CZ452 .17 HMR excells at long range sniping

December 21, 2013 at 8:09 pm

A chance meeting this autumn resulted in a new shooting permission and a knock-on effect, as I was recommended to a series of small farmers with their land infested and being ruined by rabbits. Driving down the lane to the most recent, I could see rabbits grazing on either side of the road, while others hopped idly out of my way. At the farmhouse I was met by the lady owner, who gestured to the surrounding garden, where I could see several rabbits, digging and nibbling. “Just get on with it!” she said.

Evidence of the destructive power of these  furry rodents was everywhere, with burrows in the middle of paddocks, which were in a sorry state with more bare patches than grass.

 That brief first visit put a dozen bunnies in my bag, as I walked round among the farm buildings with my Magtech semi auto .22lr, catching out an unaware rabbit at every turn, as they sat out in the warm evening sun.

 That was two months  and at least forty rabbits ago, the days have shortened, the leaves gone and the rabbits got scarce. Following a prolonged wet spell, I’d given my shooting exploits a rest, the land owners were happy with the free pest control and I was resting on my laurels, when one of my butchers phoned with a request for some more rabbits.

With high ground overlooking much of the farm, I decided that a return visit with the CZ 452 HMR would be needed, arriving in the early afternoon with the sun already low and about two hours of light left. Taking up position, I had a bramble hedge on the far boundary 120 yards away, well within range of the tiny .17 inch diameter bullet, while I had a clear view over a small paddock and an area covered with brambles alongside the barn, which had become a general dumping ground and is pock marked with burrows.

The first movement came from the far brambles and a brown shape popped out among the nettles in the dip. With the scope at maximum 12 magnification, I waited for the rabbit to raise it’s head for a clear shot, squeezed the trigger and watched the death kick as it leapt skyward. At least one for the butcher. The HMR is a fantastic rifle, shots like this at over a hundred yards on a day with no wind go exactly where you aim them.

This was a perfect vantage point and I watched another hop across the path and through the far gate into the small paddock and begin feeding. Lifting the rifle round to get a bead on it made for an awkward shot, but number two flopped over without a kick. The crack from the rifle startled an unseen rabbit from it’s cover along the nearside of the paddock and it ran into the middle and stopped, ears up. Too late, it was dead. It was now 3pm and the light was fading fast, when target number four came out from alongside the barn. Getting the rifle to deflect low enough for a shot, was uncomfortable and I quickly reduced the adjustment on the bi-pod legs, while the rabbit made it’s way conveniently towards the near paddock gate in the perfect position for a shot. Stop, move, stop, crack! The fourth.

Four would have to do, by the time I’d picked them up and they were paunched, it would be dark. I looked back towards the top of the hill and saw a shape. Another rabbit had come out of the brambles on the crest. How long had it been there? A quick lift of the rifle back into position and I could see through the scope a confident feeder, head down. Another perfect shot and I was up and making my way to collect the two at that far end. The rabbits in these brambles are usually out feeding on the hill, when I drive into the farm, but disappear the moment I get out of the van and long range sniping is the only way to get them now. Walking back with these two, a white flash of a bobbing tail alerted me to a rabbit making for the cover of trees and I rested on some hay bails for a quick shot, as it stared back at me. Number six collapsed back into the nettles.

Picking up this last one, I quickly collected the three from the paddock and carried them back for a trophy photo, before preparing them for the butcher, who would still be in the shop on my way home. A much better result than I thought possible two hours before.