Savage A17 17 HMR Semi-Automatic Rifle

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 7th, 2015


Click pictures for a larger version.







Charging handle (top), bolt latch (center), crossbolt safety (bottom).





Barrel is free-floated its entire length.



Explosive power of the 17 HMR cartridge is shown in these impact photos of a can of creamed corn (top) and a can of "spam" (bottom). Range is 25 yards.



A pair of factory-installed 51S bases were used for mounting scope.



A lug locks into the receiver to lock the breech block at the instant of firing to delay bolt movement.







Disassembly for cleaning is simple and easy.





Savage Arms has a relatively new semi-automatic rifle that has been on the market for a couple of months. It is chambered for the 17 HMR cartridge, and it appears that they got it right. Semi-autos have been chambered for magnum rimfires before, with some being more successful than others. Instead of just adding weight to the bolt and a heavier spring to control bolt opening in a blowback rifle, the Savage A17 has a delayed blowback action, allowing the use of a relatively light-weight bolt, and an easy-to-operate recoil spring. The charging handle is attached to the right side of the bolt, and is large enough for easy operation, even while wearing gloves.

The problem with some blowback rimfire rifles that are chambered for the 17 HMR cartridge is that the bolt opens too soon, creating a potentially dangerous situation, which at best sprays powder and gasses out the ejection port, and could even result in a case blowout. Savage solves the problem by using a delayed-blowback design in which a locking lug protrudes upward from the hard-chromed steel bolt to lock into the steel receiver at the instant of firing, then releasing to allow the bolt to move rearward, ejecting the empty cartridge case. The bolt returns forward under spring pressure to chamber another cartridge, if one is present in the magazine. The bolt does not lock to the rear on an empty magazine, but a manual bolt latch is positioned on the bottom of the rifle, just forward of the trigger guard. The system works very well, and helps to hold down the weight of the rifle, as opposed to using a heavier bolt. The bolt is also very easy to operate manually to chamber a cartridge from the magazine. The A17 rifle weighs in at five pounds, ten ounces on my scale,  including the empty magazine.

The Savage A17 rifle wears a tapered twenty-two inch button-rifled barrel which measures 1.01 inch at the receiver and tapers to 0.6 inch at the muzzle. Both the barrel and the receiver wear a polished blued finish. The receiver is fitted with a pair of scope bases at the factory. The stock, trigger guard, and magazine are made of a matte black polymer. The stock is fitted with a synthetic rubber butt pad and two steel sling swivel studs. The barrel is generously free-floated its entire length. The magazine is of rotary design, and holds ten rounds of 17 HMR ammunition. The trigger is the excellent Savage AccuTrigger, and is user-adjustable. The trigger on the sample rifle adjusted down to just a hair over two and one-half pounds, and is easily adjusted with the tool provided, without removing the action from the stock. The magazine snaps securely into the bottom of the stock, fitting flush and matching the stock contour for a comfortable carry in the field. The safety is a crossbolt design, pushing from right to left to disengage.

I checked velocities of every type of 17 HMR ammunition that I had available to me. Chronograph readings were taken at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle of the Savage rifle. The air temperature hovered around the sixty-eight degree Fahrenheit mark with humidity in the seventy-six percent range. The range elevation at the shooting bench is 541 feet above sea level. Bullet weights are listed in grains. HP is a hollowpoint bullet.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Hornady XTP HP 20 2482
CCI TNT HP 17 2571
Winchester Gamepoint HP 20 2526
CCI A17 Tipped 17 2719

For accuracy testing, I set up targets at one hundred yards, and mounted my Leupold 8.5 to 25 power Mark 4 scope, with the magnification set to maximum power. The rifle was rested securely in a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 500 rifle rest with leather bags front and rear. I fired three-shot groups on target, with several groups fired using each type of ammunition. Accuracy varied from not-so-good to superb, depending upon the ammunition. Pictured are representative groups fired with each type of ammo, and the best and worst groups fired with the new CCI A17 ammunition. Accuracy was excellent with the A17 ammo, which is a testament to the quality of the rifle and the consistency of the ammunition. My other ammo was from older lots, but has been stored in a temperature-controlled room for probably four or more years. The Hornady and Winchester ammo was fairly consistent, but nothing like as consistent as the A17 ammunition. The CCI TNT HP ammo had a lot of variation, with more than 185 feet-per-second (fps) velocity difference between the low and high velocities, resulting in poor accuracy. The A17 ammo was very consistent, with an extreme spread of  only 24.35 fps, and a standard deviation of only 13.15. The A17 ammunition also turned in the highest velocities, and the best accuracy in this rifle, by far. The largest group fired at 100 yards with the A17 ammunition measured 1.125 inches, and the smallest group fired measured only 0.125 inch.

I was informed that older ammunition might not have sufficient power to reliably cycle the bolt on the A17 rifle, but that was not the case with this particular Savage A17. The A17 rifle was one hundred percent reliable. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The magazine loaded easily to full capacity.

The Savage A17 rifle is a very good choice for those looking for a semi-auto 17 HMR rifle. It allows for a faster rate of fire than does a bolt action, and allows the shooter to remain on target between shots, for a quick follow-up, if needed. The 17 HMR cartridge has always been a devastating little cartridge for use on small vermin, and the new A17 ammo makes it even more so. As of the date of this review, the suggested retail price of the Savage A17 rifle is $465 US. The A17 rifle is accurate, affordable, built right, and built in the USA. I like it.

For more details and specifications on the Savage A17 rifle, go to

For the location of a Savage dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the A17 online, click on the GUN GENIE at

To order quality 17 HMR ammunition, go to and

Jeff Quinn

Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.

Click pictures for a larger version.





Savage's adjustable AccuTrigger.



Ten-shot rotary magazine.



Target Shooting, Inc. rifle rest.



Left to right: CCI A17, Winchester Gamepoint, CCI TNT, Hornady XTP.



Groups represent accuracy achieved at 100 yards.