Savage 93R17 BTVS .17 HMR Gun Review

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 , 9 Comments

The Savage 93R17 BTVS chambered in .17 HMR (Hornady Magnum Rimfire), is one sweet little firearm. I have had this rifle for three years, put hundreds of rounds through it and thought it was about time to do a review. I bought it after selling my Remington 700 .223. I don't wish to speak negatively about the Remington 700, it is a proven and reliable firearm, but for my purposes it just didn't cut it and being a college student I don't have the funds to put the additional money into a gun that would need substantial work. My primary purpose in a rifle is target shooting 100 - 200 yards, and on the Remington I would have had to glass bed the action and have the trigger worked on. I just didn't want to put that kind of time and effort into the gun. In seeking a stock rifle and caliber to meet my needs I found almost exactly what I wanted in the Savage. My requirements in a stock rifle were: bull floating barrel, light and easily adjustable trigger, proven accurate caliber, and bedded bolt action. The only requirement this gun does not meet is the action is not bedded. However, since it fires a rimfire cartridge I find this acceptable for the moment. When I am on my game I can typically shoot 1 MOA from a bipod and 1/2" MOA from sandbags. I am sure if I were shooting from a vice this would improve further, however I find the most enjoyment and challenge in shooting from a bipod. 

A brief note on the caliber. The .17 HMR is a rimfire cartridge developed by Hornady and introduced in 2002: with assistance from Marlin and Remington. Originally thought up by wildcatters, the cartridge is a take off the .22 Magnum. In developing the HMR designers sought a caliber which would extend the range, be impacted less by the wind, and have a flatter trajectory than the .22 Magnum. Maximum effective range for most accomplished shooters will be 250 yards with appropriate glass. Out of rimfire cartridges the .17 HMR is by far the most accurate from a rifle. 

I have really been impressed with Savage Arms over the years, having fired several--they seem dedicated to accuracy, with distinct lines dedicated to Target Shooters. I know that on some forums individuals have badmouthed Savage, however most of this can be attributed to the old Savage Arms. A few years ago they came under ownership and they have really put an emphasis on quality. Two of their biggest innovations have been the option of an Accutrigger (a hairpin light trigger that is easily adjustable), and the Accustock (a bedded action) straight from the factory. 

The specs on the gun itself. Stock it comes with an 21" floating bull barrel, 5 round magazine, accutrigger, 2 lb trigger pull, wood stock, right hand trigger rest, and weights 7.5 lbs. It is an incredibly accurate gun, negligible recoil, and fun to shoot. I have tried 15, 17, and 20 grain bullets in hollow point, FMJ, and polymer tip from the following manufactures: Winchester, CCI, and Hornady. I was very disappointed with CCI's ammo, less so by Winchester, and impressed with Hornady. All feed well but for accuracy I found none come close to the Hornady V-Max 17 grain in a polymer tip. It is all I use anymore. 

I only have a few criticisms of the gun: First it is not glass bedded. For those unfamiliar with what glass bedding adds to the firearm, I will offer a brief explanation. Most actions are bolted to the stock, this puts pressure points on the action which can shift over time and affect accuracy. Glass bedding connects the action to the stock with fiberglass. This eliminates pressure points and greatly reduces the likelihood that the action will shift. As this is a rimfire and therefore is loaded much lighter then centerfire cartridges I am ok with this for the moment: have not noticed a change in accuracy over time, but still may bed it in the future. Secondly, the magazine has a reputation of ejecting all 5 rounds in a jack in the box manner when loading it into the action. This is very frustrating. However, it was also an incredibly easy fix. If your gun does this simply lightly squeeze together the top of the magazine with some needlenose pliers. After I did this I had no more problems. Finally, a critique not of the rifle itself but of cleaning any .17 HMR. It sucks and is a pain in the ass. Because of the small diameter jamming a cleaning rod into the barrel is difficult and without care you can easily bed or break your rod. So far I have gone through three. I am currently exploring various brands and hope to find one less apt to bend or break. A boresnake obviously does not carry this same risk, but I find a cleaning rod does a better job cleaning the rifle. However, again this is not a critique of the rifle as it itself is easy to maintain but with the small diameter of any .17 caliber barrel. One final note on cleaning. After cleaning I have found that it takes 3-5 rounds to break the gun back into its typical accuracy. 

