Ammunition

Exploring the .17 HMR: Rifles and Handguns

Savage rifle and Chiappa revolver both chambered in .17 HMR

There’s no way we gun writers can know everything. We are constantly learning and passing along the things we learn to you, our readers. It just so happens that I don’t live in prairie dog country. As a result, I never owned anything chambered in .17 HMR — until now, that is. It happened this way: At a writer’s conference I shot a suppressed .17 HMR rifle. I heard practically nothing when I squeezed the trigger. But almost magically, holes appeared in the target right where I was aiming.

I didn’t think much more about it until I was browsing the CheaperThanDirt online catalog one day and discovered a Chiappa 1873 revolver chambered in .17 HMR. It got me thinking about how I had never owned anything in .17 HMR. I had readers and grandchildren to educate, and this was a very reasonably priced gun, so I ordered one. Quickly, I wanted a rifle to go with it.

David Freeman shooting a Savage bolt-action rifle chambered in .17 HMR
The author says sighting in the Savage .17 HMR rifle and seeing the results at the range remind him very much of his experience with a Savage 110 in .243.

I have a good relationship with Savage when it comes to getting sample guns to write about, so I went to them for a rifle chambered in .17 HMR to go along with the revolver. The one I really wanted has a brush camouflage patterned stock and receiver plus a mounted and boresighted scope. It was out of stock and probably would be for a while according to my Savage contact. Looking through the offerings at CheaperThanDirt, I settled on a 93R17 which would give me the opportunity to mount and boresight a scope myself. My Savage rep was able to get one of those right out to me.

Why choose the .17 HMR?

Why the .17 HMR cartridge? Hornady created the .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire cartridge by necking down a .22 Magnum case to accept a .17 caliber projectile. A 20-grain .17 HMR round can deliver muzzle velocities in excess of 2,650 fps. Hornady, in conjunction with Marlin and Ruger, introduced the first rifles and ammunition in 2002.

While the ammunition was relatively expensive due to the high-performance .17 caliber bullets used, it was still cheaper than most centerfire ammunition. By 2004, CCI, Federal Cartridge, and Remington had each introduced 17 HMR ammunition offerings. Remington apparently backed out of the market later expressing concerns about the ammunition being used in semi-automatic rather than bolt-action rifles.

In wondering what shooters like about the .17 HMR, I was reminded of words by our own Bob Campbell in an article he wrote back in February 2020 about having 20 years’ experience with the .17 HMR. “The advantage of the .17 for most of us is accuracy and flat shooting,” Bob wrote. This is great for hunting prairie dogs, but there are no prairie dog villages left around where I live, so for me it’s mostly for target shooting.

.17 HMR Handgun

I really enjoy target shooting with a handgun. The only other handgun options, besides the Chiappa I’ve found, are from Taurus and Ruger. Taurus makes the Tracker 17, and Ruger offers the Single Six in .17 HMR. Both guns are a little pricey and have limited availability. There was an Excel Arms Accelerator semi-automatic in .17 HMR at one time. Any of these I’ve seen on the secondary market were rather expensive. There was also a North American Arms mini revolver in .17 HMR, but I don’t see those listed now. So, I’m proud to have a Chiappa. Let’s look at it.

Chiappa revolver chambered in .17 HMR, right profile
The lines of the Chiappa are classic single-action army. It has a blued finish and black plastic checkered grips.

The lines of the Chiappa are classic single-action army. It has a blued finish and black plastic checkered grips. Cocking the hammer produces three clicks, the first one being half-cock. At half-cock and with the loading gate open, the cylinder can be rotated for loading or unloading. Capacity is six rounds. The gun cocks easily and the hammer falls with an easy 4-pound touch of the trigger. The frame is an aluminum alloy, the barrel and cylinder are steel. Total weight is just under 32 ounces.

.17 HMR Rifle

As I mentioned earlier, the Savage rifle I bought to round out my initial foray into the .17 HMR world is a Model 93R17. It has Savage’s AccuTrigger which can be adjusted to the shooter’s preference without having to send the gun to a gunsmith. An adjustment tool comes with the gun, but I didn’t see a need to use it, as the trigger is delightful right out of the box. Even when adjusted to its lowest setting, the AccuTrigger is completely safe and cannot accidentally discharge during normal use from being jarred or dropped. This rifle has a newly designed teardrop safety that is easily accessed and operates smoothly and quietly.

