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The Remington .17 Fell Short of Expectations

March 22, 2008
By KENNETH COBB, For The Inter-Mountain
In 1971, Remington introduced the .17 Centerfire in its Remington Model 700 rifle. The cartridge received much favorable publicity from the various gun writers. The bullet is a .172-inch diameter, 25-grain, jacketed hollow point, with an advertised muzzle velocity of 4,040 feet per second. For several years, this cartridge was the only .17 available in a commercial rifle with loaded ammunition.

The .17 Remington is satisfactory for hunting small varmints. The trajectory for the first 150 yards is quite flat. Pelt hunters, particularly in Australia, say this is the ideal cartridge for this type of hunting because of the minimal damage done by the tiny bullet.

I know a rifle chambered for this cartridge would be legal for deer hunting in West Virginia, but I do not recommend it. The muzzle energy of the 25-grain bullet is less than 1,000 foot-pounds. Anyone who has ever studied ballistics knows that light bullets shed their velocity rapidly. Small high-speed bullets are also easily deflected by brush, grass and sometimes even by rain. They often tend to fly apart when they hit hard tissue, which means a large surface wound. The result is that an ethical hunter has to chase a wounded animal.

In addition to these problems, the narrow bore of the barrel fouls quickly, which means that it has to be cleaned for every 15 to 20 rounds. I have read from some of the gun writers that the slim cleaning rod often breaks when running a cleaning patch through the bore.

The .17 Remington in the last 25 years has had a steady drop in sales. The biggest drawback is that it is a special-purpose cartridge.

For the serious varmint hunter at ranges of less than 150 yards, the .17 Remington Centerfire should be able to do the job expected of it.

At ranges longer than 150 yards, this cartridge is just not in the same class as the .222 or .223 Remington or the .22 hornet.

This year, I am going to recommend on the 2008 questionnaire that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources prohibit centerfire rifles smaller than .22 caliber for hunting large game animals. The possibility of wounding or crippling a game animal of this size is just too great.

Since its introduction in 1971, these are some of the rifles chambered for the .17 Remington Centerfire: The Remington Model 700 BDL, the Cooper Model 21 Varmint, the Sako Model 75, the Ultra Light Model 20 short action, the Dakota Model 10 single shot, and the Kimber Model 84C single shot.

Below are two good hand loads for the .17 Remington Centerfire:

1. Case – Remington

Bullet – Hornady 25-grain hollow-point

Primer – Remington 7 1/2 (small rifle magnum)

Powder & Weight – IMR 4320; 24.5 grains

Note: This is a near maximum load; approach with caution.

2. Case – Remington

Bullet – Hornady 25-grain hollow-point

Primer – CCI-400 (small rifle)

Powder & Weight – Hodgdon Ball C-2; 23.5 grains

Note: This is an accurate load in several makes of rifles, according to the gun writers.


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