Savage Arms has a relatively new
semi-automatic rifle that has been on the market for a couple of
months. It is chambered for the 17 HMR cartridge, and it appears
that they got it right. Semi-autos have been chambered for
magnum rimfires before, with some being more successful than
others. Instead of just adding weight to the bolt and a heavier
spring to control bolt opening in a blowback rifle, the Savage
A17 has a delayed blowback action, allowing the use of a
relatively light-weight bolt, and an easy-to-operate recoil
spring. The charging handle is attached to the right side of the
bolt, and is large enough for easy operation, even while wearing
The problem with some blowback rimfire rifles
that are chambered for the 17 HMR cartridge is that the bolt
opens too soon, creating a potentially dangerous situation,
which at best sprays powder and gasses out the ejection port,
and could even result in a case blowout. Savage solves the
problem by using a delayed-blowback design in which a locking
lug protrudes upward from the hard-chromed steel bolt to lock
into the steel receiver at the instant of firing, then releasing
to allow the bolt to move rearward, ejecting the empty cartridge
case. The bolt returns forward under spring pressure to chamber
another cartridge, if one is present in the magazine. The bolt
does not lock to the rear on an empty magazine, but a manual
bolt latch is positioned on the bottom of the rifle, just
forward of the trigger guard. The system works very well, and
helps to hold down the weight of the rifle, as opposed to using
a heavier bolt. The bolt is also very easy to operate manually
to chamber a cartridge from the magazine. The A17 rifle weighs
in at five pounds, ten ounces on my scale,
including the empty magazine.
The Savage A17 rifle wears a tapered
twenty-two inch button-rifled barrel which measures 1.01 inch at
the receiver and tapers to 0.6 inch at the muzzle. Both the
barrel and the receiver wear a polished blued finish. The
receiver is fitted with a pair of scope bases at the factory.
The stock, trigger guard, and magazine are made of a matte black
polymer. The stock is fitted with a synthetic rubber butt pad
and two steel sling swivel studs. The barrel is generously
free-floated its entire length. The magazine is of rotary
design, and holds ten rounds of 17 HMR ammunition. The trigger
is the excellent Savage
AccuTrigger, and is user-adjustable. The trigger on the
sample rifle adjusted down to just a hair over two and one-half
pounds, and is easily adjusted with the tool provided, without
removing the action from the stock. The magazine snaps securely
into the bottom of the stock, fitting flush and matching the
stock contour for a comfortable carry in the field. The safety
is a crossbolt design, pushing from right to left to disengage.
I checked velocities of every type of 17 HMR
ammunition that I had available to me. Chronograph readings were
taken at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle of the Savage
rifle. The air temperature hovered around the sixty-eight degree
Fahrenheit mark with humidity in the seventy-six percent range.
The range elevation at the shooting bench is 541 feet above sea
level. Bullet weights are listed in grains. HP is a hollowpoint
|Hornady XTP HP
|CCI TNT HP
|Winchester Gamepoint HP
|CCI A17 Tipped
For accuracy testing, I set up targets at one
hundred yards, and mounted my Leupold 8.5 to 25 power Mark 4
scope, with the magnification set to maximum power. The rifle
was rested securely in a Target
Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest with leather bags front and
rear. I fired three-shot groups on target, with several
groups fired using each type of ammunition. Accuracy varied from
not-so-good to superb, depending upon the ammunition. Pictured
are representative groups fired with each type of ammo, and the
best and worst groups fired with the new CCI A17 ammunition.
Accuracy was excellent with the A17 ammo, which is a testament
to the quality of the rifle and the consistency of the
ammunition. My other ammo was from older lots, but has been
stored in a temperature-controlled room for probably four or
more years. The Hornady and Winchester ammo was fairly
consistent, but nothing like as consistent as the A17
ammunition. The CCI TNT HP ammo had a lot of variation, with
more than 185 feet-per-second (fps) velocity difference between
the low and high velocities, resulting in poor accuracy. The A17
ammo was very consistent, with an extreme spread of
only 24.35 fps, and a standard deviation of only 13.15.
The A17 ammunition also turned in the highest velocities, and
the best accuracy in this rifle, by far. The largest group fired
at 100 yards with the A17 ammunition measured 1.125 inches, and
the smallest group fired measured only 0.125 inch.
I was informed that older ammunition might
not have sufficient power to reliably cycle the bolt on the A17
rifle, but that was not the case with this particular Savage
A17. The A17 rifle was one hundred percent reliable. Every
cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The magazine loaded
easily to full capacity.
The Savage A17 rifle is a very good choice
for those looking for a semi-auto 17 HMR rifle. It allows for a
faster rate of fire than does a bolt action, and allows the
shooter to remain on target between shots, for a quick
follow-up, if needed. The 17 HMR cartridge has always been a
devastating little cartridge for use on small vermin, and the
new A17 ammo makes it even more so. As of the date of this
review, the suggested retail price of the Savage A17 rifle is
$465 US. The A17 rifle is accurate, affordable, built right, and
built in the USA. I like it.
For more details and specifications on the
Savage A17 rifle, go to www.savagearms.com.
For the location of a Savage dealer near you,
click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the A17 online, click on the GUN
GENIE at www.galleryofguns.com.
order quality 17 HMR ammunition, go to www.midsouthshooterssupply.com
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