Although .17 HMR is a relative newcomer to the modern ammo scene, it has already earned quite a devoted fan base. One of the fastest and most accurate rimfire cartridges currently in production, .17 HMR is definitely here to stay. The cartridge is great for long-range varmint hunting and recreational plinking, but if you want to make the most of the HMR’s capabilities, you’ll need a good quality scope.
If you’re looking for the best scope for 17 HMR rifles, you’ve come to the right place. If you aren’t sure what to look for in an HMR scope, we’ve got some great suggestions to fit any budget. Keep reading to find out more.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for the details, here are our best picks for 17 HMR Scopes:
- Bushnell Engage 4-16×44
- Tasco Target/Varmint 6-24×42
- BSA Optics Sweet 17 SP 3-12×40
- Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9×40
- Hawke Riflescope Vantage IR 4-12×40
- Nikon Prostaff P5 3-12x42SF
- Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12×40
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire 2-7×32
- BARSKA Hot Magnum 6-18×40
- Primary Arms Classic Series 4-16×44
Table of Contents
- Why .17 HMR Needs a Scope ?
- Finding the Best Scope for .17 HMR
- What About Red Dots?
- Best Scope for 17 HMR on the Market Reviews
- 1 Bushnell Engage 4-16×44
- 2 Tasco Target/Varmint 6-24×42
- 3 BSA Optics Sweet 17 SP 3-12×40
- 4 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9×40
- 5 Hawke Riflescope Vantage IR 4-12×40
- 6 Nikon Prostaff P5 3-12x42SF
- 7 Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12×40
- 8 Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire 2-7×32
- 9 BARSKA Hot Magnum 6-18×40
- 10 Primary Arms Classic Series 4-16×44
- Final Thoughts
Why .17 HMR Needs a Scope ?
The .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire, commonly known as the .17 HMR, was developed using a standard .22 Magnum case that was necked down to accommodate a smaller .17 caliber projectile.
The first .17 HMR rifles and ammo hit the market in 2002. These spitfire cartridges completely blew past the muzzle velocities and trajectories of other popular rimfire loads. The .17 HMR can send a 17-grain polymer-tipped bullet downrange at a lightning fast 2,650 feet per second. SInce these hotrod cartridges are also slow to shed speed, they are completely capable of vaporizing varmints out past 200 yards.
In addition to repeatable accuracy, these hard-hitting, fast-moving, flat-shooting magnum rimfire cartridges deliver plenty of terminal energy. This makes them well-suited for hunting varmints and other small game animals. However, if you want to reliably pierce small vital areas at a distance, this cartridge begs for a high-quality riflescope.
Finding the Best Scope for .17 HMR
If you want to milk this flat-shooting cartridge for all it’s worth, you’re going to need the right optic. Here are a few key things to consider when shopping for a scope for your .17 HMR rifle.
The .17 HMR cartridge is capable of delivering ethical kills to prairie dogs and other similarly sized varmints out beyond 200 yards. To get the most from this round, you do need a scope with enough magnification to bring those tiny vital areas into clear focus. Look for a scope with powerful magnification, at least in the 4x to 16x range in order to make that happen.
Magnification is just one factor in the long-range hunting equation. It doesn’t matter how close you can zoom in if you can’t see the image through the scope. In addition to powerful magnification, your .17 HMR scope should also have good optical quality. For best results, look for an optic with high-density glass, fully multi-coated lenses, and an objective lens that measures at least 40mm.
The small 17-grain, .17 caliber projectiles in HMR cartridges really don’t handle wind very well. Even a light 10mph crosswind can send an HMR bullet loping sideways off your crosshairs. A reticle with windage markings (either Mil-Dot or HMR-specific hash marks) can be a godsend, especially when you’re shooting across open prairie or cropland.
Parallax can be a major issue for long-range shooters, especially for those using a high power scope. A good HMR scope will have some form of parallax adjustment. This will usually be an adjustable objective (AO) or some sort of side focus knob.
