New Savage B Series Bolt-Action Rimfires: B17 FV in .17 HMR—Full Review.

Send to Kindle


To learn more, visit http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/B17FV.

To purchase a B17 rifle on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Savage%20B17.

Some of you may be old enough to remember the 1974 series The Six Million Dollar Man, about Colonel Steve Austin, who is portrayed by Lee Majors. The opening narration for that show was “We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We can make him better than he was. Better, stronger, faster.”

The new Savage B Series of rimfire rifles (B17 FV in .17 HMR shown) offers a lot of amazing performance at a great price.

I think the engineers at Hornady were watching late night reruns of The Six Million Dollar Man when they created the 17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (4.5×27mmR), also known as the .17 HMR, in 2002. They started off with their baseline, tried and true .22 Magnum, and necked it down to take the .17-caliber projectile weighing in at, you guessed it, 17-grain projectiles. This turned an average round into a zippy, high-performance round that offered plenty of shooting and hunting possibilities.

With only Hornady supplying the new round there were two original issues with the .17 HMR offering: supply and cost. Supply was limited as demand quickly outstripped the limited production. This production shortage caused the retail demand to skyrocket, and the round was expensive to produce to begin with, so the price when available was sometimes shocking.

Thankfully, there are now several brands now offering loading for .17 HMR. CCI, Federal Cartridge, Hornady, Winchester and Remington are all available. Once the supply problem was eased by these new actors, 17 HMR was almost always in stock at normal retails, even when the .22 LR was not to be found at any price.

The .17 HMR history

The .17 HMR, based off the .22 Magnum round, is a popular and capable cartridge with a good selection of loadings available.

The progenitor of the 17 HMR was the 5mm RRM, or 5mm Remington Rimfire Magnum, brought out by Remington in 1969 for use in the bolt action 591 and 592 rifles. Thompson Center offered barrels from the Contender pistol, and between the 2 companies about 80,000 guns were made for the 5mm RRM. It never really caught on, and the Remington guns were discontinued in 1974. The ammunition, however, hung on until 1982 when Remington discontinued production. Several loyal fans welcomed the news in 2008 that Aguila Ammunition would start up production again.

The 17HMR’s next ancestor was the .17 Remington, introduced in 1971 by Remington Arms Company for their model 700 rifles. This round was based on the 222 Remington Magnum, necked down to .172 with the shoulder moved back. This proved to be a marvelous varmint round, and could take care of smaller predators as well. This was thanks to the 4000-plus feet per second initial velocity, and flat trajectory capable of reaching out to 400 yards. Oh, and did I mention that this round produced almost no recoil in the model 700? The only drawback was a high cost of entry for the rifle and round.

I have always been an early adopter of new guns and rounds, and the .17 HMR was no exception. I purchased a Ruger Model 96 Lever-Action rifle with an 18-1/2″ barrel, nine-round rotary magazine, hardwood stock and blued barrel. I also added a Bushnell scope that was configured specifically for the .17 HMR round’s trajectory. This proved to be both rewarding and frustrating; I loved the round, but the gun was sensitive to the overall length of the .17 HMR and would only feed one bullet weight reliably. I ended up selling the gun, but with the intention of revisiting the .17 HMR when it was a more mature offering.

The safety is tang mounted, making the rifle more easily usable by southpaws.

SPECS:

  • Chambering: .17 HMR
  • Barrel: 21 inches
  • OA Length: 39 inches
  • Weight: 6 pounds
  • Stock: Synthetic
  • Sights: None
  • Action: Bolt-action
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Capacity: 10+1
  • MSRP: $329

Rifle at Hand

This brings us to my second bite at the apple. The round’s viability was never in question, but the correct rifle for it has been my dilemma. Enter Savage Arms, and their new B Series of rifles. In all fairness, Savage has been making rimfire rifles, specifically, .17 caliber rifles, for years.

This new model brings several upgrades that most shooters will certainly appreciate. For starters, they have done away with the metal stick detachable magazine in favor of a new 10-round plastic rotary magazine. Now, before anyone goes and says “Yeah, but Ruger has had that for years,” this is a clever design by Savage, that functions one hundred percent without adding significant cost. They have also changed the bolt handle in a very subtle way that also makes the gun more ergonomically friendly.

