Since its introduction in 2014, Franklin Armory’s F17 rifle has been thumbing its nose at restrictive gun control laws in states like California and New York. Now, it’s better than ever.
The F17 is a full feature AR-style rifle chambered in a rimfire cartridge, the .17 WSM. As a rimfire rifle, it circumvents California’s ban on AR-15-style rifles, meaning residents of the Golden State can own the F17 with a pistol grip, detachable magazine, and other features normally banned on centerfire AR-style firearms.
The .17 WSM can’t match the ballistic potential of the .223 Rem., but it comes pretty darn close.
The F17 was the first piston-driven rimfire rifle, and now it’s better than ever. Franklin Armory engineers slimmed down the original design so that most aftermarket handguards can fit around the mechanism.
They also made it more reliable. Initial iterations of the design produced feeding issues, but the company appears to have resolved those. A full review will be forthcoming, but the gun ran flawlessly when we shot it at Range Day at SHOT Show 2022.
Why a piston-driven design? Piston-powered AR-type rifles tend to be cleaner and more reliable because they keep hot, carbon-filled gas out of the receiver. While there are some caveats to that generalization, the F17 seems to have benefitted from the piston system’s advantages.
The .17 Winchester Super Magnum is an excellent varmint cartridge that pushes a 20-grain bullet about 3,000 feet per second. For context, a .223 Rem. projectile is usually between 55-70 grains and travels the same velocity while a .22 Magnum launches a 40-grain projectile about 2,000 fps.
The .17 WSM may be less powerful than a .223 Rem., but as GunsAmerica editor True Pearce said when we stopped by Franklin Armory’s booth at Range Day, “I wouldn’t want to get hit with it.”
The F17 also comes with all the features you expect from a company like Franklin Armory. The B5 Systems pistol grip and buttstock provide good ergonomics and control, and the trigger is excellent.
Franklin Armory reps told us to expect the new F17 to start shipping in the second quarter of this year. No word yet on the MSRP, but previous iterations of the rifle ran between $1,500 and $2,000.