If you are looking for a gun that is very accurate out of the box, reliable, negligible recoil, I would look no further. This gun looks good, shoots more accurately than I can, has relatively cheap ammo, and is a blast on any range. I am very happy with this rifle and am certain to hold onto it as a part of my permanent collection. 

*Final notes: MSRP has gone up since I purchased it and is now $470. I can usually find Hornady 17 grain V-Max @ $13 for 50 rounds. You can now purchase a 10 round magazine for this rifle from Savage. Also, since posting, I have done additional testing on various .17 HMR rounds, the results are here.


Travis Takes Up Angling

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 1 Comments

Recently a friend of mine, Travis, just started fishing. I took him to Cabela's and helped him pick out a spinning outfit. He ended up getting a Medium-Light 7' Triumph Series St. Croix rod and a Shimano Sienna reel: all for around $100. Took him out to Clinton Lake a few weeks ago and he landed two very nice fish: hopefully signs of great angling in the future. 

Travis's first fish ever: 1 1/4 lb White Bass on Rattletrap. 

Travis's second fish: a really nice Smallmouth Bass, by far the biggest I have ever seen taken out of Clinton Lake. Good Job Travis!


Thanksgiving Fishing

Monday, December 03, 2012 , 3 Comments

This is a few weeks late but I went fishing at Lake Shawnee in Topeka hoping to catch some Rainbow Trout on Thanksgiving. It was my third attempt there in two years and I remain skunked on trout there. I must have a curse with that place. I did have a hookup, with what would have been the largest rainbow of my life, he of course broke off within seconds. I primarily used Wooly Buggers but switched to some nymph patterns temporarily but only caught shad. Oh well perhaps next time. I did catch a few Bluegill, Wiper, a Crappie and a Largemouth so I still had a good time and you couldn't beat the weather. Here are the pictures: nothing too sexy. 


Muskie Tattoo

Sunday, November 11, 2012 0 Comments

I have meant to post this for some time but keep pushing it to the back burner. Anyhow, approximately a year ago I got a Muskie tattoo on my left shoulder. Muskie are one of, if not my favorite fish species. The rarity, demand for pristine water, and cultural reverence surrounding this fish is compelling. Not to mention their personality which seemingly alternates between curiosity as they follow your lure to unrestrained aggression.  I have spent hours fishing for these elusive predators and have only hooked up on a few occasions--each a memory I will carry with me for my lifetime. 

The tattoo was designed by my friend and artist Erin Bratzler and inked by Carrie at Big Daddy Cadillac Tattoo in Lawrence, KS. 

The original design and artwork. 

While I don't have a picture of the tattoo directly as implemented on myself. This picture shows its placement decently well. 


Hiking Kansas: Kanopolis, Mushroom Rock, Sand Hills, and Clinton State Parks

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 , 10 Comments

My tent was feeling lonely and I was restless and overwhelmed with school and so last weekend I loaded up  my tent, picked up a friend, and headed west for a two day camping and hiking trip. The main goal was Horsethief Canyon in Kanopolis State Park and hit some smaller parks along the way. Unfortunately, despite the incredibly low lake level at Kanopolis, the resident beavers were innovative enough to flood the hiking trails--making our journey to Horsethief Canyon impossible on foot--as wet wading would have been reckless with falling temperatures approaching freezing. Regardless it was a beautiful hike and I plan on returning within the next year to complete the journey to the canyon when warmer temperatures will allow for a more responsible crossing. Sunday, we left Kanopolis and briefly hit Kansas's smallest state park, Mushroom Rock, before hiking Sand Hills. Upon returning to Lawrence we made a brief stop at Clinton State Park to check out the waterfall. Overall, temperatures were a little on the brisk side, but it was good to get outside, take some photos, and enjoy the diverse Kansas landscape. 


