The .17 HMR cartridge has never really taken well to semi-automatic rifles—and, as such, varmint hunters around the country have had to make due, largely, with bolt-action options. At SHOT Show 2015, however, Savage Arms introduced what should serve as an answer to the call for a semi-auto capable of reliably cycling the popular rimfire load with the aptly named A17.
The first high-performance semi-automatic rimfire specifically designed for the .17 HMR cartridge, the A17 has the potential to be a hit with rimfire enthusiasts throughout the industry. Interested? Here are seven things you need to know about the A17.
1. It features a delayed-blowback action. As I noted, there's never really been a semi-auto rifle that can cycle .17 HMR consistently. The cartridge has been considered "too hot" for semi-automatic actions. So how'd Savage break the mold? By going back to square one. The A17 features a unique, delayed-blowback action. An interrupter lug locks down the rifle's bolt until peak pressure has passed when a round heads downrange—which prevents the bolt from opening prematurely, eliminating fears of ruptured cases. The system also serves as a firing pin block.
2. It's a design seven years in the making. Savage first started kicking around the idea for a semi-auto chambered in .17 HMR some seven years ago—but the timing just wasn't quite right. In 2012 the company finally met with ammunition engineers at CCI and product managers at Bushnell to discuss the possibility, and finally kicked off the project. Two and a half years later, we're seeing the A17. And now, with Savage part of the greater Vista Outdoor brand, the rifle is launching as a complete shooting system, complete with launch-ready accessories.
3. It'll cycle any standard .17 HMR load. Don't be afraid of the new action's quirks—the A17 will run any .17 HMR load safely and reliably. So if you've already got a favorite brand, you can stick to it, no questions asked.
4. That said, you might want to consider a new option. When you're part of a larger brand (as previously noted, Vista Outdoor), it makes it a little easier to forge lasting partnerships. Which is part of why it was only natural for CCI to correspondingly launch CCI A17 Varmint Tip ammunition this year, too. The new load is designed to make the most of the delayed-blowback action, and it very much does. CCI claims the Varmint Tip rounds will provide 100 feet-per-second higher muzzle velocities over existing products and, as a upcoming American Hunter magazine "Hardware" piece shows, the company isn't making that number up.
5. It's affordable. The A17 ships with an MSRP of $465—and, let's face it, you'll probably find it on the shelf for a few dollars less than that. No, it doesn't reach the "budget rimfire" price point, but that's because it's not a budget rimfire—it's a new innovation. But it won't put a hurting on your wallet, either.
How the market as a whole responds to the A17 remains to be seen, but Savage certainly has a potential winner on its hands. We've got a full review of it coming in the July print edition of American Hunter, and I encourage you to keep an eye out for it? Not getting our magazine? Join NRA right here and you can correct that particular problem.
In the meantime, don't hesitate to check out Savage's website for further information on the launch.