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Old March 19, 2013, 07:26 PM   #1
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.17HMR...What are its capabilities?

For a long while now I've meaning to pick up a 22lr rifle, probably a Ruger 10/22, mostly for plinking but also to just have around to put a small meal on the table if needed.
But then the 22lr has dried up, but it seems 17hmr is always there in some form.
And that got me to wondering what kind of effective range it has and how much better than 22lr it really is.
What it can take down around 100 yards? Can it penetrate a deer skull (for example) or just squirrels and whatnot?

I've been selling off and trying to consolidate to 22lr, 380, 40s&w, 12ga and 30-06, but I'd be willing to give the .17 a slot if it can deliver a longer range punch beyond that of the 22lr in a light rifle package.

Last edited by Dashunde; March 19, 2013 at 09:00 PM. Reason: no...its not being considered as a deer rifle
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Old March 19, 2013, 07:41 PM   #2
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I used to be enamored with the 17 HMR but could never bring myself to buy one. Mainly because of the reviews people posted concerning lack of energy at 100 yards coupled with the fact that the wind could put it in the next county at that range (not really but the drift is pretty bad).

If your looking for small caliber rifle that has some "umph", check out the .22 mag. It has enough retained energy to kill coyote at 100 yards. Some will debate that and say there are better rounds but the fact remains that it can.

Now, if you have your heart set on a new .17, I'd say take a peek at the new .17 WSM. It is 2X the gun that the HMR is at about the same price. Granted the 17 WSM wont be out for about another month or so but I think it will be worth the wait.

Good luck with your search
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Old March 19, 2013, 08:12 PM   #3
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I love my .17 HMR firearms.

For a rimfire rifle there is a lot of power there. There is a tremendous amount of energy behind the little 17 grain V-max. It will knock squirrels dead out to at least 120 yards, which is about as far as I have tried to shoot it.

If you would like some examples of what it does to tree squirrels at distances from 20-70 yards I would be willing to post them. I have seen limbs torn off and tossed 8 feet away, blown holes big enough to see sunlight through, gaping wound cavities.

For deer the .17 HMR is probably not legally ok, nor is it an ethical choice. If I had no other option, and was starving. I think a hollow point right behind the ear would drop a deer. I wouldn't want to test this theory though.

For a coyote, yea I intend to try and kill a coyote with my .17 HMR at some point. I feel competent enough with it to do it. The accuracy on these rifles is pretty outstanding.

The .17 hmr will have no problem killing animals as small as chipmunks (if the shooter can shoot a chipmunk) or as large as coyote with proper shot placement.

I have taken 1 squirrel with my Taurus .17 HMR revolver using v-max rounds. Distance was probably about 25 feet. Squirrel fell over where he stood.

If you can wait for it, check out the .17 WSM. It will have a lot more umph.
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Old March 19, 2013, 08:24 PM   #4
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It is not a deer rifle.
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Old March 19, 2013, 08:44 PM   #5
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I've used the 17HMR to dispose of animals like groundhogs and raccoons which it does well. I've also seen it fail to effectively kill coyotes even with ribcage hits. The only reason I would switch from 22lr to 17HMR was if I was in an area inhabited by prairie dogs or ground squirrells.
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Old March 19, 2013, 08:49 PM   #6
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Right, I know its not a deer rifle in any way aside from a last resort.
I rephrased the op.
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Old March 19, 2013, 09:53 PM   #7
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I finally built myself a 17 HMR last year. I like it, but it will never displace my 22 WMR or 22 LR. Yes, it shoots flat so range estimation is not as critical. Yes, it is accurate out to at least 150 yds (I haven't shot it farther than that). No, it does not appear to get blown all over the place (wind drift seems to be less than 22 WMR at the same range, which makes sense). No, it is not a coyote rifle, although with the right shot placement I think you could take one out to 100-ish yds, but the same can be said about the 22 WMR. I like it, but I will hold my opinions about its abilities on anything bigger or heavier built than ground squirrels or jack rabbits (marmots, badgers, etc). But I don't use my 22 WMR for those critters either (I have, but not after the first few times), I would use a 223 or 22-250.
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Old March 19, 2013, 09:59 PM   #8
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20 grain match bullets kill prairie dogs out to 275-300 yards.
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Old March 19, 2013, 10:11 PM   #9
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20 grain match bullets kill prairie dogs out to 275-300 yards.
Match bullets for the 17hmr,???
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Old March 19, 2013, 10:22 PM   #10
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They may as well ALL be called match bullets. (with the exception of the spitfires) I love mine for target shooting, fun = hot cans of old/diet soda @ 100 yards the wind just makes the "I bet you cant"(s) interesting