The B Series rifle employs a rotary style magazine that is compact and handy.

The author found the shape of the bolt handle to comfortable and pleasant to use.

The stock is a new one-piece design that has a higher comb, and a top tang safety that is especially welcomed by left-handed rifle shooters. The pistol grip has a vertical rake that allows you to hold the rifle in a natural position without your wrist going to sleep—another quality-of-life improvement.

Savage, was careful to retain some of the best qualities of the previous versions along with these tweaks. The trigger in the B17 FV that I tested is the AccuTrigger, which allows you to adjust the trigger pull from 6 lbs. to 1.5 lbs. to suit your style of shooting without having to invest in your favorite gunsmith’s kid’s college fund.

The 21-inch barrel has a recessed target crown at the muzzle.

The rifle comes with Savage’s excellent AccuTrigger adjustable trigger system.

The sample I received was equipped with a heavy barrel that was button-rifled. The barrel was adorned nicely with a tasteful target crown; the only complaint that I had was that my model was not threaded for a suppressor (although a model with suppressor-threading is available).

The rifle did not come equipped with sights, but it was drilled and tapped for scope mounts, and I think this is an appropriate setup for this type of rifle out of the box.

The B17 FV proved to be a real shooter at the range. The author topped it off with a Burris Veracity scope.

Range Plan

Taking a rifle such as this to the range requires a plan that is commensurate with the caliber and potential available. I wanted to make sure that I brought the right ammunition, optimal optics and plenty of time to really get a good feel for this gun’s potential.

I selected two brands of ammunition and three different cartridges for my outing. The CCI 17 Grain Varmint tip touts that it is optimized for the Savage rifle, with 100 fps over other rounds.

During the entire range test, the rifle ran all the ammo tested without a hitch.

The author found the rifle to be highly capable of producing outstanding accuracy results.

I wanted an optic that would bring out everything the rifle and rounds could offer. With that in mind, I mounted up my Burris Veracity 5-25x50mm. riflescope. The front focal plane reticle allows accuracy at any magnification, and it has quarter-MOA adjustments for fine-tuning. The side-adjustable parallax allows correct parallax correction without coming off the scope. The reticle in the scope is the Ballistic Plex E1 FFP Varmint, which allows for precise shooting under all conditions, with minimal effort. Now, there are some who will cry foul because I put such an expensive scope on a rimfire rifle. My answer would be that I wanted to push this rifle to the limits. I don’t want to define what it can do, I want to discover all that it can do.

For the range testing, the author used the Caldwell Ballistic Precision LR Target Camera System and was very impressed.

I selected a new piece of gear to help me get this gun worked up quickly. This new tool is the Caldwell Ballistic Precision LR 1 Mile Target Camera System. To set this up, I plugged the transmitter and receiver in to charge the night before. Once at the range, I set up my target and then used the included tripod to mount the remote camera and transmitter to view the target. Then, I went back to my shooting bench and set up the transmitter on the second included tripod. Finally, I turned on my iPad and opened the free app (Caldwell Target Camera) I had downloaded the night before (Android version is free as well, if you’re into that sort of thing). The iPad quickly found the signal, and bam! I was looking at live 720p video of my target. The app will capture either a movie or still images of your target from up to a mile away. The entire setup is waterproof, and breaks down for storage in the included carry case. If all this is not enough; it will even calculate your group size from up to a mile away! Awesome stuff!

On the Range

I made four separate trips to the range with the Savage, and each time I liked the gun more. On my first trip, I simply worked on zeroing in the optic. With my new Caldwell target camera, this task was completely quickly and easily. I fired 3 rounds, moved the scope cross hairs, and I was there.

A normal rimfire distance test is about 50 yards, but I had other plans for the .17 HMR. I pushed this rifle out to almost 100 yards for basic accuracy testing, and I shot groups with each of the three loads I had selected. Here’s the down and dirty: The CCI 17 Grain Varmint Tip was by far the most accurate of the three. The least accurate, although not by a huge margin, was the Hornaday. The accuracy difference was slight, but consistent enough that all the shooters’ groups bore this out. I found this strange, as the round was made by CCI and appears, save the color of the ballistic tip, to be identical.

A free downloadable app made the author’s iPad into a target monitor with the Caldwell system.

