Alexander Arms of Radford, Virginia is a
producer of some very interesting and useful AR-15 style rifles.
My first experience with Alexander’s rifles was with their 50
Beowulf about fifteen years ago. I
was then, and continue to be,
impressed by this dandy cartridge and the rifle which fires it.
Following the Beowulf, Alexander introduced their 6.5mm
Grendel cartridge, and I immediately took a liking to that
as well. It is a superb whitetail deer killer, extremely
efficient, and is also well-suited
for long range target shooting.
In addition to these proprietary cartridges,
Alexander also builds rifles chambered for the 223/5.56x45 mm
and 300 Blackout cartridges. Rounding out the upper end of the
power spectrum is Alexander’s new Ulfberht rifle chambered for
the 338 Lapua cartridge.
At the opposite end of the power spectrum
lies the Alexander AAR17 AR-15 style rifle that is chambered for
the dandy little 17 HMR cartridge, and that rifle is the subject
of this review. The Alexander AAR17 looks and feels like an
AR-15 rifle, but internally, it is quite different, necessitated
by the diminutive cartridge which it fires. Instead of utilizing
the direct gas impingement system of the AR-15, the AAR17 uses a
direct blowback system. The buffer inside the stock tube also
differs from the AR system, and of course, the magazine is
designed around the little 17 HMR cartridge.
The AAR17 wears an eighteen-inch heavy
stainless barrel that is rifled one turn in ten inches. The
standard configuration barrel wears straight flutes, but for a
small upcharge ($11 US at the time of this review), one can
specify the spiral-fluted barrel as shown here on the test
rifle. The muzzle is threaded one-half by twenty-eight (1/2x28)
threads per inch, and is fitted with a standard cage-type A-1
flash suppressor. The pistol grip and telescoping buttstock are
standard AR-style. The free-float handguard is a G10 composite
non-vented smooth tube, which proved very comfortable in use.
The standard trigger for the AAR17 is pretty much AR-15
mil-spec, but Alexander offers optional triggers, and the test
rifle wears Alexander’s excellent Tactical Blade Trigger,
which is available when ordering the rifle, at an additional
The polymer magazines for the AAR17 are of
really good design. Instead of trying to adapt a standard 223
magazine, Alexander built a dedicated ten-round mag for the 17
HMR cartridge. The magazines load easily, are rock-steady when
locked into the mag well, and the rifle ships with two of them.
The AAR17 weighs in at six pounds, fourteen ounces with an empty
magazine in place. The buttstock is the familiar telescoping
type, allowing the rifle to fit the shooter, regardless of size
testing, I mounted a Trijicon 5 to 20 Power AccuPoint scope atop
the AAR17 receiver using Trijicon rings. This might seem like a
lot of scope for such a rifle, but I like to use as much
magnification as possible when accuracy testing from the bench,
and the Trijicon has the power and quality that I need. People
read my reviews and watch my videos to learn about the gun. They
don't care how well I can or cannot shoot. Therefore, I want a
scope that will allow me to show the full capabilities of the
rifle's accuracy, so from the bench, I want to eliminate as much
of my influence as possible. In the field, a good 3 to 9 would
be plenty, but for shooting tiny groups at 100 yards, I like a
I had three
types of 17 HMR ammunition available to me for testing in the
AAR17; Hornady and Winchester 20-grain hollowpoint loads, and
the new CCI A-17 load with a 17-grain polymer-tipped bullet.
Over the chronograph at twelve feet, the three loads clocked an
average of 2336, 2405, and 2726 feet-per-second, respectively.
All loads were chronographed at an elevation of 541 feet above
sea level, with an air temperature of 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and
a relative humidity of seventy-eight percent.
very good. I was expecting this rifle to shoot minute-of-angle
at one-hundred yards, but it did better than that. I think the
results would have been even better with more-consistent
velocities from the ammunition. Reliability was excellent. Every
cartridge of every brand tested fed, fired, and ejected
flawlessly. While there have been a few previous attempts to
chamber semi-auto rifles for the 17 HMR cartridge, most have
been discontinued; some because of the bolt opening too soon
upon firing. With this AAR17, there were no signs of such
behavior. I shoot left-handed, and if a rimfire is opening the
bolt too soon, I can feel it as granules of burnt powder pepper
my face. None were felt while firing this Alexander Arms 17.
Perfect. Alexander Arms got it right.
The 17 HMR is a
dandy little cartridge. I took to it immediately when it was
first introduced many years ago. It is a great little cartridge
for small vermin and predators within two hundred yards, and in
calm winds, its range can be stretched a little farther. I have
used the 17 HMR on prairie dogs, and within its range, it is
devastating. Same for other small vermin. I have a friend who
has cleanly taken several wild hogs with the 17, but I have not
used the cartridge on anything larger than a groundhog. The 17
HMR has very mild recoil and report, and is a thoroughly
pleasant cartridge to shoot all day long. The bullets loaded
into the 17 HMR by the ammunition makers are very explosive on
target, as they should be. On animals as large as fox and
coyote, the bullets do not exit, but enter with a clean hole at
create massive tissue destruction inside for a quick, clean
kill, with very little damage to the hide. On small vermin, such
as ground squirrels or crows, the little bullets literally cut
the animals in half at distances within one hundred yards.
Arms AAR17 is a very good, reliable, and accurate platform from
which to fire the 17 HMR cartridge. It is a semi-automatic 17
HMR that works, and works well.
MSRP of the
AAR17 starts at $995 US as of the date of this review, and
Alexander offers many optional triggers, brakes, and other
accessories, as well as a huge variety of finish options.
Check out the
extensive line of Alexander Arms rifles, ammunition, and
accessories online at www.alexanderarms.com.
For a look at the
high quality Trijicon optics, go to www.trijicon.com.
order quality 17 HMR ammunition, go to www.midsouthshooterssupply.com and www.luckygunner.com.
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