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January 9th, 2022

Sunday Gunday: New .17 WSM Savage A17 Rifles for Varminting

Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber

The .17 Winchester Super Magnum (aka .17 WSM) is the fastest, flattest-shooting rimfire cartridge ever created. The .17 WSM cartridge, as you can see below, is significantly larger than the .17 HMR, and can deliver a 3000-fps muzzle velocity with a 20gr bullet, compared to about 2375 fps for .17 HMR 20gr ammo. That’s 26% more speed, which translates to a much flatter trajectory — a big deal when you’re shooting small varmints out to 300 yards.

Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber
Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber
.17 WSM and .17 HMR Ammo comparison image courtesy Widener’s Reloading & Shooting Supply.

New .17 WSM A17 Semi-Auto Rifles from Savage Arms

The .17 WSM has been around for a while, but there have been limited selections of rifles chambered for this speedy rimfire round. Savage is changing that. Savage just announced that it will offer its A17-series rifles chambered in .17 WSM. Currently choose from two models with laminated wood stocks: the A17 WSM Sporter and A17 WSM Target Thumbhole. Both rifles feature a delayed-blowback, semi-automatic action specifically designed for the 17 HMR and 17 WSM cartridges. And both rifles boast 22″ button-rifled barrels, user-adjustable AccuTriggers, and 10-round rotary-feed internal magazines.

Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber

Between the two, the Target Thumbhole model ($709 MSRP) would be our choice for varmint work, as the stock has nice ergonomics and shoots better off the bags, with a thicker, wider forearm. The A17 WSM Target Thumbhole model also has a 22″ fluted heavy target barrel. This is better for high-volume varmint sessions than the standard-contour barrel on the Sporter model ($619 MSRP).

Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber

Savage Action Should Work Well with the .17 WSM Cartridge
Savage is proud of its new .17 WSM rifles: “We are launching the A17 chambered for .17 WSM in two of our more popular configurations [with laminate stocks]. Both are designed for target shooting and varmint hunting applications[.] The new A17 WSM Sporter and A17 WSM Target Thumbhole pair the dynamic rimfire cartridge with Savage’s A Series semi-automatic action for exceptional accuracy and fast follow-up shots.”

“Savage has seen outstanding performance from the .17 WSM cartridge and felt it could be optimized in new platforms. The A Series rifles have a delayed blowback design that accommodates this caliber with limited modifications, making it an ideal action for the WSM cartridge.” — Jessica Treglia, Savage Arms Senior Brand Manager.

A17 WSM Target Thumbhole Features

Gray wood-laminate thumbhole stock
Delayed-blowback action
Hard chrome bolt with oversized bolt handle
Case-hardened receiver
Fluted 22″ heavy target button-rifled barrel
8-round rotary magazine
User-adjustable AccuTrigger™
$709.00 MSRP

A17 WSM Sporter Features

Gray wood-laminate stock
Delayed-blowback action
Hard chrome bolt with oversized bolt handle
Case-hardened receiver
22″ button-rifled barrel
8-round rotary magazine
User-adjustable AccuTrigger
$619.00 MSRP

Commentary — This Could be a Great Varmint Option, IF the Ammo Becomes Available
If we were in the market for a new rifle for serious, high-volume ground squirrel and prairie dog varmint safaris, we would seriously consider this new A17 in .17 WSM. With a rimfire cartridge you don’t have to bother with handloading. And you should enjoy significantly better barrel life than a larger centerfire cartridge burning much more powder — provided you don’t shoot too fast and over-heat your barrel. Also, you won’t struggle to find primers. However, unfortunately .17 WSM ammo is hard to find right now, as we explain below. Be aware of the ammo shortage issue.

Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber

Related Article Links for More .17 WSM Information

AccurateShooter Forum Thread on .17 WSM and New Savage Rifles
17WSM.com website with Ammo and Ballistics INFO
American Hunter .17 HMR vs. .17 WSM Comparison
Best .17 WSM Ammunition — Widener’s Report
Volquartsen .17 WSM Rifle

.17 Winchester Super Magnum Rimfire

.17 Winchester Super Magnum RimfireNew 3000 FPS Rimfire Round
A few years back Winchester created a high-velocity 17-caliber rimfire cartridge, the .17 Winchester Super Magnum (aka .17 WSM). Winchester has offered .17 WSM ammo with a choice of three bullet types: 20gr plastic tip (Varmint HV), 25gr plastic tip (Varmint HE), and a 20gr JHP (Super-X). The 20-grain varieties boast a 3000 FPS muzzle velocity, earning honors as the fastest Rimfire ammo ever made.

.17 Winchester Super Mag Specifications
Symbol Sub Brand Bullet Weight Muzzle Velocity
S17W20 Varmint HV 20-gr Plastic Tip 3,000 fps
S17W25 Varmint HE 25-gr Plastic Tip 2,600 fps
X17W20 Super-X 20-gr JHP 3,000 fps

Winchester claims that all .17 WSM ammo types shoot much flatter than the .22 Win Mag and .17 HMR, while delivering 150 percent more energy than both. In addition, the .17 WSM “bucks the wind” better than any other rimfire ammo — exhibiting significant less horizontal drift at extended ranges.

17 wsm winchester super magnum rimfire

Click Boxes to View Larger Charts


.17 WSM Ammunition is “Unobtanium” Right Now

Since its introduction, .17 WSM ammo has been sold by multiple companies including Browning, Federal (American Eagle), Hornady, and Winchester. Right now it is very hard to find ANY .17 WSM ammo. You have to look far and wide. On January 9, 2022 we checked with five major online vendors and found no .17 WSM ammunition in stock at Midsouth, MidwayUSA, Natchez, Precision Reloading, and Locked&Loaded. Every variety was listed as “Out of Stock” or “Temporarily Unavailable”. That’s discouraging. Hopefully more .17 WSM ammo will be appearing on dealer’s shelves in the months ahead.

Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber
Savage .17 17 winchester super magnum wsm ammo ammunition A17 varmint thumbhole rifle caliber

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January 9th, 2022

.375 EnABELR for Extreme Long Range Using Solid Bullets

Berger 379 grain 379gr solid bullet .375 caliber enabler

The .375 EnABELR Cartridge — Big and Fast

The .375 EnABELR cartridge was developed to offer magazine-feeding capabilities with the highest-BC solid bullets available. The .375 EnABELR cartridge is slightly shorter than a .375 CheyTac so it allows the round to mag-feed. Applied Ballistics is currently using brass made by Peterson. The .375 EnABELR has achieved impressive velocities — 2990 FPS — with prototype Berger 379-grain solid bullets fired from a 1:7″-twist 30″ barrel. Applied Ballistics may also test 1:8″-twist and 1:9″-twist barrels. READ Bullet Testing Report.

The .375 EnABELR cartridge was designed to offer .375 CheyTac performance in a slightly shorter package: “The problem with the .375 CheyTac is that, when loaded with the highest performance .375 caliber bullets (379-407 gr Berger Solids, and the 400-425 grain Cutting Edge Lazers) the round is not magazine feed-able in any action that’s sized for CheyTac cartridges.

Berger 379 grain 379gr solid bullet .375 caliber enabler

.375 cheytac .408 cheytac EnABLER Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Cadex defense
Here is Mitchell Fitzpatrick, shooting the 375 EnABELR in an ELR Competition.

.375 cheytac .408 cheytac EnABLER Applied Ballistics Bryan Litz Cadex defense

“Knowing the .375 CheyTac produced substantial performance, and that it was just too long for magazine feeding, made it easy to converge on a design for the .375 EnABELR. We just had to make the case short enough to achieve magazine length with the desired bullets, while adding a little more diameter to keep the case capacity similar to the .375 CheyTac. The resulting basic shape is quite similar in proportions to the successful .338 Norma Magnum Cartridge which, interestingly, was selected as the cartridge for General Dynamics Lightweight Medium Machine Gun (LWMMG).”

Applied Ballistics .375 enABELR solid berger bullets

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January 9th, 2022

Why You Should Use Expander Mandrels on New Brass

Expander Mandrel reloading case neck tension cartridge brass

Before you load that nice new cartridge brass for the first time, run an expander mandrel down the case necks. This will iron out dents and provide more uniform neck tension. Chose a mandrel diameter that provides appropriate neck tension.

Lapua brass is so good that you’ll be tempted to just load and shoot, if you have a “no-turn” chamber. However, some minimal case prep will ensure more uniform neck tension. Keeping your neck tension very uniform allows more consistent bullet seating. That, in turn, usually yields better accuracy, and lower Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation (ES/SD). Lapua brass, particularly 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win comes from the factory with tighter-than-optimal necks. Before you seat bullets, at a minimum, you should inside chamfer the case mouths, after running an expander mandrel down the necks. The expander mandrels from both Sinclair Int’l and K&M will both leave the necks with enough neck tension (more than .001″) so you can then seat bullets without another operation. We suggest putting a bit of lube on the mandrel before running it down the necks — but remove any lube that gets inside the necks before seating bullets.

Sinclair Expander Tool Mandrel

Both Sinclair and K&M Tools make a die body specifically to hold expander mandrels. The Sinclair version, is shown above. This $32.99 unit fits caliber-specific expander mandrels ($9.99) which measure approximately .001″ less than bullet diameter for each caliber. This is an updated “Gen II” design that completely captures the mandrel within the die so the mandrel cannot pull out. It also has an O-ring in the die cap that allows the mandrel to self-center within the case neck. Sinclair now offers three sizes of die bodies for expander mandrels: .17 -.338 Caliber (#749-011-715WS); .357 – .50 caliber (#749-008-843WS), and a special .50 Cal die body for large-diameter 50 BMG presses (#749-009-163WS, $39.99). All Generation II dies are machined from stainless steel and the standard diameter 7/8-14 dies include the Sinclair Stainless Steel Split Lock Ring.

Once you run the Sinclair expander mandrel down the necks of Lapua brass, after you account for brass spring-back, you’ll have about .002″ neck tension*. This will make the process of seating bullets go much more smoothly, and you will also iron out any dents in the case mouths. Once the case mouths are all expanded, and uniformly round, then do your inside neck chamfering/deburring. The same expander mandrels can be used to “neck-up” smaller diameter brass, or prepare brass for neck-turning.

Forum member Mike Crawford adds: “These expanders can also reduce runout from offset seating. Prior to bullet seating, expand the sized necks to force thickness variance outward. With the Sinclair system, the necks will springback fine, and will not be pulled out of center. This leaves plenty of tension, and bullets seated more centered. I do this, even with turned necks, to get improved seating.”

Mandrels vs. Expander Balls on Decapping Rods
If you haven’t acquired an appropriate expander mandrel for your brass, but you DO have a full-length sizing die with an expander ball, this will also function to “iron out” the necks and reduce tension. However, using a die with an expander ball will work the necks more — since you first size them down, then the ball expands them up again. Typically (but not always), run-out is worse when using an expander ball vs. an expander mandrel.


* This .002″ tension is what we have observed with Lapua 6mmBR, 6.5×47, 6.5 Creedmoor, and .308 Win brass. This might vary with much smaller or larger cases, and of course a different brand of brass might yield different results. If you get too little tension with your current mandrel, you can get a smaller-diameter mandrel from 21st Century Shooting. 21st Century even offers low-friction Titanium Nitride-coated mandrels.

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