Anschutz Model 1717 D KL .17 HMR Rifle
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
The J. G. Anschutz company was founded in Germany in 1856 by a married couple, Julius Gottfried and Luise Anschutz. Julius' father Johann was a gunsmith, so perhaps the arms business was in his blood. In any case the company prospered, surviving depression and the loss of two World Wars. It remains to this day a family owned business.
Today J. G. Anschutz GmbH occupies a modern factory in Ulm, Germany. (The English version of the Anschutz web site can be found at http://www.chuckhawks.com/anschutz_1700_series.htm ) The President of the company is Jochen Anschutz, the fifth generation of the Anschutz family to lead the company. Anschutz target rifles have been used to capture more of the world's shooting competitions than all other brands combined.
In order to review one of the Anschutz sporters for Guns and Shooting Online I sent a request directly to President Jochen Anschutz. He passed the message along to Isabel Spanner, who handles such matters from the Ulm office, and she arranged for Ms. Marty Fajen at Tristar Sporting Arms, the U.S. importer for Anschutz products, to send along a top of the line Model 1717 D Meister Grade rifle. All of this was handled with considerable professionalism and dispatch, for which I am deeply appreciative. I have noted that often the best companies also seem to have the best people.
The arrival of the Anschutz Model 1717 D KL MC was a much anticipated event among those of us associated with Guns and Shooting Online. (Wow, what an involved model designation. The Anschutz letter codes will be explained later.) We are in the enviable position of having the opportunity to review many fine firearms, but only rarely does a rifle that can legitimately claim to be "the best" come along.
Of course, there is usually more than one contender for the "best" title, whether we are talking sports cars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and Aston Martin could probably all stake a claim), shotguns (Boss, Purdey, and Holland & Holland certainly all qualify), or rimfire hunting rifles (where names like Kimber, Cooper Arms of Montana and, yes, Anschutz would all have their supporters). Certainly the 1717 D KL MC rifle reviewed here, as the top of the famous Anschutz line, should be able to claim "best rimfire rifle" status.
The 1700 series sporting rifles are built on the Anschutz Model 54 Match Action. This action is the heart of the famous Anschutz target rifles that have dominated national, continental, international, and Olympic Games for over 40 years. To quote from the Anschutz brochure, "Each 1700 series Sporter is engineered and built with the same attention to workmanship, accuracy, and quality as its Olympic target rifle brethren."
Of course, a great action does not insure a great rifle, but one thing is for sure: you cannot build a great rifle without a great action. So let's take a closer look at the Anschutz Model 54 action.
The 54 action is CNC machined from a solid steel block and incorporates a gas escape port to protect the shooter in the event of a blown case. The bolt lug recesses are machined eccentrically for optimum bedding. The bolt's eccentric face is recessed, there are dual rear locking lugs, dual claw extractors, and a fixed ejector. The inline firing pin is very light, has a short travel, and allegedly gives the Match 54 action the world's fastest lock time.
The full diameter bolt is fat and round and moves back and forth smoothly, rather like a Weatherby centerfire rifle. The bolt and cam are lapped for smooth operation. Unlike most bolt action rifles there is practically no play, even when the bolt is fully withdrawn. The bolt handle is long and easily clears a scope, and the bolt knob is smooth and round for comfortable operation by adult hands. This bolt is easily disassembled for cleaning without tools. The bolt release lever is at the left rear of the receiver.
The detachable, sheet steel box magazine feeds cartridges reliably and precisely into the chamber. This magazine can be disassembled for cleaning. For a smooth appearance, the magazine only protrudes about 1/4" below the bottom iron--just enough to get a good grip on if necessary. The magazine catch is a small lever at the rear of the magazine well. Pressing it forward allows the magazine to drop freely from the action.
Cartridges may be single loaded into the chamber with an empty magazine in place. In fact, when shooting this rifle at the range we seldom filled the magazine, preferring to single load.
The top of the receiver is both drilled and tapped for scope mounts and machined with 11mm scope rails for tip-off scope rings.
The safety is a wing type at the rear of the bolt. This safety encloses the firing pin and when set it pulls the firing pin back from the bolt face and locks it in place.
Probably the best feature of the Model 54 action is its superb trigger. Experienced shooters know how important a good trigger is to practical accuracy. The single stage trigger is adjustable for weight of pull, sear engagement, and over travel by means of set screws. Pull weight adjustment range is 2 to 4.4 pounds. In 1717 D rifles this trigger is factory set for a 1200 gram (2.6 pound) release. I verified this using my RCBS Premium trigger pull gauge. The well shaped trigger guard is machined (not stamped) from steel and "Meister Grade" is inscribed in gold on the trigger guard bow.
