Top 4 Scopes for 17 HMR Rifle -  Best 2020 Reviews and Guide


Let's talk about a good classic -the .17 HMR rifle cartridge – and the reasons I think it deserves more appreciation. It’s primarily known as a basic varmint shot. The .17 is reliable. It’s predictable. It’s familiar. I like it for all these reasons, but I also think there’s a lot more to this cartridge.

As an avid hunter and a farm guy, the .17 HMR is the type of ammunition I always keep around. There’s always a box or three at my homestead because it’s a great cartridge for picking off critters. Let me tell you a bit more about it.

best 17 hmr scope and rifle

So, pay attention!

best 17 hmr scope for long range

Image Source: Alexander Andrews/Unsplash

A Quick Guide to the .17 HMR Rifle Cartridge


Even Trajectory Up to 100 Yards – Exceptionally Powerful At Close Range – Consistently Accurate – Increase Range and Speed


When paired with a 22” barrel, this rifle cartridge is a real crack shot. It can shoot with tremendous accuracy from distances approaching 100 yards


This is regardless of whether MOA is close to or even less than 1 at this kind of range.


I’m the first to admit, the .17 HMR isn’t designed to help a guy rise to the top of his local shooting league. As we’ve already said, it’s primarily a varmint shot.


Give it a little patience though, and you might be pleasantly surprised. After a fair bit of practice, I can nail a critter from almost 300 yards away with this cartridge.


If you want to do this at home or on the range, you need a high quality scope that’s fully compatible with the .17 HMR.


So, what type of scope should you pick up?


Well, the next part of this article will discuss some options. Pick the right scope and your rifle will be capable of amazing things, I promise.

How Far Can the .17 HMR Cartridge Travel?

You’ve got your rifle primed and ready to go (let’s say it’s a 22’’ barrel). You’ve got your .17 cartridges to hand. How far can you expect to shoot?

Getting too close to your game can ruin your kill shot, so having something that magnifies the playing feel so you can stay farther away gets some serious golden points in my eyes!

  • Close Range - up to 100 yards
  • Medium Range - 100 to 200 yards
  • Long Range - 200+ yards

These are just rough figures to give you an idea of what the pairing (.17 HMRs with a 22” barrel) is capable of. It’s a relatively standard set up.


These are distances you can typically expect to shoot assuming you don’t add any attachments.


Add a scope to really put the coyote among the pigeons (or pick him off before he snatches your chickens).


The optimum level of magnification depends on shooting style, ability and routine. If you’re used to firing off shots long range, you’re going to need a more powerful scope.


If you prefer target shooting at close range, a really strong scope is only going to interfere with your vision. So, it’s really important to make the right choice.

Aim Accuracy

Shooting the .17 HMR Cartridge

1. Long Range

When you’re shooting from these distances, a good scope is essential. If you’ve got an impeccable eye, you might be able to pick off larger animals without one. Anything smaller than a deer though and you have no chance without magnification.


I recommend using a scope with 7x magnification or possibly even more.

gun and scope Safety

2. Medium Range

This is where you’ll find a sweet spot for the .17 HMR cartridge. It’s very happy shooting at medium range distances like this. For absolute perfection though, we recommend outfitting your rifle with 4x to 7x magnification

3. Long Range

cartridge is capable of more than it gets credited for, but it’s still varmint ammunition. It gives its best performance at close to medium distances and reaches its potential nailing smaller mammals. I’ve tested it extensively on my farm though and it IS capable of taking down coyotes, possums, even bobcats with a good enough shot. I recommend trying 2x to 4x  magnification at this range.

Proper rifle and scope aiming

Picking the Best Scope for .17 HMR Rifle Cartridges


To save you time and money, I’ve picked four scopes I think are superb partners for the .17 HMR cartridge. I’ve done the research and testing (a whole lot of testing), so you can make your choice based on real shooting, in genuine conditions.


I’ve been asked a few times to explain what ‘BDC’ means. Specifically, why do some scope descriptions make a big deal of BDC and others don’t mention it at all? ‘BDC’ is a feature called bullet drop compensation.


When a scope comes with BDC, there’s no need for the user to manually tweak elevation on long range shots. They can use the reticle instead; find the distance you’re shooting on the reticle and fire.


Now, let’s explore some of the best scopes to use with .17 HMR rifle cartridges.

Scope Image

Scope

Price

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope with 3.3-Inch Eye Relief 3-9X 40mm

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9x40mm

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout rifle scope

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32mm SPF

Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40 BDC

Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC

Vortex Optics Copperhead 3-9x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 BDC

Now let’s ​​​​get down to business with the

TOP 4 Scopes List


1. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9x40mm

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope with 3.3-Inch Eye Relief 3-9X 40mm

Before I dive into the specifications, I want to say this is the second Vortex Optics scope on our list. I’m including it not just because it’s a great product, but also because it’s a more powerful version of the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32m.


