Best Scope for the 17 HMR
The good thing about the 17HMR is that it is extremely versatile. As such, there are lots of scopes that can be used with the round. Choosing the one that is perfect for you can be quite a hassle.
Thankfully, our list is here to help you. After a lot of testing and research, we have come up with 5 best scopes for 17 HMR.
17HMR, although expensive, is one of the best hunting rounds available. Not only is it extremely accurate, but it packs much more power and has a much smaller drop than other small-game rounds such as the 22LR.
Best Scope for 17 HMR Compared Head-to-Head
We have discussed what to keep in mind selecting a great scope for the 17 HMR. Here are our 5 best picks based on the criteria above.
5 Best Scopes for 17 HMR Reviewed
Best Overall: Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC
As the name implies, Nikon Buckmasters II was purpose-built with hunting in mind.
If you are looking for a crisp image no matter how much or how little light there is, then Buckmasters II is for you. Even though it has no illumination, that is mainly because it does not need it. Light seems to flood into its lens, providing clear visuals no matter the time of day.
The main reason for selecting Buckmasters II as our best scope is its versatility. It will deliver amazing performance when using the 17 HMR, as well as other hunting calibers. One of the reasons for this is the Spot On technology that allows you to calibrate its reticle for whichever rifle you are using.
Add to that the fact that it has a tendency to hold its zero very well and is shock-proof, water-proof, and fog-proof, and it is easy to see why the Buckmasters II is the best scope for 17 HMR.
Best For Long Range: BARSKA 6-18×40 mm AO Hot Magnum
If you are someone who wants to shoot targets constantly at longer ranges, then the BARSKA Hot Magnum is for you. With magnification that goes all the way up to 18x, you can be assured of seeing the target clearly even at 300-yards.
Sadly, this scope was not designed to shoot targets at distances of less than 100-yards. I myself had a lot of trouble trying to fire at that range as well. For one, the scope does not compensate for bullet trajectory. Apart from that, the scope also has a minimum magnification of 6x which is not ideal for tracking targets at close range.
The scope is also very heavy. However, the Hot Magnum is not meant to be versatile. Instead, it is supposed to be a scope that you use for pure performance. When it comes to finding a scope that can be as accurate as the Hot Magnum is, finding another one that is as cheap as the Hot Magnum is can be a mammoth challenge.
Best for Close Range: Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32
With a maximum magnification of only 7x, the Crossfire II is a scope that can surprise even experienced hunters with its efficiency. The best part about the scope is that even after a hundred shots, it holds zero amazingly well.
You also get to use the fast-focus eyepiece, which can be used to quickly acquire targets on trips. You are also given the option to choose from 2 reticles. You can either go for the Dead-Hold BDC reticle for its accuracy, or you can pick the V-Plex for its clean look. Personally, I prefer the V-Plex since bullet drop is a non-factor for 17 HMR below 150-yards (even though I prefer the BDC in almost any other instance).
While this scope is certainly a little bit heavy considering its size, it is still worth purchasing. Of course, the scope requires a little time to get used to it. However, those looking to shoot prey at shorter distances will love how they can be extremely accurate and enjoy the High-quality that the Crossfire II is known for.
Best Premium Option: Bushnell Engage 4-16×44
The Bushnell Engage requires you to spend a lot more money than other options on this list. However, the price is worth it once you look at the features of this scope.
First of all, the image quality is truly stunning. This is due to various coatings on the glass which prevent fog and water from accumulating on the lens.
The image is further helped by amazing brightness and performance in all conditions. This is mainly due to the extremely wide 44mm objective lens that lets in a lot more light than the usual 40mm scopes. The same lens also allows you to have a wider field of view to accurately track game at higher magnifications.
Lastly, Bushnell’s warranty is generally considered to be one of the best in the industry. However, chances are that you will not need it since the Engage is acclaimed for its durability.
Best Budget Option: Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9×40
Despite being the cheapest option on this list, Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn is no slouch. Even at its low price, it provides you with a ton of features and performance on par with other options on this list.
The best thing about the Banner, like its name suggests, is its performance in low-light conditions. The Banner is probably my favorite scope along with the Engage for hunting during dusk or dawn.
