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.
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.
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 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?
“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”