If the aforementioned scope seemed to lack bite for you, this one might be a better option.


When I took this scope out of the box, I noticed its build quality first. There is obvious craftsmanship and skill on show here. It’s made out of robust, high quality materials.


You certainly feel like you’re getting something special right off the bat. And that’s before you do any shooting.


For instance, the scope is formed from a single piece tube which has been hard anodized to make it extremely tough.


The tube itself is made from aircraft grade aluminum so you’re getting a fine tuned balance between weight and performance. It will endure bumps and knocks, but it doesn’t feel heavy on your shoulder. 


Out of all the scopes I tested, I felt the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 would last longest under frequent, heavy duty use.


The scope’s optical chambers are O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged as you might expect from a glass of this caliber. It results in more accurate aiming and shooting with fewer imperfections caused by fog, rain, dust and recoil. The lenses are coated to reflect the light and prevent glare.


These features combined make for a consistently reliable scope with a 40mm lens and impeccable views.


We’re talking close to HD quality and it’s rare to say that even for a premium attachment.


Shooting under low clouds or in dim light and can barely see your own fingers? Don’t worry about it; the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 can still give you near perfect optics.


The lens lets light flood in to give you a crystal clear view every time.

Specs:

  • Magnification - 3x - 9x
  • Eye Relief - 4"
  • Field of View - 40' - 14'
  • Weight -n/a 

Quick Review

With the Bushnell Banner Dusk and Dawn 3-9x40mm scope, getting up while its dark to go hunting always feels worthwhile.


It’s really saying something if you’re not a morning person. Not only is it delightfully accurate, but it’s also easy to mount. You’ll have it primed and ready to go before your coffee cup runs dry.


I’ve tested this scope with .243 cartridges (as well as .17 HMRs). And it’s another positive review from me. If you prefer to shoot with .243s, I still recommend this glass.


PROS

  • Affordable and versatile
  • Good brightness and clarity
  • Waterproof/shockproof/Fogproof

CONS

  • Field of view is a little narrow

2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32mm SPF

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout rifle scope

Vortex is a manufacturer I’ve really enjoyed in the past. Thankfully, its Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32mm scope is no exception. This scope delivers 14 MOA clicks for rapid fire tweaks to windage and elevation, so you’re always on for a good shot. The controls are very user friendly.


Even if it’s your first time trying a Vortex scope, it feels intuitive. This doesn’t just improve accuracy; it helps you gain confidence.


The Crossfire II’s viewing piece is exceptionally clear. It feels like it can be adjusted in a millisecond. Add to this a multi-coat lens with reflection resistance and you’ve got a scope designed for shifting conditions.


The light transmission is high, but haze is minimized.


There’s more to come. The Crossfire II is particularly well suited to mid to long range target shooting. Its second focal plane (SFP) doesn’t remain static as you might be used to with similar scopes. It autocorrects itself during magnification changes to keep you accurate.


I really enjoy using the Vortex Optics Crossfire II. One minor gripe is its heft. As it’s a little fatter than I’m used to (and prefer), getting the balance right took a minute.


At 14.3 ounces, it’s far from the heaviest scope I’ve tested (and enjoyed), it’s just worth mentioning for those trying Vortex scopes for the first time. Maybe take her out plinking and get a feel for weight and balance before hunting.


One of my favorite things about this rifle scope is its multi choice reticle design. You can actually switch between three different styles and corresponding modes of shooting.


For instance, if you like to keep things classic, go for the popular Dead Hold BDC with easily recognizable hash marks. Or, you can mix things up and try the V-Brite and V-Plex reticles which are made for shooting in diverse conditions.


These ‘all purpose’ reticles are made to withstand everything from rain to low light, fog, heat haze, mist, glare and more. The V-Brite is actually an illuminated reticle, so users can switch between eleven different types of illumination.

Specs:

  • Magnification - 3x - 9x
  • Eye Relief - 3.8"
  • Field of View - 34' - 12.6'
  • Weight -14.3 oz. 

Quick Review

These ‘all purpose’ reticles are made to withstand everything from rain to low light, fog, heat haze, mist, glare and more. The V-Brite is actually an illuminated reticle, so users can switch between eleven different types of illumination.


Due to its weight, it’s not the best option for speed shooting. However, its selection of illumination modes and weather resistance features makes it a charming accessory. I used the scope with a 30-30 lever action rifle and found the two to be another great pairing.

PROS

  • Dead hold BDC 
  • Durable construction materials
  • Offers a shockproof performance for long-term use

CONS

  • Not the best for short range

3. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC

Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40 BDC

Now, here is something special. The Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC scope comes without illumination. That’s how confident the makers are about the optics on it. For this reason, it’s probably best used by experienced hunters.