The Banner also allows you to focus in on the target very quickly. However, its field of view is not really something that will make you happy. Often times, you need to adjust the magnification in order to be able to see your target and its immediate surroundings properly.
If you do not have a lot of money lying around but require a scope that is perfect for shooting 17 HMR, then the Banner is the way to go.
What Makes a Scope ‘Great’ for 17 HMR
The 17HMR is a complicated round. On one hand, it is great for hunting small-game between 100-200 yards. On the other hand, shooting game at lesser distances can be unethical, as the round packs enough power to destroy the meat.
Because of this, it is important that the correct scope for 17 HMR not only has enough magnification to support the range of the round but also be accurate enough for headshots on targets at smaller distances.
Whatever you end up using your scope for, here are some things you need to keep in mind when selecting a scope for 17 HMR.
When it comes to power, you need a scope that is versatile. Since you will be using the round at both short and (relatively) long range, you need a scope that provides the appropriate amount of magnification.
Remember that if you want to kill the game ethically, then you will need to headshot it at close range due to the massive amount of stopping power that the 17 HMR carries. As such, a 3-9x magnification is required at the very least, while 10-15x can also work.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of 17 HMR is that there is very little bullet drop due to the weight of the bullet. As such, you have a lot of leeway with the reticle unless you are planning to shoot the round at more than 200-yards (which I wouldn’t recommend as I have personal experience with how difficult it is).
Obviously, a reticle that compensates for bullet drop is ideal due to its versatility. However, those who do not have a lot of money to spend can get by with a standard duplex reticle (or even a crosshair).
When it comes to illumination, it is mainly up to you. Personally, I prefer hunting scopes to have an illuminated reticle for low-light conditions. However, many experienced hunters never use an illuminated reticle no matter what the conditions.
Lens and Clarity
This is extremely important. For hunting weapons, it is generally a good idea to get a scope that has an objective lens of at least 40mm. This is because the best time to hunt is generally considered to be dusk or dawn. Light can be a precious commodity during that time, so you need a scope that can grab as much of it as possible.
Of course, a clear image is a must-have on any scope as well. All of the scopes on this list produce an image that is good enough for even the most professional hunter.
We mentioned above that bullet drop is not a huge problem when it comes to 17 HMR. Similarly, the wind is also not going to be a huge issue. Because of this, turrets are not a huge problem when shooting 17 HMR either.
You should look for turrets that are capped. Capped turrets have caps to protect them from being accidentally manipulated. Adjustable turrets, on the other hand, can easily be adjusted on the fly.
Capped turrets are low-profile (they do not take a lot of space) and are perfect for hunters. If there is a lot of wind, then you can make use of the Kentucky Windage technique.
Generally, you want a scope that does not break down easily. However, what is even more important is that the scope holds its zero for an extended period of time. Having to adjust the zero when you are out on a hunting trip can be very problematic.
As a general rule of thumb, a scope that can hold its zero for a hundred shots is considered great. It is important to remember that a scope’s ability to hold a zero also depends on the mount, mounting rings, and the specific rifle you are using.
For the most part, 17 HMR is not considered to be a recoil-heavy round. Still, extended shooting will eventually thwart its zero. If you are a precise hunter who likes to fire only a few shots every hunt, then zeroing your scope prior to the hunt will suffice. Otherwise, you will need to adjust the zero on the fly.
As any experienced hunter knows, you need a coated lens that can protect the scope from the fog as well as water. This way, you can be assured of maximum performance no matter what the conditions are. On top of that, scopes with proofing tend to last longer.
In terms of pure performance, I would say that the Bushnell Engage is the best scope for 17 HMR. However, once you factor in the price, then the Nikon Buckmasters II stands out from among the rest.
It’s simply impossible as a hunter to not fall in love with the Buckmaster II. It works well with most rifles, at most distances, and in all conditions. Rain or sunshine, you will be able to headshot a rabbit at 50 meters or take out a fox at 200. Lastly, it is almost unheard of the Buckmaster II to break, easily making it the best scope for 17 HMR.