The best .17HMR Rifle is a powerhouse varmint gun and is generally one of the most fun guns you will ever shoot. There is something about relatively inexpensive ammunition that is ridiculously fast, super lightweight and super accurate that makes it a blast to shoot. This article is a list of the finest options for the .17 HMR rifles on the market.
We cover some basic aspects of the .17 HMR to give you some background information on why you will actually want one. We will also be covering the reasons that the .17HMR is in its own standalone space on the market, despite the fact that the rimfire space is relatively crowded. We will cover 8 .17HMR rifles that each make a legitimate claim to being the best option for your rifle based on their handling of the important aspects/characteristics of the cartridge.
By the end of this article, you’re going to have an appreciation for the .17HMR; and a great set of choices for your final vetting so you can find a perfect fit for your needs. And there is nothing you need more than a gun that puts a smile on your face every time you think about the targets you’ve punched the 10ring out of or the varmints that have met their demise at the end of the bullet that it fired. This is a gun that begs to be shot and is still reasonably well priced to shoot it.
Paired with the right loads, the .17HMR is a beast, and it will certainly put a smile on your face.
CZ USA - 455 AMERICAN COMBO
This is one of the best values in the .17HMR market. Not unlike the previous CZ offerings that produced high quality, accurate, dependable firearms, this is a solid rifle that gives you many options. The two interchangeable barrels give the capacity for a .22LR and a .17HMR, that allows you to save a ton of money by shooting .22LR and get the terminal performance you want in the field when shooting the .17HMR. The best of both worlds.
It’s easily the smartest option of the entire lineup of .17HMR rifles with the dual interchangeable barrels, but the sensibility doesn’t stop there. The build quality is excellent. The accuracy and fit and finish are impeccable. The brand history is above reproach from a performance perspective and the value for dollars spent is exceptional.
True, it is not the cheapest gun on the list, but it’s far from the most expensive as well. It is easily the most versatile and easily the best value. If you haven’t considered CZ firearms before, this may be the perfect avenue to a rewarding relationship with the company.
- Serious versatility from the dual interchangeable barrels
- Accurate and well-built
- Gorgeous option for those who like a classic design
- No Cons really
This is best for:
Everything covered in the background information section. This is easily our top recommendation because this offers and substantial and uncommon value.
HENRY REPEATING ARMS - GOLDEN BOY
A gorgeous replica offering in a classic styling with a legitimate performance streak. This is a beautiful way to shoot a new standard in rimfire ammunition performance. Not unlike the first lever actions as new innovative cartridges came out many decades ago (many of them, more than a century ago), this is a way for you to see the best performing small rimfire cartridge with the dependability and repeat shot on target performance of a lever action.
No other lever action exists that showcases the history of the gun’s style more than this, and from an appropriate company (Henry – the original), and yet, this is a modern take with the contemporary rimfire option.
A great gun for the field and plenty accurate, this is a fun gun to shoot this immense cartridge with a diminutive size.
- Top quality lever action
- Beautiful brass frame design
- High capacity and good repeat shot performance
- Very specific looks and functionality may not be perfect for everyone
This is best for:
Classic enthusiasts of lever action guns, or those who want faster repeat shot performance in the field.
VOLQUARTSEN - SUPERLITE
If you can handle the price point, there are few .17HMR’s better suited to a day in the field varmint hunting or a day at the range knocking the 10ring out of a paper target than this accurized, top quality Volquartsen Performance Shop rifle.
Stealthy, good looking and built for fast follow-up shots, excellent accuracy and the ultimate in customization, this is a performance machine that any target shooter would be proud to own. You won’t find a better factory rifle in the caliber because this factory is dedicated to one-upping other factory options.
Years of offering some of the top rimfire performance options for Ruger based rifles and later becoming a full-fledged production outfit, which has capitalized on the innovation of the .17HMR with innovations of their own.
- A seriously well-made stock and design
- Unmatched accuracy for the weight
- Top tier trigger
- Awesome rifle for pairing with a high-powered optic
This is best for:
Target shooting or for killing game at the extreme range limits of the caliber.
WINCHESTER - 1885 HUNTER RIMFIRE
A beautiful, functional, rifle that is made for those who like to take it slow and who have deliberate tasks to undertake. For the shooter that knows what they want to accomplish and doesn’t get bothered by the limited capacity of the single shot rifle, this is a gun that can pass through to several generations. A perfectly suited field gun for those that don’t have follow up shot needs.
A legacy choice for the shooter that wants a thing of beauty that has good functionality, but can eschew some of the modern functionality, to gain some serious good looks and fine firearm finishing.
- Absolutely beautiful design
- Careful finished with top tier fit and mating of metal and wood components
- Classic looks and modern performance
- This is a single shot rifle
This is best for:
Those who like accuracy and taking it slow and deliberate.
SAVAGE ARMS - A17 TARGET
The story of this rifle is substantial, and it may be one of the finest semi-autos on the market for a magnum style rimfire. This is not your average quick retrofit from a .22LR into a much higher velocity cartridge. Savage, in conjunction with other companies under the Vista Outdoor umbrella, developed a rifle that actually performs.
