Savage Arms A17 Rimfire Rifles in 17 HMR, Review & Field Tests

by L.P. Brezny
Loyal shoots and comments on two of Savage Arms A17 Rimfire Rifles in 17 HMR.

L.P. Brezney Testing the A17 Repeater from Savage Arms, one of two new Savage Arms A17 Autoloading Rimfire Rifles
L.P. Brezney Testing the A17 Repeater from Savage Arms, one of two new Savage Arms A17 Rimfire Rifles
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- There is little doubt that the 17 HMR as a rimfire cartridge has caught on well across the country. However, one issue has remained unresolved regarding this 17 caliber round, and that has been its inability to function in an autoloading rimfire rifle efficiently.

Savage Arms, a company that is heavily invested in rimfire systems decided to take on the problem, and as such has turned loose the new A-17 autoloading rimfire on the American shooting public.

Savage Arms A-17 Autoloading Rimfire Rifle

The primary question here is how did Savage overcome the issues regarding cracked brass, poor function, and outright dangerous conditions when trying to modify a standard rimfire autoloader when chambering the 17 HMR? The trick here was to build a “delayed-blowback system”, by designing an “interrupter lock” in the bolt itself. Test shooting the new rifle I noticed that there seemed to be indeed a very slight delay upon cartridge ignition, and the spent brass ejection was a bit more deliberate then what is found on the standard rimfire rifle. The end result of all this modifying of a rimfire rifles action is that the 17 HMR case tends to hang together save for a slight doming of the cartridge at the base and rim.

This dome-shaped pattern is I believe a sign that indeed the 17 HMR is not your average 22 LR in an auto feed rifle.

Author 14 F and wind during testing re the A17
Author + Conditions: 14 F and wind during retesting of the A17

Test shooting the A17 rimfire rifle by way of two different cartridge brands resulted in the follow results. With winter weather conditions ranging from 14F through 25F, and winds that didn’t let up for three weeks ranging from 10 to 50 mph, finding a slot that was somewhat workable was not easy during the rifles review period. However, when tested at an ambient temperature of 17 F, the rifle functioned flawlessly regardless of the ammunition being chambered. Loading the box style rotary magazine was a bit of a struggle (gloves), but with additional use, that problem lessened to a great extent.

Basic function on the second day down range was a different story. Now, it was obvious that a few small glitches had surfaced. The rifle dropped its magazine three times in 27 rounds fired. The weather was better with a ground temperature of 42, and I would have thought any issue would have surfaced prior to this South Dakota good weather test outing. Switching from the new CCI A-17 Varmint Tip rounds designed for the new Savage Arms A17 Auto to the older CCI V-Max, and also the Hornady XTP tipped cartridges did not change a thing, and it was evident that there is an issue regarding this area of the rifles performance.

As a second issue during the firing of a 25 round string the rifle failed to detonate three rounds. The strike on the cartridge rim was solid. However, I simply repositioned the affected round and on the second try when cycled through the magazine the rounds functioned correctly. I would think this issue was about the given numbered lot of ammunition itself and not the rifle. Shooting additional Hornady, as well as the older CCI V-Max cartridges, resulted in no ammo issues at all.

Accuracy at 75 yards when shooting both Hornady and V-17’s by CCI was as follows:

With nasty wind conditions this element of the testing took a bit of extra time to be sure.

  1. V-17 three shot group Largest = .713 Smallest = .344
  2. Hornady XTP Largest = .704 Smallest = .399
  3. CCI V-Max Largest = .868 Smallest = ..625

Optics: Bushnell package scope – rim fire /special turret ( three elevation range adjustment caps ) setup for A-17 HMR ammunition.

Savage Arms A17 accuracy at 75 yards when shooting both Hornady and V-17's by CCI
Savage Arms A17 accuracy at 75 yards when shooting both Hornady and V-17’s by CCI

Accuracy test conclusion: Even as a very light weight pencil pipe rifle ( –– lbs ) the A-17 Autoloader as tested can shoot.

Savage Arms Model B Bolt Action 17 HMR Rifle

Based on a Savage, designed as simple as field dirt, a turn bolt rimfire. The Model B rifle chambered in 17 HMR is not anything world shaking in design, it does not require the modifications found in the previously reviewed Savage Arms A17 autoloader. The B model is a flat out work gun, and best being found in a wet river boat floor, dusty pickup truck gun rack, or wedged between the windscreen and dashboard of a IH “Corn Binder” someplace in farm country.

