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March 21st, 2021

Sunday GunDay: Suhl-Action .22 LR Rimfire with Indexed Barrel

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

This article was originally written by noted rimfire gunsmith Bill Myers. Sadly, Bill passed away in May 2010, but his legacy lives on. He pioneered many advancements in rimfire gunsmithing and Myers-built guns still win matches in benchrest competition.

Crafting competitive rimfire benchrest rifles is considered an art as much as a science. The smith must understand subtle, yet critical aspects of vibration control, barrel tuning, and rifle balance. In the United States, only a handful of gunsmiths consistently turn out rimfire BR rifles that consistently run at the front of the pack at major matches. Bill Myers was one of those master craftsmen. In this article Bill discussed the process of building a winning rimfire BR rig. He reveals some interesting secrets, including his procedures for testing bedding performance and his barrel indexing system. Bill’s methods obviously work, as the Suhl-actioned rifle featured here won a truckload of trophies in its very first match.

Building a Match-Winning Rimfire Benchrest Rig

by Bill Myers
In my opinion, a winning rimfire benchrest rifle is probably twice as difficult to build as a competitive centerfire rifle. The relatively slow .22 LR bullets stay in the barrel much longer than centerfire bullets. This means that vibration control is critical. Likewise bedding is critical. Bore finish and lapping are very important. The amount of bore taper or “choke” can have a huge effect on accuracy. Ignition is also very important and above all, rimfire BR rifles need a very stable stock that tracks perfectly. A rimfire that shoots great is a complete marriage of all components and of the shooter’s need to be aware of everything possible.

Click Photo to Zoom
Myers 22LR

The rifle featured in this article was built from scratch with attention to all the details that go into accuracy. The goal was to build a gun that could win from the get-go. This would be a “Spec Gun”, meaning a rifle that was personally tested and tuned by me for optimum performance before it went out to the customer.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR
The Suhl trigger is as good as it gets so no change was needed. It easily adjusts down to about 2 ounces.

Baer Stock in Bubinga Wood
There are many choices when you start to build a complete rifle. It has to shoot well and it has to catch ones eye, or it’s just another rifle on the line. I prefer wood stocks on rimfires for two reasons: they are very stable if the right wood is used and they have a certain traditional appeal to many shooters. I chose Bubinga wood for this particular gun because it is very stable and heavy, it has a very dense grain and a very pronounced figure with a natural red color. The Bubinga is a very forgiving wood to work with.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

Gerry and Bruce Baer in Pennsylvania do all my stock blanks. I do all my own inletting and bedding. The blank weighed 4.5 pounds when it came off of Bruce Baer’s duplicator. This Bubinga wood is so hard that it did not need pillars, but I put them in anyway. I bed all my stocks with Loctite Steel Bed liquid and add filler to desired thickness. The final bedding is done with an aircraft tooling epoxy that does not deteriorate over time. The stock has an ebony butt plate and six (6) coats of automotive clear, polished to a “high buff” finish.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

Suhl 150-1 Action
Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire .22 LR 22LRAccurized and BN-Nickel Plated
I used a new, unfired Suhl 150-1 action. As explained in the sidebar below, the Suhl 150 actions were originally crafted in East Germany for position rifles. They have a very fast lock-time and come with an outstanding trigger. However, they need some work when adapted to a modern BR gun. The action needed to be accurized and threaded. I have a special tool that I use to accurize actions. It uses two sets of spiders for dialing-in the bolt raceway. After the bolt raceway is running true, one can thread and true up all bearing surfaces so that everything is in perfect alignment with the action raceway bore.

Suhl Action Myers benchrest .22 LR rimfireBN-Nitride Plating on Action
I decided to plate the action and all bolt parts with Boron Nitride nickel plating. I bough the BN Electroless Nickel Kit from Caswell Plating and did the job myself. I started by bead-blasting the action so that it would end up with a “satin” finish. The plating material is then applied in a tank. The Boron Nitride goes directly into the plating solution, but you need to use a pump to keep the solution agitated so the BN distributes evenly.