I had to stick to 10 shot groups to get to even a one-inch group; at almost 100 yards it was quite common to have four rounds just blow out the same hole in the shoot-n-see targets we were using.

I attribute this accuracy to the AccuTrigger, which broke at a clean 2lbs exactly out of the box. This cannot be overstated; I have paid almost the price of this entire gun for a trigger this good! All experienced shooters will appreciate the joy of an excellent trigger.

The hype about the new stock was not lost on anyone who shot the B17 FV. Everyone commented on the ease of mounting and firing from either side of the rifle.

There are a few things that I believe would have made this rifle even better. A second or third magazine would have gone a long way to increase the fun. The threaded barrel could have added a whole bag of fun as well. The only thing I wish had been kept from the original stock is the Indian head on the butt of the pistol grip. This did not impact shooting, just a personal preference of mine.

A Fast Bottom Line

I think this is one of the shortest summaries I have ever written, but not much else can be said: if you are looking for a fun, accurate and reliable rimfire, this gun is for you. The retail starts at $301.00 and goes up to $413.00; a clear bargain for what you get. I will not keep this rifle… but only because I will be ordering one with a threaded barrel!

To learn more, visit http://www.savagearms.com/firearms/model/B17FV.

To purchase a B17 rifle on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=Savage%20B17.

The new B Series bolt actions deserve a close look from shooters looking for high-quality yet affordable rimfires.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Dan Crummett January 30, 2017, 8:48 pm

    Rotary mag is an excellent diversion from the POS stick magazine of the 93R-17. I look forward to more of this thinking from Savage. Love my 93R-17, but the magazine is a bothersome, frustrating, well… POS.

  • Medic January 30, 2017, 9:42 am

    Savage seems to have been able to produce yet another quality rifle. That being put aside, isn’t it insane to put a $600 scope on a $300 rifle?
    What’s wrong with reviews like that is that it makes it a norm to show how to turn a reliable and affordable gun into a $1000 dollar toy.

    • Mark January 30, 2017, 1:30 pm

      He stated in the article that he did not want to limit the bench test results that could be introduced by the use of a low-cost optic, so he used one that would allow the gun to do what it could do with no unintended results from another component. It sounds like you are being critical of a guy trying to give you the best review he can with the least possible inaccuracy in his reporting. Would you have complained if he used a cardboard tube for a scope and shot 40″ groups?? I appreciated how he showed what a reliable and affordable gun it is…the rest of the kit is up to you.

  • BillyBob January 30, 2017, 8:15 am

    (1)That was back in 1996, and Sturm Ruger cranked out Model 96/22 rifles in .22LR before production ended in 2009 . . . WHAT YEAR IS IT ?
    (2) $69 scope from Walmart that stays centered after bumping around for years ! Mil dots ! The CenterPoint 4-16x40mm Scope has an adjustable objective, with parallax error focus, from five yards to infinity. To adjust the brightness for red or green illumination the scope includes a Mil-Dot reticle. Images can be adjusted according to light conditions from dusk to dawn with the help of this scope. This adjustable rifle scope has adjustable windage and elevation dials with zero locking or resetting capabilities. The lens of the CenterPoint 4-16x40mm Scope is coated with a multi-layer centerpoint advantage solution for better resolution and performance.
    The Centerpoint rifle scope is 100 percent waterproof, fog proof and shock proof for highly resolved images. The product also comes with flip-open covers and Weaver-style rings. This black scope has a non-reflective finish with a matte texture. It is made
    (3) Lever on mag to break off ?
    (4) Why didn\’t they thread the barrel ? Oh wait that comes out next year and you have to buy a new gun !
    (5) a Hogue Overmolded instead of a plastic stock !
    (6) Why no RAIL Mount ? Why no one piece BASE ?
    (7) do the magazines interchange with the A17 ?
    (8) P.S. My Ruger Precision $1350 uses a $2500 Vortex Optics 4.5-27×56 Razor HD Gen II Riflescope, Matte Earth with Illuminated EBR-2C MOA Reticle, 34mm Tube, Target Turrets & Side Parallax Adjust

    • BillyBob January 30, 2017, 8:27 am

      Red Dots are great on SMG\’s ! The red dot is so BIG 2 to 7 moa ! thats 2 to 7 inches at 100 yards !

Leave a Comment

Send this to a friend