When there were issues with the recall of thousands of Remington semi-auto .17HMR rifles, this rifle sought to get the semi-auto .17HMR rifle correctly functioning and perfectly safe. There were radical design changes to make this gun function properly.
The resulting design is safe, functional and of top-quality. There are few semi-auto rifles of this capability or build quality. This is certainly a top choice.
- Innovative yet already a proven design
- Serious credibility on the market for rimfire options by Savage
- Gorgeous, high-end stock
- Very popular considering the relatively low volume of .17HMR guns sold versus other calibers, and can sell out easily as a result
This is best for:
The person who absolutely must have a semi-auto, but also needs the most reliability available in a platform.
ROSSI - RB17 17 HMR BL/SYN
The price point alone makes this gun desirable. You can get into the .17HMR arena for less than $200 with ammunition enough to spend days at the range.
Yes, it is true, this is not the finest finished firearm on the market. It’s a value priced rifle. It is, however, a super inexpensive, performer with a cartridge that is well suited to bolt action rifles and can compete with cartridges that cost three times as much money; on certain aspects. Need we remind you how fun this cartridge is? This is a rifle that is priced how the Marlin 60 and the earliest iterations of the Ruger 10-22 were in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
This is a significant value that just makes sense for those who want to see if the .17 HMR makes sense for them without a significant investment.
- Almost comedically cheap for what you get
- Plenty accurate
- Not finished as well as other offerings on the market
This is best for:
Someone who isn’t quite convinced about the cartridge (the .17HMR) but could be if they could put their hands on the rifle.
CZ USA - 455 VARMINT EVOLUTION
A highly accurized, well-made rifle that is worth well in excess of the price point relative to market peers. This is a no-nonsense target variant that is made for good barrel harmonics and no pressure points on the bore line. The laminated stock is stiff and contributes to the accuracy and durability of the rifle.
Note: this is not a “durable” rifle by design, but it has a certain durability built into the design as long as you understand the importance of protecting the free-floated barrel.
Yes, this rifle can be used for hunting, but it is well made and designed for the target shooting experience, where at up to about 225 yards, this round excels against anything near its size and market segment. It is capable of legitimate accuracy with the right optics and trajectory calculations in calm conditions past 400 yards, despite the lightweight projectile losing a lot of terminal velocity and ballistic performance.
- Super rigid
- Well made and built to last
- Even though it represents great value it is somewhat pricey for a dedicated target version of a rimfire cartridge
This is best for:
Target shooters who want the premium accuracy that the 200+ yard mark that the .17HMR can offer a rimfire shooter.
SAVAGE ARMS - 93R17 FV
Simplicity is the name of the game with this proven design platform for the Savage line of rimfire rifles. The known accuracy, durability and easy to use design has been a fantastic addition to the storied brand. The modern innovation at Savage seems to be hearkening back to well-built, proven designs and adding features, rather than trying to reinvent a wheel that needs no reinventing.
The added functionality of the Savage line here in the case of the .17HMR makes these a serious contender for the best in the field of a crowded field of “me-toos” who come with less credibility to the .17HMR table.
- Well proven as a platform (bolt action rimfire by Savage with the same component part designs)
- No Cons to speak of
This is best for:
Someone who wants a quality rifle for not a lot of money.
Why would you ever want a .17HMR?
“Because it’s fun” may not always be an acceptable reason to buy a rifle for everyone out there. With the .17HMR that’s not the only reason. It’s a serious contender for small game. It recoils ridiculously light, it hits hard despite being so lightweight, and it is screaming fast.
The long-range performance for it in flat, calm conditions is substantial. While it isn’t perfect in wind over very long distances, the .17HMR is a ridiculously good wind shedding projectile in shorter ranges. This leads to substantial accuracy, and unreal performance in a range that’s out to about 175-200 yards (more in good conditions – up to around 400 yards even) with zero recoil and a screaming projectile that dispatches anything under 45 pounds; dead where they stand.
The bottom line to why you want a .17 HMR, is that it’s not like anything else you’ve ever shot. When you shoot it, it’s exhilarating, it’s impactful, despite being such a small; seemingly inconsequential projectile, and it is devastating for animals from 2 pounds to well over 50 pounds, given the right conditions.
And this isn’t a “kill a bear with a .22LR” type of commentary either. This is a legitimately hard hitting, fast moving projectile that causes significant damage in closer ranges and can still effectively kill larger small game at further distances.
You buy a .17HMR because you realize how much fun it is to shoot challenging things with a small caliber bullet. Beyond that, this is the smallest projectile available, and it is able to shoot small game and long-distance targets with aplomb.
What can you use it for generally?
Very simply put: the .17HMR is made for everything up to about 80-100 lbs., but the sweet spot is really up to about 45 lbs. In reality, this is a round that’s made for the squirrels, the prairie dogs, the ground hogs, the rabbits the foxes, the crocodiles and the stationary game birds of the world.
Yes, you can dispatch bigger game; you can kill harder game and you can reasonably justify killing something much harder to hit than that list, but you wouldn’t be in the sweet spot anymore.
