The 17 Mach 2

When American Rifleman magazine featured the 17 HMR on its famous “white” cover, the magazine called it “The Little Cartridge That Could” as a sort of tongue-in-cheek reference to the cartridge’s diminutive size and disproportionate performance. After two years of wildly unanticipated success of the 17 HMR, Hornady introduced the 17 Mach 2 (17 HM2), and this is the little cartridge that should. I say that because to me, it more properly fills the niche the 17 HMR has found as a relatively inexpensive rimfire cartridge that’s more sexy than the 22 Long Rifle in power and performance. Unfortunately, the 17 HM2 never took off.

Both the 17 Mach 2 and 17 HMR are inherently accurate, which is a miracle considering how tiny the bullets are and how disproportionate any manufacturing flaw is.

Both the 17 Mach 2 and 17 HMR are inherently accurate, which is a miracle considering how tiny the bullets are and how disproportionate any manufacturing flaw is.

Much like the 17 HMR is made by necking down the 22 Magnum case, the 17 HM2 is made by necking down the 22 Long Rifle case–but not just any 22 Long Rifle case—specifically the 22 Long Rifle CCI Stinger case, which is trimmed just a tad longer than a normal 22 Long Rifle case. That added length allows Hornady to load the 17 HM2 to velocities that approach Mach 2, or 2,233 fps, and hence the cartridge’s name (Hornady lists velocity as 2,100 fps).

Don’t get me wrong; I still like the 17 HMR and its explosive performance on things like prairie dogs and ground squirrels where, on some shots, the diameter of the temporary wound cavity often exceeds the outside diameter of the target. But that same explosive performance is a detriment on game like tree squirrels and rabbits that normally end up as table fare.

While the 17 HMR provides explosive performance on small game, the 17 Mach 2 is tamer and a better cartridge for edible game.

While the 17 HMR provides explosive performance on small game, the 17 Mach 2 is tamer and a better cartridge for edible game.

That both cartridges are inherently accurate is nothing short of a miracle because of how positively tiny the bullets are. It’s one thing to have a slight aberration in a bullet the size of a 50 BMG A-Max; it’s quite another when the bullet is so tiny that the same aberration is a significant percentage of the overall bullet mass.

The tiny 17 Mach 2 cartridge may the small, but it still packs quite a sting.

The tiny 17 Mach 2 cartridge may the small, but it still packs quite a sting.

The 17 HM2 is all but dead at this point. Hornady, CCI and Eley all loaded it at one time and, while you can still find each of those in stock, only Hornady lists it as currently loaded. I can’t find a single rifle currently produced—Thompson/Center doesn’t even list a barrel. I have to wonder thought, if the 17 HM2 had been introduced first, would it have been the one that won the popularity contest with shooters?

 

 

Scott Mayer

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Scott Mayer

Writer at John1911
Mayer began his outdoor industry career in 1993 on the NRA Technical Staff where he became American Rifleman magazine first Shooting Editor. Mayer left NRA and entered the business end of publishing in 2003 as Advertising Account Executive for Safari Club International SAFARI Magazine and Safari Times newspaper. In 2006, Mayer was named Publisher of Shooting Times magazine where he was also tasked with launching and leading Personal Defense TV, the first television show of its kind.

In 2008, Mayer returned to the editorial side of publishing, this time in the digital field, as Editorial Director for Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, Handguns and Rifleshooter online magazines. After a brief stint in 2011 as the Digital Media Director for an ABC TV affiliate, Mayer returned to the outdoors industry and Safari Club International where he is currently Assistant Publisher and Multi-Media Communications Editor.
Scott Mayer

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