Alexander Arms’ new .17 HMR is a rugged rifle that…

Alexander Arms’ new .17 HMR is a rugged rifle that can tackle pest control problems out to 200 yards, or snipe squirrels at most ranges encountered in thick woods.

Over the past few summers I’ve noticed a trend with the local wildlife agency, to regularly publish press releases alerting residents to the dangers of rabies among the urban wildlife populations. Skunks and raccoons seem to be the major carriers, with the occasional rabid fox thrown in for good measure. Less than a mile from my home just south of Nashville, Tenn., I’ve recently watched motorists nearly wreck their cars to avoid a hydrophobic raccoon staggering down the middle of a busy street during rush hour. Suburban skunks are earning a reputation that now goes beyond just wandering around asking folks to pull their finger.

When a pair of striped stinkers decided to take up residence under my cabin, I decided it was time to do a little personal pest control. I learned a long time ago while running a trap line that skunk dispatching is a simple, yet careful, task if you don’t want to set off a “stink bomb.” Shot placement is key or you will have to vacate the area for a few days. Heart-shot skunks behave differently than head-shot skunks. One rimfire bullet behind the shoulder and through the heart greatly reduces the likelihood of the little buggers releasing their smelly act of final revenge.

About the time I discovered the little pest problem on my farm, I got the editor’s nod to test and review a new rimfire AR produced by Alexander Arms. When I learned that it was chambered in .17 HMR instead of the .22 LR, I started to get curious about several things.

The AR platform rifle is so massively overbuilt in comparison to other .17 HMR autoloaders that case failures won’t destroy the rifle.

When I began discussing the .17-caliber topic with Bill Alexander, I had my eyes opened to several things related to this cartridge and the guns that shoot them. With a well-established reputation for building AR rifles in .50 Beowulf and 6.5 Grendel, I was curious as to why he would want to chamber his new rifle in .17 HMR. “When you design rifles you go from peaks to bloody lows,” Alexander said. “I had just finished the Grendel and started looking at the .22 rimfires. I built my own .22 long rifle AR. Then I went to Walmart and bought some .22 ammo. When I shot at 50 yards and 70 yards it did very well, but when I shot at 100 yards the groups went to hell when the round went subsonic. I asked myself, ‘Why not shoot a .17 HMR to extend the range?’ It was the first pick because it had good performance and customers wanted it.”

Since the .17 HMR was introduced in 2002, a wide range of guns have been chambered for the popular round. The .17 HMR was the first new rimfire cartridge since the ill-fated 5mm Remington launched in 1970. Previously, the last successful rimfire cartridge was the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire in 1959.

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  • John Borge

    This was a great article. I’m a huge AR Rifle fan. I’ve been waiting for a reliable 17 HMR semi auto rifle to come out. Looks like Alexander Arms may be my answer. I would also like to see it in the 22 Magnum. I use both. I am glad that Alexander Arms sells just the upper receivers and adaption kit. This may make it more attractive to guys like me that already have AR Rifles and don’t want to buy a complete rifle, for the 17 HMR.

  • wondering

    when ruger came out with a semi auto loading rifle they recalld it mine turnd into a single shot and would not load will this have the same problem

  • Robert

    Need to redesign the magazine. Looks wimpy.

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  • Pete Kenneally

    + one to the above!
    .22WMR version urgently required in the UK!

  • Interesting review; I espcailly like the author’s sensible comments on the animal size the 17HMR is capable of killing. Here in the UK we are not allowed 17HMR semi-autos, but we are allowed 22WMR is AA planning a 22 WMR version, as that would be very interesting? I have been using a Ruger M77/17 All-Weather for seven years now and have to say for rabbits and hares out to 175-yards it’s awesome. My rifle, once run-in will do 250-rounds then needs cleaning otherwise groups go to hell from 1/2″ to 4″ at 100-yards.

    Pete Moore (Editor) Shooting Sports Magazine

    Technical Editor Gun Mart & Accessories Magazine