BSA Sweet 17

 

by Paco Kelly

photography by Paco Kelly

February 29th, 2004

 

 

 

 

Since the 17 rimfire magnum craze has cooled somewhat, I have found a telescope that is designed for the 17 grain RF-Mag bullet drop.  BSA has brought out a scope they call the SWEET 17, and it is a beauty.

 

Normally my scopes run in a higher price range. But when I spotted the advertisement for this scope in the new Midway USA catalog, with an explanation of what it does for the 17 RF Mag shooter, I had to try it.  And I am glad I did...it is a variable 3-12 x 40mm with a 50mm front lens and AO ability. It is 13 Ĺ inches long and a dull black coating that feels like very thin rubberized surface. The turrets are target grade, and the top turret can be set for the range to be targeted.. With just a turn of the dial.  As the photo shows it has a very clear and readable gradient on the turret body.  

 

Now I am not a real fan of the 17 caliber in any loading.  Back in the 1970s when Remington came out with its 17 centerfire caliber on a .223 case, I had a very pretty custom Remington 700 made up in the caliber.  Using much heavier bullets than the new 17 rimfire, at a much higher velocity, around 4000 fps... it was very wind sensitive. And then came the time I hit a coyote with it at less that 100 yards.  It was right behind the ribs going forward to the off side, a real good placement of the bullet.  He rolled at the shot screaming his brains out, by the time I chambered another round... and I am fairly fast doing that... he was up and running.  The 44 magnum S&W model 29 did the finishing business.

 

I sold the rifle to a friend that just had to have it, or he would suffer convulsions or some such.  I warned him that it wasnít a real game cartridge except for very small vermin.  He went on to fill a boat load of large and small varmints, and ship them on to their reward.  Go figure.

 

So when the 17 RF Mag came along, I ho-hummed it.  I can remember the 5mm caliber rimfire Remington brought out in the late 1960s/early 1970s.  It was another necked down 22RF Magnum.  It fell on itís face... because only Remington chambered for it and produced the only ammo.  It was very accurate, much like this new 17 RF Mag. I figured the same would happen with this new necked down RF-Magnum.

 

But wonders of wonders, suddenly everyone is chambering for it, and now there are three producers of ammo,  Hornady, Remington, and CCI. Hornady has the polymer tip in red, and Remington has one in silver, CCIís offering is a very long and sharp, spire point/hollow point. And each of them is 17 grains in weight.

 

The difference in velocity from my Ruger 77/17 between the three offerings is very little.... strangely Hornadyís red tipped ammo was the slowest, clocking at 2606 fps for 10 shot average.  And from my rifle the least accurate at a little under one inch at 75 yards.  Remingtonís ammo was the fastest averaging 2699 fps.. Several shots did pass the 2700 fps mark.  And it was almost neck and neck in accuracy with CCIís hollow point.  CCIís average was in between in velocity at 2640 fps. Both CCI and Remington were at 3/4ths of an inch at 75 yards. In another rifle the results might be different.... but I have to admit the accuracy is very good.  This Ruger rifle has a 22 inch barrel and a tight bore, I suspect a shorter barrel would give even better velocity.  I have found that to be consistently true in testing the 22 RF Magnum.

 

Since the velocity is so close, the scope is right on with each brand of ammo from the Ruger.  The top turret is marked in gradients of 25 yards from 100 yards to 250 yards. But it can be turned backward down to twenty-five yards.  Once the scope is set, the great thing is all you do is go to the setting that matches your yardage and the bullet is right on.  I tested it out to 200 yards... much further than I would shoot anything but non-living targets... and each setting was right on. 

 

When shooting very small vermin this scope is excellent.  Of course you need to be able to judge distance to some degree.  But because the little bullet is fairly flat shooting for a rimfire, judging distance to around 150 yards is a snap... even if you're off by 25 yards, you're in the ball park with anything 4 or 5 inches high. 

 

One of the things I was surprised at, the accuracy gets better at a distance, I expected 3 to 4 inch groups at 200 yards.  When the wind was quiet groups ran 2-Ĺ Inches. Very pleasing.  One of the questions I had was, would this scope work on a centerfire rifle?  The advertisement said it was able to take the recoil of centerfires.  So I mounted it on a 6mm Improved Ruger 77 stainless. Using 58 grain bullets at 3400 fps (they can be pushed much faster, but there is no need for that with me and the ranges here in the metro Tucson area....) Once the scope was set at 100 yards, the ranging ability was very close.  No problems with recoil - of course, the 6mm with 58 grainers has little recoil. 

 

My .223 (sniper) bolt action Howa is getting a face lift and a re-chambering to a .223 target chamber, or I would have tried that with the Sweet 17 BSA.  I think the .223 would be a perfect match with this scope.  I think it is going to be very good on my .223 when I get it finished. 

 

So is the new scope worth the price?  You bet it is....as for price, there are four offerings of this Sweet 17... all one inch tubes. A fixed power 4 by 32mm at $36.95, a 2-7 by 32mm w/AO at $62.95, a 3-12 40mm AO at $99 (which is the one I have), and a 6-16 40mm AO at $124.95.  If you decide to try it, you wonít be unhappy with it, Iím not.

 

Paco Kelly


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