February 16th, 2019

Rimfire 17s — Three Great Options: 17 HMR, 17 Mach 2, 17 WMS

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

There are three readily-available 17-caliber rimfire rounds now on the market: 17 HMR, 17 WSM, and 17 Mach 2(aka 17 HM2). Aguila also made a .17 rimfire, the .17 PMC/Aguila, but it never became popular. What should be your choice? The 17 HMR is a very popular round, available from multiple manufacturers — CCI, Hornady, and now Norma. The 17 Mach 2 (HM2) is making a resurgence, as it is less expensive than 17 HMR and it can be shot from rifles converted from .22 LR since it shares the .22 LR cartridge OAL. Finally the 17 WSM is, without question, the performance leader among .17-Cal rimfire rounds.

17 HMR — Still the Market Leader in 17-Cal Rimfires

The 17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) is popular and well-established. Ammo with a variety of bullet weights and designs is available. Most 17 HMR ammo is priced from $10-$12 per box, and you can get some better deals during sales.

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

You can buy quality 17 HMR rifles from many makers at all price levels. The Savage A17 with laminated thumbhole stock is a good choice. There were some early issues with the A17, but Savage improved the magwell and now this rifle is very reliable and accurate, particularly with the CCI-brand A17 ammo.

The laminated thumbhole stock version of the Savage A17 is a great carry-around varminter.
Savage A17 laminated varmint rifle

Ruger now makes a .17 HMR version of the Ruger Precision Rifle. If you prefer a modular chassis type rig, this is a great option:

Here is a semi-auto 17 HMR fitted with a suppressor. Even with the cameraman just 20 feet away, you can barely hear the shot, and recoil is non-existent. (NOTE: be sure to turn on the sound icon). Varminter Magazine says: “No ground squirrels were spooked during these shots. Quiet is an understatement!”. This may be the ultimate stealth varminter set-up.

17 Mach 2 (17 HM2) — Best Bang for the Buck?

The 17 Mach 2 (17 HM2) is making a comeback. Now leading manufacturers are offering this efficient little rimfire cartridge in some nice rifles. Both Anschutz and Volquartsen will offer new 17 Mach 2 rifles in 2019. Check out this Volquartsen Summit from SHOT Show. It offers a slick, straight-pull toggle bolt, like you’d find on Olympic biathlon rifles.

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

Considering that 17 HMR ammo costs $10 to $15 a box, the 17 Mach 2 is an excellent value by comparison. You can now get 50 rounds of CCI 17 Mach 2 for just $6.55 at Midsouth. Grab it while you can.

17 mach 2 .17 hm2 volquartsen summit

The Mach 2 propels the same 17gr V-Max bullet as the 17 HMR, but the Mach 2 runs about 16% slower — 2100 fps vs. 2500 for the 17 HMR. For many shooters, it makes sense to use the 17 Mach 2 rather than a 17 HMR. You save money, barrel life is a little longer, and the 17 Mach 2 is still a much more potent cartridge than the .22 LR. Check out this comparison, and note how the 17 Mach 2 has a much flatter trajectory than the .22 LR:

17 Mach 2 hm2 .22 LR comparison

Hornady’s 17 Mach 2 has a 2100 FPS muzzle velocity vs. 1255 FPS for .22 LR.

17 WSM — More Speed, More Energy, and Flatter Trajectory

The 17 WSM (“Winchester Super Magnum”) is the fastest, flattest-shooting rimfire round you can buy. It totally stomps the .22 LR, and even offers significantly better ballistics than the popular 17 HMR. Check out this comparison of three rimfire magnmum cartridges (17 WMS, 17 HMR, and 22 WMR):

17 WSM Winchester Super Magnum

And now lead-free 17 WSM ammo is available. This “unleaded” version is impressively flat-shooting. With a 100-yard zero, it drops only 4.3 inches at 200 yards. Compare that with a .22 LR which can drop 18 inches or more from 100 to 200 yards (based on 1150 fps MV).

