SII 2.5-10x32mm scope quickly and with no hassle. The Millett rings gave us plenty of clearance to cock and decock the hammer manually and also required no removal of the factory iron sights. Though the 11-shot Henry tubular magazine was not exactly enough to "shoot all day," it was the best magazine capacity of the tested rifles.
We had breezy 8- to 12-mph range conditions, so we decided to do our shooting at a laser-verified 50 yards. We discovered that the Henry didnt care for the 20-grain ammunition, shot the 17-grain Hornady rounds well, but was at its best with the Winchester 17-grain ammunition, shooting several consecutive groups inside one-third of an inchgroups we easily covered with a dime. We hadnt thought that our stable of 17s would be as ammunition-sensitive as 22 Long Rifles tend to be, but we were wrong about that as well. For whatever reason, the Henry told us it liked to be fed the Winchester ammunition the best.
We went over the Henry closely, trying to be as picky as possible. We really couldnt find much to carp about. We did find one section of the forearm wood, the very end pointing toward the muzzle, that was not sanded smooth. It was hard to spot, and we considered it so very hard to discern and in such an unobtrusive area we initially didnt bother to call Henry to avail ourselves of their lifetime warranty. We think that for most consumers, it would go completely unnoticed or would not be considered worth a phone call.
Henry Repeating Arms President Anthony Imperato refers to his companys lifetime warranty policy and customer service policy as "Extreme Customer Service." Since the forearm did have a minor finish flaw, we contacted Henry, described the small cosmetic issue, and sent along a photograph to show precisely what we were referring to. Without hesitation a brand-new replacement forearm was overnighted to us that was finished perfectly. Henry made good on its warranty and customer-service pledge.
The only annoyance we could come up with in use of the Henry is what would be expected with any lever-action shot off our Caldwell Fire Control restwe had to cant the gun to cycle the action, the levers downward throw interfering with the shooting rest itself.
Our Team Said: We liked the octagonal barrel of the Henry, we appreciated the trigger, we enjoyed the lack of rattling present in the loaded gun (as opposed to some tube-fed attempts), and with the Henrys smooth action and more than acceptable accuracy with 17-grain ammunition we ended up impressed. It did everything we could ask of a lever-action 17 HMR.