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  1. #1
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    Default .17 HMR rifle questions

    OK, so I tried a buddy's .17 the other day and it was a lot of fun; a lot gentler on the shoulder, ears and wallet than the .30-06 for sure! I'm guessing (I didn't look) it must have been a centerfire cartridge, as the muzzle velocity was over 3000 fps. For affordability of cartridges I'm thinking of a rimfire, a dollar a pop is getting a little rich for a day of shooting. I'm a newbie on the rifle front and will not be reaching out 500 yds; this'll be more of a rabbit, varminting/plinking and paper-puncher gun. Maybe get a used one.

    Does the guideline of bolt-action being more accurate hold true for rimfires, or is that more of a centerfire thing? I see some interesting lever-actions and autoloaders for the .17 HMR. I don't mind a bolt action at all, I'm not a spray-and-pray guy, but maybe something different than the bolt-action I have on the deer/elk gun would be interesting.

    And what's the difference between a scope for rimfires and a scope for centerfires? I have a target scope that was a gift (6-24 x 50) that'll be a better varmint scope than big game scope, but I don't understand the "rimfire" designation scopewise.

    Any advice/thoughts for a budding gun enthusiast?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  2. #2
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    >I'm guessing (I didn't look) it must have been a centerfire cartridge, as the muzzle velocity was over 3000 fps.

    No. It's a rimfire. It's just a .22 mag necked down to .17.

    >Does the guideline of bolt-action being more accurate hold true for rimfires, or is that more of a centerfire thing?

    A bolt action is generally (not necessarily) more accurate because the lockup on it is solid. The location of the firing pin is irrelevant to that.

    >I see some interesting lever-actions and autoloaders for the .17 HMR. I don't mind a bolt action at all, I'm not a spray-and-pray guy, but maybe something different than the bolt-action I have on the deer/elk gun would be interesting.

    I find it's more instinctive to have them the same.

    >And what's the difference between a scope for rimfires and a scope for centerfires?

    A scope for a rimfire is usually much less sturdy as it does not have to endure very much recoil.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Default

    Thanks MB! I've read some good reviews of the Savage .17 HMRs, though I can't make much sense of their product codes (93R17FSS? I can figure out the 17 part ). I know: guns, trucks and women (and bee races!), but does anyone have thoughts on an entry-level, perhaps used 17 HMR pick/recommendation?
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  4. #4
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    Sad Grrr!

    I just typed a full page for you and lost it!

    OK, well now you have a post from MB who is mostly right, but I have to differ on the rimfire scope being less sturdy in the upper end scopes. It's still a world of getting what you pay for. When you pay $19.99 for a rimfire scope it's going to be junk. It will be an aim point at best and have 7/8th scope base. The upper end 22 and air rifle scopes are built stronger than high power scopes. Air rifles have a reverse recoil and are built with reinforcing in both directions to stand up to the shock. If you have a Leupold 6-24 x 50 EFR it will hold up to anything, even a 50 BMG for awhile.

    http://www.leupold.com/products/Info_Rimfire.htm

    Here is the info on air rifle scopes;

    http://www.leupold.com/products/Info_Air_Rifle.htm

    The Savage rifle : http://www.savagearms.com/93r17fss.htm

    If you are going to buy a used one make sure it has the new Accu-trigger, it makes all the difference in the world.

    The best rimfire rifles for the money are the CZ's.

    http://www.cz-usa.com/products_rimfire_rifles.php

    Look at the 452 varmint, it comes in four calibers and has a single set trigger. Don't pay any attention to the suggested retail price, it can be had for at least a hundred less than that.

    Savage makes a semi auto but it lacks accuracy as do most of the cheaper autos like that.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  5. #5
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    Hey BB, any tips on where to find them at a little better price? I got a screamin' deal on a new Rem 700 .30-06 online, but the place only has larger-caliber long-range guns they say .
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  6. #6
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    Default

    I haven't had the opportunity to fire a .17 HMR yet, but I would like to point out a couple things here.

    First, while the .17 has a flatter trajectory than a .22 rimfire (because the .17 is moving a lot faster), the wind drift on such a light bullet can and will be significant. Like you said, Ben, you're not looking at it for long range shooting, so why not just buy a .22? The ammunition is available just about everywhere, and is very inexpensive.

    Also, it sticks in my mind that the faster the bullet is traveling, the greater the forces on the barrel, and the more quickly the barrel will be worn out.

    So, having said all that, I again say that I haven't had a chance to fire a .17 HMR. Maybe they're worth it, despite any real or perceived drawbacks.

