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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't remember if I've posted this question before, but I feel the need to do it again: Has anybody noticed a decrease in 17HMR expansion performance?

I have been noticing that my 17HMR has been generating the need for a number of finishing shots on ground squirrels. The last time out I hit 5 squirrels with 5 consecutive shots, in 5 minutes. (The dumb and curious...) Two of these needed finishing shots despite dragging all of their insides and a rear appendage about until I could hit them again. These were solid body hits on large gopher-sized ground squirrels and their post-hit activity was more than just a glaze-eyed death rattle. The shots were 40 to 110 yards. I was using CCI "TNT" HP ammo -which shoots exceptionally well from my rifle- though the week before I had the same problem with the Hornady. On this day I switched to my CZ 22WMR and Federal 30 grain HP ammo for the remainder of the day with the usual good success. I never required a follow up a squirrel and indeed, most hits resulted in gruesome explosions.

I do remember when it seemed like any solid body-cavity hit with an HMR would cause these little rodents to fly into tatters. Three weeks ago my son nailed a cottontail amidships at 80 yards. It kicked a bit, got up and started to slink away before I caught it with a 30 grain Federal and turned it inside out.. His comment was that is was a sad thing when a fellow needed "back up" on rabbits. (And this was with his brand new, birthday present Ruger 77/17 with a Green Mountain barrel installed.)

I'm wondering if something has changed in the bullet or just my perception. Anybody else notice anything like this happening? I have four HMR's under my roof but I'm losing confidence in them.

Sorry if a similar post has been up before; It's been a summer-long reoccurance and I've posed this question on a few sites -And my memory ain't what it used to be!~Andrew
 

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I haven't seen this in my prairie dog shooting this year. I did notice some on the first outings LAST summer though. I wonder if it's a particular lot of the bullets/case/powder producing these results?

Are you using the 17gr or 20gr bullets?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm using the 17 grain v-max and HP. I wondered if there was a "batch" problem, or if the squirrels don't offer enough resistance to the bullet. Even so, the rabbits should explode when they get hit from a 17 Grain HP but they don't. Funny that the problem is intermittent, isn't it? Last year the squirrels would explode from any reasonable hit. Now only half of them do. Others have a hole zipped through them They die but it's not too explosive. The 22WMR/ Federal 30 grain is doing a better job these days. Thanks for the reply! ~Andrew
 

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Looking at the difference in construction of the TNT and the Vmax will help explain why the difference in performance. The TNT has much thicker jacket walls and a smaller frontal opening than the Vmax....



http://www.varmintal.com/17hmr.htm

My experience using the TNT on California ground squirrels was the impacts looked pretty much like a 22Lr performance out to 158yds, my buddy shooting Vmax at ranges to 100yds had much more violent results with intestinal expulsion and much more graphic appearance.

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the photos. The TNT problem is obvious but the Hornady non preformance (or performance change) isn't so obvious. Still, I think PMI and I found the answer yesterday. We went out shooting ground squirrels and he was toting his 17HMR while I was using my 452 CZ 22WMR. PMI was hitting squirrels and they were exploding, just like they used to do. Now, we both have nearly identical custom 17HMR Rugers and we're both proficient shots. How come his rounds worked better?? His were from an earlier Lot. The rounds he was using were second run where the ammo I've been using lately has been the latest run of Hornady. PMI said he found an old brick in his "stuff" and grabbed a few boxes before heading out yesterday. To give you an idea of the difference; I have had rounds do an in and out at 70 yards with little damage. (read 'destruction', because the still died eventually) Yesterday I watched PMI "unzip" two at over 170 yards. Squirrels hit closer exploded with great vigor. Long story short, I think that the latest batches of Hornady are holding together a little too well. ~Andrew
 

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I have to agree Andrew. I wonder what changed? It would be nice to start with a chrono of the two batches through the same rifle. That would eliminate a lower powder charge for the most part.

Weighing the loaded rounds would eliminate bullet weight changes to some extent.

What else would cause this???
 

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Just a guess, but maybe Hornady has changed their bullet construction or component material to cut production costs to keep from raising prices?? :?

