With the announcement of the soon to arrive 17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire Peter Jones reflects on the current 17 HMR.

17 HMR Rimfire Calibre Review

Like most Deer Stalkers in the UK the slots on my Firearms Certificate are not entirely taken up with Deer Caliber Rifles, instead like many others who hunt deer at least one slot is devoted to a Rimfire rifle for use on vermin.


(From left to Right: Rimfire Cartridges .22LR, .17HMR & Centrefire Cartridges .22 Hornet, .243 Winchester) 

The fundamental difference between Rim fire cartridges and centre fire cartridges is that the firing pin on a 'Rim fire' strikes the rim of the cartridge, the base of which is coated in the priming compound. Centre fire cartridges in contrast use a primer cap which is struck at the centre of the cartridge.

Traditionally more often than not the rimfire rifle most commonly in use has been the hugely popular .22 LR which in the UK can be purchased in semi automatic and bolt action rifles. Today however in the UK it is just as likely to be the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire or 17 HMR as it is more commonly known.

Though being prohibited from being used in semi automatic rifles the 17 HMR is a truly excellent round for vermin all the way up to fox. Developed by Hornady in 2002 from a necked down .22 Magnum the tiny 17 or 20 grain bullets are propelled at around 2,300 - 2500 fps and produce around 250 ftlbs of energy. When compared against the traditional .22LR we can see why it has proven so popular.

 Mid' range Trajectory

                                                                                                        (impact at 100yds)

Typical .22LR                                      

40 gr                                      1050fps / 98ftlbs                                                3.2

Typical .17 HMR

17 gr                                  2,550 fps / 245 ftlbs                                               0.2

20 gr                                  2,350 ftps / 250 ftlb

Clearly the .22LR continues to have a following, particularly when coupled with subsonic ammunition. This after all is where the .22LR excels, it is quiet. The .17 HMR due to its velocity being supersonic has a 'crack' of a report even when moderated. On the other hand the .22LR' s report has substantially fewer decibels and this can be handy if you are say trying to discreetly dispatch a few rabbits around a built up area.  

Personally I have owned both calibers. Today however it is the .17 HMR that remains in my cabinet. The reasons for me are simple. The 17 is accurate out to around 150yds and the amount of drop at this range compared with the .22LR  is tiny. It also packs enough punch to drop a fox should I chance across one. With the .22LR I would simply not feel confident of shooting rabbits beyond say 75yds and as for the fox? Well unless it's a head shot I just wouldn't. And being a deer stalker head shots are not something I like to try, the risk of injury is simply too great.

Another advantage of the tiny .17 bullet is that it is highly frangible and will break up on any impact. Sadly this is not the case for the .22LR which is notorious for ricochet.

Whilst the 17 HMR is a beautifully accurate cartridge one word of warning, it is highly affected by wind. Even moderate gusts will move your bullet some distance off target.

As with all calibres it is of course a very personal choice however for me all things considered it is the 17 HMR that wins the day but for how much longer?  Well what has got me thinking about this calibre is the recent announcement of the forth coming, all new, soon to be launched, super dooper .17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire!!

Initial reports claim the .17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire will propel a 20 - 25 grain bullet at around 3000fps producing a 50% flatter trajectory than the .17 HMR! This is impressive stuff, time will tell if this new round will take off, however early indications are exciting, personally I can't wait to try it!.

For more information about other rifle calibres click on the following link:  rifle-calibres 


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