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Winchester 17HMR Varmint HV

Winchester 17HMR Varmint HV

Let’s face it, the 17HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) took us all by surprise! When I first saw that tiny 17-grain pill I thought ‘ they’re avin’ a laugh!’ Bloody Yanks, another gimmick to feed the gullible with! Well, I too had to eat my words, as it turned out to be a flat-shooting powerhouse more than capable of reaching out to 200-yards in the right conditions on small game like hares and rabbits.


I was sold and soon had a Ruger 77/17 All-Weather and it was a shooter, capable of ½” @100-yards. However, the major drawback of any rimfire calibre is ammunition quality, as there’s nothing you can do about it. All went well at first with the original Hornady-branded loads and the others such as CCI, Remington and Winchester. With a quoted speed of 2550 fps the reality was around 2500 fps, which was more than acceptable and all HMR ammo was pretty much interchangeable as to ballistics for the first few years. So you could very much guarantee that your rifle would consistently shoot the 17-grain load at near as to 2500 fps as to make no difference and an inch at worst at 100-yards!

Then things started to change, with trusted brands showing more velocity fluctuations, case splitting and even some with no powder in them, I have experienced all of these! I tried most makes and found that the 2500 fps norm was no longer the case. So when a new batch comes out I’m keen to see what it does.

Winchester Varmint HV

Winchester offers the standard 17-grain ballistic tip bullet and I had mixed results with them with the above problems. So I was keen but cautious when they supplied their latest, the Varmint HV. It’s the standard, grey 17-grain BT as before, but compared to earlier fodder it looks better presented, with clean, bright cases!

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Powder consists of an ultra-fine ball type averaging out at 5.2-grains with an extreme spread of 0.4- grains. The priming compound is generous and well distributed around the rim. Bullets average out at 16.8-grains +/- and Winchester states the HV load generates 2550 fps!


My Ruger has a 20” barrel and admittedly a lot of ammo has gone down that pipe in 10-years, so it’s certainly well run in. The last time I checked it, it was with some Remington Gold Tip 17-grain, which was producing 2479 fps and shot reasonably well but never made the magic ½”. I picked two boxes of HV at random and here’s what I got (speeds in FPS): 2381, 2426 & 2471 - ES 90, average 2426, energy 226 ft/lbs , 2447, 2461 & 2531 - ES 84, average 2479 energy 236 ft/lbs. The old 2500 fps ballpark figure would give 240 ft/lbs.

Accuracy maintained at ½” @ 100-yards, so no complaints there and pushing out to 150-yards I was easily getting accurate, one shot kills on rabbits. However, at 200 I had to adjust my drops by 1.5” to compensate. Generally the new Winchester proved reliable, with no split cases or other issues and though apparently lower powered compared to earlier fodder, it does the job with a bit less speed and energy, but still good enough for the 200-yard club! Winchester also does a 20-grain HP load, which I have yet to see too.

PRICE: £13.20 (per 50 box)
20-grain JHP for £15.40 per 50 box

CONTACT: Browning UK, 01235 514550 www.winchester.com

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  • Winchester 17HMR Varmint HV - image {image:count}

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