Watched an ol guy one time at the range on the 100 yard. Had some kind of HBAR savage or marlin .17 with about 25 boxes of ammo. He sat there all afternoon, firing round, after round, after round. After I got tired of waiting for him to stop, I asked if I could run down some new targets (I was shooting my RRA M4 entry & 30-30). When I got down there I saw what he'd been shooting....stick on target dots, the nickle sized ones. He had about 50 of them in rows on the card board... all with dime sized 10 round groups in the middle of each one.

That new .17 WSM will be on my short list as soon as ones available though

Last edited by BerdanSS; March 19, 2013 at 10:27 PM.
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Old March 20, 2013, 05:38 AM   #11
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People say wind drift is the biggest downfall of 17hmr.
But compared to 22lr and 22wmr, the faster velocity and better BC make it preform better in the wind.

The reason it gets a bad wind reputation is because on small critters out to 200 yards plus a bit more it is an excellent cartridge, and this is common ground of small center fires, and compared to 223 the wind drift is terrible.

I haven't shot anything to far away with mine, maybe 70 yards most, but everything I've shot has died instantly, on small critters it is devastating, with 22lr I generally need a head shot to get a kill straight away, but body shots on rabbits and hares drops them dead in their tracks.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:51 PM   #12
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I'm sort of in the varmint removal business and use both the 17 Mach 2 and the 17HMR for this purpose. Both are extremely useful due to the reduced chances of ricochet or pass through on small/medium sized critters. I've seen terrific results on some shots with the HMR followed by dismal failures. I can't tolerate the failures so am very careful of the tasks I place before the HMR.
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Old March 20, 2013, 01:11 PM   #13
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The .17hmr is a varmint round, a very accurate one at that. But make no mistake, that's about all it is. Gophers, ground hogs and crows. Sure you can punch paper with it, you can also use it for small game if you ONLY take head shots, not great for coon and fox but it can get the job done if you're up to the task and limit your range.

But it's not a replacement for the good 'ol .22lr and the current madness is little if any reason to be thinkin to get a .17hmr instead of the 10/22. IMO just cause they're both rimfires doesn't make them interchangeable.

If all I was gonna have is one rimfire .22lr wins hands down. 2 rimfires? .22lr and .17hmr. Or better yet a .22lr and the new .17wsm when it's available.
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:36 PM   #14
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With the impending release of the .17 Winchester Super Magnum, the .17 HMR is going to look like a weak sister. The WSM is going to put the yotes down. But that doesn't mean the HMR isn't a good choice for the reasons you mentioned. Just be aware that there's a newer, faster, more powerful .17 coming on the market.
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Old March 21, 2013, 01:01 AM   #15
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I've had a Sako .17hmr for a couple of years. Great accurate small game cartridge. I can get 10 shots in under 1 inch at 100 yards. The little bullet drops significantly after 200 yards, but is very flat shooting to 150 yards.
I've taken rabbits, foxes, hares, goats & pigs with my .17hmr. The .17hmr is suitable mainly for small game and has no problems with rabbits, hares & foxes.
I have not been impressed with its performance on goats or pigs. Sure the .17hmr will drop pigs & goats with well placed head shots, but chest shots on even small pigs & medium size goats are not that effective.
The .17hmr was designed as a small game cartridge for distances out to 150 yards & if you use it for this you will be impressed. While the .17hmr will add at least 50 yards onto the range of a 22lr, I wouldn't use the 17 on anything larger than what I'd be comfortable shooting with a 22lr.
The downside to the .17hmr when compared to a 22lr is cost of ammunition & the .17 is significantly louder.

