Report: the Savage B17 FV-SR
Firearm design doesn’t get much simpler than the venerable rimfire bolt gun. As a result, these basic rifles are a leading choice for kids new to shooting. However, you don’t have to be a young ‘un to appreciate a good bolt-action plinker. These little rimfire guns provide a ton of bang for your buck, especially once you consider options beyond ordinary .22LR.
Savage Arms is a leader in the rimfire bolt gun market, and one of the company’s most popular variants is the FV-SR. The F stands for synthetic stock, the V for heavy varmint barrel and the SR for suppressor ready. We spoke with Savage Arms at last year’s SHOT Show and they were happy to show us this B17 variant of their made-in-Canada rimfire rifle.
The Predecessor: Savage Mark II FV-SR
Before we start talking about how the new B-series gun performed, we should first address some of the changes the FV-SR has undergone. We have an older Mark II .22LR FV-SR and it has provided some of the most accurate groups of any gun we have in this price range. It routinely makes ragged little holes at 50m and makes shooting golf balls at 100m nearly effortless.
Nevertheless, our old FV-SR has its downfalls. The stock feels like something salvaged from a cheap pellet gun. It works, but you certainly wouldn’t write home about it. The other major problem is the magazine. You’re likely to end up ramming rounds into the side of the chamber unless you check on it religiously.
Otherwise, the gun has a ton of great features at a very affordable price. You get a fluted bull barrel, AccuTrigger, and the ability to punch very small holes in things. Not only that, but it comes factory-threaded. So if you live where freedom flows, you can protect your hearing.
Evaluating the Savage B17
The new B models come with upgrades, the first being the stock. The new stock design doesn’t feel like your kid brother’s airsoft gun anymore. It’s well thought out and comfortable, offers grip where you’d expect to find it, and has an almost pistol-grip-style drop to the stock. But the stock also indicates a degree of missed opportunity.
It’s molded in a way to look like the comb is adjustable, and as though it has a rubber butt pad. Sadly, neither is actually the case. We would have liked to see some storage put into the stock, either in the form of spare magazines or an ammo compartment, akin to what Magpul did with the X-22 Backpacker stock. That would add versatility and eliminate wasted space. Still, even in current form we can say it’s one hell of a step up from the previous models.
The magazine in the old Mark II isn’t going to bring a smile to your face. You’re more likely to be seen scowling as you wedge a finger into the chamber to guide a round home, asking “Is it in yet?” like a pimply teen on prom night.
Thankfully, Savage went back to the drawing board. Then they blew it up, ordered a new one, and started fresh. The company no longer uses a piece of sheet metal with a plastic follower, and has instead graduated to a rotary magazine. The magazine appears to be the same as the A17 magazine, meaning you can use a Butler Creek 25-round magazine (although you might need to modify it a bit). The standard A17 rotary mag will work.
The magazine can be inserted empty or loaded, and locks in with a definitive click, letting you know that your ape hands did what they were supposed to do. Loading the magazine with the bolt closed does take a bit more force, though. The ten-round magazine sits flush with the stock; when the magazine release that’s built into the magazine body is depressed, it actually ejects out the magazine.
Now, you may be thinking about the rotary magazines and wondering if the feed lips are plastic or metal. The entire back half of the magazine is made from metal so you don’t have to worry about the lips wearing out. The only drawback we noticed about the magazine is that when it’s loaded, the rounds can rattle around inside. Not a real issue, considering the hundreds — and we mean hundreds — of rounds we fired from this gun without so much as a single stoppage.
The barrel is basically the same as the Mark II FV-SR with one difference: Savage didn’t flute the barrels on these. From a visual perspective, we feel the fluting really added some value. It’s not truly necessary when shooting rimfires, but does shed some weight and looks pretty neat.
Compared to the 93R17 FV-SR, this gun weighs a half pound more. This likely comes primarily from the barrel and a tiny bit from the redesigned stock. Still, at six pounds sans scope, the weight isn’t really an issue.
Performance at the Range
Now, the all-important question: how does it shoot?
We’d never fired a .17HMR before, but had heard many stories of amazing groups and the caliber’s ability to push further than a .22LR, so it seemed like the obvious choice.
The first round we tried at 50m was the CCI 17HMR FMJ. If this was the only round we had, we would have been a bit disheartened with the caliber’s performance. For some reason the B17 seemed to detest this round every time we tried it. Groupings on the small side exceeded one inch, and when we did our ten-shot five-grouping target the smallest was 1.319″.
The remaining rounds fired beautifully. We feel we could have achieved slightly tighter groups, but were limited by the Nikon P-Rimfire 2-7x scope’s magnification. Once the Splatterburst targets started to get shot up, it became a bit hard to discern the exact center point.
The smallest group we were able to achieve was with the CCI A17 rounds at .705″ but the CCI TNT Green wasn’t far off at .718″. Coming in third was the Federal Premium Hornady V-Max Poly Tip rounds with an .811″ group. These likely would have all got basically the same results if given a better magnification. If we were to choose, the A17 rounds would win due to their affordable price and solid performance. Looking at the data from the rounds, this rifle appears to like bullets that are 2500fps and above.
Do you need a 17HMR? Well, that depends. If you live in a fairly rural area, you’ll likely only find ammo online. As long as you don’t mind buying bullets on the interwebs, you’re good. If you’re shooting at a range, we’d pick the 17HMR over a .22LR. If you’re planning on shooting small animals up to the size of a coyote then the 17HMR is certainly our pick.
Considering our prior experience with the Mark II, we can say that Savage has moved their rimfire line in the right direction, making an already affordable rifle that much better. You can get yours pretty much anywhere that sells Savage rifles. For more information head on over here.
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Aboot the Author: What can we say aboot Ryan Houtekamer? Well, he was a cannon cocker in the Army for a while, then moved on to some sort of metal-bending aircraft structural engineering type billet in the Canadian Air Force. He’s a keen outdoorsman, spelunker, and fisherman who loves to tinker with all the things. Houtekamer is Breach-Bang-Clear’s northernmost Minion; he actually lives where it costs us extra to ship stuff to ‘cuz if has to go by dogsled part of the way.
Houtekamer actually enjoys cold weather, and revels in bombogenesis. Come to think of it, he’d fill a pretty good supporting role in a Jack London story. You can follow him on Instagram, @2centtac if you like (his tag is not, as you might expect, @Rhinopithecus bieti Canadius giganticus); there you will discover that he’s not just gear-curious, he’s a nerd too.