Federal American Eagle 17 WSM ammunition

Intrigued by the .17 WSM rimfire cartridge

Q: I’ve been reading your articles for over 50 years and always found them informative and interesting. These days my son and I limit our hunting to whistling foxes on mid-winter weekends in the Snowy Mountains, where a good day may yield up to 15. We tan the pelts for bed rugs and so are conscious of damage. 

Our firearms are heavy-loaded 12ga side-by-side shotguns or a 12ga/12ga/.222 drilling.

You recently commented on a fairly new round, the .17 WSM, which I found intriguing. I have never come across this cartridge. As I don’t reload, such a round that’s effective out to 200 metres or so (wind permitting) sounds great, particularly if skin damage wouldn’t be a factor as close as 30 metres when whistling. 

Will any other manufacturers be chambering for this calibre in the near future? A rifle from CZ would be great, given their reputation for producing a high-quality firearms in small calibres. My enquiries indicate that Winchester has no plans for making a rifle for the .17 WSM at present. 

From your experience would the 20gn .17 WSM load make exit holes and damage a medium-size fox skin at around 30 metres, with chest shots from front or side?

Is there any indication that the .17 WSM will increase in production or become as popular as the .17 HMR? Your comments in the August 2016 issue of Sporting Shooter clearly indicated that the .17 WSM could completely eclipse the .17 HMR and .22 Magnum in performance on game such as foxes.

John Brookes

A: The best rifle I’ve tested to date in .17 WSM is the Ruger 77/17 which has a 24-inch barrel. As far as I know CZ has no plans to chamber for it, and other American rifles I’ve tested didn’t impress. 

Most foxes that come to the whistle are shot in the chest from the front and the .17 bullet doesn’t make exit, but it is possible that it may make a large hole with a side-on shot. 

The .17 HMR has become so solidly entrenched that I can’t see the .17 WSM overtaking it. Also, you can’t re-chamber a .17 HMR rifle for the .17 WSM, which requires a longer, stronger action.

Few manufacturers care to go to all the expense of making a new action for a cartridge that isn’t selling well.




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Nick Harvey

The late Nick Harvey (1931-2024) was one of the world's most experienced and knowledgeable gun writers, a true legend of the business. He wrote about firearms and hunting for about 70 years, published many books and uncounted articles, and travelled the world to hunt and shoot. His reloading manuals are highly sought after, and his knowledge of the subject was unmatched. He was Sporting Shooter's Technical Editor for almost 50 years. His work lives on here as part of his legacy to us all.