17hmr vs 22mag Showdown

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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.

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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.

17HMR and .308 Ammunition on board 17hmr vs 22mag SS

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.

Muzzle Velocity

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, which translates to more speed.

Extreme close up shot of the 9mm bullet 17hmr vs 22mag Review SS

For this, conduct a 17hmr vs 22mag 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.

Shot gun magazine in hand of old woman 17hmr vs 22mag SS

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.

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Muzzle Energy

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.

Bullet through an apple 17hmr vs 22mag Review SS

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.

Expected Recoil

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.

The action of recoiling 17hmr vs 22mag SS

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.

Handgun with ammunition on a dark wooden table 17hmr vs 22mag SS

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.

Gun with ammunition on wooden 17hmr vs 22mag Review SS

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.

Buying a caliber? Which one will you get?

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Which of these calibers best suits your needs? Let us know in the comment section below!

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6 Responses to :
17hmr vs 22mag Showdown

  1. David Oakley says:

    I once owned a .22 mag Winchester model 94 and truly loved the accuracy of the scoped rifle, I considered the .17 hmr in a new purchase a couple years back but considered the use I would be using it for and then went with the Ruger American .22 mag an have found it to be top notch in my realm

  2. John Smulik says:

    I would like to get a pistol for my wife for sel- defense & some target shooting don’t know what would be good for her it seems the .17hmr would fit her hand her arm strength is a little weak so I would like some onsite to get the right one & not to expensive for what were going to use it for. Thank u I hope u can help.

    1. Old Bob says:

      I doubt you’re going to find a .17HMR pistol. There aren’t that many .22 Mag pistols. They kick a little and make a lot of noise. The .22 is accurate but the .17HMR is probably more accurate. If you hit what you aim for, either one will leave a body on the ground. Avoid body armor – go for soft parts – legs will do if body armor is worn. Go for heart and lung shots on animals. Necks and head shots work well, too. Stay AWAY from Mossberg! My brand new Mossberg .17HMR went back anfd forth to China 3 times while they attempted to fix it. It’s ok for use as a hammer but it still won’t shoot and reload correctly. Mossberg SUCKS! Savage will make you happy, tho.

  3. Bill Mc Caslin says:

    I’ve been hunting hogs for over 45 yrs with a marlin or Winchester .22 mag rifles, an will take a .22 mag any day. I have real world results with it, but I shoot 40 or 50 gr fmj’s an only take head shots, an its always been a one an done rifle, an I have so much faith in the rifle ( MARLIN) that if need be it could be pressed into service outside of CQB distances for SD if need be.

  4. scottybob says:

    Already have 3 22mag guns. not gonna change in todays market.

  5. Dennis says:

    I have worked on farms most of my younger life. and have have carried a Heritage Rough Rider the whole time. Mine has both the 22LR and 22 WMR cylinders. I’ve always used the 22WMR in it most of the time on the farm. That pistol has taken snakes, squirrels , ground hogs, feral hogs, coyotes, and on the rare occasion for butchering full grown black angus cows. Rarely has it taken more then 1 shot. Its light and easy to hold, price is great, and a awesome looking pistol. I HAVE NO PROBLEM USING IT AS A SELF DEFENSE WEAPON !!!!!!!! It’ll be easy for you wife to use as well as they come in different barrel lengths. I LOVE MINE !

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