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My .17 Predator

by Dave Affleck

The Rifle – Barrel
The barrels on the rifles previously mentioned are all Lilja #4 contour, 24” long.  I have found the #4 to be a great compromise between heavy and light.  It is light enough that I have no problem carrying these rifles all day, but still heavy enough to be reasonably stiff for enhanced accuracy, while also adding some stability with the slightly nose heavy balance I prefer for shooting off hand or sitting with crossed sticks.  So a Lilja #4 was the automatic choice.  Likewise, given that I wanted to use the Kindler 30 gr. Gold bullets, a 1 in 9 twist rate was the obvious choice.  My other Lilja .17 caliber barrels are all very accurate and don’t copper foul much, so Lilja was the easy choice.   

I did agonize awhile trying to decide on the finished length of the barrel.  Dan Clements original .17P had been built with a 26” barrel.  I really don’t like a barrel quite that long for a calling rifle – just a personal preference.  My other rifles built on similar platforms were all sporting 24” barrels and I wanted to do the same for my .17P.  But I was concerned about exactly how much performance I would be giving up with that extra 2” of barrel.  The .17P is what I like to call an “intense” cartridge.  It has a lot of capacity for the .17 bore, with a fairly low expansion ratio.  Or in other words, it’s what many people like to call “over bore”.  With any cartridge like this, long barrels allow you to get the most velocity out of all that powder you’re burning.  So, there was no question I’d lose some velocity with a shorter barrel.  The questions were, just how much velocity would I lose, and could I live with the loss?  After much mulling it over and consulting with Dan, I figured I would probably lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 to 80 fps by going with a 24” barrel compared to a 26” barrel.  I decided I could live with that loss in exchange for what I consider superior handling of the shorter tube.  So, a call was made to Dan Lilja, and one of his superb .17 caliber barrels ordered in a #4 contour and with a 1 in 9 twist rate.

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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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