CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR rimfire

The CZ 452 Varmint .17 HMR  is my most accurate and powerful rifle. Necessity forced me to purchase this rifle. When I began shooting over the various farms and pieces of land that I cover, the majority had never been shot over and the rabbits were running and breeding free, undermining trees, pathways, destroying crops and grasslands. In those days, I was able to consistently take four, or five rabbits per visit where ever I shot, using my Webley Viper at ranges up to 35 yards, due to their lack of fear of humans. I learned where the rabbits would be and could stalk within range with ease.

Some of the farms are open with hedgerows and it didn’t take long for the rabbits to slip back into the safety of their burrows once I got with a hundred yards. A much more powerful rifle was needed. HMR stands for Hornady Magnum Round, a .17 calibre copper jacketed round with a ballistic plastic tip, mounted on a .22 Magnum rimfire case. The small calibre bore accelerates the 17 grain bullet to supersonic speeds which equate to 245 ft lb muzzle pressure, which when compared to the legal air rifle limit of 12 ft lb at the muzzle, illustrates the power of this round. The bullet is pointed and spins at such a rate, that it’s gyroscopic effect is to keep it on a flat trajectory. When setting the 3 – 12 x 42 scope sights of mine on a still summer’s day, I was amazed at it’s performance. Dead on at 100 yards, at 120 yards the bullet only dropped about 10 mm. At 200 yards it drops 4 four inches. With the range of this rifle a decent scope with a parallax front ring is vital. My best shot to  date was a rabbit sitting up,  estimated about 200 yards away. I aimed between the ears near the top. I fired and thought I’d missed due to the delay, but then it jumped and fell over, shot in the back of the neck. I paced it out at 186 paces.  Accuracy at this level can not be repeated, even in relatively light winds. On the day mentioned earlier, when setting up my sights, a slight head wind started up and those 120 yard 10 mm groups opened up to 30 mm. Still fantastic though.

I shoot with my HMR off a tripod in the prone position, as it is quite front heavy, due to the 20 mm dia tapering varmint barrel, but I do take shots to hand, usually at close range targets, knowing that if the cross hairs are on, then the target will be hit. The negative of this round is that there is a terrific percussion within the animal, any mid body shot will destroy the meat. Side head shots are a must, a head on shot will usually travel the length of a rabbit’s body and exit out the back, often breaking a leg as it does so. Corvids, very hardy, tough birds are no match for this bullet and often appear to explode on contact. For this reason, I would not shoot pigeons with this rifle, as it is a waste of very good meat.

This HMR is the perfect tool for pest control, a recent request by a farmer to shoot the rabbits on a grazing field saw me run out of ammo. I usually take about twenty five bullets, two clips of five plus more in a plastic case, more than enough I thought. I’d shot a few as I’d walked the field edge, then saw the main warren, where the grass had been turned into a dust bowl, by the root gnawing vermin.  I got down into a comfortable prone position along a hedgerow, with a full view of  the area and began picking them off at ranges between 100 and 150 yards. At this distance the muzzle report is muted, most of the “crack” going out to the sides from the supersonic bullet, the head on blast being absorbed by the silencer. Rabbits will usually continue feeding, while those around them leap up and drop and this was the case here, although towards the end of the session, which lasted about five minutes, a few were running about in confusion. I was reminded of film of the Somme, the bolt being worked, another clip fitted, reloading, etc. The final tally was nineteen, due to a few missed moving shots and a couple of extras to make sure.