Developed as a speedster against the 22 Rim Fire Magnum WMR, the 17 HMR designed by Hornady Ammunition is in a world all of its own. As such the cartridge, because of its ability to push rimfire range a bit further, tends to favor certain types of scope sights over the general trend in rimfire sighting glass.
In so far as targets the 17 HMR is a light varmint class cartridge. That means to push it against badger or even coyote is making a major mistake. I know the shooting publication ads say differently, but I don’t think some of those ad writers have ever hunted the rifle much or observed what damage it can do on small varmints versus the big stuff.
The point of all this discussion is that the 17 HMR has a very specific working effective range. Because of this known distance, the type and power of the scope can be adjusted to fit the needs of the 17 HMR shooter. In some cases, even special scopes are built just for use with the 17 HMR, and on down the line, I will cover these options for you.
- 1. BSA 3-12X40 Sweet 17 Rifle scope.
- 2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
- 3. Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope
- 4. Hawke Sport Optics Vantage 4-12×40 Rimfire .17 HMR Riflescope
- 5. Tract 22 FIRE 4-12X40 Rimfire Scope w/T-Plex Reticle
- 6. Zeiss Conquest.
- 7. Barska 6-18X40 mm AO Hot Magnum .17.
1. BSA 3-12X40 Sweet 17 Rifle scope.
This scope is built by BSA and carries a 3-12 magnification range. The 12X is ample for getting the most out of the 17 HMR. A point, in fact, is that you don’t need that much power but it can be nice for observed indemnification purposes in the field.
At 1.1 pounds the scope is smaller but uses the full-size one inch tube, and best of all the turrets are pre calibrated for the 17 HMR. Range the target and turn to the correct bullet drop then send it. I have shot this scope on ground squirrel and prairie dogs for thousands of rounds. In one hunt we recorded 36,000 rounds in three days among a group of test shooters and writers. I can say for a dead on living fact that the little round is outstanding when matched to the BSA Sweet 17 in that almost every shot counts down range against something of interest.
When I lived in the overcrowded state of Minnesota I used the little rifle on crow hunts for the stand off high in the tree black devils. The 17 HMR coupled with the Sweet 17 scope did the need many times over the years.
Remember this is not much more than a super speed grade rimfire and you don’t need the lens quality of the 1000 yard rifle, or a tact driving 600 yard bench test rig. Sure, the shooting can be adjusted for long range games, but this round is very sustainable to wind drift and is not a massively long range tool in the field. 150 yards on soft wind days, and a bit further when dead air is encountered. Therefore, the Sweet 17 as offered by BSA is spot on as applied to this cartilage and rifles that support it.
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
As a second offering, we have the Vortex Optics offering in the Diamonback Tactical SFP model.
This scope is set up in the 4-12X40 design, uses the VMA-1 MOA reticle, retains great light control glass, and is fully multi coated for lens protection.
The scope makes use of the exposed tactical style turret and that is a good thing because the 17 HMR when pushed will require some bullet drop compensation. The turrets retain a zero reset feature that keeps the zero and turret rotations simple. Due to the limited range of the 17 HMR the number of turret adjustment clicks on this scope are ample
The scope is well sealed for damp or wet conditions, nitrogen purged, and shockproof construction. The objective lens is a true 40mm which allows great light transmission abilities, and the reticle (sub tensions are set up in MOA hash marks and make the elevation work required when holding over with the 17 HMR an easy task by doing all the ranging and elevation requirements when sighting through the scope lens).
Turret tracking ability is good, and internal parts are better grade than some budget priced scopes.
3. Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope
Here we have a scope offered by Leupold that is a big rifle all the way, but set up for rimfire use. The main tube is aircraft grade aluminum, the lens is actual glass, and the turret internals are top of the line materials, (no plastic here please)
Leupold offed a sub tension system reticle that is MOA graduated and calibrated for the rimfire cartridge. This is then easy to adjust to the 17 HMR with some simple impact testing and then building a range card (DOPE) for the matched sight and cartridge.
The scope uses the big guys Twilight Management System that will produce very high-quality light control and target visual production. This scope like its big brothers will allow the shooter to stay on target when other guys have headed for the dinner table.
Leupold is designed, machined and sold as an American built product. The company also backs the product completely. Any issue they will take care of it for you.
Magnification 3x-9x. One inch tube, eye relief 3.66 inches on the high end.
4. Hawke Sport Optics Vantage 4-12×40 Rimfire .17 HMR Riflescope
This scope is built for the 17 HMR. The power settings are 4-12X40. The scope comes with a two piece set of Weaver rings and bases making mounting very fast and solid.
Due to the fact that recoil is not an issue at all with the 17 HMR, there is no worries about damage to the scope due to shock effects of recoil. The scope is built on a one inch main tube, uses ¼ MOA turret clicks, and has a reset to zero system.
The optics have a light control system built into them and the 40 mm objective gives way allowing enough low light to enter for late in the day shooting.
Etched reticle makes for a solid viewing space, and the sub tension are matched to the 17 HMR regarding elevation through the objective lens. Turrets are capped for protection in the field, but the sub tension through the lens will allow about 250 yard shooting while not going to turret settings for additional elevation.
This scope is very low priced, but still seems to offer a good deal regarding features for the money spent. Glass quality is not great, but the cost is also down. Want more spend more it would seem. Again, not a bad scope for the price.