17 WSM Winchester Super Magnum lead-Free

CLICK HERE for 17 WSM lead-free ammo test article.
17 WSM rimfire ammo test

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February 16th, 2019

If You’re Not Using Wind Flags You’re Throwing Away Accuracy


Forest of Windflags at World Benchrest Championships in France in 2011

There’s a simple, inexpensive “miracle device” that can cut your groups in half. If you’re not using this device, you’re giving away accuracy. The “miracle device” to which we refer is a simple wind indicator aka “windflag”. Using windflags may actually improve your accuracy on target much more than weighing charges to the kernel, or spending your life savings on the “latest and greatest” hardware.

Remarkably, many shooters who spend $3000.00 or more on a precision rifle never bother to set up windflags, or even simple wood stakes with some ribbon to show the wind. Whether you’re a competitive shooter, a varminter, or someone who just likes to punch small groups, you should always take a set of windflags (or some kind of wind indicators) when you head to the range or the prairie dog fields. And yes, if you pay attention to your windflags, you can easily cut your group sizes in half. Here’s proof…

Miss a 5 mph Shift and You Could DOUBLE Your Group Size

The table below records the effect of a 5 mph crosswind at 100, 200, and 300 yards. You may be thinking, “well, I’d never miss a 5 mph let-off.” Consider this — if a gentle 2.5 mph breeze switches from 3 o’clock (R to L) to 9 o’clock (L to R), you’ve just missed a 5 mph net change. What will that do to your group? Look at the table to find out.

shooting wind flags
Values from Point Blank Ballistics software for 500′ elevation and 70° temperature.

Imagine you have a 6mm rifle that shoots half-MOA consistently in no-wind conditions. What happens if you miss a 5 mph shift (the equivalent of a full reversal of a 2.5 mph crosswind)? Well, if you’re shooting a 68gr flatbase bullet, your shot is going to move about 0.49″ at 100 yards, nearly doubling your group size. With a 105gr VLD, the bullet moves 0.28″ … not as much to be sure, but still enough to ruin a nice small group. What about an AR15, shooting 55-grainers at 3300 fps? Well, if you miss that same 5 mph shift, your low-BC bullet moves 0.68″. That pushes a half-inch group well past an inch. If you had a half-MOA capable AR, now it’s shooting worse than 1 MOA. And, as you might expect, the wind effects at 200 and 300 yards are even more dramatic. If you miss a 5 mph, full-value wind change, your 300-yard group could easily expand by 2.5″ or more.

If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle with a good barrel, you are “throwing away” accuracy if you shoot without wind flags. You can spend a ton of money on fancy shooting accessories (such as expensive front rests and spotting scopes) but, dollar for dollar, nothing will potentially improve your shooting as much as a good set of windflags, used religiously.

Which Windflag to buy? Click Here for a list of Vendors selling windflags of various types.

Aussie Windflag photo courtesy BenchRestTraining.com (Stuart and Annie Elliot).

Permalink Shooting Skills, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
February 16th, 2019

Show Off your “Wallet Groups” with Shoot’n Aces Cards

Bell & Carlson stocks shooting card Shoot'n Aces playing target cards

Want to show off some groups you’ve shot? Or keep a handy pack of mini-targets in your range kit? Then check out this unique product from stockmaker Bell & Carlson. Shoot’n Aces cards feature a 1-inch black square aiming box with a 1/2-inch inner square. These cards are normal poker-playing-card size, 3.5″ high x 2.5″ wide (89 × 64 mm). Shoot’n Aces cards come 56 to a pack. Carry a few extras in your wallet or a pack in your vehicle glove compartment and you’ll always have a precision target to shoot at the range. Cards can be stapled or taped to target stands.

Bell & Carlson stocks shooting card Shoot'n Aces playing target cards

Bell & Carlson stocks shooting card Shoot'n Aces playing target cardsSniper Central says these cards work well as targets: “The bold square is easy to pick up with the inner white portion making a nice aiming point. The material of the cards is the same as normal playing cards and the bullets make a very nice hole when passing through.” The sharp edges of the bullet holes makes it easy to measure group sizes with precision.

Each pack of Shoot’n Aces contains 56 premium-quality target cards. If you want some, order Bell & Carlson item SA-2006. This is a set of four (4) card-packs with 56 cards per pack (224 cards total) priced at $20.00 (i.e. $5.00 per pack).

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink New Product, Shooting Skills No Comments »