February 17th, 2008

17 HMR Price Hikes Spur Renewed Interest in 17 Mach 2

The 17 HMR rimfire round has been a huge success since its introduction. Millions of rounds have been sold, the major rifle-makers all offer 17HMR rifles, and varminters worldwide have embraced this innovative, high-velocity rimfire cartridge.

However, as 17 HMR costs climb steadily upward, many shooters are considering switching back to the 17 HMR’s little brother, the 17 Mach 2. Based on a 22 Stinger case necked down to 17 caliber, the 17 Mach 2 runs about 450 fps slower than the 17 HMR. However, the 17 Mach 2 still offers much-enhanced performance compared to a 22LR (See Chart.)

Ten Cents a Round vs. 26 Cents a Round
The big factor favoring the 17 Mach 2 is PRICE. You can shoot the 17 Mach 2 for $0.10 per round compared to $0.26 for the 17HMR. The Mach 2 is less than half the cost of 17HMR. Here is a chart showing current pricing of the 17 HMR vs. the 17 Mach 2.

Cartridge Brand Bullet Price/box Vendor
17 HMR CCI 17gr Speer TNT $12.14 MidwayUSA
17 HMR CCI 20gr SpirePt $13.79 MidwayUSA
17 HMR Hornady 17gr V-Max $12.79 MidwayUSA
17 HMR Hornady 20gr XTP $12.99 MidwayUSA
17 Mach 2 Eley 17gr V-Max $4.89 MidwayUSA
17 Mach 2 Hornady 17gr V-Max $5.79 Midsouth
17 Mach 2 Rem 17gr V-Max $3.99 Natchez

17 HMR Average Price = $12.93 (26 cents per round)
17 Mach 2 Average Price = $4.89 (10 cents per round)

We’ve done extensive testing with the 17 Mach 2 in a Hall-actioned benchrest rig built by Stan Ware of SGR Custom Rifles. With ammo sorted for length and concentricity (using a Nielson Brothers concentricity gauge), our little 17 Mach 2 has demonstrated remarkable accuracy–with many 1/4″ groups at 50 yards. Still, even with sorted ammo, don’t expect the 17 Mach 2 to run with the best (i.e. $14/box) 22LR match ammo. Typically, with the 17 Mach 2, you’ll get one shot out of five landing unpredictably out of the group. There are many reasons for this — excessive run-out, flawed bullet tips, bad crimps, even shaved jackets.

Our studies suggest that 17 Mach 2 ammo would be more consistent, and more accurate, if it was loaded to a lower muzzle velocity with the bullet seated longer. Crimping needs to be more uniform. We’d also like to see Hornady chamber the 20gr XTP bullet offered in the 17 HMR. Still, the 17 Mach 2 round has much to offer the varminter and club-level paper puncher. It runs 1000 fps faster than a 22LR, and bucks the wind much better than a 22LR at 100 yards. At $4.00 to $5.00 a box, it is less than half the cost of 17 HMR, and one-third the cost of the super-premium 22LR.

We let three top 22LR benchrest shooters try our 17 Mach 2 recently. To a man, they agreed this round is “fun to shoot” and “offers great promise”. If the ammo-makers can improve quality control, this round may, some day, have a place in target competition, particularly with the highest-grade 22LR ammo now topping $20.00/box (for new Lapua X-ACT ammo).

Here are ONE HUNDRED-Yard Groups Shot with Eley 17 Mach 2 Ammo. Note HUGE Effect of Concentricity Sorting. Top target shows 0.006″ Run-out ammo. Bottom Target displays 0.001″ Run-out ammo.

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