The rifle weighs just 5 pounds. It has a 21-inch free-floating, button-rifled barrel, 5-round detachable box magazine, and a black synthetic stock. A swivel stud and scope base are included. I added and boresighted a TruGlo Buckline 4×32 rifle scope. It reminds me in many ways of the Savage Axis II I have in .243.

Savage rifle weighing 5 pounds. It has a 21-inch free-floating, button-rifled barrel, 5-round detachable box magazine, and black synthetic stock
The rifle weighs just 5 pounds. It has a 21-inch free-floating, button-rifled barrel, 5-round detachable box magazine, and black synthetic stock.

Range Performance

The day I took the .17 HMR guns to the range, they were to be first in a series of four projects I had planned for that shooting outing. Unfortunately, as I was setting up, I was greeted with rain showers that were not in the forecast. Fortunately, the rain ended within a brief time leaving behind a bit of wind and an overcast sky. It was time to get down to business.

I fired the revolver first, finding it reasonably accurate with practically no recoil. That little .17 HMR is loud — like its cousin the .22 WMR — and it is a very straight shooter. I shot both guns from the 10-yard line, because I wanted to check my boresight accuracy with live rounds. The rifle put five holes, practically on top of one another, on paper.

When I moved the shooting table back to 30 yards, the revolver was not grouping in a particularly tight pattern, but it was shooting (more or less) where I was aiming. Very acceptable for a rimfire revolver fired offhand from that distance. I was surprised to find the rifle shooting high but still grouping tightly. With a few twists of the vertical adjustment on the scope, it was driving tacks at 30 yards. At 60 yards, the rifle was still performing admirably. If only I had some prairie dogs…

Savage rifle chambered in .17 HMR with a box of CCI ammunition and a paper target
After mounting a scope and sighting it in the Savage rifle turned out to be a real tack driver.

My takeaway from my initial .17 HMR adventure? The .17 HMR rifle a gun and caliber I will be using to constantly improve my rifle shooting accuracy and to enjoy with friends. The revolver will join me on .22 handgun adventures with friends and family. Just before moving on to the next project planned for my outing, I did manage to blast one Firebird exploding target with the .17 HMR revolver and one with the .17 HMR rifle. Man, that’s fun!

Have you fired the .17 HMR? Do you use it for hunting or target shooting? What about from a revolver? Share your .17 HMR story in the Comment section.

  • Savage rifle and Chiappa revolver both chambered in .17 HMR
  • David Freeman shooting a Savage bolt-action rifle chambered in .17 HMR
  • Savage rifle weighing 5 pounds. It has a 21-inch free-floating, button-rifled barrel, 5-round detachable box magazine, and black synthetic stock
  • Chiappa revolver chambered in .17 HMR, right profile
  • Savage rifle chambered in .17 HMR with a box of CCI ammunition and a paper target

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (23)

  1. My Chiappa did the same thing, 2 shots and the cylinder wouldn’t turn. Sent it back to Chiappa on their dime[after a phone call] and had it back very quickly. It’s a hoot to shoot and hasn’t caused any problems!! [Yes it has a trail around the cylinder, but for what I paid, I couldn’t care less]

  2. Sgt Davis ,
    Not sure where you are getting your information. I didn’t mention anything about the Hornaby ammo nor the Winchester nor the HM2
    All the numbers i quoted were .17 HMR types but just had different names like FMJ, etc.
    Next i don’t do the cowboy draw stuff, i’m to old to be trying that, in other words i’ve got a lot of gray hairs.
    It appears that the bolt that holds the cylinder in place while aligning the cartridge to go straight down the barrel is what is dragging on the cylinder. Why, I don’t know and am not going to worry about it as the damage has been done. I was merely asking for help in identifying the problem and maybe finding a fix.
    Next i was inquiring about the .17Mach2, perhaps that is what you were referring to earlier. No i don’t intend on putting that cartridge in anything until i have the proper weapon. If you reread what i said i was asking for help in identifying what kind of gun/weapon uses that cart. I didn’t relate it to anything .22 caliber that i can remember.
    From now on before replying to any of my postings, please read and understand what it is that i am saying or asking for and not use the language you did. I am very gun safety conscience and won’t look down the muzzle of a loaded gun to see if the bullet is stuck, which is what you seem to be implying. Enough said?

  3. Dave,
    I have three other revolvers from an 1873 Open Frame Navy to a dual cylinder 22 WMR/22LR and one other but none of them have this scarring action. That’s what surprised me about it. If it’s a common occurrance then i won’t worry about it, Actually since i can’t do anything about it i guess i won’t worry about it anyway. Just a distraction.