Tim
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I was wondering if they went to a stiffer grade of copper to cut down on rejects in the formng process. PMI thinks it may have been deliberate to keep the bullet from mangling edible game. If so, I wish they'd undo it! I count on explosive results with the 17HMR... especially against light bodied critters like the tiny groundsquirrels we have here in my locale. If it doesn't do that then I can't count on it for rabbits, that's for sure. The 22WMR performance (at least the 30 grain Federal fire breathers) out classes the 17HMR when it comes to sheer killing power. And for accuracy? well the 452 is now shooting sub MOA with them after a little lapping anf tuning. How can you ask for more? ~Andrew
 

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One call to Hornady would probably answer a lot of the speculation. I have always found the techs to be very helpful.
 

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Oh yeah, the 17HMR has really lost a lot of it's zing..And accuracy while we are making false claims about it.. :wink:

BUT don't ask THIS Jackrabbit about such things.At 170 yards shot last week through both shoulders(high) with a 17g Hornady V max in a Savage m93.About a dime sized exit hole(visible in the pic).

The rabbit dropped in his tracks because he can't read posts on the 'net about how poorly the 17HMR kills..Silly wabbit.If he only he could read 'net wisdom then he would have lived another day to perhaps be killed with a REAL rifle, like a .22 magnum .

YEAH ,RIGHT. :roll:






YEP, that 17HMR plumb FAILED..anyone knows a good .22magnum would have killed him MORE dead,right?
:?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nice rabbit Jim, good shot, too. I shoot a dozen rabbits a month and I can't back off my remarks about the 17HMR leaving too many stragglers. It is probably this most recent Lot of Hornady ammo, but it is true. I buy two bricks at a time so I'm stuck with them until I run out.. which shouldn't be to long as we have three HMR's now. (Had four but sold one recently) My latest it a Ruger 96/17 that I'm putting a tapered octagon Green Mountain barrel on. Should make a great rabbit gun if I can get the trigger to a managable level.

Today we tried some Federal V-Shok Polymer tip today and was pleasantly surprised to find that it performed much like the old Hornady rounds used to. Squirrels shot at 100 yards exploded on impact and accuracy wasn't a problem at all. (Unlike the V-Shok HP.) My son shot 16 ground squirrels out to 150 yards and left nothing but twitching tails and gut-piles with each shot. He was pretty happy. We didn't get to try them on rabbits, though. I used my CZ again and unfortunately, I got the only rabbits of the day. And here's an odd fact that has nothing to do with the 17HMR...

The ground squirrels we have here along the Mexican border in S.Cal look like bushy-tailed gophers. The are about the size of eastern chipmunks, otherwise, and burrow into embankments and climb into brush when out and about. We have always known them to be cannibals. They will eat their dead and blowing up a squirrel is a sure way to attract his buddy for a free meal. Well, I hit a cottontail coming out of the alfalfa at about 100 yards with the CZ and he went down in a heap. Shortly afterwards the darned squirrels were fighting over the carcass, nipping off pieces in between barking at each other. It was the damnedest thing. I killed 6 squirrels over that rabbit before the sun went down. Really weird. When I got to the rabbit I found that they had eaten areas out of the ears as well as the exposed inner flesh. Whew! And some folks round here think they're cute! ~Andrew
 

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I guess us pounding the field on Saturday didn't deter the shooting on Sunday, eh Andrew? :D

Glad to see you and the boy got out again.

BTW, what was the temp? 130 degrees again? :shock: Man, it was hot!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yep! It was that hot and then some. No. You can never quite kill them all off. Like I said, that V-Shok Poly tip worked great. The Boy was glad for it.

Next time you go out you need to scout that area by the old wooden shade structure on the north end of the fields. Where we used to sit and take a break after walking the rabbits? Fat little buggers running all over that intersection. It's up to you now. I'm done. Can't top the last couple of days out with you and the kid. That was the best we'd had. ~Andrew
 

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Poor bullet expansion is something I expect when plastic tip or small hollow point bullets hit something at extended ranges where velocity falls off. While doing very well at higher speeds, the plastic tips actually do more poorly than the large hollowpoint .22 magnum designs at longer ranges, even with a higher B.C. I have also proven to my satisfaction that the 30 grain .22 magnum TNT bullet expands way out there, but trajectory becomes problematic before killing power fades on small critters.

Hitting ability and killing power are in lockstep with the .22 magnum, and at extended range making hits becomes difficult enough to discourage long range shooting. Given a calm, windless day, it is tempting to try the .17 HMR at 200 plus yards, and results can be dismal. Some will try the Hail Mary shot with their rifles no matter what.

