April 2003

Anschtz, Ruger, Marlin & Savage: .17 HMRs Meet Head-to-Head

All of the guns shot well, but it was no surprise that the higher-priced Anschtz came out on top in our evaluation.

When the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire cartridge was announced early last year, few people in the industry anticipated that it would be as big a smash hit as it came to be. Ammunition has been difficult to find on dealers’ shelves at times, and many .17 rimfire shooters took to buying supplies whenever they found it in stock.

The first guns chambered for the round— Rugers and Marlins — started showing up on dealers shelves in late spring or early summer last year, and by the end of the year, virtually every major maker of rimfire rifles was making guns for the new cartridge. Everything seems to be selling well, and supply has not really caught up with demand, yet.

We did our first preliminary testing of the new round with a Ruger 77/17 in February 2002, and have been shooting the cartridge more-or-less consistently ever since in a variety of rifles. We’ve burned up more than 1,500 rounds of .17 HMR ammo, most of it in the field on varmints. We can unequivocally say it was the most accurate and has the best ballistics of any hunting rimfire round on the market today. We have shot or seen shot a variety of game with the new round, from ground squirrels to coyotes to one wild boar. The tiny 17-grain Hornady V-Max bullet at 2,550 fps, while not as devastating on small varmints as some of the 30- to 34-grain loads in the .22 Winchester Magnum, was extremely accurate and does a splendid job on small game out to an honest 200-plus yards.

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