When Hornady introduced the .17 HMR rimfire cartridge a few years back, it was received with mixed reviews. Primarily because shooters didn’t know what to make of it. Once they realized it was a better varmint round to replace their .22 long rifle and magnums, then it made sense. This little speedster really does a number on small critters all the way out to 200 yards. But until recently, rifles for this great caliber have been relegated to almost entirely bolt actions and no one had a reliable, complete AR style platform. Alexander Arms changed all that with the introduction of their .17 HMR Tactical Rifle.
Putting the .17 HMR into a semi-auto rifle has proven challenging, and many manufacturers simply gave up. Alexander Arms knew it could be done and wanted to do it with their already proven line of high end, custom built AR rifles. The trick was to switch over to a direct blowback operating system with a new recoil system. Most of the AR receiver components remain that same but there are some unique changes. The bolt is completely new and the recoil spring and buffer are replaced with a recoil cassette which is a self contained housing holding the buffer and spring. The magazine well contains an insert allowing for containment of the 10 round polymer magazine and the magazine catch is also new.
The Alexander Arms .17 HMR Tactical Rifle comes with a Manticore Arms Transformer Rail handguard riding over the 18″ stainless steel button-rifled barrel. The barrel has a 1:10 twist, straight flutes and is painted black. It also has the standard AR threaded muzzle (1/2-28 TPI RH) so it will accept whichever muzzle device you prefer. Mine had a standard A2 style flash hider but I opted to go with a stainless thread protector in the event I want to run it with a suppressor. The rifle can be had with numerous variations to included different accessories and finishes. I chose the Titanium Cerakote finish with Manticore Snake Grip panels. If you have never used Manticore products, they are superb. The buttstock is the B5 Systems SOPMOD BRAVO collapsible stock. Since the .17 HMR is a great caliber for kids to shoot, the collapsible stock makes this rifle perfect for smaller shooters.
After bringing the rifle home, I unpacked it from the box and gave it a thorough once over. I do this with every new gun. It is not uncommon, especially with bolt action rifles, to find most of the screws are not fully tightened on a new gun. This can really affect accuracy and have you chasing your tail wondering what is wrong. I didn’t find any loose screws on the Alexander Arms gun but this isn’t too unusual on an AR rifle. What is unusual is seeing an AR with such a nice fit and finish. The Cerakote work was excellent. After wiping the gun down and making sure the bolt was lubed, I mounted the optic, a Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm. Leupold makes amazing optics and I have lost track of how many have owned over the years. This model has a one inch tube and low profile turrets which keeps the weight and size down. The 14 power magnification really helps get the most out of the fast little .17 round. I used a Leupold Mark 2 IMS Integral Mounting System to attach the VX-3i to the top of the AR. This mount is one of my favorites for ARs as it combines rings and bases in one unit and sets the scope at the correct height for an AR’s straight stock.
I took the Alexander Arms rifle to the range and test fired it while sighting it in. I used Hornady 17 grain Varmint Express ammunition with the V-Max bullet. The gun easily grouped under an inch at 100 yards right away. The glass on the Leupold VX-3i is super clear and the shooter can see the little hits even at 100 yards. This is really one fun rifle. It cycled and ran flawlessly during the range session where I burned up about 50 rounds. Then it was off to the field for some real fun. We took it with us on a prairie dog hunt to Wyoming and it really got a work out. We went through mag after mag and put over three hundred rounds through the gun. The fixed parallax on this optic made transitioning from 50 yard to 200 yard shots quick and easy. The .17 HMR is a blast to shoot anyway but when you have fast follow up shots at your disposal, it just gets downright silly!
The Alexander Arms .17 AR is also available as a kit to add on to your existing mil-spec lower. The kit comes with the complete upper receiver, recoil cassette, magazine well insert and magazine catch. Or you can do it the right way and get the complete rifle. It is custom built to your specs and you won’t be sorry.