17HMR vs 22LR

17 HMR vs 22LR

In many ways, I’m a cheap, pragmatic hunter. If I can get the job done for much cheaper and at 90% of the performance, I’m good to go. When 17 HMR first came out, I remember thinking about how it was too expensive, and that the performance boost wasn’t worth it for gophers. For the most part, it still isn’t. If you have a really infested field that you’re working, 22 LR is much cheaper and easier on the ears. Where 17 HMR steps out is when you’re cleaning up and pickings are slim.

17 HMR vs 22 LR Trajectory

Let’s just cut straight to the point: you’re looking at 17 HMR to see if it’s worth the extra cost for the increase in distance. 22 LR is still lethal on small varmints out to 100 yards but at that range, it becomes difficult to land hits due to drop in ballistics. 22 LR is heavier and much slower than 17 HMR. Imagine dropping a 22 LR bullet from your hand, how far does it drop given time? That’s the majority of what we’re combating here: the 9.8m/s/s acceleration that planet Earth exerts. The faster your round hits the target, the less time that gravity’s constant acceleration has to pull down on the bullet. So a light, fast bullet can hit a close target faster than a heavy, slow bullet. Much farther out, a heavier bullet can carry more speed further, but let’s just keep things close while we’re talking about rimfire rifles.

Considering a hunting use, the best comparison between 22 LR and 17 HMR is MPBR. That is, how far can you aim on target and still hit game without compensating. It’s a great measure of how flat a particular cartridge shoots. Let’s be demanding and keep our acceptable MPBR (Maximum Point Blank Range) +/- 1.5″, which is a typical scope over bore height and a decent vertical target size for gophers. So let’s see how far 22LR and 17HMR shoot with those numbers. All numbers calculated using ShootersCalculator’s Point blank range.

  • In a light 31 grain 22LR, it’ll give us a workable range from 8-80 yards if zeroed 3.15″ low at 100 yards.
  • It’s practically the same in a heavier 40 grain loading, giving us 7-73 yards if zeroed 4.37″ low at 100 yards. (even though we’re changing our hold at 100 yards, this is still a fair comparison because we’re calculating for Maximum possible range of point blank yardage.
  • In 17 HMR, that’ll give us a workable range from 15-134 yards if zeroed 0.54″ high at 100 yards. That’s a great, usable range for things like gophers and about double the range that 22 LR gave us.
  • 17 Winchester Super Mag gives a better 18-166 yards if zeroed 0.72″ high at 100 yards. That’s 30 more yards of range; great if you come across game at those distances, but not as earth shattering of a difference as that between 17 HMR and 22 LR.

So what’s double the distance worth? If you’ve been shooting 22LR at small game around the 80-120 yard range, I’ll bet it’s worth a lot. Is it worth quadruple the price in ammunition? That’s a question only you can answer. For me, ammunition is only a small cost of shooting gophers compared to gas and maintaining connections and good will to be able to shoot on someone else’s land. For me, it also comes down to personal satisfaction. Am I satisfied missing the far gophers, and only cleaning up the ones that are closer because my rifle shoots bullets that are 20 cents cheaper? Absolutely not. I’ll pay the extra per round for the additional accuracy and range. I’ll pay the extra to confidently stretch my shots past 100 yards and not worry about drop. And I’ll pay for the extra damage that 17 HMR does on small game, because at the end of the day, I’m out shooting gophers for a purpose, and 17 HMR is just flat out better at that purpose than 22 LR. (for long range)

  • Lickmyjigglyballsack

    I use a 22lr marlin model 60 with anything from 36 grain HP to 40grain LRN and I pick off whistle pigs 10yards to 250 yards away. Sometimes it takes three rounds but thats only 15cents for a 250 yard kill. Its all about a quality scope and a quality firearm with a good shooter. Guess Drop, fire. Dropped low to the left? Correct and score the kill. I sight in about .025″ high at 50yards with 40grain LRN

  • I wish we had more groundhogs out here.

    The gophers (Richardson’s ground squirrels) we have in Northern Alberta are a lot smaller: 1/10th the weight of a typical groundhog, so they’re a lot harder to hit at 100+ yards. Many also just stick in their hole and only show a profile of their head, so shooting them is really unforgiving of ranging, wind, or precision errors. I’ve got some sample pictures here: http://www.huntinggearguy.com/hunting/alberta-gopher-shooting-may-2014/

  • dumbassreplies

    22LR gopher kill at 250 yards? Using what… a telescope? Piss off and leave valuable comments that are both constructive and realistic (like mine). Most guys spouting off about their 250 yard shots are guys that you take to the range and point out the 100 yard line and say hey, this range goes 300 yards!

  • robert

    When I was a child, my dad had a Springfield army 22 rifle. It had a scope. Being a tinkerer, I used to adjust the scope, and I was able to shoot his empty Schmidt beer cans at 50 to 300 yards.
    I would set up a rest, set the the scope, pull the trigger, wait…… the can would fall, I would wait….. tink… the sound of the bullet hit would get back to me.

  • suckitpast100

    You’re full of cr@p shooting out to 250 yards. I was at the range yesterday, and could literally see the .22 bullets arcing into the target at 100 yards. I can’t see a humane kill at 250 yards. Stop trolling and go practice.

  • Another Robert

    Saw this video the other day about some guys seeing how far out they could accurately shoot a 22lr https://youtu.be/2dn-bqyMkfs.

    From what I remember, they could get on target from 500 yards out, but they had to do some serious compensation for the drop.

  • Chase A.

    Well as far as I can tell .17HMR is still only made by hornady thus the price problems this also speaks to lack of availability.I live in ALABAMA so unless I am at a military target range the chance of needing the range boost allowed by the .17HMR is about the same as winning the lottery only buying 1 ticket per year. 17HMR is expensive like in the neighborhood of $15per box of 50.ok $15 won’t break the bank but for $25 I can get 500 rounds of .22lr and only afew companies make rifles in 17HMR and those guns ARE expensive $1500-$2500.I can pick up a used marlin model 60 in perfect condition for $100 all day long call it $150 for a new scope and rings.Come on people this is a varmint gun and a varmint or small game calliber it needs to be cheap most states have bag limits for rabbit and squirrel at 8 so thats 3 productive days plus enough to.sight in a scope for $15 plus the price.of the rifle…whereas $25 plus the price of the rifle gives you the whole season plus plenty of plinking at cans or targets.one day 17HMR may replace the .22lr but not until more companies make it and every manufacturer is making rifles for it.

  • Chase A., I’ve bought 17HMR from CCI and Winchester. The Winchester stuff cracked cases pretty bad.

    I don’t think 17 is a good replacement for 22 as a plinking cartridge but for small game where you need hits further out, it’s way better.

  • shanon5760000

    WOW!! I don’t know what stores your looking at that sell .17HMR’s between $1500 to $2500. I spent $350.00 Canadian on a Savage .17HMR. I can tell you what you can get for $1500 to $2500
    Semi Auto Shotguns, Semi Auto Rifles and any .50 Cal Rifle that’s pinned for one $7.00-$10.00 bullet in Canada depending where you get your ammo.

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