Savage Arms will be announcing the new Savage A17 in 17 Mach 2 / 17HM2 at the NRA National Meeting this week! This new chambering for the A17 semi-automatic rifle joins the already extremely popular, 17HMR A17 rifle, that was released in 2015. This new addition to the A17 line comes at a time when the 17 Mach 2 round is experiencing a resurgence, with ammo now available from CCI and Hornady, including the lead-free NTX round from Hornady. The pricing has also stabilized and can now be purchased in the $6.00 range online. What this means, is that you don’t have to break the bank to buy a current, functioning, semi-auto 17 Mach 2 and you don’t have to jump through hoops to convert your 10/22. This new Savage A17 is the answer.
The Prototype Rifle:
A bit about my experience with a prototype of the new A17 – 17 Mach 2 rifle. We had one in hand for a couple of weeks for function testing, but I was also able to hit the field and sneak some hunting in, before having to send it back (we are expecting a production rifle from Savage very soon and will follow this up with a full range and hunt report). At first glance, this new A17 rifle is almost exact match of the current 17HMR version (Barrel length will be 20″, 1:9″ Twist). The internal components are basically the same, with the only changes being geared to handle the 17 Mach 2.
**It is important to note that this does not mean the two rifles/cartridges are interchangeable. The 17 Mach 2 is a completely different cartridge than the 17HMR.**
Our Function Testing:
Our function testing procedure for prototypes consists of shooting 100s of rounds through the firearm to see if we run into any issues and then report on our findings to the company/engineers of the product.
I personally shot over 1000 rounds out of this new Savage 17 Mach 2 rifle. Every currently available factory 17 Mach 2 offering was used during this testing, including the a fore mentioned Hornady 15.5 grain NTX load (factory listed fps included):
- CCI VMax – 17 grain – 2010fps
- CCI VNT – 17 grain – 2010fps
- Hornady NTX – 15.5 grain – 2050fps
- Hornady VMax – 17grain – 2100fps
As always, whenever we receive a rifle from a manufacturer, the first thing I do is completely strip and clean the rifle and make sure everything is not loose in any way. Thanks to the ingenuity behind the A17, it is very easy to disassemble, clean and apply the MPRO-7 Synthetic Grease to the proper locations.
For the initial testing, I headed to a large area of public land outside of Boise, ID that is a great place to shoot, but also happens to hold ground squirrels! I did a quick sight-in and then it was off to the races, with magazine after magazine being shot through the rifle. After 100 rounds, I gave the rifle a quick cleaning, then began again. This time, I kept shooting past the 100 round mark, only stopping to reload the rotary magazines, until I had put another 400 rounds through the A17. Even after 400 rounds on this day alone, I had zero malfunctions, or failures to feed! Btw, I do not recommend anyone going this long without cleaning their semi-auto rimfires, but I wanted to push this rifle to see how well it would do. In my opinion, it did GREAT and I was excited by the performance of this 17 Mach 2, A17!
Many of the shots I mentioned above were part of a 10-round “mag-dump”. You typically won’t be mag-dumping in hunting situations, but we do them during our testing, because it helps magnify any issues that might arise when the rifle is hot, dirty and under a lot of stress. In the A17’s case, everything worked as designed!
A Quick Hunt (I couldn’t resist):
After pushing the A17 as much as I could, gave it another quick cleaning/lubing and started to look for ground squirrels on the hillside across the small canyon from me. The ranges were from 50 yards, to 130 yards, with most shots being in the 50 to 75 yard range. I was set-up for anything that popped up, with my shooting bags set-up on the rear of my truck (legal in Idaho).
As we scanned the hill, the little Northern Piaute ground squirrels we have here in Southern Idaho were running around everywhere! I was able to shoot a bunch, but being able to follow-up on some of my misses was really helpful with these skiddish squirrels! One ground squirrel in particular I nicked in the paw. But as it ran down the small hill, it paused, allowing me to make a head-shot, which sent the him rolling down the hill, dead. We continued to hunt in this spot, killing a handful of squirrels, before heading home. I was also able to hit the hills again a week later for some final testing and shooting with the Hornady NTX ammo. I killed a number of squirrels, with the farthest shot being 130 yards from my truck!
I have already said that I am very excited that Savage Arms has chambered their A17 rifle in the 17 Mach 2 / 17HM2 round. As some of our longtime readers may remember, I used to shoot 4000 to 5000 rounds of 17 Mach 2 every year when I lived in California and hunted the Tejon Ranch for the big California Ground Squirrels. It was a staple in my ammo box and I never left home without it. My main firearms at the time were the CZ Model 452 and a converted Ruger 10/22. The Ruger functioned well enough, but there was always a worry of it blowing up on me. It happened twice while I was out in the field, so I eventually shelved it when ammo ran short and have only recently taken it out for some shooting. After shooting the prototype, I can confidently say that this new A17 will become my go-to 17 Mach 2 rifle. I give kudos to companies like Savage Arms, who think outside the box and let their engineers work on unique arms that rapidly become standards in all of our hunting activities. This new rifle is a great option for varminters everywhere!
A17 History and More Thoughts:
When the Savage A17 was released in 2015, we here at Varminter were very excited that an affordable semi-auto 17HMR rifle was finally available for hunters and shooters everywhere! The innovation behind the A17 drove its reliability and the days of The A17 traveled with us all over the Western United States, while we hunted everything from rabbits in the desert of Southern California, to ground squirrels in North Eastern California and Nevada, to prairie dogs in Northern Arizona. All together, we put thousands of rounds through that rifle and it performed very well for us!
Fast-forward four years and the Savage A17 is an important tool for many who hunt with the 17HMR. However, many of us have been asking, “What’s next for the A17?”. After-all, after the A17 was released and proven to perform, it was considered by many a perfect platform for other difficult rimfire cartridges, specifically the other .17 caliber rimfires. Now, which one would Savage chamber next?
Last year, as I started to see the recent resurgence of the 17 Mach 2 cartridge, I felt it would be a no-brainer for Savage to look at this little 17 round for the next A17. I already know what the comment sections are going to look like when this announcement hits the masses, “Why not the 17WSM?!”. A quick explanation on why I felt this way. The 17WSM (33k psi) has a lot more pressure than the 17HMR/17HM2 cartridges, which are approximately 26k and 24k psi. This added pressure will take a lot more development time, compared to the 17 Mach 2 cartridge.
My point in posting this information is simple. Understanding why companies do what they do and when, cannot always be explained. However, in this case I think the reasons are obvious. Seeing the progression of this platform only makes me very hopeful for the future of the A17 line of rifles!