Deluxe .17 HMR Rifles
By Chuck Hawks
So you want a .17 HMR hunting rifle, but the pedestrian Marlin, Savage, etc. low to medium price models (as accurate and efficient as they are) just don't do it for you. You have in mind a small game or varmint hunting rifle with a little more class: a refined and highly reliable single shot or bolt action with a shapely laminated hardwood or walnut stock, a decent trigger pull, and all the little extras. The kind of adult rimfire rifle of which you can be proud.
Among our staff of renegade gun nuts, Guns and Shooting Online Technical Advisor Jim Fleck first posed the question to me, "What's available in a deluxe .17 HMR rifle?" This article, while not all encompassing, is at least a partial answer. It ought to give the prospective purchaser somewhere to start and some rifles to think about.
For convenience, the models I singled out in researching the subject of deluxe .17 HMR rifles will be listed in alphabetical order. I took most of the prices (MSRP) from the 2005 Gun Digest. Some of these rifles are from major arms companies such as Remington and Ruger, while others are from relatively small manufacturers whose products can only be seen online or in specialty shops. If you want a deluxe .17 HMR rifle you may have to put up with some inconvenience tracking down the models that most appeal to you.
I can provide only a brief description of each rifle here, but I am sure that the manufacturer or your local gun shop will be more than willing to explain the models that you find most intriguing in detail. So let's get started.
Anschutz Model 1517
This deluxe sporter comes with a 22" target grade barrel sans sights but drilled and tapped for scope mounts. It is based on the Anschutz Model 64 bolt action (4-shot magazine) and stocked in checkered walnut. The buyer has the choice of heavy (varmint) or sporter (small game) weight barrels and a Monte Carlo or Classic (pictured) pistol grip stock. Either way, the 2.5 pound trigger is adjustable. The Classic sporter weights 5.95 pounds. The 2005 MSRP is $781 (Classic), $801 (Monte Carlo).
Anschutz Model 1717 D
The top of the Anschutz .17 HMR hunting rifle line is the Model 1717 D. This deluxe sporter comes with a 22" target grade barrel that is grooved as well as drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Iron sights are included on the Monte Carlo model, but not the Classic. The 1717 D rifles are based on the Anschutz match cylinder bolt action (4-shot magazine) and stocked in checkered walnut. The dual locking lug bolt cocks on opening, has a recessed face, gas escape groove, and dual claw extractors. There is an independent bolt release. The buyer has the choice of heavy (varmint) or sporter (small game) weight barrels and a Monte Carlo (with roll over cheek piece) or Classic style pistol grip stock. Either way, the fine 2.5 pound target trigger is fully adjustable. The 1717 D KL Monte Carlo (pictured) weights 7.5 pounds and is 42.13" in overall length. 2005 MSRP $1497 (Classic), $1596 (Monte Carlo).
Cooper Arms Classic, Custom Classic, Western Classic and Varminter LVT
Cooper Arms is a small rifle company owned by Dan Cooper, one of the men behind the success of the original Kimber of Oregon. Cooper rifles come with a 1/2 MOA accuracy guarantee and are known for their fine workmanship and finish. These rifles are bolt actions stocked in hand made, checkered AA grade Claro walnut stocks with straight, modern classic style combs and graceful pistol grips. The Cooper M57-M action is glass bedded and features 3 locking lugs behind the ejection port and a 4-round magazine. The Classic is a 6 pound rifle supplied with a 22" match grade barrel w/o sights, while the Light Varmint Target weighs 7.5 pounds and is supplied with a 24" heavy barrel. Both come with scope bases and a fully adjustable trigger. The Custom Classic (pictured) and Western Classic are higher grade versions of the Classic. The 2005 MSRP is $1295 (Classic), $1395 (LVT), $1995 (Custom Classic), and $2595 (Western Classic).
Dakota Arms Little Sharps
This is an elegant, small frame version of the 1874 Sharps dropping block action that has been reduced in size by 20%. It comes with a two piece, straight grip XX grade walnut stock with a steel butt plate. The optional 26" half round/half octagon barrel has a matte blue finish and is complete with iron sights. You operate the lever to load a Sharps, then manually cock the external hammer before firing. Rifle weight is 7 pounds. Dakota Arms is, of course, famous for their excellent workmanship, fit, and finish. The 2005 MSRP is a hefty $3250.
Ruger 77/17RM and 77/17VMBBZ
The Model 77/17RM is Ruger's .17 HMR Standard bolt action hunting rifle. It is visually nearly identical to the Company's famous Model 77R centerfire rifle. This elegant hunting rifle features a checkered walnut pistol grip stock in the modern classic style and a polished and blued barreled action. Barrel length is 22" and the rifle weighs 6.5 pounds. Other features include a heat treated alloy steel receiver, stainless steel two locking lug bolt that locks into the receiver behind the ejection port, ultra-fast lock time, flush mount 9-shot rotary magazine, integral scope mounting bases (Ruger steel rings included), precision hammer forged barrel, and three position safety. The 2005 MSRP is $613.
The 77/17VMBBZ is the varmint rifle in the 77/17 line. It comes with a grey/black laminated hardwood stock, a 24" tapered heavy barrel with a target crown, and a Target Grey metal finish on its stainless steel barreled action. Rifle weight is 7.5 pounds. Other features are similar to the 77/17RM. The 2005 MSRP for this serious varmint rifle is $685. (You can read all about the Ruger 77/17VMBBZ in the review of this rifle on the G&S Online Product Review Page.)
Savage 93R17 Classic
This classy Savage entry uses the same simple action as other Savage magnum rimfire rifles. It is smooth and the detachable box magazine feeds reliably. The barreled action is polished and high luster blued. Like other modern Savage rifles, the Classic features the AccuTrigger, the best trigger mechanism to be had on any production rifle today. The checkered walnut stock features a Monte Carlo comb and black forend tip and grip cap. The 2007 MSRP is $495, making the Savage one of the least expensive of the deluxe rifles, but don't let the relatively low price fool you, it's also one of the best.
Winchester 1885 Low Wall
This classic single shot hunting rifle is based on the John Browning designed Model 1885 falling block action, generally considered to be the best of the American single shots. The checkered, two piece walnut stock has a traditional, straight grip buttstock with a "rifle" buttplate and a schnable forearm. The receiver, lever, and butt plate are attractively case colored while the 24" octagon barrel is polished and blued. The Low Wall is supplied with open sights. This 8 pound rifle is also drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Operating the under lever to load the rifle also cocks the external rebounding hammer, and the extractor/ejector can be set to extract only or to eject to the right or left. The 2005 MSRP is $1014. (There is a complete review of the Browning/Winchester Low Wall on the G&S Online Product Review Page.)
Every one of these rifles is a beauty. Personally, I'd be proud to own any of them, and that's a fact.
I was impressed with the Ruger 77/17VMBBZ during the course of our .17 HMR rifle test "Compared: Marlin, Ruger and Savage .17 HMR Varmint Rifles." (See the G&S Online Rimfire Guns and Ammo Page.) After that comparison was completed I purchased the Ruger test rifle for my personal use, along with the Bushnell Elite 3200 5-15x40mm AO scope that it wore. The big Ruger is a dandy varmint rifle. The combination is, however, too bulky to make a good stalking rifle.
So, for that purpose I chose something else. After our review of the lovely Anschutz 1717 DKL Meister Grade I could not pass it up and, although my check book groaned, it also joined my rifle battery. That is the one problem with reviewing deluxe grade rifles, their siren song makes it very hard not to acquire them!
Copyright 2005, 2007 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.