• Savage A17 Semi-Automatic Rimfire Rifle Review

    Ever since the 17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire (HMR) hit the scene in 2002 shooters have been clamoring for someone to offer it in a semi-automatic rifle. Several aftermarket companies tried to come up with a workable solution for existing models, and Remington attempted to offer a model using their 597 platform, but all of them either never came to fruition or were plagued with problems and ultimately recalled by the manufacturer.

    That may be changing though as Savage Arms introduced an all new semi-automatic rimfire rifle at the 2015 SHOT Show dubbed the A17 that was specifically designed from the ground up to safely and reliably cycle the 17 HMR cartridge. This new rifle from Savage Arms uses a hesitation-style delayed blowback system originally designed by John Pedersen in 1917 for the Remington Model 51 pistol. The SIG MKMO sub-machine gun also uses this type of delayed blowback system, as does Remington’s new R51 pistol.

    The A17 features a billet steel receiver, chrome-moly steel bolt, and a 1-9” twist 22-inch sporter weight barrel measuring about 5/8-inches at the muzzle. The barrel is attached to the action via a smooth barrel nut similar to the one used on the Model 25 series rifles. The barreled action has a nice high polish blued finish similar to that found on the Model 14/114 American Classic. Like most other Savage rifles, the new A17 comes equipped with an adjustable AccuTrigger which can be adjusted without removing the stock, though no pull weight range is specified on Savage’s website or in the manual. Overall length of the A17 is listed at 42-inches and Savage lists the weight at 5.41-pounds. MSRP is $465.00 at the time of this writing.

    The synthetic stock on the A17 has a straight classic comb, open pistol grip, integrated trigger guard, and a medium width forend. The grip area is accentuated with three molded in accents that offer a little added texture, but are far to shallow to be considered finger grooves or off much additional grip. The forearm features three raised panels that wrap around the bottom and half way up each side, protruding roughly 1/16 of an inch. A half-inch thick butt pad and sling swivel studs round out the standard features.

    Like the B-Mag, the new Savage A17 utilizes a detachable rotary magazine with a capacity of 10 rounds. While predominately plastic - including the Axis-esque retaining clip, the rear section of the magazine housing is metal.

    Upon receipt of the A17 rifle my first impression was a bit mixed. I was very impressed with the metal finish, and I couldn’t find any noticeable defects, flaws or uneven gaps worth mentioning. Conversely, I found the trigger to be very gritty with an unusually high level of spring tension on the AccuTrigger blade. I also found the synthetic stock leaves a lot to be desired in both ergonomics and rigidity.

    The rifle supplied by Savage came equipped with a Bushnell Banner 3.5-10x36mm Rimfire optic (#613510) featuring an adjustable objective, Multi-X reticle and an assortment of interchangeable BDC turrets that Savage tells me will be used on a future package model of the A17. Unfortunately the magnification ring on my sample was frozen solid so rather than potentially wasting a lot of ammo trying to sight in a defective scope I chose to replace it and the supplied rings with my own Bushnell Elite 3200 3-9x40mm and a set of Burris Signature Zee rings.

    All shooting was done from a concrete bench using a Protector rear bag and Harris bipod.

    My first trip to the range with the A17 was more frustrating than anything else. For starters, even though I had mechanically centered the scope before mounting it on the rifle it wasn’t anywhere near being on paper at 50 yards. Moving to 25 yards I was finally able to figure out where my bullets were hitting but ran out of adjustment leaving me about four inches low and two inches right of my point-of-aim.

    To further complicate things, the A17 was proving to be a manual-matic rather than a semi-automatic as it was either jamming or failing to pick up and chamber a new round on nearly every shot. After a little investigating I concluded it had to be a magazine problem in that the mag was positioning the rounds with the nose to high which was causing the rim to sit slightly lower and when the bolt would cycle it wouldn’t catch the rim and instead would hit the case mid-body resulting in the jam. I did manage to struggle through shooting two groups at 50 yards, one being just over an inch and the other just over three-quarters of an inch.

    Tiring of the manual-matic operation I called it quits and contacted Savage to request a couple replacement magazines. Of the sixty rounds I had fired this first day I experienced a total of 19 jams and 13 instances where the bolt failed to pick up a new round from the magazine. That equates to a 53% failure rate - not good.
    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Rosco's Avatar
      Rosco -
      Thanks for the great review, as always!! Must admit I am disappointed as I was looking forward to purchasing this rifle. Hopefully, Savage will work the bugs out here over the next few months.

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