Nov 14, 2015

Weapons of Choice: Savage Model A17

Savage has worked on a rifle that will properly fire the .17 HMR cartridge in a semi-automatic rifle for a little over two years. While the .17 HMR has been around in bolt-action rifles for some time, the modernized so-called 'varmint' ammunition has been an improved cartridge versus the .22 caliber magnum for small game hunting and 100-yard target practice. It is still economical, especially for those who have been using the .223 caliber (5.56mm) for small game hunting rather than using .22 magnum for small game hunting up to the size of boars.
Savage has solved the cycling problem of a semi-automatic rifle using the .17 HMR, working with the CCI ammunition factory to come up with a combination that works. It works because of two factors: (1) delayed blow-back system and (2) using a rotary magazine like found in other small-caliber rifles.
A17 Rotary Magazine
The blow-back system has been around for decades, so nothing new there; but the delayed blow-back system has only been recently used successfully.
CCI developed a special load they call the A17 Varmint Tip that has a 2,650 fps muzzle velocity using 17 grains. It is 100 fps faster than other .17 HMR loads offered by Hornady, Winchester, Remington, PMC, and previously manufactured CCI .17 HMR loads.
The following video is provided by Gun Tests Magazine:

The .17 HMR cartridge was introduced back in 2002, but for some reason unknown to me, this popular small caliber high velocity round has not been incentive for manufacturers to produce a quality semi-auto instead of just a bolt-action being available.
Savage-CCI .17 HMR Auto
The problem was not there was enough pressure, but that semi-autos were not built or adapted to it in its operation of closing the bolt. As the video review stated, “it's all in the timing”, as with all semi-auto and automatic firearms. Firearms up to this point did not have the capability of handling a high-intensity center-fire cartridge with a straight blowback system. The bullet weight was also a factor having half of the 40-grain payload of the .22 LT and .22 Magnum cartridge. The Remington Model 17 rifle (bolt-action) uses the more efficient centerfire .17 HMR. [MSRP = $844] While the .17 HMR was introduced to the public in 1971, it wasn't until recently that it has become so popular for those choosing to use smaller calibers, but wanted something more efficient than the .22. Remington based its design upon the .223/5.56mm cartridge and just like its big brother, centerfire rather than rimfire.
A17 Shot Group
The A17 has a collapsible lug in the top surface of the bolt that engages a slot in the ceiling of the receiver. The rearward force of the bolt causes the lug to collapse and allows the bolt to open and move to the rear. One can see with the complexity that it took the Savage research & development folks over 2 years to get it right. In testing various ammo, it has been found that the best group was attained with Hornady 17-grain V-Max load ammo.
The round is fed by a 10-round rotary magazine that was first used by Ruger in 1983 for high-quality magazine-fed rifles in .22 rimfire.
The A17 weighs 5.4 pounds without scope and MRSP is $465. Total length is 42 inches making it a long rifle for hunting accurately out to 250 yards.

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