  4. @peteinalaska… yeah, close enough, I guess. If actually in Alaska and you find 50 rounds of .17HMR for $12.50 out the door?… good deal. Still stupid expensive for what it is. Someone is holding out somewhere. Barely find it here for that

    Supressed… or suppressors… yeah it quiets it down but it really wasn’t meant to be suppressed. Not that I’m arguing against suppressors, I do like what hearing I have left. Just don’t think it was meant to be. There’s a difference in punching paper at those distances vs terminal velocity reduction at 150-200yds on a live target with the .17HMR. I could be wrong, with a bolt action the .17HMR in a 22″ barrel does +/- 2550 FPS… and in my experience that’s plenty… for ground squirrels, p-dogs, coyotes at 100-200 yds depending on conditions. But suppressed it slows down and is less effective.
    No joke, as a former LEO state agency and firearms instructor, as well as Emergency Response Team as designated marksman… wanna know the hoops I had to jump through to be able to submit the .17HMR? Because they firmly believed the .308 was end all. The Ruger Mini14 was the backup. Yeah… Mini14 and Mini30… good in thier own right but sheesh. I called BS and showed them the .17HMR WAS useful on human targets. No, not a brag. Close range, 100yds the .17HMR is more accurate than .308.
    Would take my team on training days, told them to bring one dozen chicken eggs each. 100yds. Half couldn’t hit them but they swore up and down the Ruger Minies were the shiznit because of A team TV bullspit. My request to use the .17HMR for designated marksman was approved. Dept. Wide… the .223 and .308 still remains…. ugg.

  5. @Larry… umm… maybe put down the revolver before you hurt yourself. Guess no one explained this to but here goes…
    The .17HMR… Hornady Magnum Rimfire is based on the .22WMR… Winchester Magnum Rimfire. The .17HM2… Hornady Mach2 is based off of the .22LR… .22 Long Rifle. More specifically the .22LR Stinger from CCI. The casing diameter is DIFFERENT. The HMR, like the WMR has a larger case diameter than the LR and M2.
    Sorry you’re having issues with your Chiappa revolver but you SHOULD NOT be shooting the .17HM2 in it. As you have found out, doing so doesn’t make the revolver function properly, therefore people declaring it junk. As far as the wear mark from the cylinder stop on the cylinder itself… umm… that’s pretty normal for someone trying to be a wild west cowboy movie BS actor who has no clue and spinning the cylinder. Doing stupid s*** like that wears the everliving f*** out of parts and will knock the revolver out of time. Especially if those parts are aluminum or the heat treating of the steel was done wrong.
    However, a drag mark on the cylinder where the cylinder stop rubs off the Cerakote or some s***** black paint that’s actually normal. Even hard anodized aluminum colors will wear off with stupid use.
    This is not meant to be a critique of you, but you need to learn and read and find someone locally who is qualified to teach you before you completely f*** that thing or blow your fingers, toes, face off.

  6. About 16 years ago, I was working in the oil field and was laid off. I was young, with little marketable skill other than the oilfield, and a wife and two year old daughter. I sold everything I thought I didn’t need, made sure my girl and wife were provided for, and one of the few things I kept was a Marlin .17HMR and four 50 round boxes of CCI ammo. That little rifle kept meat on the table for the next three months. It’s perfect for rabbit, and the one deer I decided to shoot was probably the cleanest, most ethical shot I’ve taken. From about 65 yards the round passed between two ribs, and the deer died less than 10 feet from where I shot it. The heart was completely gone, it was just a few separate pieces of torn up tissue, and both lungs were ruined. Not sure if it was the good Lord looking after a fool trying to provide, or if it was the .17 round, but it’s since been one of my favorites.

  7. Have the Savage A-17. Nikon Rimfire scope and had the barrel threaded for my Banish 22. Great prairie dog popper and my daughter loves shooting it. As someone mentioned above, having a few 10 round mags ready to go makes sure you don’t miss any opportunities. It would be very interesting to see a semi auto handgun chambered in this, something like a Mark IV target style.

  8. Henry SS bolt-action here. Have successfully potted ground squirrels at 75yds with a very satisfying THWACK!

  9. I purchased a Savage A-17 about a year ago. I put an old 4×18 something or other on it and after zeroing; dumpet a mag at 150 yards. Covered the group with a quarter!!! Love this thing, the most fun you can have wearing shoes and socks. Just wish it had iron sights.