A premium action can take a rifle only so far; it must be attached to a premium quality barrel. In the case of the Anschutz 1717 D series, this is an 8-groove Olympic Match Anschutz target grade barrel. This barrel is precision chambered (no kidding, brass fired in other .17 HMR rifles would not enter the tight Anschutz chamber), button rifled and lapped to Olympic competition specifications. The muzzle is finished with a true target crown. The barreled action comes with a polished and deeply blued finish.
Iron sights are seldom used on .17 HMR rifles, but the Anschutz came with excellent iron sights. There is a hooded post/bead front sight (adjustable for height by turning) and a folding, adjustable, rear open sight. It is worth noting that Anschutz took the time to stipple the top of the receiver to reduce glare for those few choosing to use the iron sights, another indication of the attention to detail that went into this rifle. The sight picture formed by this combination is excellent, but like most users I mounted a telescopic sight on the test rifle.
I requested that our test rifle be supplied with a Monte Carlo stock. (Anschutz also offers a Classic model stock.) This stock is crafted from European thin-shell walnut with excellent grain structure for strength and stability. There are panels of hand cut, skip line checkering on both sides of the pistol grip and forearm.
The pistol grip has a Wundhammer palm swell and is finished with a white line spacer and a rosewood grip cap bearing a white diamond inlay (shades of Weatherby). A hand carved, roll-over cheek piece adorns the comb. The forearm ends in a typically European Schnable shape, which I have always rather liked. The black buttplate is a hard, grooved, polymer and is set off by a white line spacer. Detachable sling swivel studs are provided. The satin stock finish appears to be a tough and durable synthetic type.
We all agreed that the wood in our test rifle was spectacular. It has a striking, dark, "tiger stripe" figure reminiscent of tiger stripe maple. Standard 1717 D rifles come with semi-fancy walnut stocks. "Meister Grade" rifles ("Meister" means "master" in German) come with specially selected, higher grade walnut. As far as I can determine, that is the only difference between the 1717 D KL MC and 1717 D KL MC Meister Grade rifles.
Stylistically, this stock has a somewhat dated look. The fancy skip line checkering, white line spacers, hooked pistol grip, and roll-over comb all smack of a 1960's vintage California style stock. Aesthetically, I would prefer a more open pistol grip curve, a shadow line cheekpiece, and a Monte Carlo without the roll-over comb. On the other hand, and while I hate to admit it because they are no longer "in," I rather like the skip line checkering and the line spacers at pistol grip cap and butt plate.
But the ultimate test of any gun stock is how it works, and this one functions perfectly. The pistol grip feels good and puts my index finger at just the right place to pull the trigger. The cheekpiece positions my face properly on the comb for sighting through a low mounted telescopic sight. The forearm is slender yet has a substantial feel. All of the Guns and Shooting Online staffers who used this rifle found the stock comfortable.
The inletting of the barreled action into the stock is uniformly excellent. The taper and fit of the buttplate, line spacers, and grip cap are perfect. (So perfect that if you remove the line spacer, thin as it is, the buttplate no longer matches the stock.) The finish is impeccable. The entire rifle shows excellent workmanship throughout. It is this synthesis of outstanding design, manufacture, quality, and workmanship that separates "the best" from the very good.
On the other hand, I made a mistake by requesting that scope rings/mounts be supplied with the test rifle. I always do this, as my local (small town) sporting goods emporium does not stock mounts for many brands of rifles, particularly imports. At the time I made the request I did not know that the 1717 D series rifles came with receivers grooved for tip-off scope mounts.
The Ernst Apel GmbH extra high scope mounting rings (#7101610) supplied with our 1717 rifle have got to be one of the worst mounting systems imaginable. Each ring/mount involves three main parts (a base, lower ring, and upper ring) made from three different materials (steel, aluminum, and polymer) and some 15 screws are required for the two rings. And these rings attach to the 11mm dovetail grooves machined into the receiver of the rifle that (normally) simplify scope mounting by completely eliminating the necessity for a scope base! These Apel rings are absurd, and even more absurd is their retail price far in excess of $100.
Never the less, the Apel ring/mounts came with the rifle, so despite the fact that they were the tallest and most complicated tip-off mounts I have ever seen, I used them to mount a Simmons Whitetail Expedition 4-12x42mm AO riflescope on the Anschutz. We used this combination during our first two range sessions with the rifle.
The mounts were so high that the scope practically soared over the receiver. This not only made the rifle feel extremely top heavy, it made it impossible to get a proper cheek weld on the comb. Fortunately, we were doing our test shooting from a Caldwell Lead sled sitting on a bench rest, which is a very steady shooting platform. But the extra high rings would definitely negatively impact the rifle's practical accuracy in the field.