Once the action is completely ready (the metal must be perfectly prepped, with no contaminants), the process goes easily and can be completed in about half an hour. The end result is a very slick, low-friction finish, that is .0002″ (two ten-thousandths) thick and hard as glass. The Boron Nitride makes everything very smooth. After the plating job, the action was noticeably slicker than before.

The cone breech (photo below) permits the barrel to be INDEXED (rotated around bore axis) to any position on the clockface. You then test various rotation settings to find the best accuracy. The system does work. Some barrels shoot best in a particular rotational setting. E.g. with index mark at 3 O’clock vs. 12 O’clock.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LRFitting and Chambering the Barrel
As for a barrel, I had two good choices: one Shilen 1:16″-twist, 4-groove ratchet and one Benchmark 1:16″-twist, 3-groove. Both barrels were very accurate and at the end, I decided to leave the Shilen on the rifle because I wanted to put the Benchmark on another Suhl I’ve set aside for myself. I chambered the barrel for Eley flat nose EPS. We’ve found the gun also shoots the new Lapua X-ACT ammo very well.

The barrel finished at 25″ long and features a tuner by the Harrell brothers of Salem, Virginia. I use a flat 90° crown–it’s the most accurate and its gives a good seal against the tuner. I also use a 45°, 12-flute cutter that leaves no burr when cutting the crown. This chamfer protects the crown when cleaning the barrel. There is no sharp edge for the brush or jag to hit on the return stroke. The barrel was headspaced at .043″ and I use a tapered reamer ground by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge in Oregon. The chamber leade area is lightly polished to remove reamer burrs. The breech end of the barrel is machined with a 1/2″ ball end mill to produce what I call a “Myers cone breech.” Technically, it has a sloping radius as you can see, rather than a straight-sided cone. Finishing the breech in this fashion facilitates indexing the barrel, as the barrel can be rotated to any position (on the clockface), without requiring new extractor cuts.

Barrel Indexing — Finding the “Sweet Spot”

When indexing a barrel, one rotates it to different clockface positions relative to the action. Imagine marking a barrel at TDC or 12 o’clock, and then rotating it so the mark is at 3 O’clock, 6 )’clock, 9 O’clock and so on. At each position one shoots groups to determine at which index setting best accuracy is achieved.*

I know that barrel indexing is controversial. I don’t want to get into a lengthy debate other than to say that I believe that careful and thorough testing can reveal a “preferred” index position for a good barrel. With the barrel set in that particular position relative to the action I believe the barrel can yield optimal performance.

I perform the indexing tests indoors at 50 yards. I use a rail-gun with floating action. The barrel is held in place with a clamping fixture similar to an Anschutz 2000-series action. Basically, two vertically-stacked metal blocks clamp around the barrel. I can index the barrel this way simply by unclamping the barrel blocks, rotating the barrel and then re-clamping the system. I have a special system so the action can stay in the same position, even as the barrel is rotated.

It takes time and effort to get solid indexing results. Normally I shoot at least 400 rounds of ammo in 3-4 indexing sessions. Shooting a handful of groups is not enough. You may think you’ve identified the best index position, but you need to shoot many more rounds to verify that. Also, in a very good barrel, the effects of indexing may be subtle, so it will take many groups to confirm the optimal position. In my experience, really good “hummer” barrels do not benefit as much from indexing as an “average” barrel.

IR 50/50 rimfire targetAccuracy Testing with Both Barrels
I tested the rifle indoors at 50 yards at the Piney Hill Benchrest Club range. There was no finish on the stock, but it shot well in my one-piece rest with the Benchmark 16-twist, 3-groove barrel and no added weight on the tuner. I shot 30 rounds of Eley Match EPS Black Box (1064 fps) and had 25 Xs and five 10s on the IR 50/50 style target. Not too shabby for a new barrel with no special break-in.

When the Shilen barrel arrived, I installed it on the rifle. By this time the stock had been clear-coated and finished, and the action had been polished and plated. I shot the Shilen barrel outside since it was too hot in the building. The first target was a 250-19X with a new lot of Eley Match EPS Black Box (1054 fps). The gun shot well. My friend Tony Blosser asked to shoot the gun, and he drilled a 250-20X in a steady wind using the same Eley ammo. See target at right.

