Remington 17 Fireball
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Hyper Velocity 17 Remington Fireball Ammunition
The 17 Remington Fireball is a popular round that was released by Remington in 2007. Based on the Remington 221 Fireball, the necked down case of the Remington 17 Fireball can propel a 20gr bullet to speeds of 4,000 fps! Exactly how fast is a 4,000 fps bullet velocity? VERY FAST! A velocity of 4,000 fps equates to over 2700 mph! This makes the Remington .17 Fireball one of the fastest factory loads around. The older Remington 17 round was slightly faster at 4,250 fps with its larger 1.80" long case that contains more powder. The newer 17 Fireball with it's shorter 1.42" case still packs a punch at 4,000 fps. What are the the benefits of using such a lightweight, high velocity bullet? This hypervelocity bullet has a flatter trajectory (doesn't drop in elevation as quickly), so that it is more accurate when shooting at longer ranges. In addition, the 17 Remington Fireball is a very efficient cartridge using significantly less powder to achieve superior performance than larger calibers like the Remington 22-250. What this means for the gun enthusiast that reloads is that it can be more economical to shoot this highly efficient 17 than other calibers in terms of reloading costs. Another advantage of the Remington 17 Fireball is that the lightweight 20gr bullets results in very little recoil while shooting. This means that it's possible to keep the gun on target for more accurate follow up shots. A high degree of accuracy and powerful knock down power for small game are also benefits of this load. Animals as large as coyotes can be taken down at long ranges.
With all the advantages of this cartridge, then what are the disadvantages (if any)? Well, one factor to consider is that these hypervelocity lightweight bullets are more prone to effects such as wind drift. Winds can push around these lightweight bullets and reduce long range accuracy. Some might also be familiar with the dreaded barrel fouling that seemed to be prevalent with some of the earlier 17 Wildcat chambered guns. It is true that some of the earlier 17's were more prone to copper fouling of the barrel. At the extremely high velocities of these small caliber bullets, there was sometimes a tendency to strip some copper off the bullet jacketing and deposit it in the barrel of the rifle. A rough barrel finish or other slight defects in the barrel surface would accelerate this problem. This copper build up could quickly throw off the accuracy of a gun. This meant that some .17 rifles required frequent cleanings with solvents capable of dissolving copper.
Remington 700 SPS Varmint 17 Fireball
Thankfully, times have changed and guns shooting the 17 Remington Fireball are not as prone to these problems as earlier .17 rounds. Newer rifles chambered for the Remington .17 Fireball have barrels that are more precisely made and are less prone to stripping copper off the bullet jackets. In addition, these modern bullets also have jackets with coatings like moly that can help minimize the problem of barrel fouling. It is still possible that you might need to use a copper solvent to clean your barrel at times, but this has become much less of a problem with more modern rounds such as the 17 Fireball. If you are looking for a very accurate, high velocity varmint load capable of taking down small game at long distances, or you are looking for an accurate long range target gun, then the 17 Remington Fireball is another great option to consider.
In case you're interested, in the past (and even today) people have developed .17 caliber wildcat rounds in their quest for the perfect small caliber rifle. Developing a "wildcat" round means that people came up with their own ammunition and developed their own gun to shoot it. It's quite remarkable what some people have done. The process begins with figuring out the geometry of the new round. These days, computer programs are available to help calculate different case dimensions and how they affect the internal volume for the powder charge. After the case specifications are determined, then a suitable brass cartridge from a standard, off the shelf cartridge is taken and resized in a reloading press. Getting the exact size of the case may not be possible at this stage, but that can be taken care of later during fire forming. More on that later. Since this wildcat load is custom, then a custom gun will need to be built to fire it. A barrel blank is needed. The barrel blank will have the appropriate .17 diameter bore machined in it and it will also be rifled, but it will not have a chamber cut in it yet. A custom reamer needs to be made and that is used to cut the chamber into the barrel blank. Then typically the barrel is fitted to a receiver and stock from a standard rifle. Any necessary customization to the gun is made in order to utilize the new wildcat round. Finally, the new rounds are fired in the gun and the brass is fire formed to the new chamber. What that means is that the pressure from the powder charge literally stretches and forms the brass case to the chamber dimensions. Obviously, you can't just stick a cartridge in a rifle that is not even close to fitting the chamber. You need the cartridge to be close to the final dimensions of the chamber, and fire forming just helps work out the details and create the proper case shape. Later, these fire formed cases can be reloaded over and over. A part of this process is also figuring out the right type of powder and the right amount of powder charge to use. An appropriate bullet also needs to be selected. The bullet itself is something that typically needs to be available off the shelf. It is not easy to develop and produce a jacketed hyper velocity bullet. The brass case is where the customization takes place with the custom powder charge propelling the factory made bullet to higher velocities and greater ballistic energy. Anyway, this is just a brief overview about how wildcat calibers are developed, but it gives you an idea of how much work and money go into developing a wildcat round. It's not easy and it's not cheap to develop a custom gun. Thankfully for most people, there are now some great off the shelf ammunition and guns available to shoot rounds such as the .17 Remington Fireball.