17hmr vs 22mag, which is the better cartridge? If you have found yourself in this debate, here is a detailed review of all there is with these two calibers. In the end, it all comes down to preference and use.
Finally! The Watertight Review That Will Put to Rest the 17hmr vs 22mag Debate
Dimension and Weight Differences
Judging from the names, you certainly expect some degree of differences between the two calibers. However, you will also notice some similarities when you compare the two.
When placed side by side, you will notice that the length and case dimensions of the two calibers are roughly the same. It is no wonder as the 17MHR resulted from slimming down the 22MAG’s neck.
The main difference, however, between these two calibers is their weight. By having a smaller diameter, the 17hmr will no doubt weigh less than the 22mag. Most 17hmr bullets weigh 17grains and are available in 15.5 and 20 grains variations as well.
Most 22 mag bullets, on the other hand, weigh 30 grains, but they also come with variation, with the heaviest weighing 50 grains.
The velocity of any given caliber is directly proportional to its weight and affects its overall performance. With this in mind, it is therefore apparent that the 17hmr will win the muzzle velocity test owing to its lightweight that translates to more speed.
For this, conduct a 17hmr vs. 22 mag velocity test with two different brands of each. For more conclusive results, go with the lightest and heaviest bullets of each caliber.
Note: Though the 17hrm wins this battle, the 22mag is undoubtedly fast for a rimfire cartridge.
Manufacturers provide differing statistics, which makes gauging the trajectory of a given bullet difficult. Therefore, conducting a field test is the best way to be sure about the course of the cartridge in question. Better still, you can contact manufacturers and inquire about the same.
In this case, a 30 grain 22mag from Hornady drops 16.5 inches at 200 yards when zeroed to 100 yards. Under the same conditions, a 17hmr from Hornady falls 8.5 inches. Under the same conditions, a 22mag from Winchester drops 14.9 inches while the 17hmr maintains an 8.5 inches drop.
This confirms the 17hrm’s reputation of being an insanely light and accurate rimfire cartridge. However, this might not hold when wind drift is concerned as it is known to go off target when there is a strong wind.
Muzzle energy is as vital as the speed of any cartridge, especially if your gun use entails hunting. A bullet’s energy will dictate how deep it will penetrate, mushrooming as well as energy delivery.
Though the 22mag is slower than the 17hmr, most statistics have shown that it is more powerful. Contrary to what you may expect, a lighter 22mag bullet will have more power than a heavier one. For example, a 30 grain 22mag will have more energy than a 50 grain 22mag.
Since the 22mag hits more powerfully, it is ideal for neutralizing more significant threats during self-defense or during hunting big game.
To calculate recoil energy, you need muzzle velocity, firearm weight, propellant weight, and bullet weight. Generally, you will find that the heavier 22mag bullet will generate twice as much recoil energy than the 17hmr.
Tip: For this field test, assume that all your rounds have 5.6 grains propellant.
Note: Some 22mag rounds have unbelievably low recoil energies that you will barely feel a kick when firing them.
Price and Availability
A 40+ years head start is not something you can ignore, mainly because you will encounter more firearms chambered for the 22mag than you will the 17hmr. This makes the 22mag readily available, but you should be able to find both rounds with ease.
Following its introduction, 17hmr ammunition was more expensive than the 22mag ammo. However, with increased demand and streamlined production, you will get either round at roughly the same price.
Choosing 17hmr vs. 22mag
This comes down to your intended use of the cartridges. Either round will perform exceptionally in neutralizing more minor threats or when hunting small games and varmints.
However, if you are more likely to encounter more significant threats or are after a large game, the more powerful and heavier 22mag is your bet. But if you are looking for the highest accuracy possible while placing shots on smaller targets between 100 and 200 yards, the 17hmr is more effective, reliable, and fun.
Watch this video by Justin Opinion on AL22M – Rock Island Armory's new 22 Magnum:
With so many similarities, choosing between the 17hmr and the 22mag can be challenging. However, when you think about how you intend to use the cartridge, choosing becomes more manageable and you will more often than not make the right decision. To make this even easier, consider the price and availability of each round, and you will be set.
Which of these calibers best suits your needs? Let us know in the comment section below!
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