I haven’t been around too many campfires where some ole’ boy spouts something like: “I’m getting a 17 cuz’ it’s deadly out to 600 yards,”—or something like that, to which I reply: “Oh, really? Which 17 you talkin’?”
Then there’s normally a long pause and some low-volume murmurs before someone else cracks a beer and changes the topic.
In my experience, .17 caliber (.172 diameter) cartridges are so new and similar that few hunters know much about them, much less have experienced their performance in the field. What follows is a primer on commercially available .17-caliber cartridges and their respective performance. (Ballistic calculations provided by Hornady.com)
The .17 Rimfires
.17 HM2 (Hornady Mach 2, aka 17 Mach 2)
Invented in 2004, this is the .17-caliber equivalent of the .22 Long Rifle. Actually, it’s closest in case size to the .22 LR Stinger (a hyper-velocity .22 LR), but necked down to .17. It delivers a 17-grain bullet (consider that a .22 LR shoots a 40-gr. bullet) at 2,100 fps for 165 ft.-lbs. energy. While it out-performs the .22 LR by 500-1000 fps depending on the load), it costs more. (7.99 or so per 50 rounds). Whatever the reason, it’s not very popular, and few guns are chambered for it. Savage Arms is the exception. Regardless, it’s a neat little caliber that’s deadly on squirrels, rabbits and beer cans.