Many like to say it's deadly, "you just gotta place them right" yet they shoot at ranges where good placement is unlikely. At extended ranges, power and expansion is enough of a problem that if the round does not strike exactly, the critter goes down a hole. Shot placement needs to be more exacting than the .17 shooter is capable of making. Throw in wind, estimates as to range and you'll find that 200 yard prairie dog shooting lets a lot of dogs make it down their holes. It is at these sort of ranges that the .17 must be retired and the .22 Hornet or bigger comes out. No .17 HMR shooter will dispute that a gut shot prairie dog will not succumb at 200 yards. Such hits are frequent, yet somehow they keep trying, often at even longer ranges. Why? A .223 will dispatch them cleanly with a gut shot and can be considered humane; why not use it? Most of a prairie dog is non vital tissue, but the .17 HMR shooter likes to pretend he can place his bullet exactly (in the head or heart, maybe?) every time. Given the aforementioned wind and range estimates, as well as shooter error, and the facts are considerably different.

What most astonishes me is the claims from some .17 shooters about extreme deadliness at extended ranges. I just haven't seen it. Maybe the fact that it has less energy and tissue destruction at 200 yards than a moderate range .22 Short lets those gut shot critters (and often rib shot if the bullet doesn't open) make it down their holes. I also am surprised by claims that somehow the flesh of a skinny gopher causes the bullet to blow up at long range on a chest strike. This is also contrary to my field experience. Given that a gopher or prairie dog is a paper thin hide, ribs smaller than matchsticks, and air filled lungs, there isn't a lot of resistance there. It is not surprising that a plastic tipped bullet often doesn't expand much on such hits when velocity has dropped to the 12-1300 fps range. Such speeds are below the effective expansion performance of plastic tips. Gut shots at 200 definitely let them go down their holes. I'm not singling out just the .17; the Remington Premier .22 magnum plastic tip doesn't open at extended range either. Neither bullet has skiving to aid low speed expansion, and on long shots they act like FMJ's. My results have been poor enough that I limit my .17 shooting to 150 yards, where placement can make up for decreasing expansion on prairie dogs and anything even slightly larger. It may be that velocity is so low that even skiving will not help.

Lot variations in jacket hardness happen and can't be avoided, and at low speed, such as the .22 magnum or .17 HMR at extended range, bullet expansion stops. Effectiveness drops off as well. That's when it's time to shoot something else and stop wounding game.

Continuing to shoot at animals, even varmints, when you know there is a high probability of wounding the critter isn't just irresponsible, it's sick. Which is why I continue to say that due to its fairly high velocity, .17 rimfire shooters often are tempted to hit further than they can kill with it. The .22 long rifle Power Point will out-kill the .17 HMR at extended range if you ignore the extreme difficulty of making a hit with it. That doesn't excuse trying to kill varmints with it at long range either.

If the round you're using isn't killing cleanly, stop using it!

Props to Andrew for keeping close tabs on the performance of his .17 HMR ammunition, and restricting shooting to distances he knows he can kill cleanly. Sorry if the truth stepped on some toes, but that's been my experience as well.
 

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Hi gents, I have just got myself a CZ American .17 hummer, and whilst I haven’t had time to really evaluate the performance of the round, I still feel as though it makes the .22 rf look a bit sick over distances of 125yds.
I sighted it in a 100 yds and on a still day it seems to be very flat out to @ 150yds and will take rabbits easily at these distances using 17grn Remington ammo.
I haven’t tried it out on fox because I have a dislike of using any rf round on such a large animal, but I have been told that the 20grn HP will take a fox at distances of 80yds or less.
It isn’t an issue with me as I only bought the rifle for longer shots on rabbits when I am out solely for that purpose, and it was only the thought of taking a fox if the circumstances presented themselves.
I have read so much bull$h*t about the .17hmr that I was put off buying one at first, but like anything in life I had to try it and see for myself.
I find it a great little round to shoot, but would still appreciate any thoughts and advice on this from anyone who has owned one for a while. :wink:
 

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I don't doubt it would work fine on a fox. We're only talking about a 10-12 lb animal here, and this should be within the .17 HMR envelope. Hell, due to the quick bullet blowup and relatively low (255 ft/lbs.) bullet energy it might be the world's best fox calling cartridge. I don't consider clean rabbit kills at 150 yards much of a test for a cartridge, because rabbits aren't hard to kill. I shoot them through the chest with air rifles having 12-20 ft. lbs. of energy and kill them cleanly.

