If you are looking for a fun plinker for punching paper targets and soda cans at 50 yards, the .22 lr is your ticket. If you want to hunt small varmints out to 200 yards or so, the .17HMR is an excellent choice. My son and I were shooting gophers in a vineyard the other day, using both cartridges. The .22 worked just fine with hollowpoints out to 50 yards or so. Definitely put a few out of our misery. But the .17 HMR is a totally different level of performance, frequently flipping the gophers a couple of feet in the air on close range shots. My sons longest shot of the day with his Savage 93R17 was lasered at 177 yards and the damage to the gopher was very impressive. At least the equal of what a high velocity .22 lr hollowpoint does at 25 yards from a rifle. My longest measured hit was 132 yards with my Savage 93R17TR. Also impressive tissue damage given the long shot.
Our reason for using the .17HMR and .22 lr is that there are houses around the vineyard, and the landowner wants to keep the noise down. The .22 lr and .17 HMR are perfect for that reason. I am not sure how loud the new .17 WSM will be, but if it is pushing a 20 gr bullet at 3000 fps, I oule guess it may prove to be too loud, at least for our purposes. We also haven't heard what the prices will be on the new round. I bought a lot of the .17 HMR for less than $10 per box of 50 over the past several years. I am happy to stay with the .17 HMR for varming shooting. It will definitely be accompanying me to my "varmint safari" to Montana at the end of the month. Of course, I will also be bringing along a couple of .223's and probably the S&W M&P 25-22, too. The more, the merrier!
NRA Endowment Member