Winchester’s .17 Super Win Mag Rimfire
Pat Cascio 10.14.13
Over the years, I’ve watched a number of new and improved calibers come and go. Some have stuck around, some never took off. One cartridge that really took off is the .40 S&W; one that wasn’t very popular was the .41 Action Express. One of the biggest problems with new and/or improved loads is that if a major ammo maker doesn’t pick it up, it falls by the wayside. Additionally, if a major player in the gun industry doesn’t chamber firearms for these new rounds, they’ll also fail.
Enter Winchester, a major player in the firearms and ammo fields. When a big-name manufacturer like Winchester jumps in and develops a hot new round, everyone takes notice. That’s exactly what happened with Winchester’s new .71 Super Win Mag round. Savage Arms, a well-known maker of affordably priced and very accurate rifles, is also on board with the new round. Sounds like a marriage made in heaven, doesn’t it? Now the problem is delivering the products they set about to make and sell to the shooting public. Easier said than done.
I made several requests to Savage Arms and asked for one of their new B.Mag rifles, which fires the new .17 WSM. A few phone calls later, no one seemed to know about my request, nor were they anxious to follow-up. So much for being a gun writer with 22-yrs of experience — my name pulls no weight at Savage for some reason. I made a request to Winchester for some of their .17 WSM ammo for this article, and the ammo arrived in short order. However, I had no rifle to shoot it in. So I headed down to my local gun shop, which had ordered 10 of the Savage B.Mag rifles, and they were kind enough to supply me with a sample for shooting.
Winchester’s advertising and website claims that the .17 WSM is the world’s fastest, most powerful, modern rimfire cartridge. Sure sounded like a bunch of hype to me – until I got into the ballistics of the .17 WSM. I received the .17 WSM 20-gr plastic tip Varmint HV loading, and it is advertised at 3,000 feet per second. Yes, you read that correctly — a rimfire round that is moving at 3,000 FPS. I also received the slightly heavier 25-gr Plastic Tip, Varmint HE load, and this one has an advertised velocity of 2,600 FPS! Folks, we’re talking “screaming” rimfire bullets going down range.
For varmint hunters, this means pin point accuracy and devastating performance from a rimfire round at ranges well past 200-yards. Try that with any other rimfire round. It can’t be done, not even close. Best of all, the idea behind this new round is affordability, too! Sure, we can dig out our .233 Rem. rifles and take varmints out past 200-yards — way past that distance. However, ammo is expensive, especially these days. Plus, the .17 WSM comes in 50-rd boxes, and I checked around on the ‘net, and although at the time no one had any .17 WSM ammo, they advertised prices in the $13.99 price range. That’s more than fair, and you can take a lot of coyotes and ground squirrels at those prices for ammo.
Just a mention on the Savage B.Mag rifle that was designed for the .17 WSM round. It has a black polymer stock, and weighs in at only 4.5 lbs. It also has the Savage Accu-Trigger, adjustable for pull weight, and the rotary magazine holds 8-rounds and is very easy to load. The overall length is 40-inches, and I suspect that the 22-inch barrel length is needed to get the most velocity out of the .17 WSM round. I expect if the popularity of the .17 WSM round takes off as I predict it will, we’ll see some 18 and 16 inch barreled rifles offered, although it will seriously reduce the muzzle velocity of the round.
I haven’t gotten around to getting my hunting license this year, but I’ve been so busy testing and writing about new products that my time for hunting has been limited. However, I was able to get out and “kill” some water-filled one gallon plastic milk jugs. I’m here to tell you, at 50-yards, the .17 WSM round hit the water-filled jugs with authority. It looked to me that those jugs were being hit by a .223 Rem or other big center-fire rifle cartridge. The plastic jugs exploded when hit with the .17WSM rounds. I’ve never seen any rimfire round do that — not at 50-yards, and not at 25-yards. I moved a couple gallon jugs out to 100-yards, and the results were the same: devastation!
I mounted an inexpensive Bushnell 3-9X40 scope on the Savage, in order to get the most out of the gun and the round. The gun and ammo didn’t disappoint in the least. And the Accu-Trigger didn’t need any further adjustments. It was fine out of the box. It should also be noted that the Savage B.Mag is a bolt-action rifle, and the gun cocks upon closing, not upon opening. I personally like this feature on a bolt-action rifle.
Unfortunately, I only received 100-rds of .17 WSM all total, and in short order, that ammo was burned-up. I didn’t notice much difference in the way the 20-gr or the 25 gr rounds performed in either accuracy or in the way they devastated the water containers. Both seemed to do the job. I would suspect that if you can take coyotes at around 200-yards with either one of these rounds, it will drop them in their tracks. Winchester will also be coming out with a 20-gr JHP load, too, and I suspect this round will be even less expensive than the plastic tipped loads.
To be honest, I’ve never been in the market for a .22 Mag round or a .17 Rimfire mag from any maker. However, I’m now rethinking that. A Savage B.Mag and a good supply of .17 WSM ammo might be on my short list of things to get. Hmmm, Christmas and my birthday are right around the corner, and my family has been hounding me for a Wish List!
I wasn’t all that excited about the new .17 WSM round, at least not when I read about it on paper. And I guess, for whatever reason, that 3,000 FPS velocity for the 20-gr bullet didn’t strike pay dirt in my sometimes feeble mind. Seriously, 3,000 FPS and 2,600 FPS for a rimfire .17 caliber round? Wow! All I can say is wow!!!