The 17 HMR designed by Hornady Ammunition is in a world of its own. It was developed as a speedster counterpart to the .22 Rim Fire Magnum WMR. As such, the cartridge tends to favor certain types of scope sights over general rimfire sighting glass. This is because of its ability to push the rimfire range a bit further.
The 17 HMR is a light varmint class cartridge. You don’t want to push it against a badger or even a coyote. I know the shooting publication ads say differently,. However, I don’t think some of those ad writers have used the rifle or observed its damage potential.
The point of all this information is to say that the 17 HMR has a very specific working range. Therefore, 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. I will cover all 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. It carries a 3-12 magnification range. The 12X is ample for getting the most out of the 17 HMR. In fact, you don’t need that much power. It can still be nice for observed indemnification purposes.
At 1.1 pounds, the scope is small. It still uses the full-size one-inch tube. 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 used this scope for 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 fact that the little round is outstanding when matched to the BSA Sweet 17. Almost every shot counts downrange.
When I lived in the overcrowded state of Minnesota, I used this little rifle on crow hunts. The 17 HMR coupled with the Sweet 17 scope did what I needed many times.
Remember this is not much more than a super speed grade rimfire. 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. However, this round is very sustainable to wind drift. It is not a massively long-range tool in the field. 150 yards on soft wind days. You can get a bit further in dead air. Therefore, the Sweet 17 as offered by BSA is spot on for this cartridge.
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
As a second offering, we have the Vortex Optics Diamonback Tactical SFP model.
This scope is set up in the 4-12X40 design. It uses the VMA-1 MOA reticle. It retains great light control glass. Also, it is fully multi-coated for lens protection.
The scope makes use of the exposed tactical-style turret. 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, there are ample turret adjustment clicks.
The scope is well sealed for damp or wet conditions. It is nitrogen purged and has a shockproof construction. The objective lens is a true 40mm. That allows great light transmission abilities. The reticle sub tensions are set up in MOA hash mark. They make the elevation work required an easy task. They do all the ranging and elevation requirements when sighting.
Turret tracking ability is good. Finally, the internal parts are better grade than some budget scopes.
3. Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope
Here we have a scope offered by Leupold that is a “big rifle” all the way. However, it is set up for rimfire use. The main tube is aircraft-grade aluminum. The lens is actual glass. Also, the turret internals are top-of-the-line (no plastic here please).
Leupold offers a sub-tension system reticle that is MOA graduated and calibrated for the rimfire cartridge. It is easy to adjust to the 17 HMR with some simple impact testing. Than you just build a range card (DOPE) for the matched sight and cartridge.
The scope uses a Twilight Management System. It 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 all day long.
The Leupold is designed, machined, and sold as an American-built product. The company also backs the product completely. They will take care of any issue for you.
The magnification range is 3x-9x. There is also a one-inch tube and eye relief that’s 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. It comes with a two-piece set of Weaver rings and bases. They make mounting very fast and solid.
Recoil is not an issue with the 17 HMR. That means 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. It uses ¼ MOA turret clicks. It also has a reset to zero system.
The optics have a light control system built into them. The 40 mm objective gives way, allowing enough low light to enter for evening shooting.
An etched reticle makes for a solid viewing space. The sub-tensions are matched to the 17 HMR. The turrets are capped for protection in the field. However, the sub-tension through the lens will allow about 250-yard shooting before needing turrets for additional elevation.
This scope is very low priced. It still seems to offer a good number of features for the money. Glass quality is not great. Still, it is not a bad scope for the price.
5. Tract 22 FIRE 4-12X40 Rimfire Scope w/T-Plex Reticle
This offering shows that TRACT has a real future in this business. This scope is powered from 4X through 12X. It carries a large 40mm objective. It is designed for the rimfire world of shooting.
In some ways, this scope seems to be built for the new long-range competitions designed for the .22 Long Rifle Cartridge. 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. It allows the shooter to align with the target. Then you just adjust the turret knob settings to the correct impact point for the cartridge. This setup is very workable with the 17 HMR. It is still within the parameters of standard rimfire cartridges. It keeps the 17 HMR in the ballistics link as well.
The scope is built for the rifleman who wants to work with his turret settings often. TRACT designed the scope based on long-term research and experience. How do I know this? I was in on the ground floor and tested with this company. Believe me, the glass quality is solid. The construction is tough as nails. The high-grade materials will keep this sight in the game for a very long time.
This scope carries a compete lifetime warranty.
Finally, it is 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 a high-end product. This scope has a big rifle design. As such is a retrofit to the 17 HMR. Will it work? You bet it will. 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 HMR shoots flat to about 100 yards, there is no issue with the lower velocity usually applied to large centerfire cartridge scopes.
This scope makes use of very high-grade glass. It provides 90% of eight transmissions, cut target fade, and no fringe edge distortion. It fights light reflection by front or side lighting a target at long range. That makes for crystal-clear target images inside 300 yards.
The 30mm tube is large. It is still workable on full-size rifles like the Ruger American and M-77 turn bolts.
The aircraft-grade aluminum is tough as nails. The turret components are German crafted and some of the best in the world. The manufacture uses “Lettuce Hydrophobic Coating” and also “T” coating. These are custom features on the German production glass.
It is also waterproof resistant to a depth of 400 bar.
This scope runs fulling adjustable external turret knobs for fast accurate bullet drop adjustments downrange. DOPE standards apply here as well.
7. Barska 6-18X40 mm AO Hot Magnum .17.
This scope is my final pick for the top seven. It is a lower price than some of the others. But the design is all about the 17 HMR. Here is a scope with high magnification power (18X). It also carries turrets that are fully adjustable and calibrated for the 17 HMR cartridge. This scope is workable on squirrel woods as 6X. It is similarly effective on prairie dogs at 300 yards using the 18 power magnification.
The scope is a budget model. 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. The price point would also suggest that the scope has a lifeline attached to it. However, I do not have experience with that. Buyer is advised, however, as this is a China production product.
Users report the scope has some issues in extreme weather. The best feature mentioned by users is the bullet drop compensating system. Crosshairs are NOT etched. Some folks have had an issue here.
As a starter scope to “get by,” it will work for a while. Rest assured, the construction and materials are not on top of the pile. The system will have a definite shelf life. Why did I select the sight in the first place? Because it is built for the 17 HMR. There are only a few scopes out there that are specific to that cartridge and calibrated correctly.
Be advised that the 17 HMR is a good example of a flat shooting varmint round that owns the 250-yard kill zone. The cartridge is very good for what it was designed to do in low winds. If you plan on shooting often, invest in a high-quality product. Put the extra money towards the glass sight. And, keep an eye on big rifle glass that fits the needs of this basic cartridge. Finally, make sure you purchase a scope that will last for many years.
On a personal note, I have found that my Sweet 17 by BSA has lasted for almost 35 years. It is not known to be a long-lasting unit. She has shot many industry-related programs. Thus, she has digested thousands upon thousands of rounds in the process. That BSA turret has been spinning for a whole lot for years. The bullet impact in the ½ MOA heart shot department is still spot on.
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.