Which custom barrel shop would you recommend for a 20" Contender barrel in 17HMR? Would like to hear your experiences with MGM, Bullberry, and SSK in regards to rimfires. Open to other companies if there are any out there. Thanks.
My restocked factory barreled 23" full contour 17HMR shot a three shot quarter inch group at 100yds....after I removed the bipod. If you ; I would buy factory barrel , have smith cut to 20" w/11degree crown.
As suggested the factory barrels shoot better than needed for most shooting for most folks, but they can't do what a custom chamber can in a premium barrel, even with a rimfire. My 17HMR barrel out-shot every 17HMR it met by a noteworthy margin no matter what it cost, and everybody had 17HMR's back then from lots of different makers. Easily out-shot my other 2 17HMR's as well. This was was the most accurate Contender barrel I've ever owned, shooting in the 1's on my good days, and always in the low 2's with 100 yard 5 shot groups just off a bipod. Killed a lot of diggers and predators with it to surprising ranges before I sold it to gent here.
As for the makers... Fred Smith (Bullberry) worked with Hornady during the development of the 17HMR before the final product was settled on. He did test chambers as they changed ammo configs, and did the first extensive tests with the final ammo config by starting with rifle length barrels he cut off an inch at a time to find the "sweet spots" for the 17HMR with a Contender. In carbine length 20" was it, and was what my prototype barrel was that I did the field testing of the ammo with for him and Hornady in the months before the ammo was available for sale. So a long way of saying Fred easily has the most experience with this cartridge on the TC platform. This was long after the boys at MGM stopped working for him, but I assume they follow his lead. No idea what JD has done with the 17 Hummer in his barrels, but he does make very fine barrels.
Delivery time wise JD would probably be the fastest, by with MGM close behind, and Fred a painfully slow last place. Price wise MGM is probably the best, then Bullberry then SSK. After sale service is probably about equal with SSK and MGM, Bullberry slower.
I doubt it. Hornady isn't developing anything new, just commercializing a wildcat that has been chambered for almost 60 years, and for many, many years by Bullberry (can't remember how far back, but Fred made 2 17AH barrels for me long ago, in pistol and carbine lengths). Fred was involved with the 17HMR as it was a new development that was giving Hornady fits and blow up problems in the Savage and Marlin test rifles. It's a lot more cost effective to test the different ammo configs in Contender barrels IOW, both chamber dimensions and barrel lengths. Fred went through 3-4 reamer sets before the final config was settled on for the 17HMR and his production barrels. My prototype carbine barrel was cut with the next to last set with a much tighter chamber and shorter lead - why it is more accurate than the later production barrels.
The good side of this is that a simply awesome wildcat cartridge will now be available to anyone in standard rifles from various makers at far less cost than custom... just like the 17 Rem Fireball made the 17MachIV wildcat an easier and cheaper option now. At least Ruger and CZ I've heard will offer the 17 Hornet rifles, and I'd bet more makers will jump on the bandwagon. Some say the 17 Hornet will replace the 17HMR, and that would be too bad. In my case it was just the opposite. While I really loved all my 17 Ackley Hornets, because I did ADC and shot so many rounds a year my 3 17HMR's eventually replaced all of my 17AH's. For what I used them both for the Hummer would reach almost as far as the AH just as accurately and with enough left in it to get the job done, so with the thousands of rounds I was shooting a year the Hummer saved me countless hours on the reloading bench.
I'm down to no 17AH's, 2 17HMR's and 2 17HM2's now, and between the rimfires they will do almost anything I did with the AH's. It also helps that I still have many thousands of rounds of ammo for all of them that I bought in high volume when each first came out at special low prices.
All that said, if you've never had a 17 Ackley Hornet this will be a chance to have a laser accurate 17 for low cost that is easy to feed, and is good to go for anything up to coyotes past 200 yards, and smaller game well past 300. yards.
Thanks for the comments guys. When I get done with this overseas tour of duty I have a new 17 Mink (Saubier.com has info) barrel for my Contender to play with. Since I will be in CT and hunting public lands I have to use a rimfire cartridge of 22LR class or one of the 17 rimfires. I've agreed to purchase a lightly used 20" 17HMR SSK barrel for my hunting public lands in CT. Just looking forward to getting back to the USA.
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