What 17 do I want?

  • Gentlemen,
    Recommend to me a good bolt action 17 caliber rifle.

    I'm thinking 17 HMR, but I'm open to other options as well.

    The primary use of this rifle will be to end the existence of the ground squirrels (and the occasional beer can or two, should I fail to find said squirrels) on and around my deer property out to ranges around 250 yards (Beyond that I'm probably going to use my 700P in .223)

    I'll probably be willing to spend 600 or so before the glass.

    I went by the LGS and they had a few CZ's and a bunch of Savages. I'm aware that Savage rifles don't have the best reputation in centerfire offerings, so I'm wondering how they are in rimfire?
    They had a model I quite liked, with a heavy fluted barrel and a really solid feeling stock that reminded me of an A5. With a rear bag and a bipod I can imagine it would be deadly accurate.

    Thanks for the input.

    I should also add that I'm unfamiliar with the capabilities of a 17HMR is 200-250 wishful thinking?

  • A ground squirrel is going to be pretty small target for a 17HMR at 250yds. I'd rate the 17HMR as a 150-175yd round. Remember, it's rimfire. Rimfire ammo is notoriously finicky. If you get a good lot, and a really good barrel, you can consistently anchor those little gophers at 150-175'ish. Beyond that, the little pills really suffer.

    For that distance, you are going to need a centerfire variety such as the 17 hornet, 17 fireball, or 17 rem.

    The fireball is really short, and doesn't like to feed very well out of much of anything, but I hear that those CZ mini-mausers seem to handle it alright. Same goes for the hornet. The fireball obviously kicks the hornets butt in the velocity department.

    I was in nearly the same situation as you last year. I had a 17HMR already however, so I was well aware of what it could and could not do. I chose the 17 remington. You may have seen it:

    It has no problem whipping up on prairie dogs out to 400yds or so. It absolutely detonates whatever it hits. Here's some evidence:

    The far sod puppies in that video were about 365yds. The closest were about 40yds. The 17 rem enjoys the same near flawless feeding from most anything that the .223 enjoys. Components and dies are readily available. I don't regret my decision one single bit. It's one of the most fun rifles I own.

  • Thanks for the reply Orkan, I have indeed seen that video. I get a good laugh at the ones that cartwheel when you hit them. I'm guessing you use a 25 gr Berger or something, that thing has to be screaming along at something like 4300 FPS.
    Probably will put down a yote with a fair amount of ease too, should one happen along.

    Damnit, this is one more thing I'm going to have to research!

    I probably should have more accurately said "what model and brand of 17 rimfire do I want?"

    The intent isn't for me to replace the .223, but to have a more economical option than the .223 for the squirrels that are within that unfair-to-use-the-.223 yard mark. I'm totally ok using the 700 for 175+ squirrels. The .223 load you guys helped me develop is so accurate that I'm able to drill them up to 350 (the longest shot thus far).

  • I'm using a 25gr Amax at about 4000fps. Nice stable node.

    For a rimfire, I'd definitely go with a 17HMR. As for a host, I think you'll find the $600 rifles are lacking quite a bit. They are all pretty terrible. I know, because I've owned almost all of them. CZ, Ruger, Savage, Marlin, H&R, and browning.

    I've not owned the new ruger american rimfire... however I've fondled one many times and it certainly doesn't scream "quality."

    The only two I can recommend for you are going to be the CZ and the Sako Quad.

    CZ makes a 455 tactical trainer with manners stock which you can find in 22lr for around $800-$1000. The "tacticool" version with boyds stock can be found for about $450-$600. However, both those versions are only available in 22lr. Your best bet would be to find the cheapest 455 you can, and then replace the stock and barrel. The CZ would be my second choice because it is decidedly european. The safety is backward, and the trigger leaves something to be desired. Mags aren't super awesome either. Yet, they are accurate enough most of the time. You can get manners stocks and lilja drop-in 17HMR barrels for them. Makes a pretty good combo if you can get over the backward safety and various other things that make CZ feel... weird.

    Sako Quad was my personal choice. I have two of them. One in 22lr with the factory barrel which shoots fantastic. One in 17HMR with a lilja barrel. The factory barrel shot OK, but the lilja is a laser. I had TS Customs cut it to 18" and thread it. The magazines are expensive, but they are very nice. The factory stock is very adequate, and feels like a rifle should. I added an aftermarket rail, replaced the polymer bottom metal with true metal version, and replaced the polymer bolt knob with a KMW knob. Did that on both of them. They are as close to rimfire happiness as I can get outside of my 40X repeaters.