Myers 22LR
Bill Myers Suhl .22 LR Benchrest rifle

Advanced Procedures — Vibration Control and Tuner Position

Barrel Tuning Using 2-Way Electronic Indicators
Before competing with this rifle, I put it in a firing fixture I use to tune the barrel. I employ a pair of very expensive Swiss 2-way electronic min/max hold indicators. These measure both up movement and down movement of the barrel as the gun is fired. I can measure the actual vertical travel of the barrel at any position from the front of the receiver to the tuner. I can also tell how long the barrel vibrates, time-wise. Using this fixture I found that the Shilen barrel was very consistent in readings and seemed to work well with no additional weight on the tuner. No barrel ever stops vibrating completely — but this was close, showing less than .002″ of total movement.

Bedding and Vibration Control
I have found that measuring the actual movement of the barrel during firing tells me a lot about the quality of the bedding. I have learned that if I see very big movements (e.g. .010″ up and .005″ down), then there may be a problem with the bedding. I saw this kind of big swing on a rifle with bedding that had not cured properly.

Another pattern I watch for is uneven vertical movement. For example, if the barrel vibrates .008″ up but only .002″ down, that tells me the bedding has issues. As noted above, I look for minimal vibration travel (after the tuner is fitted and optimized), and I also want that travel to be relatively equal both up and down. Good rimfire gunsmiths agree that proper bedding has an important influence on vibration control and tuning. By measuring actual barrel movement during firing, we can, to an extent, quantify how well the bedding is working. At a minimum, we can see if there’s a serious bedding problem.

Trial by Fire — Shooting the Gun in Competition
After semi-gluing in the action, the rifle was shooting great. So, I decided to take it to the Maryland State Unlimited Championship to see if it was truly competitive — whether it could “run with the big dogs”. As it turns out, the Bubinga Suhl was more than just competitive. The rifle won three of the six cards and won the meters championship. In the photo below you can see all the trophies the gun won in its very first match. One of the other competitors in Maryland, dazzled (and perhaps a bit daunted) by the Bubinga Suhl’s stellar performance, told me: “Sell that gun Bill. Whatever you do, just get that darn rifle out of here.” Confident that this was a rifle capable of winning major matches, I packed up the rifle and shipped it to Dan Killough in Texas. Killough has shot some impressive scores with the gun.

Suhl 150 Benchrest Rimfire 22LR

Suhl Target Rifles — East Germany’s Legacy

Suhl 150 rifles were manufactured in former East Germany (GDR) by the Haenel firearms factory in the town of Suhl. This region has a long history in arms production. In 1751, Sauer & Sohn founded the first German arms factory in Suhl. Following WWII, Suhl 150s were produced for Communist Bloc marksmen, including East German Olympic shooters. Prior to German unification, the East German national shooting arena was located at Suhl and hosted many top-level competitions including the 1986 ISSF World Championships.

Suhl 150 Target Rifle

Superb Rifles with Amazing Triggers
As a product of East Germany, the “mission” of the Suhl 150 was to rival the accuracy of the Anschütz, Walther and other premium match rifles built in the West. East German shooting teams wanted to finish on top of the podium, so they needed a rifle with superb inherent accuracy. The Suhl 150s have an outstanding trigger that can be adjusted down to about two ounces. The Suhl 150 action, like the Anschütz 54, boasts an extremely fast lock-time — an important factor in a position rifle. And Suhl barrels were legendary for accuracy.

Suhl 150 Target Rifle

Suhl 150 Benchrest Conversions
Many of the first used Suhl 150s that made it to America were converted to Benchrest rifles because the action/trigger/barrel combination was unbeatable for the price. Some of the barrels on these “surplus” Suhls were phenomenal — as good as any custom barrels available today. It was not unknown for a Suhl 150 barreled action, transplanted into a benchrest-style stock, to win BR matches with the original barrel. Today, however, most of the Suhl benchrest conversions end up with modern, American-made barrels. While some older Suhl barrels can “shoot with the best of ‘em”, new barrel designs optimized for use with tuners have an edge, at least in benchrest circles. That’s why builders such as Bill Myers swapped out the Suhl barrel with something like a Benchmark reverse-taper two-groove.