As soon as possible I replaced the Ernst Apel rings with Leupold Rifleman rings that are much lower, simpler (two halves and two screws per ring/mount), much more convenient, and cost me the princely sum of $12.00 at the sporting goods department of my local discount department store. Other popular U.S. brands that supply ring/mounts for dovetail receivers include Weaver, Simmons, Bushnell, and Millet.
At the same time I replaced the rings I also replaced the 4-12x42mm AO Simmons Whitetail Expedition scope with a smaller, lighter Leupold VX-II 3-9x33mm EFR model. This was the set-up we used during our third and final range session with the 1717 D KL MC. Both scopes provide good views of the target. The Simons has more magnification, but the Leupold has a fine Duplex reticle that makes precise aiming easier. Both are entirely satisfactory for use on a .17 HMR rifle.
The smaller, lighter Leupold scope in the low mount rings made a tremendous difference in the handling and feel of the rifle. Snap the rifle to the shoulder and the scope aligns perfectly with the eye. And gone is the unbalanced, top heavy feel. The Anschutz now handles in the field like the thoroughbred that it is.
Here are the basic specifications of the Anschutz 1717 D KL rifle:
The abbreviations used by Anschutz in the model designations of its 1700 series sporters are as follows: D = single stage trigger, KL = leaf sight, HB = heavy barrel, MC = Monte Carlo.
One of the most important aspects of any rifle is, of course, how it shoots. To find out how the Anschutz 1717 D performed at the range, Guns and Shooting Online staffers Bob Fleck, Rocky Hays, Nathan Rauzon, and I spent three range sessions shooting for record some 340 rounds of .17 HMR ammunition from CCI (17 grain TNT bullet), Federal (17 grain TNT bullet), Hornady (17 grain V-MAX bullet), and Remington (17 grain AccuTip-V bullet). All 4 brands claim a muzzle velocity (MV) of around 2550 fps and, in our chronograph testing, delivered average MVs of 2550-2650 fps.
As mentioned earlier, two different scopes were used during our testing of the Anschutz. The two scopes were equally accurate, but the low Leupold rings allowed a more comfortable head position and a normal cheek weld on the stock.
We did out test shooting at the Izaak Walton outdoor rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. The summer weather cooperated with highs in the 70-75 F degree range, light variable winds, and partly sunny skies on all three range days.
Except for the initial sighting-in at 25 yards to get the bullets on the paper (which required only 3 shots), all shooting was done at 100 yards. A Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest weighted with 25 pounds of lead shot sitting on a solid bench rest was used to eliminate as much shooter error as possible.
Outers ScoreKeeper targets were used throughout, and for record we shot 5-shot groups. For once yours truly shot the smallest single group, using Remington ammunition. Here are the shooting results:
AVERAGE GROUP SIZE, ALL BRANDS OF AMMUNITION = 1.08"
These are exceptional results, particularly when you realize that this was an out of the box sporter, not broken-in, and to which no adjustments were made. The best groups are comparable to those achieved by other .17 HMR rifles we have tested with these brands of ammunition, but the worst groups are smaller. No group exceeded 1 5/8". That shows exceptional consistency, particularly when you remember that the shooting was done by four individuals, over a period of about a week, at an outdoor range subject to variable wind conditions.
The Anschutz 1717 D KL is included in the article ".17 HMR Rifle Accuracy Test Results," which can be found in the "Rifle Information" section of the Rimfire Guns and Ammo Page. There you can compare its range results with other .17 HMR rifles tested by Guns and Shooting Online.
Reliability and function were 100%. There were no malfunctions of any kind.
The Anschutz 1717 D KL MC truly qualifies as a "best rifle" in all respects. It is a very sophisticated design, precisely manufactured from top quality materials, that displays the results of superior workmanship throughout. And its performance is top drawer.
Its admittedly high price will, unfortunately, keep most shooters from purchasing an Anschutz 1717 D. For those who want an Anschutz .17 HMR sporting rifle at a more affordable price, the company offers their Model 1517 D series sporters, built on their Model 64 Match action. These rifles retail in the vicinity of $800 and are available in several variations.
But for those who understand that it simply costs more to produce the best, and who are willing to pay for the privilege of using the best, the Anschutz Model 1717 D KL MC .17 HMR rifle certainly deserves serious consideration.
I fear that, while I may not really be able to afford it, I am just such a person. Once you have been exposed to the best, it is very difficult to return to using the merely good. One way or another, I will be keeping this Anschutz Meister Grade rifle!
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
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