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My .17 Predator

by Dave Affleck

In the Field
Now this is the GOOD part!  Back when I read Danís first Small Caliber News article about the .17 Predator, I was just finishing up the design stage and starting to build a new rock chuck rifle.  My goals for that rifle were a rifle to deliver as much energy as possible in a package I could reasonably carry around and still have some chance of seeing my own shot impacts in the scope.  That turned into a 14 pound 6MM Ackley Improved with a Vais brake (the project didnít really work out, but thatís another storyÖ).  Anyway, as I mentioned at the beginning of this article, when I first read about the .17 Predator, one of the first things that came to my mind in looking at the specís for the .17P, was that it would make one Hell-on-wheels walking chuck rifle!  It has flatter trajectory and less wind drift than all but the very hottest .224ís shooting 55 gr. bullets (it takes a very hot Swift load, or a .223 WSSM to match the .17P for trajectory or wind deflection).  Using the 30 gr. Gold bullets at over 4000 fps, the .17P delivers 400 ft/lbs at 500 yards.  And it gives you all this in a package that allows easily spotting your own shot impacts through the scope with even a fairly lightweight and easy to carry rifle.  Well, after my first day hunting with my .17 Predator, I found that it IS, for a fact, a big time Hell-on-wheels walk-n-pop chuck rifle!   

As it turned out, a snowdrift across the road (in late July) prevented me from driving all the way in to my high country chuck hunting spot for my first day hunting with the .17 Predator.  So I ended up taking a good 4 mile hike above timberline, at about 11,000 feet elevation, carrying the .17 Predator.  I killed 26 rock chucks with 27 shots, and every one of those 26 chucks was a clean, instant one shot kill, and I saw every single hit cleanly through the scope.  This was using the fireforming load too, by the way.  Truly a memorable day of hunting and absolutely stunning performance from the new rifle.  I was one happy Ďchuck hunter!  

The results from the first day of coyote hunting with the new .17 Predator

Well satisfied with every aspect of the .17P after my chuck hunt, I was super anxious to try it on prime winter coyotes.  Finally, October arrived and I couldnít stand to wait any longer.  Even though I had rock chucks on the brain at the time I started to have my .17P built, the real purpose I had in mind for it was as an "every stand" coyote calling rifle.  Just as the first day out chuck hunting had turned into a truly memorable experience, so too did my first day of coyote calling with the new rig turn into something special.  When the day finally arrived, my partner Tim and I went out to one of our favorite coyote hunting spots to try out both my .17P and a new FX3 caller from Foxpro.  It turned out to be one of those rare days that the coyotes just seemed to be finding our calling irresistible, as we had coyotes come in on most of the stands we made.  I ended up getting shots at 5 coyotes myself, killing 4 (missed the other one clean).  And once again, I could not have been more pleased with the performance of the .17 Predator.  As it turned out, I got to see quite a variety of shot angles and hits for one day.  You can read a blow-by-blow damage assessment of the first 8 coyotes killed with my .17P here.  One thing that became very clear by the end of the day, is that those 30 grain bullets, moving out at over 4000 fps, hit one heck of a lot harder than the 25ís out of my .17 Mach IV that Iím used to!  With proper bullet placement, this should be a very fur friendly setup.  With less than ideal bullet placement, there is going to be some fur damage, but, there is enough energy and bullet integrity there that I feel the chances of actually losing a poorly hit coyote are greatly reduced as compared to my Mach IV.  Simply put, the .17P is delivering a lot more energy, with significantly greater penetration.  But I still get that neat experience of seeing the impact clearly though the scope, and that awesome, all out of proportion to bullet size meat report that the .17ís give on coyotes.

I've put together a video clip of scenes from our coyote hunting video, "Varmint Safari 4, Tricking the Trickster".  In this clip you can see the .17 Predator in action on called coyotes.  To see the video clip, click here.

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The Cartridge
Choosing an action
Choosing a stock
Choosing a barrel
The scope
The Riflesmith
Loading dies & forming cases
Load work
Results in the field
Final thoughts

Rocky Mountain Varmint Hunter
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