Suhl 150 Target RifleToday Suhl 150 rifles are very hard to find in North America. In 2006, a used Suhl 150, even without sights, might fetch $1200.00 or more. Then, in 2007 through early 2008, hundreds of Suhl match rifles were imported. This drove prices down, and those “in the know” snapped up complete Suhl 150s at prices ranging from $450 to $850 (see 2007 advert at right), depending on condition.

Many of these rifles were left “as built” and used successfully in prone competition. Others were converted into benchrest and silhouette rifles, “parted out” for the actions and triggers. If you were able to grab one of those imports at a good price–consider yourself lucky.

Suhl 150 Target Rifle

* Bill Myers actually created his own clamping rimfire action to facilitate barrel indexing. CLICK HERE for Myers Rimfire Action. To index the barrel, Myers simply loosened three clamping-bolts and rotated the barrel in the action. Because there is no thread to pull the barrel in or out, the headspace stays the same no matter how much the barrel is rotated. With a threaded action, you might have to use shims to test different rotational positions, or otherwise re-set the shoulder with each change.

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December 12th, 2020

Amazing Accuracy from Australian .22 LR Rifle at 200 Yards

Australia Australian SSAA Rimfire smallbore .22 LR Fly Shoot 200 yard record group accuracy Canberra Australia Eley Tenex

What kind of accuracy do you think is possible from a rimfire benchrest rifle? If we said 0.44 MOA you might not be surprised, thinking this was at 50 yards. But how about 0.44 MOA accuracy at TWO HUNDRED yards. Now that’s impressive. Consider this — at 200 yards, a 10 mph crosswind will push that little 40gr bullet 15.3 inches. Here’s the story, which comes from the Land Down-Under, Australia.

A couple seasons back, Australian John Lavaring shot a group at 200 yards that would make most centerfire shooters proud. The five-shot group, with all shots in the center 10-ring, measured just 0.93 inches. That works out to 0.44 MOA at 200 — mighty impressive for a .22 LR. Recorded at a Rimfire Fly Shoot benchrest event in Canberra, Australia, this 200-yard target set two new Australian SSAA National records! John was using ELEY Tenex ammunition.

Congratulations to John Lavaring for a spectacular demonstration of how well a rimfire rig can shoot — even at 200 yards. We rarely shoot our .22 LR rifles past 50 meters. Maybe it’s time to start a Rimfire ELR series, with targets at 200 or even 300 yards. What do you think of the Rimfire ELR idea? Leave comments below.

Australia Australian SSAA Rimfire smallbore .22 LR Fly Shoot 200 yard record group accuracy Canberra Australia Eley TenexAnschutz 54 Benchrest Rig
The rifle was a Anschutz model 54 Match in a custom benchrest stock. John’s record-setting rig features a barrel block, which you can see forward of the action. Scope is a Bausch & Lomb BR model. We don’t have the round count on Lavaring’s barrel, but good rimfire benchrest rifles can often get 10,000 rounds (or more) of accurate life.

Rimfire Ballistics at 200 Yards
Some folks may be wondering about .22 LR ballistics at 200 yards. Well, with a 25-yard zero, the 200-yard drop for John’s 40gr Tenex ammo is 54 inches, assuming 0.145 G1 BC and 1085 fps muzzle velocity per ELEY website. And at 200 yards, a 10 mph crosswind will push that little bullet 15.3 inches! We’re told the winds were pretty tricky when Lavary shot his record group. This makes his achievement all the more impressive — we have to admire John’s wind-reading ability.

This ELEY ammo has proven to be exceptionally accurate. Here is a short video showing TEN rounds of Tenex shot from a machine rest with target at 50 meters.

Ten Rounds ELEY Tenex at 50 meters:

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October 6th, 2020

Mr. and Mrs. King Share a Martini — Mark III Variety

rimfire benchrest .22 LR mac tilton Martini Mark III husband wife
Here is gunsmith Richard King, with his updated Martini Mark III smallbore rifle.