    Or you can buy a savage for $300 and it will be pretty accurate but will not hold up over time, and won't grow with you if you ever ask much of it. Of the "cheap" rimfires, savage probably has the most accuracy potential. You could get one for next to nothing and try out the 17HMR round to see if you like it. If you do, then I'd go with a sako quad.

  • Something else to consider:

    Rimfire ammo really sucks. You can have the best rifle in the world, and it will be for not if you don't find a good lot of ammo. That is time consuming and rage inducing.

    You can get loaded 17hornet ammo for less than $20 per box. I would SERIOUSLY consider going that route if you don't want to spend a lot of time tweaking a 17HMR. They all feel like "little" rifles. Even if you put a manners stock on them, they just feel "weak." The overall experience is not the same as you get with a nice centerfire.

    With the hornet, you can handload and tune your load to your rifle. You can't do that with a 17hmr. Also, you will pick up a significant performance boost over the 17hmr with the 17 hornet. Being in control of your own ammo is a pretty big deal. If I could only have ONE 17, it would probably be my 17 rem... but if I couldn't have that... it would be a hornet, and I'd probably be stuck with a CZ 527.

  • Roger that.
    I'm going to have to investigate this further. It sounds promising and I like the concept of detonating squirrels.
    I'll have to keep shooting the .22LR and .223 while I save up and have this built.
    I really was sorta hoping to have someone say "buy X and be done with it"

    Whats your cost per shot? I really like that I'll be able to use a lot of the same loading components that I have on hand. If it works out to around 30 cents (low end cost of 17 HMR locally) or so I might be persuaded to make it happen.

  • @ragnarnar said:

    Whats your cost per shot?

    On which?

  • Sorry.
    I meant what's the cost per shot on the .17 rem.

    To be clear its a 17 Remington correct? Not a rem fireball or another similar option.

  • If I ignore the brass cost, yes it's about 30 cents per shot. I'm using nosler brass right now, and it's expensive... so if I count on only 6 firings, that makes it about .48 cents per. Obviously I can count on more firings than that. With cheaper brass, you could easily get down around the .35-.40 cents per shot with a 17 remington.

    The 17 rem is an absolute laser. Definitely the king of vermin exploding.


  • orkan; you're leading this guy down the wrong path. You should let him play around trying to find good lots of rimfire for a while. It would make him really appreciate reloading centerfire to get good loads. Wayne

  • @rimfire said:

    orkan; you're leading this guy down the wrong path. You should let him play around trying to find good lots of rimfire for a while. It would make him really appreciate reloading centerfire to get good loads. Wayne

    HAHAHA! Mean... but true. :laughing:

    As a testament to what a 17rem does when it hits a small creature... Here is a picture of a tree, that was about 10yds away from a rat I center punched with it.


  • The B-mag has improved in the last year. The 17 WSM is has excellent potential (will prob never match the accuracy of the 17hmr). I have the bull barrel stainless 1:8 twist and the 25 grain load does well. I tossed the plastic stock and bought a Boyde's varmint in coyote. After bedding the front 2" of barrel it shoots well. Aftermarket bolt which needs bending to work right and you have a decent shooter that you can use in "rimfire only" situations.
    I will try to post a photo, but you can see my bmag on rimfire central under the same user name.

    If I were to do it again I would pay the premium and get the bmag target now available with the laminated thumb hole stock.

  • @orkan said:


    Hey Orkan what balistics program are you using here?

  • Shooter.

  • CZ also chambered the 527 Varmint in 17 Remington.
    Just under $700 at Bud's.
    If you like Walnut. Bell and Carlson make stocks to fit as does HS Precision and of course Boyd's and McMillan and Manners.

  • I think I've actually settled on a centerfire. I'm working out which cartridge I want at this point I'm going back and forth between a 204 Ruger and 17 Remington

  • It's kind of a tough choice. There is a fair argument to make either way.

    The 204 will give you a bit more range and anchoring power. Components are easier and cheaper to come by. It will be easier to reload, since dealing with .17cal bullets and neck diameters can be a real PITA. The trade-off is more recoil. The .17 rem is truly void of appreciable recoil.

    The .17 will require more specialized support equipment. Bore guides, cleaning rods, jags, brushes... etc are a little bit more difficult to source. The pro shot single piece cleaning rods are a clear winner for small cal stuff.

    The way I see it is if I need more smack than my .17rem has to offer, then I want a 22-250 or 22 creedmoor. I went back and forth on the decision between .17rem and .204Ruger myself. The 204 wasn't far enough away from my 22-250's to merit having a new rifle. The .17rem stands pretty far apart as "something else" all together.