.17 HMR Marlin Model 917 Varmint Rifles
By Chuck Hawks
Marlin is the top producer of rimfire rifles in the U.S. Included in their extensive line are three bolt action varmint rifles chambered for the hot .17 HMR cartridge. These are the Models 917V, 917VS, and 917VSF.
Marlin's 917 series varmint rifles are widely considered to be among the most accurate on the market. This reputation for accuracy is reassuring, since .17 HMR ammunition is loaded to a very high accuracy standard of 1 MOA or better groups at 100 yards. Tack driving ammunition deserves a tack-driving rifle.
The .17 HMR is the highest velocity, flattest shooting rimfire cartridge available today. The original Hornady 17 grain V-Max bullet is credited with a MV of 2550 fps, and the newer 20 grain XTP (spitzer) bullet is credited with a MV of 2375 fps. The 17 grain bullet is touted as the varmint bullet, and the less destructive, deeper penetrating 20 grain bullet is recommended for small game hunting.
All Model 917 rifles are built on the basic Marlin 917 bolt action and they have much in common. The 917's tubular action body appears to be machined from bar stock. The receiver is grooved for tip-off scope mounts and also drilled and tapped for conventional scope bases, which are included. The bolt locks closed by means of a single lug at the base of the bolt handle. The two position safety at the right rear of the action allows the bolt to be operated while in the "Safe" position. (Back is "safe" and forward is "fire.") The bolt head is provided with a spring steel claw extractor, and there is a blade type ejector. The bolt is removed by simply pulling the trigger.
The 917 rifles are fed by a 7-shot detachable magazine that projects at least an inch below the bottom of the stock and is somewhat awkward to insert. The muzzles of their 22", free-floating, varmint weight barrels wear recessed target crowns. No iron sights are provided. All 900-series rifles come with Marlin's T-900 fire control system.
The T-900 fire control system is touted as a real improvement in Marlin rimfire rifle triggers. It features a consistent single-stage trigger pull and a wide, serrated finger-contact surface. The associated safety locks the trigger and is positive and easy to activate.
The Monte Carlo stocks supplied with all Model 917 rifles are made of wood, either hardwood or gray/black laminate, and feature Marlin's tough Mar-Shield finish. These are full pistol grip stocks and they come with detachable sling swivel studs. The laminated wood stocks are smooth and come with rubber butt pads, while the 917V's walnut finished hardwood stock is checkered and supplied with a plastic butt plate.
The top of the Marlin 917 line is the Model 917VSF, introduced in 2005. This attractive stainless steel/laminated stock rifle is easily identified by its fluted barrel. This feature reduces the rifle's weight and assists cooling.
The basic specifications of the Marlin 917VSF are as follows. Magazine: 7-shot clip magazine; Barrel: 22", heavy contour, fluted; Rifling: 4 grooves, 1 in 9" twist, right hand; Length of pull: 14"; Drop at Monte Carlo Comb: 1.3"; Length: 41"; Weight: 6.75 pounds; Sights: none.
The Model 917VS is identical to the Model 917VSF except that its varmint weight barrel is not fluted. This raises the rifle's weight to 7 pounds. Other specifications are the same.
Guns and Shooting Online Technical Assistants (and brothers) Bob and Jim Fleck purchased two Model 917VS rifles locally, and these are the rifles that form the basis for this article. The Model 917VS was also reviewed in depth ("The Marlin Model 917VS Varmint Rifle"), and that article can be found on the PRODUCT REVIEW PAGE. Another article in which our Model 917's participated is "Compared: Marlin, Ruger and Savage .17 HMR Varmint Rifles" on the RIMFIRE RIFLE AND AMMO PAGE.
The Model 917V is supplied with a blued barreled action and a walnut finished hardwood stock. This stock is lighter than the laminated stock supplied on the 917VSF and 917VS, which makes the 917V the lightest rifle in the line, at 6 pounds. Otherwise its specifications are identical to those of the other 917 series rifles.
You can read all about the shooting results with one of our 917VS test rifles in "The Marlin Model 917VS Varmint Rifle," so I won't go into it here except to comment that these Marlins are exceptionally accurate rifles, right out of the box.
In summary, the Marlin 917 series are excellent .17 HMR varmint rifles. Judging by our test results, their reputation for fine accuracy is well deserved. I would not want to be a rodent within 200 yards of a good shot with a Marlin Model 917 rifle in his hands!
Copyright 2005, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.