This is the kind of family-friendly, “feel-good” story we like. A few years back, Texan Richard King created a rimfire benchrest rifle using a classic Martini Mark III smallbore action. He fitted the gun with a new flat, wide forearm and a new buttstock, allowing the gun to sit steady on the bags and track smoothly. The narrow action was also fitted with a cantilevered top rail to hold a high-magnification scope.

Here is Vicki King, with Martini Mark III and her trophy.
rimfire benchrest .22 LR mac tilton Martini Mark III husband wife

But here’s the best part. Back in 2014, Richard provided this updated classic to his wife Vicki, who proceeded to win a rimfire benchrest match (Vintage class) with the old Martini. Richard reports: “Here is my lovely wife with her High Overall Vintage trophy. That is a Martini Mark III that I re-stocked in walnut for 50-yard, .22-caliber benchrest matches. It’s great to have her shooting with me again.”

rimfire benchrest .22 LR mac tilton Martini Mark III husband wife

Bravo Richard — kudos to you AND to your lovely bride. It’s great to see a couple shooting together. It’s also great to see a classic rifle brought back to the winner’s circle with some inspired stock-work, new optics mount, and other smart upgrades. Old rifles never die… at least if they find their way to a great smith like Richard King.

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December 19th, 2018

Great Cleaning Option for Rimfire Shooters — NO-LEAD Cleaner

Suhl Rimfire Benchrest indoor cleaning
We have used NO-LEAD Cleaner in rimfire benchrest rifles similar to this modified Suhl 150-1. It helped restore accuracy with minimal brushing.

NO-lead brushless lead remover Wipe-out Sharp Shoot-rMade by the same folks that created Wipe-Out™, and Carb-Out™, the NO-LEAD Brushless Lead Remover™ really works. Honest. If you are an active rimfire shooter, or if you shoot cast lead-alloy bullets in centerfire rifles and pistols, you should try this product. We now use NO-LEAD in our rimfire benchrest rifles, and in some centerfire guns that receive a steady diet of soft-alloy cast bullets (90%+ lead). (With rimfire guns, you don’t need to use NO-LEAD very often — maybe every 300-400 rounds unless you have a real fouler of a barrel.)

If you’ve got stubborn lead fouling in a rimfire barrel, or on a pistol’s muzzle brake/compensator, you should definitely give this stuff a try. We don’t know how but it does soften lead deposits. The manufacturer says you don’t need brushes, but we found that a bit of brushing (after NO-LEAD application) can help remove more serious lead build-up.

Frankly we were surprised to find a lead remover that really works. We tried a half-dozen other lead “cleaners” that promised to dissolve lead and most of them, we discovered, are nearly useless. There’s a reason for that, as the lead alloys used in bullets don’t react to typical petrochemical-based solvents. It took the Wipe-Out chemists over five years to perfect a new water-based solution that really does dissolve lead.

NO-LEAD Cleaning Procedure — Read Carefully
NO-LEAD Lead Remover is a clear, red gel that is easy to apply. Just swab it in your bore (or on muzzle brakes) with wet patches or bore mop and let it sit for a few minutes. (The manufacturer says you can leave the NO-LEAD for up to 20 minutes, but that long of a dwell time does not seem necessary with our rimfire barrels.) When it contacts lead it will start to foam and you’ll see that the NO-LEAD solvent turns a pastel pink when it dissolves lead. The pink comes from the formation of lead oxide. After the recommended dwell time, simply patch out the dissolved lead deposits (you can also use a nylon brush for stubborn lead build-up).

NOTE: After cleaning, it is very important that you get all the NO-LEAD out of your barrel, and neutralize it. We recommend following the application of NO-Lead with Wipe-out or Patch-Out to neutralize the NO-LEAD, clear the bore, and remove residual carbon and copper fouling. If you don’t have Wipe-Out or Patch-out, flush the barrel thoroughly with Rubbing Alcohol or even a solution of Dawn dish detergent — then re-oil the bore.