It can kill moderately sized game but it’s probably a bit small for anything over the size of a moderately sized pig in any real world scenarios. If you are looking at shooting an animal at distance of more than 100 lbs., you probably want a different cartridge to be humane or to not miss out on a great trophy kill. Note: most jurisdictions won’t allow you to hunt game that big with a .17HMR because it doesn’t meet the minimum projectile sizing standards in the regulations.
It’s a spectacular target shooting round. It’s laser accurate; super fun to shoot and while it is exceptionally loud compared to most rimfire loads, it is easy to handle in most scenarios. You can shoot sub MOA all day long. In the right gun you can get close to 1/3 MOA if you are trying hard to make it happen.
It's also good for plinking, and fooling around because it’s fast and deliberate, and you see everything happening as you do it, and it’s impressive for those who like to gauge the real time aspects of the shooting.
This is NOT a home defense or tactical round. No way around that.
This is NOT a round you use to handle tough animals – there are amazing cartridges everywhere that can outshine the rimfire based .17HMR all day long in this capacity.
This is a round you use for soft, small animals when you want a fast, deliberate kill.
Is this just a temporary trend that will not be a longstanding mainstream cartridge?
The .17HMR has been around for more than 15 years (2002 was the year it was developed by Hornady). It’s got a robust stable of rifles that are chambered in it. The manufacturer is a stable, longstanding company (Hornady) and it already has “offspring” That have been successful in their own right, but which do not threaten to unseat the .17HMR (namely the .17HM2).
Furthermore, this is not just a Hornady thing: Federal and CCI; Winchester and Sellier & Bellot, and Remington all have various loads for the potent (approximately) 4.5mm diameter; 1 gram bullet.
The .17HMR is the reigning king of the ultra-light-weight Rimfires that offer the screaming fast velocities we are all looking for.
The cost of the ammunition is significantly less than modern mainstream centerfire cartridges and the caliber offers something they cannot: small animal capability in a moderate range projectile that has pinpoint accuracy and while being devastating to the game it seeks after, it is relatively soft on their furs and their bodies, meaning you are getting game that slightly resembles game, instead of a puff of smoke when you hit an animal. With appropriate precautions taken, this is a very clean shooting, effective cartridge that costs next to nothing to shoot and is quite impressive.
The round has also already endured quite the hiccup and gotten stronger as a result. In the early 2000’s soon after the mainstream launch of the cartridge on the market, semi-automatic rifles chambered n .17HMR were being recalled for safety issues.
It turned out there was a concern that the blowback operated semi’s weren’t firing at the appropriate times due to the heavy velocity and the resulting fast moving bolts, that would allow firing of rounds too soon, and often weren’t holding the spent casing in the chamber long enough to remove some of the pressure through the front of the barrel.
This is fixed now. There are several, highly vetted semi-autos on the market now that don’t have this concern. While the obvious choice to put a high velocity, capable rimfire round that costs little to shoot relative to centerfire peers into a semi-auto had originally barely succeeded; now it is thriving.
Is it worth the money with so many other great cartridges available?
It absolutely is. If you aren’t the type of shooter that wants a single gun, then this is a great candidate for the lower end of the game spectrum and the higher end of the moderate range target shooting spectrum. This can easily serve those two purposes with the right loads and the right conditions. And at a significant price point discount to most other competitors.
It’s more accurate than a .22 Magnum.
It’s more effective on smaller game at 25 yards to 75 yards than the .223 Remington.
It’s more fun to shoot than even the .22LR, which says a lot.
It’s got enough power to replace any gun you’re currently using on game up to about 80 lbs. out to about 175-225 yards easily. Think about this for a second: this is a 200 yard rimfire cartridge, with ease. Let that sink in. For enthusiasts of the rimfire loadouts, this is an irreplaceable round – the one they never knew they always wanted (though we are willing to bet, many of them did know they wanted it).
The ammunition is special, the build quality excellent; and the capabilities of the ballistics make this very rewarding to shoot.
You can literally replace 2-3 different guns with the .17HMR at the smaller end of the game spectrum and you’ll have something that will impress your friends and is still safe and easy to handle for new shooters.
It’s just the kind of innovation that a varmint hunting crazed shooting populace needed, so they could have a bit more fun than just shooting their AR every time.
The best .17HMR rifle is on this list; the question you have to answer is which one of them fits with your use case best. Sometimes you don't even need a use case to justify a rifle purchase; rather just a desire to have a fun gun. No better option exists if you want a fun gun to play around with when you want to play but need a legitimate no-nonsense gun when it’s time to make things happen. If you like rimfire; or you like small caliber fast shooting projectiles this caliber and these guns are worth a serious look.
The benefits of the velocity, the moderate power load at impact and the incredible accuracy, make the .17HMR a worthwhile addition to any enthusiast’s collection. The serious performance deliverables for the cartridge makes the .17HMR in these rifle designs a serious contender for ANY gun owner who can see some use from the tiny projectile.
In the end, it makes sense to explore the design, the utility and the fun aspects of this cartridge because more than most rifles, this is a set of rifles that just deliver on every aspect of the cartridge they are built around.