The Savage 17 HMR BTVS: Midrange Luxury?
In the world of 17 HMR bolt action rifles, you have your inexpensive domestics: Savage 93R17’s, Marlin XT-17s, Ruger Americans, you have your inexpensive imports like the Zastava, and then you have your mid and upper range rimfire racehorses like CZ’s, Anshutz, and Coopers. The Savage 93R17 BTVS is one of the domestics in an upper level trim. It comes clad in a sexy laminate thumbhole stock from Boyd’s, with a stainless action and a heavy barrel. The trigger guard is metal and inletted into the stock instead of simply screwed to the outside. It comes with matching Weaver bases installed. But at a price of around $400, and coming very near to the CZ’s price range, are you getting your money’s worth out of this upgraded basic action or are you better off with the higher class brand?
Video Review of Savage 93R17-BTVS
Quality and Features
Absolutely no issues with the quality on this rifle. I love Boyd’s stocks, and this one is a great example of one. It’s not light like a basic plastic stock, but it’s incredibly solid and just feels fantastic firing prone with a bipod. The straight comb from the stock makes it very comfortable to fire with a scope. The stainless bolt is nice and slick to use, ejecting brass precisely and positively, the safety is positive and the accutrigger is great as always. As I mentioned above, the bottom metal is inletted in the stock, unlike on more inexpensive versions of the 93R17, and it’s actually metal instead of cheap looking plastic. All that solidness and premium materials comes at a cost: this rifle clocks in at 7.5 lbs. Personally, I think that’s OK because this rifle isn’t trying to be a lightweight rimfire that you take standing potshots with. It’s built as a target/prone with bipod rifle and the 21″ heavy barrel can make plenty of shots before it starts to heat up.
The magazines are a bit odd. Single stack with just a little bit of stagger, they make use of a rail on the rifle to align and ensure fit. This rifle came with a stainless(?) 5 round magazine, but there are replacement 5 and 10 round magazines readily available. With slimmer stocks, the 5 round mag really juts out but with the Boyd’s it just pokes out a bit. Releasing the magazines is a 2 hand operation which is not fantastic compared to better systems out there now (rotary and/or drop-free with release in front.)
Savage 17 HMR Accuracy
I took this rifle out with a new Savage B.Mag, and this one shot circles around it. With a variety of ammo, the Savage shot plenty of 1″ groups at 100 yards, which is about as good as I was hoping for. **Update**: With CCI 17 grain VMax bullets, this rifle is well capable of 0.3″-0.6″ groups at 100 yards, which is incredible. Great fun out at the range or in the field.
I’ve mentioned it in the video, I bought this rifle to increase hit probability at longer range over my 22LR. I can get 0.5″ groups at 50 yards with my modified Norinco NS522, but ranging errors lose forgiveness at 60+ yards when shooting at 1″ targets (gophers peeking out of their holes). With the much flatter 17 HMR, I was hoping to increase hit probability at longer ranges, and both the caliber and rifle delivered. With a bipod in a field full of gophers, the Savage 93R17 on a bipod was the perfect tool to make hits farther out. Yes, the ammo’s more expensive, but I already have to pay for gas and time to go out shooting gophers, so I might as well put a few extra bucks into ammo and enjoy making more hits. The 10 round mag is a better choice for this kind of shooting, and despite the somewhat odd release/rails, it is very reliable and very easy to load.
So is this rifle a good competitor to a CZ 455 in 17 HMR? I’d like to say no, but only because they’re doing different things. The CZ 455 is a good rifle for carrying around and shooting while standing, while this one is more of a “lay-down and smoke em” kind of affair. Marlin’s XT-17 is very similar to the Savage 17 HMR, and is another good option.