Gun Review: Marlin 17VS

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    I’m a big fan of the .17HMR no question about it. I’ve owned several rifles in this caliber and enjoyed every one. My favorites are the Savage and the Marlin 17VS. My 17 VS is stainless steel with a laminated grey/black stock and 22 inch heavy varmint barrel.

    When I bought my 17VS and took it to the range the first time I was not happy with the trigger. Saying the trigger was terrible would be an understatement. It came in at almost 6 pounds and not even close to being smooth. I seriously thought about trading it in but after some thought I starting searching for a replacement trigger. This rifle is just too nice other wise to give up on right away.

    I settled on a Rifle Bazix trigger from E. Arthur Brown Company. The trigger is adjustable using two screws that adjust for sear contact and trigger pull distance. Adjustment is from 1—2 ½ pounds. Granted it’s touchy but a great trigger that’s easy for even a novice to install. The trigger can be found for approx. $75.00. It’s certainly worth it if you have one of these rifles.

    The next item of business was to replace the old scope I temporarily used. I mounted a Nikon Pro Staff Rimfire 4X and called it done. If I had it to do over again I’d buy a 3-9X scope since the 17HMR has an accuracy range greater than the ability of the 4X scope to provide adequate magnification at 200 plus yards. This is especially true for small targets.

    After these photos were taken I also added a Harris 6-9 inch bi-pod. There are cheaper copies of the Harris but none as stable or durable. If you shop around the Harris brand can be found for $65.00.

    Marlin has since discontinued the VS. The new version is the 917VS. The only difference between the two is the new Marlin T-900 trigger system. This trigger group is supposed to be a competitor to the Savage Accu-Trigger. Well, they didn’t get that close to the Savage system.

    I tried one of the new Marlins with this trigger and it’s too heavy. The range of adjustment is also limited. If you like these Marlin 17HMR’s it better to just buy either model and replace it with the “Rifle Basix” trigger group. There’s no doubt it’s far superior to the new T-900 trigger.

    As much as I hate to say it with a trigger like mine it will beat my Savage 17HMR with the Accu-Trigger. That isn’t a knock on the Savage because it is a fine rifle.

    The new Marlin 917VS

    Speaking of shooting past 200 yards with the .17HMR it is very wind sensitive. Even at 2550 FPS a 17 grain bullet is going to be a bit erratic in a significant wind. Practice in all conditions is very important to achieve consistent results. However on a calm day the accuracy is especially amazing. I’ve read the .17 HMR holds most of the rimfire records and I can believe it.

    This little wildcat can take down a Coyote pushing 250 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle and 90 foot pounds at 175 yards depending on bullet weight. Where I shoot 200 yards is about the max distance available for varmint hunting.

    The property belongs to the small town where I live. The city lagoon is on this property and it seems to draw varmints for some reason. All the better for me since the city asked me to do some varmint control for them. The little pest dig holes in the walls of the lagoon, which cost the city a good deal of money. They buy the bullets and I take care of the problem.

    Caliber .17 Hornady Magnum Rimfire
    Capacity 4-shot and 7-shot magazine included 917VS. 2×7 Round magazines with 17VS
    Action Bolt action; thumb safety; red-cocking indicator.
    Finish Stainless
    Barrel Heavy 22″ stainless steel (4 grooves)
    Twist 1:9″ r.h
    Stock Monte Carlo laminated gray / black hardwood with nickel-plated sling swivel studs
    Overall Length 41″
    Weight 7 lbs
    Sights No sights provided, but receiver is grooved for scope mount; drilled and tapped for scope bases (scope bases included).


    Even if you don’t varmint hunt the 17HMR is just enjoyable to shoot. Target shooting with the Marlin can be challenging whether it’s shooting paper or improvising by shooting eggs at distance.

    Deciding on which rifle is right for you partly depends on whether you want to spend the money on a match trigger or just shoot your rifle right out of the box. For me it’s pretty simple. I’ll stick with the Marlin with the Basix trigger. This Marlin is the most accurate I’ve shot.

    Phil White

    Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: [email protected] you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.