  10. I have a Savage A17 semi auto in the .17 hmr with a NxStar 4x16x50 Tactical scope. I love it for crow hunting and @ 200 yards they don’t stand a chance. I think it’s awesome to watch feathers fly then the hear the shot go off. I love mine and hope you do yours too. I want to get me a revolver also so if you got a extra one send it my way. LOL

  11. Larry, the object at the bottom of the cylinder on the Chiappa is the bolt. It’s purpose is to lock the cylinder in place while a shot is fired. It’s not unusual to have the bolt drag on the cylinder of rimfire revolvers and leave a mark on them. I’ve got several revolvers that have been shot a lot and they all have that drag mark on the cylinder. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it on a Ruger, though.

  12. I also prefer the Savage 93. Mine is the “thumb hole” stock SS bull barrel that has been cut an threaded for a suppressor (the GemTech outback II works just fine) and I mated the BSA Sweet 17 optics to it.
    It has taken coyote an p-dog at upwards of the 200 yard envelope. However I like to keep it within 150 yards or less when ever possible simply because terminal shot placement and solid kills become somewhat in question beyond these ranges in my mind. The larger targets are more acceptable at the 150 to 225 yard envelope and I like the FMJ munitions at those ranges. The ballistic tip offering’s make p-dog hunting and open range population control a no brainer. Ammunition, currently, is plentiful and the cost Pre 50 rounds reasonable at $12.50 to $15.00 generally found in most stores. But, buy on sale whenever you find one!
    The Sweet .17 optics is a caliber designed glass that is accurate at all ranges. I zeroed at 125 yards that allows for minimal hold over or hold under that is easily determined by eye at x7 power once the targets range is determined. The .17 HMR shoots so flat that little of either of these is needed.
    If one know the bullet performance of a given round/manufacture at range, consistent one for one terminal hits are the norm.
    This caliber when suppressed also has a value at a close (CQC) infiltration tool that allows for precision shots at reasonable distances within small assault operating ranges and urban environments that eliminate collateral damage. I suppose that’s a discussion for another time, however.
    If, one is going to use a suppressor I do suggest that it be designed for the .22 Magnum/.17 HMR. .22 LR suppressors will work but may not be up to the added muzzle energy generated over time. I would also suggest a mono-core instead of K-baffles if for no other reason than ability to clean, although I believe that the mono’s do reduce the DB’s somewhat better.
    One can also get 10 round magazines for the Savage. On a good p-dog day it’s nice to have 30 or 40 rounds in preloaded mags at the ready.
    I’d like to see this round presented in both a semi-auto pistol and a rifle.
    Within limits the .17HMR has some commonalities with the ballistic’s of the 5.7 round in a “poor man’s” sorta way and are worth consideration.

  13. Have had a Savage in .17hmr for a few years.. it along with my .22 mags are my faves to shoot out of all the caliber firearms I own. The 17 has barely any felt recoil at all making rapid shooting pretty easy but the most entertaining thing is when you can put a grouping of 30 shots into an area the size of a half dollar at 30 and 40 yards…. it is just such a flat shooting round. Highly recommend this caliber to those who also really enjoy shooting .22 or .22wmr… they will quickly add the .17 to their favorites list.

  14. I bought one of those Chiappi 6 shooters a year ago. Would i buy another?NO. Not being a fireamrs expert my description of parts might be a little rough but here goes.
    First of all it is loud like my 22 WMR rounds, but i like shooting it except i can’t hit anything with it, maybe a man sized target but again, i like shooting it with the following exceptions.
    When i fire a couple of rounds with it the cylinder won’t rotate. Neither way. I have to physically use a small screwdriver to press one or more of the fired round casings forward into the cylinder to get it to rotate again.
    Below the cylinder is a small stop that comes up when you fire or rotate the cylinder that stops the cylinder from turning when it reaches the alignment with the barrel and is ready to fire. That has been dragging on the outside of the cylinder before it reaches the stopping point so i now have a ring around the cylinder that is non repairable as far as i know. Just have to live with that unless someone can tell me how to stop it from happening any more but the damage is already done so…
    There are several different HMR rounds with different names like .17 Varmit, .17 Gamepoint, .17 FMJ, .17 TNT all by CCI and a .17 Mach2 VNT which is a shorter cartridge. What type of gun is the last one, the .17 VNT Mach2 round used in? Is that a rifle round? If so do all .17 rifles fire this round or do they fire the regular .17 HMR round? Where does the .17 Mach2 VNT fit in? I have two 50 round boxs of that. Can that, probably not be used in the Chiappi pistol?
    Several inquires, one to Cheaperthandirt have gone unanswered.
    I actually like the .17 round better than the .22, same noise but just seems like more fun to fire it.
    I wanted to buy one of those Savage models with the scope but until i get some answers on the ammo being used i’m holding off.

