Apr 17, 2014

Finally a Semi-Auto, Self-Loading Rifle in .17-HMR That Works

When manufacturers decided there needed to be ammunition between .22 WMR and .223 caliber, the .17 HMR was born. The .22 WMR was produced since 1959 and magnums became more popular than the old standby .22LR because it fired at a higher pressure and its bullet was jacketed instead of soft lead. However, even the .22 WMR was a pain to load into auto-loading, magazine fed rifles, so Hornady produced the .17 HMR.
The .17 HMR bullet weighs 20 grains, producing half the bullet mass of the .22 WMR and the bottleneck case was a problem for blow-back systems. This was evident when the shoulders on the casing stretched caused by the loaded round being crushed against the feed ramp. So the early magazine-fed rifles in .17 HMR did not work out too well. This gave a bad name for the .17 HMR ammunition. However, it wasn't the ammunition, but manufacturers needed to compensate by redesigning without increasing bolt mass so that when feeding it does not get crushed against the feed ramp, or what is called short-stroke.
So, for a long while you could only find the .17 HMR for bolt-action rifles; until Alexander Arms came up with an auto-loading .17 HMR in modified AR-style rifle. A new barrel with the appropriate chamber and bore was developed and little done to the receiver, magazine, and bolt didn't solve the problem with the bolt.
Shown with optional accessories
Bill Alexander came up with the solution and as of 2013 has produced a self-loading .17 HMR that works smoothly in an AR receiver. It has a .17 HMR stainless barrel with a twist of 1:10 and sports the spiral-fluted exterior seen in the photo above. The company also produces ammunition. The barrel end has the standard 1/2-28X thread, so any AR-15 muzzle brake or flash hider will work. However, such accessories is unneeded because the rifle does not produce enough gas pressure at the muzzle to be needed nor does it have much muzzle flash; although they could be a crown protector.
Alexander offers the .50 Beowulf and the 6.5 Grendel rifles, both not taking as long in prototype as the .17 HMR rifle.
The bolt that does the magic trick is ETD 150 steel, which is a chrome-moly manganese-silicon alloy that is aerospace grade material and chrome plated. The bolt is marked “17-HMR” so it cannot be confused with other ARs in your inventory. The extractor is also hardened stainless making it easier to clean like the bolt. However, the lower friction bolt caused magazine problems, so a heavier magazine spring was required to keep up with the cyclic rate of the bolt. Another change was the recoil spring is inside a sleeve in the buffer tube.
Next, the firing pin was reconfigured for rimfire ammunition, so the free-floating firing pin won't bounce. The lower was slightly modified for the .17 HMR magazines with an adapter block and an extended latch to hold the magazine in place. There is a set screw to ensure the block stays in place. They are made of a molded acrylic so it can handle the .17 feed-lip dimensions accurately and do not wear any faster than magazines made out of tool steel. There should be high-capacity magazines available in the future.
The comes with a straight flute barrel that can be upgraded with several spiral barrel upgrades. The rifle comes with a soft carrying bag and two 10-round magazines. The rifle at its basics lists at $1210.00.
Handguard upgrades are available for $156.20 or the MK3 Railed for an additional $330. Spiral fluting upgrade costs an additional $33. If you want their compensator flash hider that screws onto the stock threaded barrel it is an additional $132. There are two trigger upgrades available beyond the standard AR-15 trigger assembly.
The standard rifle comes in black, but you can upgrade with several camo designs for an additional $330. There are 15 camo styles to choose from other than the black.
Whatever way you order it, a free T-shirt is included with .17 HMR logo on it.
It is also available in standard 5.56 NATO and .300 ACC. Parts and further accessories are also available.
So, if you were looking for an AR-15 that is less expensive to shoot than the .223/5.56mm – this would be the rifle for you.
Taurus Model 17SS6 -  .17HMR
If you are looking for a companion pistol to go with the rifle, there is the beautiful Taurus 17SS6 revolver in stainless steel. It is part of the Taurus Tracker family of handguns that has a wide range of calibers available. It has the nifty Taurus Security System, transfer bar for safety and a comfortable rubber grip that you can change to wood or other type of grips. It has a seven-round capacity cylinder and the frame is compact in case you want to conceal carry it. The barrel length is 6.5-inches and the rate of twist is 1:9. . The front sight is fixed and rear sight is adjustable. The trigger is smooth and crisp. MSRP is $528.
.17 HMR provides power and mass without the high cost of ammo, which makes this a possible choice when contemplating home defense weaponry.
I am always torn between liking revolvers and semi-auto pistols because the former is so dependable and last a long time (if you take care of them, of course) – but then semi-autos have come a long way in terms of reliability. Revolvers are easiest to take down with fewer parts to wear or break, but most semi-auto handguns are reasonably simple as well. I have never had a Taurus pistol fail me – revolver or semi-auto.
The Taurus 17SS6 has the look of the Colt Python and has ribbing along the top of the barrel. Its a beauty, no doubt. Having matching calibers in a rifle and handgun is handy and practical. Which brings to mind the Thompson Carbine in .45ACP that goes well with the .45ACP M1911 or other semi-auto pistols in .45ACP. 
Gun Digest gave the Alexander Arms .17HMR rifle final product a good review. 

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