.17 HMR cartridges aren’t known for producing excessive recoil, so you shouldn’t need to worry about harsh recoil throwing off your zero. However, an HMR scope that is o-ring sealed and purged with an inert gas like nitrogen or argon will resist thermal shock and prevent internal fogging. This is an absolute necessity for hunters who may encounter temperature variations or wet weather in the field.
What About Red Dots?
While red dots are cool for tactical shooting, you should avoid red dot and reflex sights for your HMR rifle. Although red dots are a great option for plinking most other rimfire cartridges, they can waste the long-range capabilities of the HMR. .17 HMR was engineered to reach out and touch targets at a distance. Red dots work much better for up-close, fast-action shooting.
Best Scope for 17 HMR on the Market Reviews
Want to know what scopes we recommend for .17 HMR rifles? Here are just a few of our favorite models.
1 Bushnell Engage 4-16×44
If you think 16x magnification is overkill on a rimfire rifle, you’re highly underestimating the long-range capabilities of the .17 HMR cartridge. With the capacity to reach targets more than twice as far away as .22 LR, .17 HMR shooters can greatly benefit from ample magnification, especially when popping small varmints.
The Bushnell Engage has far more to offer HMR shooters than powerful magnification. This scope also features anti-reflection coatings that provide breath-taking brightness and true color fidelity, even in low light.
The Engage is built to hold up to rough treatment and bad weather. Lenses are coated with protective treatments that repel water, oil, fog, dust, and debris, so your optic will deliver crisp images for the life of the scope.
2 Tasco Target/Varmint 6-24×42
This Tasco riflescope makes a great partner for your .17 HMR rifle, whether you plan to use it for plinking soda cans or popping varmints. It features a true Mil-Dot reticle, powerful magnification, and 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustments, making it perfect for long-range shooting. Read here for more options on long range shooting.
The scope features multi-coated optics and an ample 42mm objective lens. These features combine to provide bright image quality through the scope’s entire magnification range, helping you locate and hit even the smallest targets.
The turrets on this affordable optic are of surprising quality, allowing you to easily make fine adjustments, even if you’re wearing gloves.
3 BSA Optics Sweet 17 SP 3-12×40
The BSA Sweet 17 SP was engineered specifically for .17 HMR. It features a BDC reticle and adjustment turrets that are ballistically calibrated for .17 HMR rounds loaded with either 17- or 20-grain projectiles. The scope also has an adjustable parallax setting (from 10 yards to infinity), that is well-suited for long-range rimfire shooting.
The Sweet 17 SP also features fully multi-coated lenses that provide crisp, bright images.
Built to handle rough use, the Sweet 17 SP features a housing milled from a single piece of durable aluminum alloy. The housing is o-ring sealed and nitrogen filled to provide reliable fogproof performance, even in the wettest conditions.
4 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9×40
The scopes in Bushnell’s Banner series regularly make our top ten lists, so it should be no surprise that this is one of the best options for your .17 HMR rifle.
The Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn riflescope excels at low light shooting. It features fully multi-coated lenses, an ample 40mm objective lens, and ED prime glass. These light enhancing qualities provide some of the brightest low light images you’ll ever see through a riflescope.
Highly durable, the Bushnell Banner has a housing made from a one-piece tube of rugged aluminum. The tube is o-ring sealed and filled with dry nitrogen. The result is an optic that is shock resistant, will not fog in bad weather, and is 100 percent waterproof.
5 Hawke Riflescope Vantage IR 4-12×40
Perfect for both targets and varmints, the Vantage IR riflescope features Hawke’s exclusive X-ACT reticle. This illuminated reticle has pre-calculated aiming points that are calibrated specifically for the flat-shooting .17 HMR cartridge. All you need to do is zero the optic on its highest magnification at 100 yards, and all the aim points are set and ready to go.
Long-range shooters will appreciate the scope’s adjustable objective (AO) that can be used to correct parallax from 10 yards to infinity. The scope also features fully multi-coated lenses that offer impeccable brightness, clarity, and contrast.