  15. Got a Marlin 917V in 2002 when the .17HMR first hit the market. $185. Heavy bull barrel. Drilled and tapped, included mounts and sling studs. Fitted a Daisy Powerline 3×9-32mm optic. Does wonders on prarie dogs with 17gr Hornady or CCI V-Max ballistic tips. Heavy rifle, ZERO recoil. Yes, it’s loud. Ex-wife was scared of it based soley on the noise alone. Never could convince her to shoot it. 🙄 Can watch the pink mist through the glass as the hits land. Keep it to 150yds. Maybe 200yds on a calm day. Laser beam flat. Yes, it will take coyotes… but I keep those to 100yds or less. Don’t feel the .17HMR has enough retained energy to make an ethical shot beyond that.

  16. I too have the Savage 93R17 and mine is a tack driver also, I use it at the range often when shooting center fire rifles at the range to allow the barrel to cool off! For fun I’ll place pool stick chalk(the little 1×1 blocks) on top of the target frame at 100 yrds and shoot them! I’ve shot rabbits, squirrels, coyotes and hogs with it! The only drawback with the 17HMR is how wind affects the accuracy of it at 100yds at the range! I don’t see much wind effect when hunting because most of the shots are for squirrels and rabbit which are usually less than 50 yrds away! It has become my favorite rim fire rifle!

  17. I have the .17HMR in a Ruger lever action it’s a nail driver it uses 22 Magnum rotary cylinder the lever is made a little small I love it.

  18. The 17 HMR is an amazing killing round. We don’t have prairie dogs but we do ha 20 pound ground hogs. Ive shot alot with 223 & 22-250 but the 17 is different. You shoot a standing ground hog and you see the impact. The ground hog simply lay down dead in slow motion. I’d love to try it on a coyote.

  19. I have a Ruger New Model Single Six in .17HMR, 6.5″ barrel.
    It shoots very well (it’s more accurate than I am), very little recoil.
    I have the same model Chiappa you have, but in .22LR, 10 shot. I found it to be a very cheaply made gun. The barrel is aluminum, with a steel insert. The cylinder is constructed the same way; aluminum with steel inserts for the chambers. I own several single action revolvers, and the Chiappa is the only one that has the firing pin resting on the cylinder when it’s empty; it must be stored with dummy rounds in it to protect the firing pin. I realize this is a sample of one, but that’s what mine is. I wonder, is yours the same?

  20. I have a Rossi Matched Pair in .410& .17 HMR. My daughters used it as a trainer for the center fire T/C carbine that they would hunt with. They are grown and gone but the Rossi eliminates little unwanted guest.

    I recently won the bidding on a H&R Sportster in .17 HMR and it came with a Tasco scope designed for the cartridge. I thought that the 4X16X50 optic was overkill for the rifle and I almost mounted a different scope on it. DANG I am glad that I didn’t! With this rifle, cartridge and optic combination I am confident that if I can see it, I will hit it!

  21. I bought a 17 HMR bolt action rifle made by Savage with a stainless-steel bull barrel, laminated wood stock and a small Nikon scope about 18 years ago.
    Super accurate and just a pleasure to shoot. I use both CCI and Hornady ammo and both group really nice!

  22. I also have a 93R17 black with the wood stock. It will shoot nickel size groups at 100 yds until you get tired ,or fed up with the magazine. Several of my friends have the same 93R17 in different configurations. Every single one has feed issues. I talked to Savage and they claimed that there is no feed issues but sent me a new magazine anyway. It makes no difference what mag you put in what gun, they all have feed issues. Savage said to send it in to have it repaired even though they say the rifles(s) have no issues. You would think that by now Savage would have figured out why thousands of these fantastic shooting rifles have the same feed problems.

  23. I have an Anschutz Jaegermeister Model 52 in .17 HMR. At 100 yards, it shoots a nice ragged hole ~.75″ with Hornady ammo.

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