Saturday, May 18, 2024

The 17 Winchester Super Magnum: A Nail Gun’s Bastard Child

The Evolution of Rimfire Technology: Introducing the 17 WSM

Speed is crucial when it comes to varmint cartridges, and flat-shooting .17 caliber bullets excel in this realm, minimizing damage to fur and maintaining pinpoint accuracy. The introduction of the rimfire 17 Winchester Super Magnum (17 WSM) in 2012 marked a significant step forward in rimfire technology, offering unmatched performance compared to other cartridges in its class.

Engineers at Winchester faced the challenge of increasing rimfire cartridge velocities without compromising safety. They discovered that high pressures were incompatible with standard rimfire casings and decided to explore alternative materials. A .27-caliber nail gun blank, typically found on construction sites, provided the solution: a thicker case that could handle the increased pressure without risking damage to the casing.

The resulting 17 Winchester Super Magnum achieved velocities exceeding 3,000 fps, making it faster than any other rimfire on the market at that time. The cartridge’s effectiveness was further enhanced by its flat trajectory, which allowed for increased range and improved wind-bucking capabilities.

While the 17 WSM excels on small keyboards and varmints, its potential reaches further distances. At 250 yards, a 17 WSM bullet maintains accuracy similar to that of the .17 HMR, making it suitable for precision kills out to nearly twice that distance.

Shot placement is crucial when hunting coyotes with a 17 WSM. Under 100 yards, a well-placed shot can likely take down the elusive predator. However, due to its tough nature, attempting to shoot coyotes beyond 150 yards carries a higher risk of failure.

Unfortunately, the 17 WSM has faced challenges in maintaining accuracy and consistency in ammunition. This limitation affects both reloaders who prefer rimfire cartridges and manufacturers of high-quality rifles tailored for the 17 WSM.

Despite its potential, the 17 WSM has faced difficulty in securing a foothold in the market due to availability issues and the challenges associated with maintaining accuracy. As a result, it remains scarce in stores, with contact retailers often listing it as out-of-stock or discontinued.

While advancements in rimfire technology continue to emerge, the 17 WSM’s struggle to keep up with these developments highlights the challenges faced by some cartridges when advancing into new territories.