The Henry Varmint Express® .17 HMR
The first .17 HMR rifles and ammo hit the market in 2002. Rounds are available in hollow point, soft tip and FMJ from numerous companies. Although Hornady ultimately developed the .17HMR, a great deal of thanks go to the wildcatters who pioneered 5 mm rimfire cartridges. The .17 HMR was a huge success. matter of fact, it was so successful that nearly everyone started manufacturing it, ranging from Federal to CCI. As popular as the caliber became, there was a problem: Due to the .17 HMR’s high-performance, it was more expensive than other cartridges. Because of this, the .17 HMR didn’t ‘explode’ in sales.
The .17 HMR is accurate, powerful, and clean. It also solved the biggest problem with a lot of calibers: no unwanted bullet fragments to ricochet. And, if you doubt the power of this “mighty mouse” cartridge, many gator hunters in Louisiana use it for dispatching alligators with minimum damage.
Having been on a gator hunt, I can attest to the fact that they are difficult to kill.
The pros and cons of the .17 HMR are:
Faster flight path
More expensive than other rimfire ammunition
Less kinetic energy
More subject to wind drift
Louder than .22 caliber rimfires
However, the ballistic performance of the .17 HMR pretty much offsets the negatives.
Bullet Weight Velocity Energy
15.5 gr 2,525 ft./s 219 ft. lbs.
*17.0 gr 2,550 ft./s 245 ft. lbs.
20.0 gr 2,375 ft./s 250 ft. lbs.
The positives of the cartridge are why we decided to test and evaluate the Henry Varmint Express. Given Henry’s reputation for quality, we wanted to see if the accuracy of this little cartridge performed in a lever action firearm.
After mounting a Burris Fullfield II 3-9 x 40 riflescope on the Henry, we headed to the range. We shot from a Caldwell Fire Control front rest with a rear bag for stability. Due to the mild windy conditions, we set our targets at 50 yards. We determined that 5- shot groups would be satisfactory to determine the accuracy of the rifle. Although ten-shot groups might have been more advantageous, we were constrained by the current ammo shortage. *We used the 17 grain bullet ammo in our tests.
After burning through 150 rounds, we measured our groups. The smallest measured 0.375”, the largest was 0.50” for an average spread of 0.44”. It really didn't seem to matter the brand of ammunition that we fired, they all cycled flawlessly. The CCI ammunition produced the most accurate results with its best group size of 0.375” with Federal and Hornady being close seconds with group sizes of 0.50”. There were no miss-fires during our tests.
Our tests with the Henry matched results we previously obtained with two different bolt-guns. The Varmint Express not only equaled our bolt guns, but had the added advantage of a rapid follow-shot when needed. It enables small game and varmint hunters to take full advantage of the .17HMR with regard to velocity, trajectory, ricochet resistance and accuracy.
The specifications of the Varmint Express are:
Model Number H001V
Action Type Lever Action
Caliber .17 HMR
Capacity 11 Rounds
Barrel Length 19.25"
Barrel Type Round Blued Steel
Rate of Twist 1:9
Overall Length 37.5"
Weight 5.75 lbs.
Receiver Finish Black
Rear Sight Fiber Optic Williams Fire Sights
Front Sight Fiber Optic Williams Fire Sights
Scopeability 3/8" Grooved Receiver
Scope Mount Type Ringmounts for 3/8" Groove
Stock Material American Walnut (Monte Carlo style)
Buttplate/Pad Black Solid Rubber Recoil Pad
Length of Pull 14"
Safety 1/4 Cock
Best Uses Target/Hunting/Small Game
Once again, the Henry lever-actions proved to be equivalent in accuracy to production-run bolt guns. Further dispelling the myth that lever actions are not as accurate The Varmint Express is “Henry smooth” and incredibly accurate. This is another Henry that we have decided to buy. It will be a great help in keeping the coyotes at bay on our farm as well as prairie dogs which are hazardous to horses..
In this day and age when we are flooded with foreign imports, we believe that it is important to note that the Henry is “Made In America Or Not Made At All”.
Varmint Express® is a registered trademark of Hornady Mfg. Co.