Last edited by phil mcwilliam; March 21, 2013 at 05:32 AM.
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Old May 9, 2013, 05:42 PM   #16
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I shot a coyote at 165 yards with my savage 93r17 heavy barrel. I was using the 20 grain FMJ. Right through the brain no problem. Killed several coyotes closer. You have to use the 20 grain FMJ, the 17 grain polymer tip doesn't do it for me.
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Old May 9, 2013, 05:59 PM   #17
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Try a CZ 455 it's a bolt action that can shoot .22lr,.22mag and .17 HMR with barrel change out that takes just a few minutes. The .22 mag and the .17HMR uses the same magazine.
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Old May 10, 2013, 04:26 PM   #18
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.17HMR...What are its capabilities?

I've consistently killed groundhogs at 200 yards with mine, the key is hitting them in the head region. Which in calm settings the .17 has no problem doing.

The longest shot I ever took was on a crow at 225 yards. It knocked him right down. The .17 is more than capable of 200 yards, but shot placement is more important than if you were using a .308.
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Old May 10, 2013, 04:50 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Kimber84
I've consistently killed groundhogs at 200 yards with mine, the key is hitting them in the head region. Which in calm settings the .17 has no problem doing.

The longest shot I ever took was on a crow at 225 yards. It knocked him right down. The .17 is more than capable of 200 yards, but shot placement is more important than if you were using a .308.

I agree with this assessment but wind becomes critical. Shooting the 17 at 200 is like shooting a 22-250 at 400, or even a bit more.

I never shot targets to check things out but it "seemed" like the 17 bullet almost teleported to another dimension at the 200 yard mark. I never had any trouble hitting (and killing) things right up to 200 but anything over was much tougher. It's trajectory is getting pretty "rainbowy" at that range and that little bitty bullet isn't doing so hot in the wind anymore.

For 200 and under, I'd take it over a 22Mag every day and twice on Sunday and over the 22LR always and forever.
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Old May 10, 2013, 11:17 PM   #20
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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!
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Old May 12, 2013, 05:38 PM   #21
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I have been using a Savage 93 bull barrel 17 for several years. Excellent for target practice to 200 yds. The Vmax bullet is very accurate and since it disintegrates on impact ricochet risk is minimized. I use it on prairie dogs to 100-150 yds while my 223 cool off. The Vmax bullet is explosive on them, but that is not a plus on larger animals like coyotes since they can come apart before getting enough penetration to be fatal. So switch to the 20 gr HP game bullet for anything larger. But keep in mind that with such small bullets the energy is limited and drops off quickly as you go past 100 yds. Just go to Hornady website and run ballistic calculator comparisons on 22lr, 17 HMR, and 22 mag to see the differences in velocity and energy at various ranges.

My comparative experience is the 17 will equal or exceed the 22lr and has considerably more range. And as others have mentioned even with the high velocity that little bullet will drift a lot in crosswinds especially anything over 10 mph. The 22 mag cannot match the 17 accuracy at ranges over 100 yds, but with twice as big a bullet, it is the way to go if you are planning to shoot at larger animals like coyotes and bobcats.
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Old May 12, 2013, 06:26 PM   #22
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Funny story, I heard a guy at my LGS telling that the .17HMR is a sniper caliber. I dang near wet myself. He said it will shoot flat and straight as far as you can see. back on topic....

I like the .22Magnum better, but he 17HMR is great for what it is. I could hardly bring myself to shooting the one I had.... I didn't like paying $10-14 for 100 rounds for plinking. I gave it to my nephew and he loves it....and is a terror on squirrels in his area, with it. If I am just plinking, the .22lr is still my favorite. Don't worry about the supply, it is slowly coming back, as mentioned in another thread, I recently ought 6k rounds of .22 at a somewhat normal price... I shoot over 1k rounds of .22 a month, easily. I was worried about finding more ammo, but it is there.
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