17 HMR vs 17 WSM

17 WSM vs 17 HMR vs 22LR

17 WSM vs 17 HMR vs 22LR

17 WSM: Is the Rimfire Speed King Worth It?

Designed and produced in 2002, the 17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire is pretty new in terms of cartridges, but there is an even newer kid on the block. The 17 Winchester Super Mag (WSM), has been in production since 2013 and is attempting to cut out a piece of the marketplace for a faster 17, and since the cases are made from nail blanks, they’re pretty inexpensive (very similar in cost to 17 HMR.) But is it fast enough?

Performance Comparison: Trajectory and Drift

The 17 WSM sends a 20 grain bullet out at 3000 fps, whereas the HMR is sending a 17 grain bullet at 2550 fps. That makes for some difference in the field, with the HMR granting an MPBR of 15-134 yards, whereas the WSM can do it with 18-166 yards (I’m running calculations for gopher-sized targets). That’s an extra 30 yards of non-adjusted range. More impressive is the wind drift difference. With a 10 mph crosswind, at 100 yards the WSM will drift 1.6 inches vs the HMR at 3.1 inches over. That could be the difference between a hit and a miss.

Performance Comparison: Energy

This is the big difference here. The 17 WSM makes for a decent coyote gun, carrying more energy much further, and the 25 grain bullet gives an option for more weight/penetration of larger varmints. I think the 204 Ruger and 223 Rem are better pure coyote rounds, but the 17 WSM offers a very inexpensive option for coyote control.

Downsides of 17 WSM

I’m going to bullet these out (ha!):

  • Availability. It doesn’t have mass support, and you won’t find boxes of it at your local hardware store. In fact, depending where you live, you might not be able to find any at all.
  • Ammo selection: Only Winchester makes the ammo so far. If your rifle doesn’t like either the 20 or 25 grain Winchester rounds, tough luck. Accuracy gremlins may be tied to the quality of ammo as well. “Accuracy at 100 yards with the 25-grain bullets was a bit over an inch; the results of the groups with the 20-grain load were too awful to print in a family magazine.”John B. Snow article on the Winchester 1885 in Outdoor life.  ***Oct 21, 2014 edit: Hornady has announced they are coming out with a 20 grain V-Max load for the 17 WSM.***
  • The ammo boxes are big and bulky compared with 17 HMR boxes.
  • Very few rifles are available in 17 WSM.
  • Slightly louder
  • May die out as soon as other rimfire ammo becomes readily available again. 17 WSM has yet to be firmly established and if none of the other ammo manufacturers end up making it, you might end up with a rifle or ammo that is discontinued or only supported by Winchester.

So, is 17 WSM Worth it?

At this point, 17 WSM is where a lot of new rounds and rifles find themselves: encountering teething problems and in that “will it become a thing or not” area. If you love staying at the leading edge of technology, this is it but be prepared to pay for being at the bleeding edge. Just because your new rifle and cartridge is better on paper than your buddy’s, doesn’t mean that you’ll outperform them in the field and you might end up dealing with growing pains.

  • Joseph Chaffin

    good article

  • mitch

    VERY clear comparison, and the photograph was very helpful. Article reads well – Thx, Mitch

  • Deni

    I just bought new 17hmr round it is hornady superformance 20grain vmax sending 17hmr at 3650fps and have only 6.4inch drop at 300yards…thats same as 223 or 22-250…and comparing that new ammo vs wsm the power difference is huge…just thing about 17grain vmax dmage with 2500fps and than think about 20grain vmax damage at 3650fps just haha my new coyote ammo is here,BUT I PAID 30$ FOR 25 BULLETS…it cost almost as my 7mm rem mag omg…

  • Deni

    new hornady vmax=3600fps

    bye bye wsm…

  • Are you talking about the centerfire 17 Hornet? I can’t imagine they’d ever get 3650 out of a 20 grain bullet in a 17 WSM or 17 HMR.

  • Jonathan

    I agree – something seems goofy with 3600fps out of a rim fire case.

  • Jonathan

    I agree – something seems goofy with 3600fps out of a rim fire case. Probably talking about the .17 centerfire hornet

  • r smith

    The top speed on my chronograph for 17 wsm was 2900 to 2950. the 17 hmr was 2500 to 2600. i remember the speeds, but don’t remember what grain of bullets I used. i have TO agree on the 3600 fps on a rimfire seems a bit fast.

  • Gio

    I think you’re dreaming . Get your cartridges correct . You might be talking about the 17 hornady hornet

  • T. Michael T.

    You should not be allowed to own firearms.

  • BlacktailShadow

    I’m going to come up with a new rimfire caliber that performs similarly to some existing center fire cartridge only it will cost 2-3 times more and you won’t be able to shoot it through an AR-15, or reload the spent cases. What a brilliant idea!
    Also, my new cartridge will cut into the production of existing rimfire ammunition, of which there is already a shortage.
    But, on the plus side, a very small handful of people that hunt coyotes at night and live in states with center fire restrictions will benefit greatly!
    Coming soon, the .17wtf

  • Craneplumb

    Is there going to be a nonleaded .17 round available to us in California?

  • Craneplumb

    .17 fireball?

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