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What Happened to the Garrow Arms Development 17HMR?

We take a look at the Garrow Arms Development 17HMR upper to see what happened to this gas-operated .17 HMR upper for AR-15s.

    If you want it, they will build it! This seems to be the mantra of the AR Market.

    Garrow Arms 17 HMR Whole Side
    Garrow Arms 17HMR Upper situated on a standard AR-15 lower.

    The AR rifle design can be seemingly anything and everything. People have taken the platform and converted it into numerous calibers, barrel lengths, and even various operating systems.

    Sometimes madmen with engineering degrees take the AR to a level so far away from Eugene Stoner’s design that it’s an AR in controls and appearance only.

    Some designs push the limit of what is considered an AR, such as the AR57, which fires 5.7x28mm using top-mounted P90 magazines and ejects empty cases downward through the magazine well. (Photo: u/Individual_Fox_9690)

    Garrow Firearms Development aimed to carve out its own niche in the world of “different” ARs with their .17 HMR AR-15 upper.

    Table of Contents


    The Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR Upper

    In 2017, Garrow Firearms Development came out with the first gas-operated .17 HMR upper for AR-15s.

    It wasn’t the first .17 HMR upper for the AR-15, but it was the first to incorporate some of the rifle’s standard direct impingement system for operation.

    Garrow Arms 17 HMR Ejection Port
    A small ejection port for a small round.

    Previous efforts for semi-auto .17 HMRs usually resulted in a rather tricky design. Most rimfire conversions for the AR-15, like .22 LR, tend to use a simple blowback operation.

    However, .17 HMR has crazy pressure spikes that make it challenging to use with a blowback system properly. The round tended to fire out of battery in other blowback-operated semi-auto designs on the market.

    .22LR vs .17 HMR
    .22LR (Left) vs .17 HMR (Right)

    Michael Garrow solved the issue and created a gas-operated system that combined the traditional AR direct impingement with a roller-delayed system.

    He created a system that used two ball bearings that plugged into the bolt carrier group and into the upper receiver.

    Garrow Arms 17 HMR BCG 2
    The 17HMR BCG is definitely a unique-looking piece of material. You can see one of the ball bearings removed, and one placed in the BCG.

    This system ensured total safety; the weapon could not fire until the bolt was locked in place. Even with the new design, the .17 HMR upper was still able to mate to any standard AR-15 lower.

    Garrow Firearms Development sold the uppers with everything you needed to rock and roll. This included two magazines that functioned in mil-spec lowers and a unique buffer system that was easy to install.

    Garrow Arms 17 HMR Magazines
    Rimfire cartridges are shorter and rimmed, requiring special magazines for operation in a standard AR-15 magwell.

    The upper utilized a flat-top that was optics ready, an 18-inch stainless steel threaded barrel, and a free-floating, highly textured, circular handguard.

    Ringing Steel

    The Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR upper received several rave reviews, including from yours truly. The uppers were incredibly accurate, precise, and soft shooting.

    Garrow Arms 17 HMR On a rock
    5.56 is already a fairly soft shooting cartridge, and most AR-15s in smaller calibers have nearly zero felt recoil.

    Anyone who got one had high praise for it. My personal upper ate every type of .17 HMR load without issue. The gun fired tight groups and was sub-MOA with good ammunition.

    The direct impingement roller delayed system ensured it was soft shooting and pleasant. Shooters looking for a varmint and pest rifle would be well-served with the Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR upper.

    Garrow Arms 17 HMR Long View
    Heck, the Garrow 17HMR was even California legal since it is rimfire.

    Ideas for a 9mm and .22 WMR variant were discussed but never materialized, and soon after, bigger problems reared their head.

    What the Heck Happened?

    The Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR upper seemed promising, but in 2019 issues arose.

    The website went down for the first time. Customers at Rimfire Central voiced complaints about not receiving their orders and poor communication from Garrow.

    The website came back up, and a frequent poster claiming to be a sponsored shooter for Garrow Firearms Development stated that there was a bolt carrier group issue. Garrow said manufacturers who produced their BCGs backed out on them.

    There was no ETA on when the issue would be resolved, and that was seemingly the last update.

    I did some research and uncovered a lawsuit between Garrow Firearms Development and Nancy Biasotti. On social media, Biasotti lists herself as CFO and Founding partner of Garrow Firearms Development (GFD).

    Nothing like some good ol’ theft to help out your upstart company.

    Per the lawsuit, “This case involves allegations that defendant Nancy Biasotti misappropriated $33,047.64 that was intended to be used for the benefit of the plaintiff (GFD).”

    The lawsuit was filed in February 2019 and seemingly settled later that year. Between the supplier issues and the lawsuit, the fledgling company couldn’t keep up and folded.

    But Wait!

    This year I ran across an upper with a familiar design on a list of new firearms for 2022. Inland Manufacturing listed the SLT AR-15 Magnum rimfire upper receiver.

    A look at the Inland Manufacturing SLT AR-15 upper. Note the hole behind the ejection port for the Garrow-style ball-bearing lockup. (Photo: American Rifleman)

    The SLT AR-15 Magnum upper looks identical in design but features an M-LOK upper instead of a standard aluminum design. Two circular holes housing the rollers in the sides of the receiver show evident GFD influence.

    Final Thoughts

    Unfortunately, what was a well-executed design was cut short by internal strife within GFD. Luckily, the merits of the upper were noticed by Inland Manufacturing, and they seem to have licensed the design from Garrow.

    Not quite gone, not quite forgotten.

    The Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR upper might be gone, but the idea lives on.

    What are your thoughts on the Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR upper? Let us know in the comments below! Interested in the caliber? Check out our Guide to the Best Ammo and Guns for .17 HMR!

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    5 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Jerry Varns

      Anyone offering gunsmithing on the GFD 17 HMR rifle? Mine is like new (< 100 rounds thru); however, had tough extraction problem not easily remedied in field while shooting Prairie Dogs. Any help out there? Very accurate otherwise. Thanks.
      NRA Life Member

      April 22, 2023 12:39 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I ordered and received the Garrow 17hmr upper. After about 100 rounds the firing pin broke. Could not contact Garrow to get another firing pin.

      November 10, 2022 10:56 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Steve Henle

        Do you still have your Garrow upper? Have you priced getting a firing pin fabricated at a machine shop?

        July 24, 2023 1:53 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Are you sure about 'Inland Manufacturing'? Can't seem to find anything which indicates Inland Manufacturing actually started shipping in Spring of 2022 as the American Rifleman reference indicates (the pic).

      October 23, 2022 5:22 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I ordered a Garrow Firearms Development 17HMR upper. Never got it.

      October 23, 2022 5:10 am
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