5. Tract 22 FIRE 4-12X40 Rimfire Scope w/T-Plex Reticle
This is the offering by TRACT a young company that has a real future in this business. This scope is power from 4X through 12X and carries a large 40mm objective. Big rifle is designed for the rimfire world of shooting.
In some case this scope style is built for some of the new competition target games at long range designed for the 22 Long Rifle Cartridge, but as such it will adapt well to use on the 17 HMR platform as well.
The scope uses the TRACT T-Plex reticle, this system is clean and allows the shooter to aline with the target then adjust the turret knob settings to the correct impact point regarding the cartridge being used. This setup is very workable with the 17 HMR because it is still within the parameters of standard rimfire cartridges and keeps the 17 HMR in the ballistics link as well.
The scope is built for the riflemen that want to work with his turret settings on a standard sighting basis. The design of the setup is taken from the previous experiences gain by the folks at TRACT. Why do I know this to be a fact? Because I was in on the very ground floor regarding scope testing with this company. Believe me, the glass quality is solid, the construction is tough as nails, and the high grade materials used will keep this sight in the game for a very long time to come.
This scope carries a compete life time warranty, making the product well thought of by the manufacture.
Gas purged and o ring sealed the scope is a weather fighter just likes its big brothers in the optical line.
6. Zeiss Conquest.
Here we have shooting glass that is without question well into the high grade type of product. This scope is a big rifle design and as such is a retro fit to the 17 HMR. Will it work? You bet it will as I have run many different glass sights on a Ruger M-77 in 17 HMR and a save bolt gun with very positive results. Because the 17 shoots flat to about 100 yards there is no issue regarding a lower velocity on being applied to a large centerfire cartridge scope.
This scope makes use of very high grade glass, provides 90% of eight transmissions, cut target fade, and no fringe edge distortion. Fights light reflection as in front or side lighting a target at longer range, and as such makes for crystal clear target imagines inside 300 yards to be sure. (17 HMR ranging bracket.)
The 30mm tube is large, but workable on full size rifles like the Ruger American and M-77 turn bolts by example.
The aircraft grade aluminum is tough as hails and the turret components are German crafted and some of the best in the world. The manufacture uses “Lettuce Hydrophobic Coating” and also “T” coating as a custom feature on the German production glass.
In terms of weather resistant waterproof to a depth of 400 bar.
This scope runs fulling adjustable external turret knobs for fast accurate bullet drop adjustments down range. Set up on a 200 yard range and adjust then card your result being DOPE standards apply here as well.
7. Barska 6-18X40 mm AO Hot Magnum .17.
This scope is the final in the group selection. The price comes down in this case but the design is all about the 17 HMR. Here is a scope with high magnification power (18X) and carries turrets that are fully adjustable and calibrated for the 17 HMR cartridge. This scope is workable on squirrel woods as 6X, or effective on prairie dogs at 300 yards using the 18 power magnification.
The scope is a budget model so do not expect ultra high grade optics or performance standards from the product. The scope will zero and bring back target images to the shooter. After that, the price point would suggest that the scope has a life line attached to it, but in this area, I must say I have little experience in the matter. Buyer is advised however. (China production product)
Researching the scope, I find that it has some issue in extreme weather encountered by hunters, and the best element mentioned by the users is the bullet drop compensating system. Crosshairs are NOT etched and some folks have had an issue in this area of the glass sights performance.
As a starter scope to “get by” the tube will do the deed for a while. But rest assured the construction and materials are not top of the pile and the system will have a definite shelf life to it. As to why I selected the sight in the first place? Because it is built for the 17 HMR and only a few out there are specific to that cartridge and calibrated to put the pill on target and varied range limits.
Be advised that the 17 HMR is a good example of a flat shooting varmint round that owns the 250 yard kill zone. Less high winds the cartridge is very good for what it was designed to do. In terms of the shooter that is going to do a good deal of shooting with the rifle and pared scope, I would advise that he or she be willing to put some extra money into the glass sight, keep an eye on big rifle glass that fits the needs of this basic cartridge (lower power better grade glass ) and find that you have a scope that will last many years.
On a personal note, I have found that my Sweet 17 by BSA which has not been known to be a long lasting unit by some has been on my Ruger M-77 for almost 35 years to date. She has shot many industries related programs, and digested thousands upon thousands of rounds in the process. That BSA turret has been spinning for a whole lot for years, and is still spot on in terms of bullet impact in the ½ MOA heart shot department.
L.P Brezny has been writing and reviewing product as well as how to projects for the past 50 years. He has authored four books on shooting with three on long range, and one covering shotgunning. With 26 years on a metro police department as a street officer and the rank of SGT / training L.P. has covered all the bases regarding weapons and street survival.
During the early years in non-toxic shotshell ammunition development L.P. designed the first successful measurement system for recording the speed of shot shell payloads down range. He was responsible for getting actual shotshell velocities printed on factory load boxes. Over the years he has developed and markets MetroGun System TM, and sells his designed ammunition for subsonic sound suppressed shotgun shooting.
Current L.P. resides in the South Dakota Black Hills and spends a good deal of time working through many types of ammunition both in the field on warm targets. With ultra long range being a current specialty L.P. shots for test and accuracy at ranges as great as one or more miles on the wide open Dakota grasslands.