.17 HMR or .223?


February 18, 2007, 07:53 PM
I've been thinking of getting an accurate bolt-action rifle for shooting at the range, and possibly a little small-game hunting (ground squirrels and jackrabbits). Most shooting would be at 50-100 yards, but I might get out to 200 or more on occassion. I want something inexpensive to shoot (and I'm not currently interested in reloading for it). I have several semi-auto .223 rifles and a fair supply of inexpensive ammo (surplus, PMP, Wolf, etc.). The .17 HMR tempts me because I've heard it is very accuate, and I know the ammo is relatively cheap (about $10-$12 per box of 50). I'm sure the .223/5.56mm is available in very accurate "target" loadings, but I want inexpensive shooting, so I probably won't buy this. So I'm comparing .17 HMR with inexpensive surplus or commercial .223 ammo.

As for rifles, I'd probably opt for a stainless Savage or Marlin .17 HMR with heavy barrel and laminated stock. I'm not sure what I'd pick in .223, but probably a similar configuration - maybe a Savage.

So, given my ammo choices, which would likely be more accurate for me? I'm sure the .223 is capable of longer ranges, and will be less affected by wind, but on a relatively calm day at 100 yards, which is likely to give me better groups? My perception (maybe wrong) is that about any .17 HMR factory load is likely to be very accurate, whereas the inexpensive .223 ammo I'll be shooting will probably be a little less consistent. Of course, if there is really accurate .223 ammo available at low cost, that might tip the scales in its favor.

What (roughly) is the maximum range of the .17 HMR? Any other thoughts?

The lower muzzle blast and recoil of the .17 HMR would be minor plusses, but offset by the lower power compared to the .223, so these aren't significant factors for me.



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Larry Ashcraft
February 18, 2007, 08:29 PM
.17 HMR ammo is actually running more like $11.99 a box now. However, I have a .17 Savage and it is my most used rifle for real, serious purposes.

The Marlins are very nice rifles, superior in many ways to the Savages. However, the Savage AccuTrigger makes up for any differences.

Maximum range of the .17 is 200 yards, and wind is a definate factor. But, they are scary accurate when conditions are right. We bought my son a Savage for his birthday two weeks ago. Last week he came out and sighted it in and then decided to try to shoot an empty 12 ga hull at 100 yards.

You'll have to to take my word for it, but this was his second shot, sorry for the lousy pic:

February 18, 2007, 09:27 PM

Thanks for the information. I thought I'd seen .17 HMR for $6.99/box, but after reading your post, I checked some on-line sources and realized you are correct. I just edited my original post to reflect a more accurate ammo price (I see it on-line for a little under $9, but that's before shipping).

I am leaning toward the Savage - primarily because of the AccuTrigger, so it's good to hear that they are very accurate. The higher ammo price than I'd remembered does make the .223 seem a little more competitive however.


February 18, 2007, 11:30 PM
inside of 150 yds, on days with less than 10mph, the 17hmr is awesome accurate, and will do it with most any of the rounds you choose. I have one in m2, and love it, and can shoot it without ear covers, and can easily see the impact down range. the two most accurate loads in 223 I have found are also cheap , though. the big white box winny 45 grn varmints are accurate, as well as the Black hills blue box 55 grainers. they look like this.

they are about 10 to 13 bucks a box, for 40 and 50 rounds, repectively.

that being said, the 17 is sooo much fun, it is about the only thing I take to the range, lately.

February 19, 2007, 03:20 AM
I love my marlin 917vss in 17hmr, It shoots great and hates ground squirrels as much as I do:neener: Around here bi-mart sells hornandy varmint express and v-max for 8.95 a box. Here's a pic of my 17, it has the laminated stock and target barrel that you speak of.

February 19, 2007, 04:04 AM
yep, mine looks just likey, 'cept in mach2.

February 19, 2007, 04:37 AM
The .17 is listed as Zero Trajectory @ 150 yards, and -5.9 @ 300 yards. I would say the .17 is good for more than 200 yards but not over 300 yards. The bullet doesn't have enough mass to stay true out past 300. I would say in reality, a good shot would be @ 250 yards.

February 19, 2007, 01:36 PM
Great question, I'm looking at the same issue for my first (non-surplus) bolt-action.

Is wind a greater factor for .17HMR than .223 out past 100yds?

February 19, 2007, 07:19 PM
For your needs i would get the HMR.

February 19, 2007, 07:28 PM
Hornady 20gr are $8.99 a box at academy's. You guys are really tempting me to get one now :(. There's a Savage 93r17-btvs sitting at a local gun shop that just stares at me every time I go.

February 19, 2007, 11:21 PM
17 's have the highest b.c. and s.d. of all the rimfire rounds, but in a 5 mph crosswind, will deflect 5 inches at 150 yds. a 223 will not deflect this much, maybe not even 2 inches.

February 19, 2007, 11:51 PM
I know next to nill about the .17 besides its superb accuracy (under the most perfect conditions) but I do kno wthat I love my .223

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