.17 HMR Ammo

.17 HMR: In Depth

Throughout the 20th century, new innovations in the rimfire world allowed manufacturers to bring high performing rounds to the market that both cost and recoiled less than centerfire options. The .22LR, always the dominant player in the rimfire game with its vast variety of loadings, was joined by .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire in the late 50s, and for a short time, the 5mm Remington Rimfire Magnum in the early 70s. The former is a cartridge that many will be familiar with, while the latter is infrequently manufactured; good luck finding a rifle that will shoot it, too. However, both of these rounds share a lot of common ground with one of the first major rimfire developments of the 21st century.

That development – .17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire) – was a group effort between Hornady and several other industry players to turn the .22 WMR into a flatter-shooting, bottlenecked cartridge with velocities that exceeded the 5mm rimfire round of the 70s. The earlier Remington rimfire cartridge already pumped out projectiles at speeds above 2,100/fps (about double that of .22LR, and 300/fps to 400/fps faster than .22 WMR), so this would mean an extreme velocity advantage over the entire field. .17 HMR’s 17-gr. loading, which featured velocities of 2,550/fps and faster, marked an insane improvement on bullet drop at extended ranges, and it also proved more accurate than .22 WMR in most cases. So, mission accomplished? 

For the most part, yes. The .17 HMR quickly became the new “it” rimfire cartridge for hunting the smallest game at extended ranges, especially when compared to .22 WMR, and that’s more-or-less where things stand to this day. There was one challenge to its position, however. About ten years after the .17 HMR arrived onto the scene, Winchester announced the .17 Winchester Super Magnum, which catapulted a 20-gr. bullet at more than 3,000/fps. Though 20-gr. projectiles are also commonly loaded in the .17 HMR cartridge, velocities tend to hover down around 2,375/fps, which is considerably slower than in the newer Winchester offering. However, at least up to now, the .17 WSM hasn’t taken over in any substantial way, and there is certainly no cost advantage over .17 HMR as was suggested. Apparently, Winchester set out to make it cheap to shoot, at least at the outset – now, it’s expensive and hard to find! For the time being, the .17 caliber rimfire market consists of only one major player, and that’s .17 HMR.

.17 HMR: Guns

For the most part, bolt-actions dominate the .17 HMR gun market. Many are designed to be extremely lightweight and portable so you can easily tote them around in the field; they don’t need to be heavy to soak up any recoil, after all. There are also a few lever-action Henrys in the mix, naturally, since this cartridge has a rim that plays well with lever-action extractors. Notably, an early semi-automatic – the Remington 597 – had to be recalled due to the rifle self-destructing during normal firing. Savage now makes the far-safer A17 rifle, which, when paired with CCI’s hotter-than-most A17 ammo, makes a reliable and trustworthy semi-auto package.

Bolt-Action Rifles

  • Ruger Precision Rimfire
  • Bergara B-14R
  • CZ-USA 457
  • Tikka T1x
  • Ruger American Rimfire
  • Browning T Bolt

Semi-Auto Rifles

  • Savage A17

Lever Action Rifles

  • Henry Gold Boy
  • Henry Frontier

Why Choose .17 HMR?

In the world of varmint shooting, as with most shooting disciplines, people have different philosophies about procedure that are reflected by what rifles and ammunition they choose. If the mission is to shoot (on foot) at targets within 150-yds. or so with the least possible bullet drop and wind drift, and to carry a featherweight rifle that barely recoils all day long, this is the cartridge for you. However, if you’re set up on a sturdy bench all day and don’t mind a heavy rifle with some recoil, you might be better served by a centerfire option like .204 Ruger, .22-250, or even .223 Remington for critter control. On the other hand, if you don’t mind paying quite a bit more per box of ammo vs. .22LR, this round is 100% pure fun at the range. 


  • Developed for hunting, this round is effective on very small game up to some predators. 
  • Extends the range of rimfire hunting out to 150-yds or 200-yds. 


  • Less wind drift than .22LR and .22 WMR.
  • Ruger chambers its Precision Rimfire in .17 HMR for rimfire fun at the range.

.17 HMR: Ammo Brands and Loadings

Without a doubt, everything on offer from the few manufacturers producing .17 HMR ammo is effective for varmint hunting. It also does a pretty good job on small game animals, though for predators such as coyotes, or anything else that size, most opt for a bigger cartridge. Polymer-tip and hollow point projectiles are by far the most common, considering that this round is hunting-focused. When pursuing the smallest game, some folks opt for an FMJ load to preserve as much meat as possible. However, only a few manufacturers actually produce .17 HMR ammunition – the rest is rebranded – and quality control for these loads generally doesn’t yield “match grade” ammo. In addition, most .17 HMR is quite a bit more expensive per round than premium, match-grade .22LR. That being said, it’s extremely accurate for a rimfire cartridge! It just won’t be replacing match-grade .22LR anytime soon for competition shooting.


Standard Loading

  • 17-gr. Polymer-Tip or HP @ 2,550/fps

Bullet Types

  • Polymer Tip - Hunting, target
  • HP (Hollow Point) - Hunting, target
  • FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) - Target, hunting

Bullet Weights

  • 15.5-gr. - Hunting, target
  • 17-gr. - Hunting, target
  • 20-gr. - Hunting, target


  • 15.5-gr. - 2,550/fps
  • 17-gr. - 2,550/fps
  • 20-gr. - 2,375/fps

.17 HMR: Frequently Asked Questions

It depends. If you’re looking to shoot very small game at long-for-rimfire (more than 100-yds.) ranges, .17 HMR is going to be the best option among the three rounds.
However, .22LR is just as good inside of 75-yds. and .22 WMR is probably a better choice for predators.

No. Don’t do it.

Hornady Magnum Rimfire. Hornady was at the center of this cartridge’s development.

No. The .17 WSM was developed by Winchester (Winchester Super Magnum) to shoot 20-gr. bullets at 3,000/fps.