Waterproof and shockproof, the Hawke Vantage IR is nitrogen purged to prevent internal fogging. It also features a rugged one-piece aluminum housing for extra durability in the field.
6 Nikon Prostaff P5 3-12x42SF
The Nikon Prostaff P5 has unique, fully multi-coated optics that provide up to 98 percent light transmission. This makes it perfect for hunting varmints in low light.
The Prostaff P5t has a crisp, easy-to-read BDC (bullet drop compensator) reticle to help you make more accurate shots, no matter the distance or size of your target.
Nikon also included spring-loaded Instant Zero Reset turrets to make your field adjustments easier than ever. The Prostaff P5 also features a turret-mounted side focus parallax adjustment that allows long-range shooters to fine-tune the sight picture without changing their head position.
This durable scope is o-ring sealed to keep moisture out and prevent internal fogging. The housing is also purged with nitrogen gas to prevent thermal shock.
7 Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12×40
No list of best rifle scopes would be complete without at least one model from optics mogul Leupold & Stevens. When it comes to high-quality optics for .17 HMR, Leupold has plenty to offer. It was hard to narrow it down, but we’ve chosen the Leupold VX-Freedom to include here.
This highly affordable riflescope is a total rock star. Engineered to hold up in rough conditions, the VX-Freedom is crafted from 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum. The scope is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof.
While this scope has tons to offer, we think its biggest selling point is the Leupold Twilight Light Management system. The system uses multiple layers of proprietary lens coatings to reduce glare and maximize light transmission. Perfect for hunting in low light, the Twilight Light Management System provides some of the best high-contrast, razor-sharp images you’ll ever view through an optic.
8 Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rimfire 2-7×32
Vortex Optics are well-known for their affordable, high-quality rifle scopes. When it comes to pairing a scope with a .17 HMR rifle, the Vortex Crossfire II Rimfire Riflescope is hard to beat. Perfect for close to medium range shooting, this versatile optic is perfect for varmint hunting, target shooting, and good old-fashioned plinking.
The Crossfire II Rimfire is surprisingly affordable, but don’t be fooled by its budget price. It comes packed with premium features and provides an insane amount of value for the money.
The Crossfire II Rimfire features a forgiving eye box and a generous field of view (FOV), making it ideal for young or inexperienced shooters. It also has a convenient fast focus eyepiece that allows you to get on target quickly and achieve an effective sight picture for fast, accurate shooting.
9 BARSKA Hot Magnum 6-18×40
The Barska Hot Magnum has a powerful 6-18x magnification range that lets you get up close and personal with distant varmints or long-range steel targets. The scope has multi-coated optics and high density glass for bright viewing. It also features an adjustable objective (AO) for easy parallax correction.
The Barska Hot Magnum comes with interchangeable .17 and .22 BDC knobs, so you can easily use this optic on almost any rimfire rifle. The .17 knobs have pre-calculated trajectory compensation for 100 to 300 yards. These knobs are the perfect option for shooting .17 HMR cartridges with 17 grain bullets.
10 Primary Arms Classic Series 4-16×44
If you’re looking for an affordable, entry-level optic for your .17 HMR, look no further. This Primary Arms Classic Series riflescope is perfect for both new and budget-conscious shooters.
This 4-16x scope features an illuminated SFP (second focal plane) Mil-Dot reticle that works well for ranging varmints. It has 12 brightness settings that maximize reticle visibility at first light, late in the day, and everything in between.
Classic Series scopes have high-quality locking turrets that provide both audible and tactile ¼ MOA clicks for precise adjustments. They also come with a resettable zero function and a side knob for easy parallax adjustment.
Finding the best scope for 17 HMR can be challenging, but it isn’t impossible. Any of the optics on our list of top picks should serve you well. However, even an expensive, top-of-the-line optic won’t make you a better shooter without some good old-fashioned practice. Make sure you spend some time sending lead downrange if you really want to improve your .17 HMR shooting talents.