I also don't doubt it could work on called coyote if difficult shots were not attempted and ranges were kept fairly short. I have done about the same as the .17 HMR described in that post with the .22 magnum. Usually the 40 grain hollowpoints I prefer will exit unless it's a frontal shot.

However, it's foolish to select a HMR if you have any larger caliber rifle and an appropriate area. The HMR is too range limited on coyote, and certainly does not have an excess of power that would drop a coyote with less than good placement. It is not a great or even good coyote cartridge, as some overenthusiastic promoters will claim. Barely adequate at close range (if it was more than barely adequate, why the need for users to state "with good placement" all the time?) and inadequate at any longer distance would be a more accurate assessment of its capabilities on coyote. Those who use it for coyote know darn well they're pushing the little cartridge into a use for which it is not well suited.

My gripe is with those that think it's ducky to keep shooting when bullet performance has dropped off to the point that a) bullets do not open and cause enough damage and b) poor hits are frequent due to range and wind. Where is the "precise placement" needed for the .17 HMR then? A .172" diameter nonexpanding bullet with 71 ft/lbs. of energy is not a great killer, and don't let anyone fool you into thinking that it is. That's the HMR at 200 yards, a distance I see many shooters attempting with some frequency. Apparently some are less distracted by wounding game or varmints than others, and promote this sort of thing. Either that, or hype something they really have no experience with.
 

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A couple of interesting points along the way. As I said, I only wanted it for long range rabbits, and whilst I do appreciate that it isn’t a true test of a calibre, what you have to understand is that I shoot mainly as a vermin controller for local farmer, and as such simply need to shoot them and not have to worry about getting in close. :wink:
As for shooting foxes with one, well I have no doubts that a head shot from @90-100 yds should be OK, but the thought of a chest shot and a “runner” makes me wonder if this would be acceptable.
35rem you say that one shouldn’t use this calibre if a more suitable round is available, and I couldn’t agree more on that. Which is why I usually take the .243 for those 250-300 yd shots over the bigger farms that I shoot on. This is absolutely the “business” over those distances, and with a 75grn V-max it drops them in their tracks without ANY chance of a “runner”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate what you are all saying, but at the moment we are in the middle of some serious $hit over here. We have just been hit with a ban on hunting foxes with hounds and we are really having to prove that shooting is a totally humane way of controlling them.
A hit from a .222, .223, .22-250 or a .243 is a sure-fire way of making certain that the animal drops dead on the spot and shows a positively humane death.
Can you imagine the excitement some of these rabid antis would feel if they could show that foxes were running for 50yds before dying. You also point out the “Shot placement” ethic, and as we all know it can sometimes go very wrong and result in a bad shot in which the animal is shot too far back, in the gut, and as a result dies a long slow death if the wrong calibre is used. :oops:
My .243 gives me a little leeway for those very occasional bad shots, as the fox will still drop on the spot.
It looks like the .17hmr will do the job, but with head shots if possible, and only then if the opportunity presents itself.
Thanks for all the input anyway and I will let you know how I get on with this calibre when I get the chance. I must say that once I floated the barrel and sorted out the trigger, this CZ rifle certainly impressed me.
And at almost half the cost of my Sako .22rf and less than half the cost of my Tikka .243, I am wondering if I have been paying too much for rifles in the past. :?
 

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I was speaking of the .17 HMR's ability on fox for closer, 100 yard or less shots, and most particularly when the pelt must be preserved. I have no doubt a .243 with 75 grain bullets is a sure fox stopper, but with around 2000 ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle it's got to be hard on the hide.

Most any centerfire, high velocity round is tough on hides when shooting an animal that weighs only 12 lbs. Some look like they've been hit with a hand grenade.

I understand your preferences given your situation. Around here it's a little different. That's why I think the HMR would be ideal for this type of situation-adequate killing power for called fox and minimal pelt damage due to the quick fragmenting, relatively low energy bullet. But then, the .22 magnum would be just as good using quick opening bullets.
 
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