September 23, 2010
By Joel J Hutchcroft
Flawless functioning combined with 1/2 MOA accuracy at 50 yards make the Model 171M2 a great little autoloader
By Joel Hutchcroft
You never know how a gun review is going to turn out until it's finished. Sometimes projects run smoothly from start to finish. Other times they start out slick but get sticky somewhere along the way. Well, my review of Marlin's brand-new .17 Mach2 Model 717M2 semiautomatic rifle started out rough but ended up really smooth.
Shooting Marlin's new Model 717M2 semiautomatic rifle chambered for the .17 Mach2 rimfire cartridge demonstrated that it functions flawlessly and is capable of half-inch accuracy at 50 yards.
This project was green-lighted when Wayne Holt and Steve Johnson of Hornady contacted Shooting Times to see if we wanted to get our hands on one of the very first Marlin autoloaders chambered for the .17 Mach2 rimfire cartridge. ST readers want to read the most up-to-date information on the newest guns, so we jumped at the chance to get the exclusive report on this new rifle. The guys at Hornady had been shooting the rifle extensively during their testing of .17 M2 ammunition, but they were willing to send it to us for a few days. And that's where things started to get rough.
The gun arrived at our Peoria offices in good time, but when I opened the well-packed box, I saw a huge crack along the wrist area of the rifle's stock. I made a quick call to Hornady and informed Johnson and Holt that the stock had been damaged in transit. This was during the Christmas/New Year's holiday season, and I was afraid that getting a replacement stock for the new rifle might be difficult. My fears were unwarranted because Holt was able to contact a Marlin technician and a new stock arrived in just a matter of days. I quickly removed the broken stock and installed the new one. There was still a matter of inspecting and shooting the gun and then getting it back to Hornady in a short window of time, but barring any further complications it was doable. Well, I guess Bill Jordan's "Red Gods" were smiling on me because I was able to spend a fair amount of time at the range with the new Model 717M2 last January, and while it was bitterly cold, wind and snow posed no problems. As you can see from the accompanying chart and target photograph, the rifle turned in excellent accuracy. But before I get into detailing those results, let's take a close look at the Model 717M2.
Full Of Fine Features
The Model 717M2 is described by Marlin (Dept. ST, 100 Kenna Dr., North Haven, CT 06473; 203-239-5621; www.marlinfirearms.com) as a brand-new design, which is reflected in the sleek new shape of the gun's receiver, but in operation it is very similar to the .22-caliber Marlin Model 795. It is a blowback autoloader with side ejection, automatic last-shot bolt hold-open, manual bolt hold-open, and a crossbolt safety.
The Model 717M2 has an 18-inch sporter barrel, Monte Carlo-style hardwood stock with full pistol grip, seven-round detachable magazine, and adjustable sights. Overall length is 37 inches; weight unloaded is five pounds. The .17-caliber barrel has four grooves and a right-hand twist rate of one turn in nine inches. The receiver is grooved for scope mounts, and the suggested retail price is $264.
Of course, turning a .22-caliber semiautomatic into one that shoots the .17-caliber Mach2 cartridge is more complicated than simply switching barrels. Manufacturers have spent a lot of time studying and testing the gas pressure-bolt weight relationship for semiautomatics chambered for the new .17 Mach2. Some of the earliest prototype guns have been scratched simply because getting them to function 100 percent of the time has been difficult.
If the Model 717M2 I shot for this review is any indication, Marlin has the situation pegged. I fired this rifle more than 200 times with Hornady's 17-grain V-Max loading without cleaning it and had absolutely no malfunctions. And the rounds I put through it were on top of all the shooting Hornady had already done with it before I received it.
Marlin Model 717M2
.17 Mach2 Semiautomatic Rifle
|Caliber:||17 Mach 2|
|Barrel Length:||18 inches|
|Overall Length:||37 inches|
|Weight, empty||5 pounds|
|Sights:||Adjustable rear; ramp front|
|Stock:||Monte Carlo-style hardwood|
|Magazine Capacity:||7 rounds|
|Finish:||Blued metal; Mar-Shield wood|
While the hours I spent with this gun were compressed into a few consecutive days rather than spreading it out over a few weeks as I usually do when reviewing a gun for Shooting Times, I spent several hours carrying it around my house and office (yes, my wife thinks I'm a little bit too wrapped up in my job), removing the broken stock and replacing it with a new one, and shooting it for a full afternoon at the range--both from the bench for accuracy and velocity and also rapid-fire offhand, shooting at beverage cans. I am impressed with the Model 717M2.
During accuracy testing, I fired five five-round strings from a benchrest at 50 yards. The individual strings measured 1.00, 0.75, 0.50, 0.50, and 0.50 inch. The overall average accuracy was 0.65 inch. I can't explain the largest group other than it took me a bit of shooting to get used to the rifle's trigger, but once I settled down, I consistently fired half-inch groups. I chronographed 25 rounds 15 feet from the rifle's muzzle, and the average was 1996 fps.
Then I spent a fair amount of time shooting at, and hitting, empty soda pop cans. I have shot up a lot of beverage cans with rimfires over the years, and I just can't get enough of that kind of fun shooting. After shooting the Marlin Model 717M2 in this manner, I'm good for a few more weeks.
|Shooting Marlin's .17M2 Model 717M2|
|Factory Load||Muzzle Velocity (fps)||Standard Deviation (fps)||Extreme Spread (fps)||50-yard Accuracy (inches)|
|Hornady 17-gr. V-Max||1996||48||177||0.65|
|NOTES: Accuracy is the average of five five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 50 yards. Velocity is the average of 25 rounds measured 15 feet from the gun's muzzle.|
Overall, the Model 717M2 is a great little autoloader. The trigger was a bit mushy (pull weight averaged 5.75 pounds for five measurements using my RCBS Trigger Pull Gauge), but 100-percent functioning combined with half-inch accuracy at 50 yards make this gun a winner. And it would have been a keeper except for the simple fact that those guys at Hornady had to have it back.