Why buy a Savage B17? Half of the Fieldsports Channel audience (who own a rimfire) own the Czech-made CZ/Brno rimfires – check out our rimfire research.
However, drill down those numbers and you find that the Czech rifles are getting elderly in the hands of our viewers (the average age of the rimfires you own is more than 12 years).
Today’s rimfire buyer is looking for innovation. That’s where Savage sets out its stall.
The Savage B17 is designed around the wonderful .17HMR cartridge, brought out by Hornady in 2002 and now so widely adopted it is knocking on the door of the old .22LR for popularity. Savage also delivers its world-beating AccuTrigger in the B17.
A clutch of B17s:
Up until recently, Fieldsports Channel viewers have tended to choose the Savage 93R series, rather than the B series.
Viewer Jens from Germany is one of the new B17 owners. He bought it less than five years ago for under £500. He gives it five stars (out of five) for fit, accuracy, looks, reliability, value for money and customer service. He shoots Hornady V-Max through it.
Another viewer comments on YouTube: “It’s a tack driver. I have the SS bull barrel with a scope. Ammo is reasonably priced and plentiful (during normal times). All of that makes this one of my favorites to shoot when I can wrestle it away from my daughter.”
He adds: “FYI, the Butler Creek A17 25-round magazine will work on the B17 with a little bit of grinding.”
The B17 may not be as good-looking as a Ruger 77/17, but it has Savage solidity. You can park it on the bonnet of your car and pick off rabbits on the other side of the field with it.
Perhaps a good question to ask yourself is whether you want the B17, designed with the hunter in mind, or one of those popular 93R17 rifles, designed with accuracy as its main aim (main aim – geddit?).
The 93R17 rifles are part of what Savage calls its ‘Magnum Series’. Also in .17HMR, they tend to have longer barrels and smaller magazines than the B17s, and stocks better-suited to target-rifle shooters. Here are the similarities and differences between the B17 (for simplicity, we will call them ‘B’) and 93R17 (‘R’) rifles:
- Action: Both are bolt-actions and both come in left and righthanded versions. The R rifles have Savage’s BVSSTB action, a tubular form with near mid-mounted bolt handle.
- Stock: More of the R rifles have laminate stocks than non-laminate. And they offer thumbhole stocks, too. The basic B rifle has a straight injection-moulded synthetic stock, with a plastic butt (though there is a laminate stock version, the B17 BNS-SR). That plasticky look makes the B more of a knockabout rifle than the R version.
- Safety catch: It’s at the side of the action on the R rifle and behind the action on the B rifle.
- Trigger unit: Both rifles have the AccuTrigger which has a clean, crisp and predictable trigger let-off coupled with a foolproof safety feature, as well as the distinctive Glock-style safety blade inset on the trigger blade. Best of all, you can adjust the trigger from 1½lb to 6lb weight.
- Magazine: The R rifle comes with a five- or nine-shot detachable stainless-steel magazine, compared to the B rifle’s standard ten-round polymer mag. All Savage rimfires have an awkward magazine release button.
- Barrel: The R rifle tends to have longer barrels, around the 20¾in mark, and stainless steel. The B rifle comes with a 16½in-18in heavy barrel. Both have a 1:9 twist. Most .17HMR barrels are either 1:9 or 1:10 twist.
- Weight: Both rifles weigh between 5½lb to 6½lb.
Just for comparison, what does the 93R17 look like?
How about reliability? The actions of new rimfires will not let you down, and Savage has an excellent reputation. Plus it is known for its triggers and its barrels, the two things every rimfire buyer should looking for in a new rifle.
The B17 is game chef and deer manager Mike Robinson’s favourite .17HMR rifle. Rifles are as much tool of the trade for Mike as knives and chopping boards. He serves a lot of rabbit in his British restaurants, the Pot Kiln and the Harwood Arms.
“The .17HMR is my go-to calibre for rabbits,” he says. “It’s good for hares too, although we don’t shoot a lot of those now, just when someone has too many on a piece of ground and we’ll take a few. I also use the .17HMR for getting rid of rats around my chickens,” Mike adds.
“The rifle I use is a Savage B17. It’s a tiny, compact, super-light and accurate little rifle. I absolutely love it,” he continues. “It’s got all the features that I like about Savage rifles, like the thumb safety and the Accutrigger. It’s a nice little bolt too.”
Mike finds the Savage B17 is handy and pops in the car easily, even when it’s fitted with a moderator – and with the moderator fitted it makes very little noise. “Plus it really is super accurate,” adds Mike. “I can put all my shots in a half inch group at 75 yards.
“The .17HMR has that bit of extra reach over a .22, which is a big help when we’re shooting on fields that are maybe 20, 30, even 50 acres. It can be hard to get within a range of 50 yards or so, which is where the .22 really excels. With this rifle, so long as a rabbit is within 70 or 80 yards, with a good pair of sticks I can be confident of hitting it in the head.”
The .17HMR wins on knock-down power too Mike says. “A rabbit never runs off if you hit it properly with a .17, it’s game over.
Mike recommends the Savage B17 .17HMR. “It’s great value for money, and like all the Savage rifles it’s built simply and well. It’s a great gun and I love it.”
Priced from around £575, find out more at EdgarBrothers.com