RUGER PRECISION RIMFIRE IN .17 HMR - test & review
PUBLISHED: 12:35 15 October 2019
Chris Parkin heaps praise on a tacticool HMR that clones the look and feel of its big brother. For shooters and hunters, the Ruger Precision Rimfire in .17 HMR screams capability
BRIEF OVERVIEW - RUGER PRECISION RIMFIRE IN .17 HMR
Likes: Shooter or Hunter, this gun shouts versatility and capability; Reliable magazine feed with slick bolt operation; All the Picatinny Rail you might want; Extensive stock adjustability
Dislikes: Cheekpiece shape is a little bulky for my preferences
Verdict: If you want a rimfire that handles like a centrefire yet not overly bulky, Ruger have made a fantastic tool that doesn't just do the job, it leaves a lasting smile on your face. Adjustability for all sizes should make this a best seller, just like its big brother has been.
Viking Arms www.vikingarms.com 01423 780810
Hawke Frontier 30 SF 2.5-15x50 Riflescope
01394 387762 www.hawkeoptics.co.uk
DPT Rimfire Magnum Sound Moderator
www.dpteuro.co.uk 07448 177009
Sightmark Wraith Digital Day Night Vision riflescope
www.scottcountry.co.uk 01556 503587
Edgar Brothers www.edgarbrothers.com 01625 613177
IN DEPTH TEST & REVIEW - RUGER PRECISION RIMFIRE IN .17 HMR
I have tested several Ruger American rimfires in most calibres, finding it to be a reliable, charismatic and well-priced rifle. The Precision Rimifire runs side by side with the Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR ) in centrefire, offering lots of the looks and handling paired with cost-effective rimfire ammunition. Yet here is the real treat: you can exercise this rifle without needing huge amounts of space.
We don't all have thousands of acres, so applying the disciplines of multi-distance shooting with a cartridge well suited to hunting or target shooting out to 200m was always going to appeal. Shooting more and focused practice from multiple positions is what makes you a better marksman, far more so than extended four-figure shooting for bragging rights.
The Quick-Fit Precision Rimfire adjustable stock alters length of pull from 305mm (12") to 395mm (15.5") using the same locking lever that disengages the vertically adjusting cheekpiece. Both have graduated steps so it's easy to return to where you were most comfortable if adjustment between users is common. It makes for a comfortable fit for any size of shooter.
The butt and action sections of the stock are hard-coat anodized aluminium and glass-filled nylon polymers, and demonstrate no irritating flexibility or rattles with grip into the shoulder pocket from a firm, inch-thick rubber recoil pad. The underside shows a Picatinny rail for accessories plus QT sockets for sling fitting. When prone, it sits well on a balled-up fist or soft bag for precision elevation control.
Fixtures & Fittings
An AR-15 styled grip is slung underneath the linear recoil path design of the rifle's architecture, with shorter reach to the trigger blade featuring Ruger's inner safety lever, giving a two stage feel with a 90% crisp 1,400gr (3lb) break.
This Marksman Adjustable trigger is externally adjustable from 900gr (2.25lb) to 2,270gr (5lb) with an Allen key discreetly stored in a secret compartment to the rear of the bolt shroud. A 45° safety catch is reversible just above the grip. Standard JMX-1 10-shot magazines will fit, yet a 15-round BX-15 unit is supplied for simple loading and long life.
There are no waxy lead bullets on a .17 HMR to clog up the mechanism. It clips into the magazine well with a straight push and disengages using a recessed thumb catch just ahead of the trigger guard. Mimicking its bigger brothers, a barricade stop sits just ahead of this prior to a long 15" super stiff anodized aluminium Handguard/free-floating fore-end.
The fore-end features Magpul M-Lok versatility for accessories. I fitted a Harris bipod adaptor, but Picatinny or other interlocking items will cover all the bases in terms of attachments. The rifle's cold-hammer-forged 1,137 alloy steel 18" target barrel runs six grooves rotating 1-in-9 to suit 15.5-20gr HMR ammunition. Far more accessible now the Section 5 limitations are lifted on expanding bullets, although technically, CCI have offered FMJ ammo for years.
A cleanly threaded muzzle (½"x28) nestles under a threadcap for a moderator or brake, and I chose a DPT end of-barrel rimfire Magnum moderator, which did a superb job of minimising the HMR's crack. It's not a barrel-cooking calibre, but the 22mm diameter parallel profile is far stiffer and more stable than you may ever need, yet can be replaced by a competent gunsmith using AR-style wrenches and headspace gauges.
For me, the highlight of the action is the 'Big-Gun bolt throw', as Ruger like to call it. A 2" path is close to the 3" bolt throw of a short-action centrefire; it allows shooters to change from a rimfire's short bolt throw to their larger RPRs with less chance of short-cycling the action in competition.
An oversized teardrop handle extending 66mm away from the action enables minimum exertion with little to no disturbance to the rifle. With a 45° lift, it feels far more positive and modern than many rimfires. Scope mounting is simplified with a 0 MOA Picatinny rail, allowing fast swaps between optics: maybe a 1-6x for fast fire and moving targets, a 2.5-15 for longer distance or perhaps an NV set-up.
A very capable clone
The goal of the RPR is to mimic its larger brother and that's been accomplished without any cheap lightweight 'parts bin' components. The only thing I did not completely enjoy was the rather wide, rollover shape of the stippled polymer cheekpiece. I prefer them narrower for my face shape, allowing a vertical head position. To be fair, it should suit almost anyone from kids to the tallest shooters and I would probably just customise it to suit, as I've done with my rifles.
Having the bolt's rotation and linear travel so well matched to a centrefire made the gun feel proportionately at home and, after the first 20-30 rounds, motion in all directions had become slick without staggered ammunition feed or damage to the tiny 17gr bullets as they entered the chamber, critical to accuracy from the HMR.
Shooting prone was a delight as the longer stock stopped the rifle feeling too small, as rimfires often can, yet a quick flick of the adjustment lever allowed me to swap handling character for a night out on vermin wearing bulkier clothing. Shot from the driver's seat resting on the mirror, the fore-end is completely stable from any shooting position. Plentiful cooling from the M-Lok slots without nooks and crannies for debris to jam into means no interruption to the free-floating barrel.
Standing shots either locked into a barricade for competition, or from quad sticks with night vision, reinforced my delight in the stock, never flexing or rattling when body weight leant into or away from it, something which many off-the-shelf AR-15 units often exhibit. At 3kg (6.8lb) bare weight, the gun suits further customisation and I found it handled well freehand. Set up with a Harris bipod, large scope and moderator, plus my 14.25" length of pull, had the gun's overall length at 1,070 mm (42").
Results on paper were the usual HMR figures, utterly dependant on ammo, so mostly sub-MOA from five-round groups. Odd highlights halved that with occasional flyers pushing things just above. The RPR never felt to be at fault for it. Consistency from the trigger with moderate breaking weight was just what I would specify for conscious trigger squeezing practice and, when freehand, allowed steady pressure to build, timed alongside natural motion rather than jerky yanks on the blade when the brain said 'now'!
More ammo down the tube smoothed matters a little on paper with cleaning showing very little copper debris, even after one trip out totalling 150 rounds fired. Velocity was straight on the money with 2,543 fps average speed showing from the 17gr Hornady V-Max ammunition I'd use for all pursuits with this rifle. 300 rounds through the gun showed the trigger to smooth out with no grittiness felt during the short creep, which remained consistent and easily judged.