Bruce Potts tests a .17HMR rifle with a trigger, barrel and biathlon action that touch perfection
Anschutz has made my day, as their new 1727F model blends a sporter .17 HMR rifle with the super-slick and precise straight-pull action. The action is actually a redesigned (or up-scaled) action from a similar Anschutz biathlon 1827 model, both of which are made by the firm System Fortner, acting under licence for Anschutz. What you end up with is a highend .17HMR rifle with a target pedigree, aimed for the hunting market.
The action is 7.5in long, with a large 1.2in girth and it has a lovely muted satin nitrided-steel finish. This contrasts well against the separate scope bases, which are made of alloy with 11mm dovetails. The rear base has three positions to accommodate any scope length.
The bolt is a work of art. It only moves a scant 1.44in and is operated with a small 1.58in aluminium bolt lever, with machine-turned finish for grip. This sits just to the right of the stock and is operated by the trigger finger, and can then be cycled quickly by your thumb so as not to break the crucial shooting position.
The front end of the bolt is fairly conventional, with twin claw extractors at three and nine o’clock, and ejection by a static spur in the action body.
However, it’s the rear of the bolt where the magic really happens. It locks by a seven radial ball-bearing system that locates into corresponding recesses in the action. The lock time is very fast — about four milliseconds.
Trigger, safety and magazine
The trigger is the fabled Anschutz 5020 model from their Match target rifle range. Anschutz triggers are excellent — no question — and this model is fully adjustable for weight, trigger blade position and cant. Weights from 3oz to 22oz can be achieved, and this model broke at 9.25oz, with a short two-stage pull and ultra precise let off. It’s possibly over-the-top for a sporter, but still most welcome.
The safety is sited on the left side of the action (not the right, as with most sporters) and although a little inconvenient, its simple two position lever action did not trouble me. The magazine is a bit awkward too. The release lever is small and it has to be pushed into the magazine to release, not away from it (which feels more usual and intuitive). The magazine is all steel, very well-made, has
a four-shot capacity and sits fl ush to the woodwork. It is, however, expensive at £60 for a replacement or spare.
Anschutz barrels are superbly made and the .17HMR barrels are no exception. The chambering is precise, with eight button rifling lands and 1-in-9in twist rate over its 22in length. This model was not screw-cut and really, for the money, and the British market, it needs to be screw-cut at the factory. Barrel dimensions are 1in at the receiver and 0.70in at the muzzle and is in a nice blued finish, complementing the action.
There are no sights furnished, so it has a lovely clean finish, and it’s free floated along its entire length. Interestingly, the action has a mortised recoil lug attachment, which again, helps to improve its accuracy.
There are no surprises here — a classic hogsback Schnabel fore-end design that suits the 1727F well. The wood is walnut, but very plain and lacking in colour. For a rifle costing more than £2K I would expect a decent bit of wood — I know this was only the test model, but still, I have seen better.
It has a length of pull of 14.25in, with an understated but grippy solid black rubber recoil pad and QD swivel studs fitted. The cut chequering is plain, but fine, and I do like the look and feel of its long Schnabel fore-end. It has a dry-oil finish, which always perks up after a few months’ use and oiling.
Anschutz on test
I fitted a Kahles 1-5 x 24mm scope and tested at 50 and 100 yards over a chronograph. I had seven varieties of .17HMR ammunition, and an old batch of the Hornady Varmint Express. Both the new and old batch shot similarly, with the old batch edging it with 2,611fps for 257ft/lb energy. Accuracy was superb; at 50 yards, 0.25in four-shot groups, with easy 0.75in groups
at 100 yards.
The most accurate were the heavier CCI Game Points. These 20-gr bullets always seem to shoot well and the Anschutz digested them with gusto, with 2,414fps average velocity for four shots and a healthy 259ft/lb energy. Accuracy could not be better, one hole four-shot groups at 50 yards and 0.5in at 100 yards, which means rabbits and crows are really in trouble as far out as 150 yards if the wind is not too strong.
Best velocity went to the CCI TNT 17-gr load, which achieved a heady 2,667fps velocity and 269ft/lb energy. The lead-free option was the Hornady 15.5-gr NTX bullet with 2,574 fps and, again, very accurate, with four shots touching the 0.5in mark at 50 yards.
The action was a joy to use, very slick and precise. I can forgive the magazine release catch, but clean the barrel regularly for best accuracy, as Anschutz barrels tend to be tight (which is a good thing).
A pretty unique rifle, and certainly the best functioning and most accurate .17HMR I have tested to date