Browning T-Bolt Plenty Strong
Q: I'm thinking about buying a new Browning T-Bolt Varmint in .17 HMR, but the guy at my local gunshop tried to steer me off one, saying that the action isn't strong enough to withstand the pressure of the .17 HMR. He tried instead to sell me a Ruger K77/17 he had on the shelf. But this had a synthetic stock and I much prefer quality and walnut stock of the T-Bolt. Is it true that the T-Bolt's action is too weak to withstand the pressure of the .17 HMR? Garry Gregory
A: Chum, you were the intended victim of another unscrupulous gun dealer. Alas, not all the people in this trade are honest. He could easily have ordered-in a T-Bolt for you if he so wanted. Instead he tried to influence you by telling a deliberate lie;
The T-Bolt's action is plenty strong enough to contain the .17 HMR cartridge. For the .22 LR high-velocity cartridge maximum pressure is around 25,000 psi; the maximum pressure generated by the .17 HMR is not much different, but is maintained longer because of the larger charges of slower burning powder used in the .17 HMR. The T-Bolt I tested in .17 HMR would consistently group five rounds of Hornady ammo well inside 1/2-inch at 50 yards.
The action is simplicity itself: The bolt handle's at a 90-degree angle, hinged at the angle, with a round locking lug attached to the front end and fitting into a round recess in the side of the action. Pulling back on the spring-loaded handle tilts the locking lug out of the side of the action. Pushing the handle forward pops the lug back into the recess. There's never been a report of the T-Bolt's bolt blowing backward out of the action. And I would lay considerable odds that a T-Bolt blow-back will never happen. That's a one strong rifle.