Modern Intermediate Calibers 013: The .17 Caliber Remington Family

The 5.56mm alongside two of its .17 caliber variants. Center, the 4.32x45mm Frankford Arsenal, Right, the German 4.3x45mm DAG.

The 5.56mm alongside two of its .17 caliber variants. Center, the 4.32x45mm Frankford Arsenal, Right, the German 4.3x45mm DAG.

Up to this point we’ve looked at calibers ranging from 5.56mm to 7.62mm, but today we’re going to look at something smaller… A lot smaller. The smallest caliber size that is feasible for a given current barrelmaking and projectile manufacture technology is .173″/4.32mm, and a natural centerfire platform for that caliber is the common 5.56mm case. This has led to a large number of cartridge types developed  – including the privately designed .17 Remington, and the German 4.3x45mm DAG – that are essentially similar, and so we will cover them under one umbrella here. Representative of this type in a military context is the Frankford Arsenal’s 4.32x45mm, which was loaded with a relatively low drag 27 grain full metal jacket projectile which – like the 5.56x38mm FABRL covered recently – possessed approximately the same ballistic coefficient as the 5.56mm 55gr M193 projectile. This means the 4.32x45mm Frankford represents essentially an alternate approach to duplicating the M193 round in a lighter package, by reducing the caliber instead of making the projectile lighter and longer.

Anyway, with that out of the way, on to the ballistics:

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My readers will note that, at your request, I have added the 5.56mm as a baseline round. I will continue to do this for future installments.

The 4.32x45mm did reduce weight versus the M193, weighing 9.65 grams per round, which coincidentally, is almost identical to the 5.56x38mm FABRL!

Note: All ballistic calculations are done with JBM’s Trajectory calculator, using the ballistic coefficient appropriate to the projectile being modeled, and assuming an AR-15 as a firing platform. Also, keep in mind that there is no single true velocity for a given round; velocity can vary due to a large number of factors, including ambient temperature and chamber dimensions. Instead, I try to use nominal velocity figures that are representative of the capability of the round in question.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • iksnilol

    They could have further reduced weight by using a steel case (assuming they used brass).

  • James Young

    It’s conclusive, the NATO needs to adopt a round that’s even smaller, .17 caliber is superior in velocity and bullet drop…in fact why not just keep going down. Can we get one in a .05 caliber?

    Just imagine the velocity…………..

    • Kivaari

      They did test darts.

    • Arathar

      SCHV with less than usual drop are really good, the problem is bore volume/piston effect. With a tiny bullet and bore you have to press a ton of gas trough it with insane pressures to get comperable energy. For high energy in short barrels due to better piston effect/ more bore volume, low pressure, low friction, no copper fouling. Sabots are usefull.

      For these reasons with a .05 caliber bore you blow your gun up and get tiny energy. So rather use a sabot.

  • Bob

    I’ll bet these burn out a barrel pretty quick with those speeds!

  • Kivaari

    What about barrel fouling? The biggest complaint I heard from varmint shooters and target shooters were the .17 Remington rifles simply fouled the bores in as few as 20 rounds and that bores did wear out. With nearly constant cleaning required that seems more damaging than actual shooting.

  • DIR911911 .

    when I was in junior high one of the g&a magazines I had featured a tc contender chambered in a 17/44 wildcat. 17 caliber bullet on a necked down 44 magnum case. absolute screaming velocities. quick google search confirms it was the first one I ever bought jan 81