Like the testing of the previous rifle, the South Dakota weather didn’t play any favorites with the little turn bolt, and day one was limited regarding an effective test by light snow and temperatures below freezing. Waiting for better days was an option, but my I-Phone weather app told me I could grow a long beard before that was about to happen anytime soon.

Threaded receiver, tight bolt face and Accu Trigger makes for a sold receiver group in the Savage Arms Model B Bolt Action 17 HMR Rifle.
Threaded receiver, tight bolt face and Accu Trigger makes for a sold receiver group in the Savage Arms Model B Bolt Action 17 HMR Rifle.

Mounting a straight no couture target weight barrel at 23 inches, I figured that the rifle would send rounds down range with some solid accuracy. Based on some three shot groups measured accuracy illustrates clearly that my thinking was spot on regarding my expectations of the new compact turn bolt Savage Arms Model B Bolt Action 17 HMR Rifle.

What was involved during a day of testing were winds that were sustained at 10 mph, but were gusting to 25 mph, and following. Now with fast air coming straight down my back I waited out the gusting air and tried to shoot between the blast of nasty ice cold turbulence. When I was spot on with my wind adjustments the rifle shot three shot groups under, 280, and opened to 1.033 when I was caught or blindsided by the wind. Being a very light 6 lb rifle with a scope attached the little 17 was a bit whippy as such, and pushing bullets downwind to 58 yards, being conditions dictated closing my range, the Model B was a handful to steady on target over a sand bag. I do believe that this rifle in the heavy barrel configuration is clearly capable of shooting one hole groups under the best of conditions ( indoor range. )

Mounting the same rotary magazine as the Savage Arms A17, I found the 10 shot system quite workable, but I did tend to keep my loaded magazines at five rounds. I found the magazines a bit stiff in terms of accepting cartridges in the colder air. In the area of the action  the bolt slipped across the magazine with ease and did not fail to pick a fresh round or eject a spent case at any time.

Function regarding the Model B was solid…

Savage Arms A17 (top) Savage Arms Model B Bolt action (bottom)
Savage Arms A17 Rifle (top) Savage Arms Model B Bolt action Rifle (bottom)

Savage Arms A17 Autoloading Rimfire Rifle

  • Magazine: rotary
  • Stock Material: Synthetic
  • Barrel Material: Carbon Steel
  • Barrel Finish: High Luster
  • Barrel Color: Black
  • AccuTrigger:
  • Sights: Drilled and Tapped for Scope Mounts (Factory Installed)
  • Features: Delayed Blowback Action, Hard Chromed Bolt with Dual Controlled Round Feed, Case Hardened Receiver,
  • Button-Rifled Barrel

Savage Arms Model B Bolt Action 17 HMR Rifle

  • 17 HMR
  • Adjustable AccuTrigger
  • 10-round rotary magazine
  • Button-rifled barrel
  • Modern, ergonomic composite stock
  • Top tang safety
  • Drilled and tapped for scope mounts
  • Drilled and installed sling studs.

About the Author L.P. Brezny:

With more than 50 years experience in the field and the testing lab, author L.P. Brezny is one of today’s most recognized shotgun experts and authors. He is a contributor to dozens of firearms publications, such as Wildfowl, Shotgun Sports, and Varmint Hunters, and he is a regular columnist in the Gun Digest annual. This is his second book with Gun Digest.

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BIL KASTNER
BIL KASTNER
2 years ago

I fired 15 rounds of Savage A17 ammo (3 5 ROUND VOLLEYS). In the first five I had one fail to eject and had to use my cleaning rod to push it out the locked open bolt.

Russell T Snow
Russell T Snow
2 years ago

Brand new A17 semiauto with the Bushnell scope that comes on it. All made for each other and the CCI .17 HMR ammo. Sighted it in last Saturday at 100 yds.. Firing groups coverable easily with a quarter. I did have some trouble getting the magazine to latch in place. But, once I figured out how to listen/feel for a slight little click that indicates it has seated, I had no problem. Did have one misfire in 50 rounds. Seems that is typical or rimfire ammo but thought the newer .17 HMR CCI ammo would have overcome that flaw. Overall,… Read more »

Ron
Ron
4 years ago

I also have a A17, nice gun but poorly designed magazine. Plastic clip is weak doesn’t engage with enough force to prevent magazine drops. I sent rifle back to Savage they worked on it, sent new extra mag said adjusted stock,
Haven’t had chance to try it again, will see if performs better or not. Should have a mag like Rugers 10-22 design.

subguy
subguy
4 years ago

I have one of the .17autoloaders and have fired it with both factory and the new 25 round magazines. Never a glitch.
You need to check carefully, however that your magazine is seated well or you may incur the problem mentioned here.