Be Sure to Neutralize NO-LEAD After Use
Remember that N0-LEAD is a strong, slightly acidic chemical that needs to be neutralized after use. If you leave it on a nice, blued barrel for too long, it can harm the bluing. NO-LEAD will remove all the surface oils from the barrel bore. For this reason it is recommended that you neutralize NO-LEAD with Wipe-Out, or Patch-Out, which both contain effective corrosion inhibitors. If you don’t have those products, once you’ve flushed the NO-LEAD with something like rubbing alcohol, then follow with a gun oil. Caution: A petroleum-based gun oil will NOT, by itself, neutralize NO-LEAD. You need to neutralize first, then apply the corrosion inhibitor (or do it all in one step with Wipe-Out or Patch-Out).

Where to Buy NO-LEAD Lead Remover
NO-LEAD Lead Remover costs $15.99 for an 8 oz. squeeze bottle with a flip-top spout. This product is sold directly by Sharp Shoot R Precision Products, www.Sharpshootr.com, or you can purchase NO-LEAD through many other online vendors. For more information, send an email via the Sharp Shoot-R Contact Form or or contact Sharp Shoot-R at (785) 883-4444. You can ask for Terry Paul, Sharp Shoot-R’s owner and the master chemist who developed the NO-LEAD formula.

View Price List for all SharpShootr products »

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August 5th, 2017

ELEY Ltd. Steps Up Support for Rimfire Benchrest Leagues

eley rimfire .22 LR Benchrest competition PSL ARA American Rimfire Association

Eley rimfire barrel .22 LRIt’s good to see an ammo-maker step up to help the shooting sports. ELEY Ltd. has recently made significant investments in .22LR rimfire benchrest and competition segments within the USA. ELEY has partnered with the American Rimfire Association (ARA) and Professional Shooting League (PSL) to help promote and expand rimfire benchrest shooting, one of the fastest growing .22 LR rimfire competition disciplines worldwide. The ARA and PSL competitions are leading rimfire benchrest organizations within the United States. ELEY’s financial and logistical support will help the ARA and PSL grow the ranks of rimfire benchrest shooters.


Here’s a record-setting rimfire benchrest rifle owned by our friend Joe Friedrich who competes in ARA matches, primarily using ELEY .22 LR Tenex ammo.

ARA was started in April 1998 by a group of .22 LR shooters who wanted an organization for competitive .22 LR benchrest competition. In 2010, ARA started to transition to what it has become today, with the unique goal of continuing the vision of the ARA founders by providing an honest competitive organization that is true to .22LR shooting.

PSL was founded as a benchrest organization for the true precision shooting professional. With the growth of rimfire benchrest, there was a need to have a professional organization to which shooters would be compensated for their hard work, training and competition success.

rimfire benchrest ARA PSL ELEY ltd investment
Image from National Rimfire Benchrest Association of Ireland (NRBAI)

Among .22 LR rimfire disciplines, benchrest shooting represents the “pinnacle of precision” — the very highest level of accuracy is needed to succeed. As such, ELEY has identified the need to help expand this growing sport. “This support by ELEY will help us bring .22 LR benchrest to the forefront of shooting competitions,” says Dan Killough, Director of ARA & PSL. “The expansion of [rimfire] benchrest … gives shooters a platform to enjoy and participate in rimfire competition that previously may not have been available to them,” stated Mike Corkish, ELEY Director of North America Sales.

Permalink Bullets, Brass, Ammo, Competition 1 Comment »
July 15th, 2013

World Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Championships in August

accurateshooter.com wrabf championships plzenThe 2013 World Rimfire and Air Rifle Benchrest Federation (WRABF) European and World Cup Championships will take place August 3-16 at the Plzen International Shooting Range in the Czech Republic. Top smallbore and air rifle benchresters from 19 countries will compete, along with junior squads from six nations. With over 130 registered competitors, this should be the biggest WRABF Championship event ever held.

The Championships run for 13 days in August, starting with two official practice days on August 3-4. Then Air Rifle benchrest matches will be held August 5-7. Rimfire 25m matches are slated for August 8-11, followed by 50m matches August 12-15. Awards presentations will be made on August 16th, then all the shooters head for home.

Team Italy created a handsome banner especially for the WRABG Championships:
accurateshooter.com wrabf championships plzen

accurateshooter.com wrabf championships plzen

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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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