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.


Ammo said...

This Gun looks great, having superb accuracy and cheapest ammo.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your honest detailed review. I have been looking for such a rifle and bought the 93R17 BTV and can hardly wait to give it a try at the range.

Unknown said...

Otis makes a good cleaning kit. It's still a pain in the ass to clean but I haven't broken any cleaning equipt. yet.

Atlas said...

Yeah I need really do need to invest in one of those Otis systems… broke another rod two weeks ago cleaning.

Doug B. said...

I really enjoyed your review. I bought one a few months ago and it's a great gun. Right out of the box I hit 1 1/2" groups at 50 yards. For cleaning I use a Tipton Deluxe Carbon Fiber Cleaning rod. It works pretty well with a patch and some Hoppes No. 9.

Atlas said...

Thanks for the comments Douglas and enjoy the Savage, great guns.

Unknown said...

Atlas, I'm considering buying the same gun, but in a LH version. Anyway, what scope do you have on yours?

Atlas said...

Sorry for the delayed response, blksn8k, for a scope I am currently using the Cabelas Brand 17 HMR Caliber Specific Rimfire Scope in 3x9. It is matched to go with a 17 grain bullet and makes adjustments very easy and trustworthy. Very happy with it, especially considering the cost.

Unknown said...

Not sure why some guys are breaking cleaning rods. Maybe cheap rods and too tight of a patch ?
I've found accuracy with the .17 HMR drops off after 60-70 rounds with out cleaning.
After cleaning, as the other poster said, 3 or 4 rounds to foul will get you back to optimum accuracy.