    Secondly, I've often heard (and even believed for a long time) that bolt actions are more accurate than autoloaders, but I no longer really believe it. To my way of thinking, too many other factors come into play. The barrel and the ammunition seem much more important to accuracy, to my way of thinking, than the action. Very few barrels are perfectly straight. Very little ammunition is perfect. Between the two of those factors, I doubt you could tell much difference in the actions.

    Just as a personal example, I've fired my Thompson Center Classic .22 (an autoloader) side-by-side with a few Remington bolt action .22s. The ammunition made a difference. Otherwise, for general shooting, I could see little if any difference between the actions. In fact, if anything, the T/C Classic seemed more accurate than the bolt actions, but that may have been because of the barrel rather than the action.

  7. #7
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    Default

    I had actually looked in to .22 LR and .22 mag as well, but from the ballistics I've been able to find it seems like at ranges under 200 yds the flatter trajectory of the .17 (if I'm reading these things right) was compelling for me. The other cartridge I'd looked at (and probably my current next choice) would be a .223, though they don't pass the inexpensive-to-shoot test as well as the .17HMR. The reason would be if I were interested in developing as a long-range varminter I know the .17 just isn't the go-to round for the reasons you describe.

    Though I'm open to suggestions and ready to learn!
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  8. #8
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    I'm not the rifle expert in this household, but DH certainly is. I will pose your concerns and points to him and will post back.

  9. #9
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    The flatter trajectory of the .17 seems great, I just wonder how noticeable it will be. For me, the drop of a .22 bullet at 100 yards is far less significant than the quality of the ammo. What I mean is, average quality ammo differs from bullet to bullet more than most shooters realize. Bolt your rifle down to a bench, and fire 10 rounds at a target 100 yards away. You'll see more differences high and low and side to side than you might imagine, simply because each round varies enough to throw the bullets off a bit.

    If you're concerned about tack-driving, competitive shooting, the flatter trajectory will be more significant than if you're shooting for enjoyment or just picking off varmits around your place.

    If you do get a .17, keep us posted. I'd like to hear what you decide to get and how you like it.

  10. #10
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    >To my way of thinking, too many other factors come into play.

    Certainly MANY things affect accuracy and a given bolt action could be very inaccurate and a given autoloader could be very accurate. But the action is one of those many things that affects accuracy. All other things being equal (which they seldom are) I'd expect the bolt action to be more accurate.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  11. #11
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    I know that the action gets credit/blame for accuracy, but -- especially after firing quite a few different types of firearms -- I wonder how much influence it has. I'll ask a few physicists, just to see what they say.

    But the action is one of those many things that affects accuracy. -Michael Bush
    So I've heard many, many times. But how? How do the mechanics affect accuracy?

    Have you ever had a bullet get stuck in a rifle barrel? (I've seen it a couple times, in both cases when a primer pushed the bullet into the barrel, but the cartridges were lacking powder.) Have you ever tried to push a stuck bullet through that barrel?

    So, consider the fit of the bullet in the barrel, the twist of the riflings inside the barrel, and the "straightness" of the barrel. Consider the length of the barrel, the "perfection" of the bullet, the consistency from round to round of the powder behind the bullets. Then consider any potential movement from the shooter, the wind speed and direction (and differences in the winds between the shooter and the target).

    Then, consider that all of the military, long-range, .50 sniper rifles are based on semi-automatic actions. If bolt actions are inherently more accurate than autoloaders, why wouldn't the military demand bolt actions on sniper rifles intended to make shots of 1000+ yards?

    All other things being equal (which they seldom are) I'd expect the bolt action to be more accurate. -Michael Bush
    I agree that all other factors are rarely (if ever) equal. At the same time, I suspect that the myth that bolt actions are more accurate than autoloaders may be just a myth.

    Even if it's not, especially for short-range stuff, I'd choose a firearm based more on it's practicality, it's "feel" (you know, the way the gun balances in your hands, the way it fits to your shoulder, etc.), and the quality of its construction than on the type of action.

  12. #12
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    a couple of things; 17 hmr does not have 3000 fps, maybe 2500, velocity as it is a rimfire. however, a 17cal centerfire cartridge does and will be more expensive to shoot. the 17 cal rimfire ammo for 17 hmr is about $12 per 50 rounds. the 17 mach 2 is another rimfire and costs about $7 per 50 rounds. the 17 hmr is a 22 magnum cartridge necked down to 17 cal. the mach 2 is a 22 long rifle necked down to 17 cal. for just plinking and having fun shooting and getting off expensive ammo you just cannot beat the 22 long rifle. 22 magnum will put you back at $12 per 50 rounds. but,you can buy a "brick" (being 500 rounds) of 22 long rifle for only about $12. the 22 long rifle is the "plinker" of all time...

  13. #13
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    Yeah, if I get it in bulk (500 rounds) the cost'll go down to something like $.23 a round for the HMR (from a quickie search online).

