American Rifleman Managing Editor Aaron Carter was one of the first sportsmen in America to get a crack at Winchester’s headline making introduction of the .17 Winchester Super Magnum earlier this year. Carter hit the range and offered up the following comparisons to the new round, and other top rimfire and varmint loads. He writes:
Indiscernible recoil, mild report and, most importantly, economy are the reasons rimfire cartridges—and the .22 Long Rifle (LR) in particular—are so popular with today’s shooters. Unfortunately, what these cartridges lack in cost to the consumer, they also often lack in power. The ideal rimfire cartridge would offer downrange performance approaching that of a centerfire, yet would be priced like a rimfire. And that’s exactly what shooters got in 2013 with the introduction of the .17 Winchester Super Mag.
Specifications for the new cartridge called for a 20- and 25-grain bullet, both polymer-tipped, driven to 3,000 fps and 2,600 fps, respectively, as well as a 20-grain JHP (jacketed hollow point). Compared to the .17 HMR, which is loaded with 17- and 20-grain bullets that are propelled 2,550 and 2,375 fps, respectively, you get more velocity, flatter trajectories and a higher ballistic coefficient for better down-range accuracy and power.
Comparing the .17 Win Super Mag to the .17 HMR and the .22 Win. Mag., a shooter can see quite a few differences when shooting them all with a 100-yard zero in a 10 mph full-value breeze.
.17 Win Super Mag (20-grain) — Leaving the barrel at 3,000 fps, drops 4.1 inches at 200 yards and deflects 7.3 inches.
.17 HMR (20-grain) — Begins with a muzzle velocity of 2,375 fps and drops 9.9 inches at 200 yards with a deflection of 16.1 inches.
.22 Win. Mag. (30-grain) — Has a velocity of 2,200 fps and drops 16.5 inches with a deflection or wind drift of 27.4 inches.
And how about when it goes up against its closest competitor, the centerfire .17 Hornet, when both are zeroed at 150 yards?
.17 Win Super Mag (20-grain) — Leaves the barrel at 3,000 fps, drops 2.5 inches at 200 yards and deflects 7.3 inches.
.17 Hornet (20-grain) — Boasts a muzzle velocity of 3,650 fps drops roughly 1.5 inches and drifts right at 5.4 inches, a minimal gain when factoring in cost and overall performance.
For around $20, you can buy a 50-count box of rimfire .17 Win Super Mag loads compared to roughly the same price for 25 rounds of the .17 Hornet. Carter concluded the .17 Win Super Mag’s ballistics far exceed those produced by existing rimfires, and compare favorably to those of the .17 Hornet, yet is priced in line with the former. What’s not to love about this new round?