There is a lot of interest these days in the .17 Remington, it appears to becoming a fashionable calibre and fits a nice small cal niche. I am a big fan of it, I was initially unsure of it but after talking to a few owners, I decided to give it a go. I was selling my .17 HMR to fund the rifle as I had swapped my .204 for 6.5x47, it made sense to have an accurate small calibre centerfire that I could use to better effect than the HMR, with the added advantage of extra range and being fox suitable; by this time the HMR was driving me mad. Ever since I started CF shooting less than 2 years ago it opened my eyes to what accuracy was achievable from an accurate home loaded CF rifle. The HMR could no longer satisfy this thirst for precision shooting despite claims of excellent accuracy from many users. I personally found the ammo too inconsistent.
I took the plunge and bought a used Tikka M595/Pacnor barreled .17 Remington which had shot count of around 1000 (hot rounds at that after talking to previous owners). I presumed I may get 500 rounds through it before the barrel was toast and I'd then re-barrel it. For the price I paid and package I bought I wasn't concerned by this potential lack of remaining shots as the action was my main interest; I was expecting an accurate 250 perhaps 300 yard gun, the .204 I had took quarry out to 400 yards consistently using the sublime 39g SBK (Sierra Blitzking).
I began shooting the Rem with the 25g Bergers as I was given load data, bullets and brass with the rifle. Despite the accuracy being very good at 0.25-3MOA, I was very interested in the 25g Vmax (and the relatively high BC 0.23), despite being told they would not shoot in this barrel. I soon realised through target testing that they would in fact shoot around 0.3MOA and often better. All the loads I tested did 0.6" at worst. Much to my delight I almost struggled to get it to shoot more than 0.5MOA. Many shooting sub 0.3" at 100 yards for 4 shot groups.
Very soon after getting to know the drop and using iStrelok ballistic program (in fact it was very similar to the .204 in terms of windage and elevation); I was dialling in for 350 yard rabbits. It simply cleaned them out in the same humane, explosive fashion as the .204 and consistently too. It wasn't long before I took it out to 400 yards on the next good day, and it worked perfectly rolling 3 rabbits in the presence of the local farmer at 425, 418 and 410 yards. Much to his amazement and delight!
Basically out to 400 yards I was as confident with the 17 Rem as I was with the .204 if not more so due to its amazing accuracy. I have no doubt that my own shooting and awareness of conditions had also improved at this point. I have shot foxes out to 265 yards with no runners but only totaled 15 over the last 6 months of foxing so take from that what you will with the limited evidence.
Rich (my good friend) and I also field tested the 40g Nosler in his 204 and the 25g Vmax shot from my 17 Rem. We both dialled in a specific amount of windage (identical to each other) and fired at a marker at 420 yards in a 12-15mph FV cross wind at the same time. The POI of both the bullets was near enough identical showing that the BC difference is made up for with the additional speed of the Rem. Obviously at longer ranges the .204 with the 39/40g bullets would become the winner but this is a 400 yard gun/cal... I will also add that the 32g .204 bullets have a lower BC (0.21) than the 25g Vmax (0.23) so given then the additional speed of the .204 (especially) factory rounds at a claimed 4200 f/s they would be a good match for each other. What I am trying to get across is that the Rem doesn't give up much if any to its close competitor the .204.
I encountered a pressure problem after perhaps 600 shots. This was caused by fire cracking in front of the throat so whilst still just as accurate, from a clean barrel or fast fired rounds it was dragging bullets through the fire cracking increasing pressure too much and blowing the odd primer. I fixed this with a serious JB bore pasting and was able to get a further 400 shots from it before deciding to re-barrel it.
This is the final target I shot with it when testing my zero before foxing with it for those interested it was a 4 shot group measuring 0.18" (bottom group):
I then had it re-barreled it with a LW of the same length and profile as the Pacnor. With a little concern over whether it would shoot at well as the Pacnor that surpassed all my expectations I headed to the field with the first few loads to try. From a brand new barrel having 10 shots down it here was the first set of results which I was quite pleased with. 22.4g shows good promise (and also repeated the accuracy when I re-tested) but I have not had chance to fine tune that load yet. Notice by 23g the harmonics are not stable (POI shift and flyer)
All in all I have no regrets in moving to this calibre. I shoot lots of vermin out to 300 yards from the truck window and the 22" barrrel and DM80 over barrel mod allows me to do this easily. It can also go out to 450 yards on a good day when shooting from the bipod when I decide to rest the 6.5mm.
The positive points for me are:
- The low ricochet risk
- Flat trajectory
- Cheap reloading
- High accuracy
- Easy follow through and ease of shooting
- Never had fouling issues even after 30-40 shots
- Relatively limited barrel life (2k easily achievable though - more than enough for most)
- Brass relatively expensive (£60+ per 100 Remington).
Hope this helps people who are tempted by the calibre.
Any more questions please feel free to ask.