One Classy Rimfire

One Classy Rimfire

Savage's 93R17 Classic.

I wasn't sure what to make of the diminutive .17 HMR when I first read the press releases, but any questions I had about its usefulness disappeared the first time I fired it. I was able to smack rocks way out there, and it got there a lot faster than my old .22 Magnum. Plus, it was devastating on Texas-sized jackrabbits.

I've fired all sorts of .17 HMRs over the years. From heavy-barreled varmint rigs to lightweight lever guns, I've shot them all. They all have their good points, but when it comes to pretty, the subject of this review--Savage's 93R17--is tough to beat.

The heart of the 93R17 is its tubular receiver. Tubular receivers are easy and economical to build, which is how Savage makes such a pretty gun so inexpensive. And tubular receivers sacrifice nothing in terms of accuracy and reliability.

The rimfire's bolt has no locking lugs. Instead, lockup is via the root of the bolt handle's fit into the corresponding cutout in the rear of the receiver. Two small extractor hooks--one on each side of the boltface--pull fired cases from the chamber. The fixed ejector rides in a cutout in the bottom of the bolt and spits the empties out the ejection port.

The 93R17's two-position safety is located in the usual spot, just behind the ejection port. Forward is "Fire," and rearward is "Safe." The lever on my rifle engaged positively yet was smooth and easy to operate. The safety does not lock the bolt, which is something I like because that allows me to load and unload the rifle with the safety on.

A detachable, five-round magazine of stamped steel feeds the 93R17. The magazine juts about 0.35 inch below the rifle. The magazine release lever, which is just behind the magazine, protrudes a quarter-inch more. The magazine fed flawlessly and was a snap to load, though I would gladly sacrifice a round of capacity for a sleeker, flush-mounted design.

My test 93R17 Classic's stock is a pretty one. The classic design is carved from a very attractive piece of walnut, and decent checkering and an ebony fore-end tip round out the cosmetics.

Savage's superb AccuTrigger is standard. Mine came set from the factory at a very clean 2.5 pounds. That is right at the minimum of its adjustment range, which Savage gives as 2.5 to 6 pounds.

The 93R17 comes with a 24-inch, sporter-weight barrel that measures 0.568 inch at the muzzle. As with all Savage rifles, the barrel is button-rifled in-house, and its crown is recessed to protect it from accuracy-robbing dings and scratches.

The recoil lug is dovetailed to the underside of the barrel just ahead of the front-most action screw, and it is held in place with a setscrew. The round, steel lug fits into a matching recess in the stock, as do the two action-screw pillars. Like the AccuTrigger and button-rifled barrel, the recoil-lug design is proof that this rimfire was purpose-built for accuracy.

Weaver-style scope bases are standard, and I used a set of Warne rings to mount a well-used, sleek, little Leupold 2-7X scope on my review rifle. That outfit gave me all the confidence I needed to really wring out the 93R17's accuracy.

The 93R17's bolt has no locking lugs. Instead, the root of the bolt handle locks up in a cutout in the tubular receiver. The 93R17's magazine fed flawlessly, but Greg thinks it protrudes from the bottom of the rifle a bit much. That is his only complaint about the 93R17. Greg says Savage's AccuTrigger is a darn-good factory trigger. The 93R17's trigger is adjustable from 2.5 to 6 pounds of pull.

The 93R17's recoil lug is dovetailed into the underside of the barrel and held in place with a setscrew. The lug fits into a corresponding recess in the stock. Greg used his well-worn Leupold 2-7X scope on the 93R17 for the accuracy evaluation.

Deadly Accurate
It's hard to find a windless day on the Texas Gulf Coast, which isn't a bad thing considering how hot it can get. But that relief comes with a price when testing little guns. And that wind wasn't kind to the tiny 17-grain projectiles I test-fired in the Savage rimfire. Consequently, I did the bulk of my accuracy work at 50 yards.

I've had good luck in terms of accuracy and varmint-busting performance with plastic-tipped 17-grain loads from Federal, Hornady, and Remington, so I stuck with those proven loads for evaluating the 93R17.

As you can see by the accompanying accuracy results chart, all three loads were very similar. The difference in average velocity was a scant 23 fps from the fastest to the slowest loads, and all three averaged under 1 inch for five shots at 50 yards. Federal's V-Max load was the most accurate of the trio, though Hornady's version was a bit faster and not far behind in the accuracy department.

Savage 93R17
Model: 93R17 Classic
Purpose: Varmint, target
Manufacturer:Savage Arms
118 Mountain Rd.
Suffield, CT 06078
Action type: bolt-action
Operation: turn-bolt
Magazine type/capacity: detachable box/five rounds
Receiver material: steel
Caliber: .17 HMR
Barrel length: 24 in.
Rifling: six grooves; 1:9 RH twist
Sights: none; receiver is drilled and tapped scope mounts
Metal finish: High luster blue
Safties: trigger disconnect; sear block
Trigger type: Savage AccuTrigger
Pul Weight: Adjustable; 2.5 lbs (as tested)
Stock material/type: walnut/sporter style with ebony fore-end tip
Stock finish: Matte
Drop at heel: 1.63 in.
Drop at comb: 0.72 in.
Length of pull: 13.5 in.
Checkering: cut-checkering on fore-end and pistol grip
Pistol grip cap: black
Recoil pad: one inch black rubber
Sling studs/swivels: fixed swivel studs
Weight, empty: 6.5 lbs.
Overall length: 42.25 in.
Accessories: owners manual, safety lock one detachable magazine
MSRP: $534

At 100 yards, the test rifle showed flashes of brilliance. Some groups measured well under 1 inch for three shots, but five-shot groups averaged 1.5 to 2 inches. Gusting right-to-left winds were the culprit, as every spoiler landed left of the group.

I am quite certain that on a calmer day, the 100-yard accuracy would be much better, and that 50-yard accuracy would knock your socks off. However, a half-inch here or there didn't make a difference when it came to engaging random rocks and clay pigeons out to 120 yards. In those real-world situations, the Classic's great trigger and comfortable stock made it downright deadly.

I enjoyed shooting Savage's 93R17 Classic. The bolt was smooth, the trigger was crisp, everything worked as it should, and it shot really well. But what impressed me most was its "real rifle" feel, which I attribute to its sporter-weight barrel and classic stock. That high comb, slender fore-end, and slight muzzle-heavy feel combine to make the little rimfire point and handle like a rifle rather than a toy. I give it high marks. It is an affordable, accurate rifle with All-American good looks.

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