There are many good-quality, affordable .17HMR rifles from brands such as CZ, Sako and Savage, but top billing must go to Anschutz.
Anschutz is a German manufacturer with an impeccable name for the accuracy of its target rifles. Each is tested at the factory and comes with a certified test target card.
Credit must be given to its in-house barrel making and design. Triggers and stocks are painstakingly manufactured and work together to create a rifle that gives the best modern-day performance, combined with old-world finish and quality.
The 1517 model employs the Model 64 action and has an 18in heavy-profiled barrel, which is screw-cut for a sound moderator. It is also fitted with a walnut thumbhole stock.
Barrel and action
Every rifle in the Anschutz range is offered with shortened barrels, which makes better use of the handling qualities without affecting ballistics.
The model I tested for review has an 18in barrel, with a heavy profile of 0.74in, and it is screw-cut for a 1/2UNF thread sound moderator. The barrel is well-finished internally.
When a moderator is fitted the overall length is only 42in — which is the same as a normal rifle without a moderator.
All machining marks are honed, and the chamber is precision-cut. The rifling has button-rifled lands and is hammer forged, with the standard one-in-8.9in twist for a .17HMR cartridge.
No sights are fitted, but the action has twin 11mm dovetail rails split between the action opening.
If you need a different mount (perhaps to attach a night-vision scope) it is also drilled and tapped for scope bases.
The action is the Model 64, which is a match-grade. However the construction is lighter than its predecessor, the Model 54, which was larger and heavier.
The Model 64 has a 1in-diameter cylindrical tube construction, which ensures integral strength and a large locking area for the bolt.
The bolt cocks on opening and is smooth, travelling only 1.3⁄4in in the action.
The cartridge is manipulated from the magazine to the barrel chamber by two large claw extractors sited at three o’clock and nine o’clock on the bolt face, and it is ejected by two protruding tabs in the action base as the bolt is retracted.
The large bolt handle impressed me. It gives a good grip while the large plastic bolt knob ensures positive cycling of the action.
The overall finish is high-quality traditional total immersion bluing. It looks excellent and will be hardwearing if oiled regularly.
Trigger, safety and magazine
You have a choice of trigger mechanisms — from the single-stage, match-grade version to set triggers.
The model I tested had a precise, single-stage trigger-pull, which is suitable for sporting use. The factory setting is 2.2lb but you can adjust it to 4.41lb. It is incredibly crisp and precise — a contributing factor to the great accuracy of all Anschutz rifles.
The safety is a simple sliding catch. When activated, it blocks the trigger and lifts the trigger sear and bolt release catch. This allows the bolt to be opened in the safe position, so you can unload with the safety on.
A flush-fitting magazine is detachable by moving the release catch forward. It is a bit fiddly but on the plus side you won’t lose the magazine.
Unusually, it is a fourshot unit. Five is more common but I think it was designed this way to ensure that it is flush with the underside of the action.
Accuracy and targets
The only ammunition available is factory made, so I chose five types with 17–gr and 20-gr bullet samples, shooting four-shot groups at 50 and 100 yards.
The accuracy impressed me straightaway.
At 50 yards, shooting from a bench, all the shot groups were touching. I followed up with groups at 100 yards.
The best results came from the CCI 20-gr GamePoint. All its shots grouped into less than 1⁄2in.
For a lighter bullet weight of 17-gr, the Winchester V-Max load (2,533fps and 242ft/lb) gave a healthy 3⁄4in grouping.
Shots from the Remington and Hornady 17-gr loads gave groups of around 1in.
The least impressive accuracy was with the CCI TNT load at around 1.1/4 in at 100 yards, although it produced good velocity.
The accuracy and velocities generated by all the test ammunition proved that short barrels work well.
I’ve always been a fan of thumbhole stocks on a rimfire. You get better control with one hand which is particularly useful if you’re out lamping and on the move, because your other hand is usually holding onto the vehicle or busy loading.
I liked the colour and grain of the walnut and the stock is well figured all over, with a Tru-Oil finish. A gloved hand will fit comfortably into the thumbhole.
Scope use is comfortable and easy thanks to the nicely raised cheekpiece. Skip-line chequering features on both the pistol grip and the fore-end and there is a thick black ventilated recoil pad.
How the Anschutz 1517 .17 HMR rifle scored
Accuracy 19/20 – The tight shot groups make this the most accurate .17HMR I have tested to date
Handling 18/20 – Shortened barrels make this rifle the ideal length. Combined with its weight, this gives it perfect balance
Trigger 18/20 – Available with a variety of trigger mechanisms, this single-stage version is suitable for sporting use
Stock 18/20 – A well sculptured and nicely finished stock with the additional appeal of a thumbhole
Value 18/20 – This rifle offers numerous features for your money, making it worth every penny
A premium grade rifle. I particularly liked the thumbhole stock which is perfectly balanced with the overall weight and length of the rifle. The same is true of the trigger.
A shorter barrel is a benefit in any rimfire sporting rifle and means that, once a moderator is fitted, the balance is not lost.
This is a classy rifle that won’t disappoint.
A classy rifle that won't disappoint