    Now I'm actually considering a .223 varmint rifle as well. Not that much more expensive to shoot (still under $.50), but lots more range. Lots more expensive too :mad:, why can't I just have an unlimited gun, bee and truck budget ?

    I'm not sure where I'll fall on this .17 .vs. .223 issue. We do have winds, breezes and thermal currents here in the mountains. I'd been thinking of this as a fun gun mainly, but maybe I'll want the option of varminting down the road. Decisions decisions...
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  14. #14
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    >So I've heard many, many times. But how? How do the mechanics affect accuracy?

    Because "the name of the game is the same". The tighter everything is, the more it's the same. A serious benchrest shooter will redo the bolt action to be more solid by welding the follower in to have a single shot. Why? To get everything more solid and more the same. Can you get accuracy out of an autoloader? Yes. Can you squeeze out as much as you can out of a bolt action? If the action is tight enough, perhaps, but if you make an autoloader's action tight then it is prone to jamming.

    >Have you ever had a bullet get stuck in a rifle barrel?

    Yes.

    > (I've seen it a couple times, in both cases when a primer pushed the bullet into the barrel, but the cartridges were lacking powder.)

    A squib load is the most common cause.

    > Have you ever tried to push a stuck bullet through that barrel?

    Not successfully, no.

    >So, consider the fit of the bullet in the barrel, the twist of the riflings inside the barrel, and the "straightness" of the barrel.

    I have. For many years. And the stiffness of the barrel and the resonant frequency of the explosion to the barrel (barrel whip) and the crown and the throat and MANY other factors down to cleaning the primer pockets, weighing and sorting the cases, and of course, measuring everything to half of a tenth of a grain...

    > Consider the length of the barrel, the "perfection" of the bullet, the consistency from round to round of the powder behind the bullets.

    I have. For many years and thousands of rounds with meticulous notes on every load attempted, the speed and the accuracy.

    > Then consider any potential movement from the shooter, the wind speed and direction (and differences in the winds between the shooter and the target).

    I have.

    >Then, consider that all of the military, long-range, .50 sniper rifles are based on semi-automatic actions. If bolt actions are inherently more accurate than autoloaders, why wouldn't the military demand bolt actions on sniper rifles intended to make shots of 1000+ yards?

    Because the recoil on a .50 is horrendous and a well designed semi-auto will absorb a huge amount of that. They want enough power to blow an engine block at that range. The 1000 yard benchrest contest held every year in PA has never been won by an autoloader that I know of and never by a .50 that I know of. It has been won by quite a few different wildcats usually in the range of 6.5mm to 7.62mm bores and with powder capacities ranging from a .30-06 to a .300 Weatherby to a .378 Weatherby. That doesn't mean you can't hit a target at 1000 yards with a semi-auto .50 BMG but you're not going to get sub 4" group with it. The record is 3.151" and that is not with an autoloader and not with a .50 BMG. I doubt you could get in the ballpark of that with a autoloader. Of course with benchrest, the ballpark is measured in thousandths of an inch.

    http://www.pa1000yard.com/results/re...ps=No&topct=10

    When it comes to accuracy everything is relative. If you want to hit a deer in the vitals at 100 yards it's a lot different than if you want to shoot a 1000 yard group that is .001 smaller than the last one you shot.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Arrow Just the facts

    >That doesn't mean you can't hit a target at 1000 yards with a semi-auto .50 BMG but you're not going to get sub 4" group with it. The record is 3.151" and that is not with an autoloader and not with a .50 BMG. - MB

    You might want to check the FCSA club records here:

    http://www.fcsa.org/visitors/worldrecords.htm

    Skip Talbot (RIP) 2.600" in 1999 heavy gun class.

    Sheri Rasmussen 2.603 - 8/20/2006 light gun class

    Paula Dierks 3.064" - 7/4/1999 unlimited gun class

    I will check my club magazine for records with autos but I think that they shoot with light gun and or unlimited. My personal best with my Barrett 82 http://www.barrettrifles.com/rifle_82.aspx is just under 4.5" with factory loads, but I only have a 500 yard range at the farm.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  16. #16
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    Carlos Hathcock

    >Then, consider that all of the military, long-range, .50 sniper rifles are based on semi-automatic actions. If bolt actions are inherently more accurate than autoloaders, why wouldn't the military demand bolt actions on sniper rifles intended to make shots of 1000+ yards?

    http://www.answers.com/topic/carlos-hathcock

    Hathcock remains a legend within the U.S. Marines. The Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock Award is presented annually to the Marine who does the most to promote marksmanship training. [2] There is also a sniper range named for Hathcock at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

    In 1967, Hathcock set a record for the longest combat kill with a Browning M2 .50 BMG machine gun mounting a telescopic sight. The distance was 2,286 meters (2,500 yards) or 1.42 miles. Hathcock was one of several individuals to utilize the Browning M2 machine gun in the sniping role. This success has led to the adoption of the .50 BMG cartridge as a viable anti-personnel and anti-equipment sniper round.