Professional Walleye Guide Reed Ylitalo

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 2 Comments

Check out this Youtube video of my friend Reed Ylitalo showcasing his guide business in Northern Minnesota, Wings and Walleyes. I personally have used Reed's services several times and have always been impressed by his ability to put clients on fish, his attitude, and professionalism. You will come away having learned new skills and an enjoyable time in the boat. If you are in the Grand Rapids area check out Wings and Walleyes. For more information, check out his link in the section "Guides I Recommend". 


White and Norfork Rivers

Saturday, October 13, 2012 , , 4 Comments

My cousin Tom and I headed to Arkansas this past weekend to join the Free State Fly Fishing Club for their annual fall Conclave trip. We fished Saturday, Sunday, and a portion of Monday on both the White and Norfork Rivers. I had never fished the Norfork but I know both Tom and I came away very impressed and probably prefer it to the White River. Fishing on the White was somewhat slow and we never got the low water we were hoping for, with the dam oscillating between 1-2 units throughout the entire weekend. However, not to be discouraged, I brought my kayak, was able to bypass inconsistencies in water levels, and covered a lot of water on the White while floating the entire Norfork. 

Saturday was slow and wet. It rained off and on all day, water was uncooperative, and it was cold. Normally under balmy conditions you hope the fishing will at least make up for it, however this was not the case and fish were hard to come by for most everyone in the club. Tom and I waded for most of the morning and floated from the Dam to Gaston's in the afternoon. I caught one on a pink San Juan and another 3 on Hare's Ears. 

Tom received an early morning casting lesson from Ron prior to hitting the White. 

Geared up and ready to go. 

View of the White River from our Cabin. 

They didn't start off too big the first day. 

But they got bigger... 18 inch Rainbow on Hare's Ear. 

Day two Tom and I floated the Norfork from the dam to its confluence with the White River. I was very impressed. With only two access points over 4 miles, it was much less crowded and intimate feeling then the White and often Tom and I were the only two on the river for long stretches at a time. It also helped that I caught my first Cutthroat of my life on a dry, and we took for Browns--always a moral booster. The only thing we miscalculated was the time it would take to float the entire river before nightfall. There were far too many enticing riffles and otherwise great fishable waters to simply hurry our trip, needless to say we didn't get off the water until long after dark. 

Tom started the day off well with a solid brown, Zebra Midge. 

Following Tom's lead I found this Brown just below his. Hare's Ear. 

Tom picked up another beautiful Brown.

Several portions of the Norfork required a portage. 

Taken in just a few inches of water, from the riffles. Crystal Zebra Midge. 

This fish was exactly where he was supposed to be. Just above the confluence of two current lines. You have to love when fish cooperate. 

Beautiful Rainbow. Again in some riffles. From personal observation I have found flashier midge and nymph patterns to be highly effective when fishing turbulent water. 

Unexpected catch and a new species for the life list. Northern Hogsucker. 

This was supposed to be a picture of my first Cutthroat, however just as we were to take the picture he slipped out of my hands... I am still kicking myself. Caught on a BWO. 14"

My second Brown of the trip. 

Tom casting to an uncooperative big 'bow. Though he picked up several mid-size Rainbows in the area. 

Chunky Rainbow. Zebra Midge. 

As night fell, we found it difficult to leave this spot. Happened upon a hatch and the Rainbow's were eager to cooperate. I picked up several on a Yellow Stimulator. 

The final day we didn't fish too long as we needed to head back to Kansas, but borrowed the boat from Copper John's resort and spent some time at the trophy area below Bull Shoals Dam. That is until the water stopped cooperating... 

Fall is just starting to show up on the White. 

Throwing line. 

Tom's last fish of the trip, and his biggest Rainbow. For someone who hasn't fly fished much, he did really well and greatly improved his skill over the course of three days. 

Tom's release. 

My last fish of the trip, I was hoping for something a tad bigger but can't complain much considering what a beautiful day it was. 

As I mentioned they unexpectedly dropped the water on us, allowing me to play Theodore Tugboat back to the boat ramp.