It was one of my favorite scopes to shoot during these tests. I started out with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic tool for extra support but, as suggested by the manufacturer, I ditched it eventually.


I really wanted to see if their claims held up. I wasn’t disappointed because the Nikon Buckmasters II redefines clarity.


The optics on this scope are incredible.


I found the optics box to be a little on the small side. So, I was a bit worried at first, but the shooting was true. The scope has a very high level of light transmission.


Yes, your view is technically narrower, but the amount of light flooding in seems to rectify this. The multi-coat lens ensures the BDC reticle is always clear and simple to align.


There are visual indicators on the BDC marks which help with increasing accuracy and distance. Besides the fact Nikon doesn’t include any parallax adjustors, there’s only one element that gave me pause. The scope’s casing is larger than average in diameter.


While it fits most rifles without trouble, there was one rifle of mine it didn’t fit well, and I think it’s because the rings were too short.


It’s something to consider before you buy the Nikon Buckmasters II scope; make sure it is going to fit first.


Before we move on, there’s one more feature left to discuss. While this scope isn’t the cheapest, it’s not at the high end of the market either.


So, to have the quality of zero reset turrets it does have is impressive. They are sharp, satisfying and provide zero reset as you might have guessed.


For .17 HMR cartridges – or any similarly powerful hunting cartridge – zero reset turrets are an invaluable feature. They’re going to save you time, energy and frustration.


 They’re user friendly with a smooth, natural operation and they create the type of timeless shooting we hope for when out in the woods at 5am.

Specs:

  • Magnification - 3x - 9x
  • Eye Relief - 3.6"
  • Field of View - 4.4' - 13.3 ' @100yds
  • Weight -13.1 oz. 

Quick Review

The Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm scope is priced at around the midrange point of the market. You can get similar scopes for cheaper, but I still say the features on this make it worthwhile. You’re paying a little more for some of the best optics I’ve ever seen on a rifle scope paired with smooth, relaxed controls.


It’s at the higher end of ‘moderately priced,’ but I think you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck here. The scope’s specs suggest it’d also pair well with .270 cartridges.

PROS

  • Excellent clarity and brightness
  • Excellent for short and long range
  • Spot on Ballistic Match Technology

CONS

  • Parallax is a little funky

4. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 BDC

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescopes

Before I dive into the specifications, I want to say this is the second Vortex Optics scope on our list. I’m including it not just because it’s a great product, but also because it’s a more powerful version of the

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32m.


 If the aforementioned scope seemed to lack bite for you, this one might be a better option.


When I took this scope out of the box, I noticed its build quality first. There is obvious craftsmanship and skill on show here. It’s made out of robust, high quality materials.


You certainly feel like you’re getting something special right off the bat. And that’s before you do any shooting.


For instance, the scope is formed from a single piece tube which has been hard anodized to make it extremely tough. The tube itself is made from aircraft grade aluminum so you’re getting a fine tuned balance between weight and performance. It will endure bumps and knocks, but it doesn’t feel heavy on your shoulder.


Out of all the scopes I tested, I felt the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 would last longest under frequent, heavy duty use.


The scope’s optical chambers are O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged as you might expect from a glass of this caliber. It results in more accurate aiming and shooting with fewer imperfections caused by fog, rain, dust and recoil. The lenses are coated to reflect the light and prevent glare.


These features combined make for a consistently reliable scope with a 40mm lens and impeccable views. We’re talking close to HD quality and it’s rare to say that even for a premium attachment.


Shooting under low clouds or in dim light and can barely see your own fingers? Don’t worry about it; the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 can still give you near perfect optics. The lens lets light flood in to give you a crystal clear view every time.

Specs:

  • Magnification - 3x - 9x
  • Eye Relief - 3.8"
  • Field of View - 34.1' - 12.6' @100yds
  • Weight -n/a 

Quick Review

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40 is one of the most popular rifle scopes sold today. It’s not my favorite, but it comes close. It performs excellently in a lot of important areas, particularly its Dead Hold BDC reticle for long range accuracy.


It’s a high performing scope at close, medium and long range truth be told.


It’s also very affordable. If you’re looking for value, this Vortex Optics scope is hard to beat. Again, you’re getting an awful lot of features for a mid-priced glass.

PROS

  • Fast focus feature
  • Ideal for medium and long range
  • Shockproof

CONS

  • Not the best for short range

Conclusion

I hope we’ve established the value of the .17 HMR cartridge as well as some of the scopes made for it. It’s not a cartridge to win competitions with, but that doesn’t stop it being a great option for home use and varmint shots especially.


To give you a recap on the rifle scopes, the Bushnell and Nikon Buckmasters scopes are probably the best all year round options.


They can withstand anything their environment throws at them. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II scopes are well suited to mid to long range shooting at a moderate pace.