    The record stood until 2002, when it was broken during Operation Anaconda by a Canadian three-man sniper team led by Master Corporal Graham Ragsdale from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI). The new record was set by Corporal Rob Furlong with a shot of 2,430 meters (2,657 yards) from a McMillan TAC-50 Long-Range Sniper Weapon on a Taliban fighter.


    BUT the fact remains that an accurized bolt action rifle will always out shoot a semi auto rifle. Most of Hathcocks 93 confirmed kills were with the Winchester 70 bolt action 30-06. http://www.answers.com/topic/winchester-model-70
    Last edited by BULLSEYE BILL; 04-11-2007 at 01:06 AM.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  17. #17
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    Default Decisions, decisions

    >I'm not sure where I'll fall on this .17 .vs. .223 issue. We do have winds, breezes and thermal currents here in the mountains. I'd been thinking of this as a fun gun mainly, but maybe I'll want the option of varminting down the road. Decisions decisions...
    __________________

    If you are just plinking get a 22, if you are going to go out doggin get a 223. With V-Max bullets out to 300 yards, it has the same giggle factor on prairie rats as does the 22-250. You got the scope, all you need is a good heavy barrel varmint rifle, learn to roll your own, er, ammo that is. Remington 700 or the CZ 550, you won't go wrong with either one. If you want to go cheap, get a Savage, their ok, kinda.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  18. #18
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    Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is. ;)

    >Hey BB, any tips on where to find them at a little better price?

    All things are possible.
    Bullseye Bill in The Scenic Flint Hills , KS
    www.myspace.com/dukewilliam

  19. #19
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    Default

    I admit it's off the subject since you can't handload a .17 HMR, but let's try isolating just ONE of the many factors involved in bolt vs semi-auto. We'll ignore the differences in how tight and solid the action is and the added complexity of the gasses being ported off and just look at the change in reloading criteria.

    Case in point. I have a very accurate load for a 6.5 x55 Swede that shoots great in an M96 or an M38 bolt action. If you shoot it in my semi-auto Ljungman AG 42 it will rip the extractor off of it and pitch the empty mangled case 20 yards in front of me. Why? Because the really slow powder that allows me to get maximum accuracy and maximum velocity (which gives me minimum error do to windage and micalculations in range) at safe pressures, has too much gas left over when it gets to the gas port to operate the action correctly. So, instead of reloading for accuracy, I'm now reloading to make it correctly operate the semi-auto action. As a handloader this seems very wrong. As a benchrest shooter it seems even more wrong. It's difficult enough to load for accuracy without complicating it with having to load to operate the action.

    Of course all of it comes back to how much accuracy is significant. What is the margin of acceptable error?

    For most peoples purposes a given semi auto is likely to be as accurate a given bolt action and if I predicted the accuracy of an off-the-shelf gun based only on the type of action I'd be wrong a large portion of the time.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  20. #20
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    Because "the name of the game is the same". The tighter everything is, the more it's the same. A serious benchrest shooter will redo the bolt action to be more solid by welding the follower in to have a single shot. Why? To get everything more solid and more the same. -Michael Bush
    I know what you mean in principle, but I'm not so sure it translates entirely. Consistency from shot-to-shot is vital, but "tight" doesn't necessarily translate to "consistent."

    If "tighter is better," welding the cartridge into the gun would result in greater accuracy.

    The record is 3.151" and that is not with an autoloader and not with a .50 BMG. I doubt you could get in the ballpark of that with a autoloader. 0Michael Bush
    (See Bullseye Bill's posts about records. Putting a shot like that on target at 2,000 + meters -- with any firearm, even with multiple shots -- is quite a feat. If those weapons couldn't shoot a sub-4" group at 1000 yards, I doubt they'd even try for a shot at distances approaching 1.5 miles.)

    Because the really slow powder that allows me to get maximum accuracy and maximum velocity (which gives me minimum error do to windage and micalculations in range). . . . -Michael Bush
    "Twist" figures into all of that, too. If your maximum velocity is greater than the twist can stabilize in flight, all your other factors go out the window in a hurry.

    For most peoples purposes a given semi auto is likely to be as accurate a given bolt action. . . . -Michael Bush
    My thoughts exactly. Besides, a semi-auto allows you to get a second shot off far more quickly than a bolt action. And, I still think the fit and feel of the gun for the shooter is more important than the type of action.

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