Remington 597 Yellow Jacket
In terms of re-packaging an old favourite you have to hand it to Remington for what they have done to their 597 semi-auto, to turn it into the Action-ready Yellow Jacket.
In a 22 LR semi-auto market dominated by the Ruger 10/22, Remington made a bold move about ten years ago with the introduction of a similar rifle called the 597. Unlike their long-served Model 552 Speedmaster, which offered the traditional, under-barrel tube magazine and classic build, the 597 was very much in ethos a 10/22 though slightly more polished.
Feed came from a double column, 10-shot box magazine that ejected when the button was pressed and gave an automatic last round hold open facility. The build was modular with the barrel being easily to removable and an en-bloc, trigger mech housing (TMH) very much in the manner of the 10/22. The bolt ran on twin rails to improve reliability, and a one inch scope base was fitted as standard. Typically the 597 series offered a number of options from basic blued/synthetic hunter/plinker to a heavy barrelled precision/varminter in a good laminate stock.
The new Remington soon proved popular and after-market accessories started appearing in the US to improve both looks and performance. Perhaps not as much as for the Ruger, but soon you could get items like target hammers and extractors, improved controls, stocks and even carbon fibre wrapped and heavy target barrels. Recently we also saw a 30-shot banana clip for the 597, which really brought it level pegging with the Ruger.
The latest offering from the 597 stable is the aptly named Yellow Jacket, which is also a make of Remington, hi-velocity 22 LR ammo too, and it’s near identical sibling the TVP (Target Varmint Plinker). The only difference I can see being the colour of its laminate stock, which is grey/brown and to my eyes far preferable to the yellow and grey livery of the Yellow Jacket. So let’s start there!
The stock puts me in mind of the Shark unit that South Yorkshire Shooting Supplies (SYSS) brought in a few years ago. Research shows it’s near identical to the Boyd’s design for the 10/22; chances are they also make it for the 597. The butt shows a skeleton profile in that the middle section is removed, which in reality acts like a giant thumbhole. The pistol grip is wide and deep with a palm shelf and there’s an upswept comb and wide cheek piece. The whole design is ambidextrous, which will suit a semi-auto rifle no matter what your persuasion.
The stock is heavy and deep around the action and the forend shows as a tapered, beak-like protuberance that only contacts the barrel for about 1 ¼”, leaving the heavy, 20” tube, 90% fully floated. To my eyes it’s an ugly looking area, but undoubtedly offers a very nice hold for the supporting hand. Surprisingly Remington have not fitted QD sling studs, as to me the rifle, is crying out for a bipod…
I have to say I found the length of pull a little short, especially with the up-swept comb. The obvious answer here is some form of reach-forward mount to allow a more natural head position. Conversely the pistol grip sits back from the trigger about two inches measured from the rear face of the grip and that gives a very natural, first pad finger position, which offers good feel and shot release control.
Given this is a target-orientated design I did find the trigger a bit heavier than expected. Firm and reasonably crisp there’s no creep or take up, just the increasing pressure applied by the finger before the break. I suppose it went at around 4-5 lbs, but a drop-in Volquartson target hammer would doubtless cure that, which would be £30 well spent.
The 597s controls are generally well designed and laid out, the cocking handle is wide, deep and easy to get on to. The magazine release catch is located front/right of the trigger guard and pulls back to release the clip, which falls away by gravity. The automatic last round hold open is a real boon as ever, and it’s no real problem pushing your finger up inside the well to set it manually either. The safety is a cross bolt at the rear of the guard and pushes right to left to FIRE. This as I discovered can be operated by the side of the trigger finger (right hand only) as you go to make contact with the blade.
The 10-round magazine of the 597 came in for some criticism when the gun first appeared, but over the years Remington have sorted it. Like the 10/22 it offers a decent payload in a compact package, though not flush-fitting it’s not far off it either. A final touch is that importers Edgar Brothers have the guns screw cut 1/2x20” UNF should you want to fit a moderator or other muzzle device. A thread protector is included should you not want to bother…
Radical or ugly?
Personally I find the Yellow Jacket a bit radical looking, if not down right ugly, 50% of that is down to its garish yellow/grey laminate and I wonder how many will opt for the more subdued, shady grey/brown, near camo look? However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I would imagine Action shooters will flip over the eye-watering cosmetics and odd but efficient stock.
For the test I fitted the Yellow Jacket up with the new Menace 7.5x50 Mil-Dot scope from Falcon optics in 30mm Leupold tactical rings. Ammo went to a cross section of Remington, Lapua, RWS, Eley and Winchester from sub-sonic, standard, Match to hi-velocity. I would have fitted a bipod but I got the impression that Edgars would not be too happy with me drilling holes in that laminate stock, so resorted to a range bag up front and butt support at the rear.
As expected the Yellow Jacket did the business and was easily punching home ½” groups at my standard 22 LR zero/test distance of 50-yards. However, a few aspects of the build did come to light. The magazine proved very hard to get the tenth round in and also the up-swept comb did not give an ideal head position when wearing deep cup ear muffs like my Peltor HS10s. Reliability was as expected and as the round count rose past 200, stoppages occurred due to the usual build up of crud in the receiver. I mentioned the rifle to Roger Francis of SYSS and he sent me down the new 30-round magazine for the 597 from MB Products Inc (Eagle).
Made of a semi-opaque plastic it offers a single column feed and worked well enough. It did however require a break-in period and I found it harder to fill than a comparable Butler Creek unit. Usefully it has a removable base plate so it’s easy to strip and clean if needed. Perhaps not the thing for the Yellow Jacket, but for your average 597 owner looking for some firepower; it gives five more shots over the 25-round Butler Creek for the Ruger 10/22. The only negative aspect I found was that despite showing the lug on the side of the mag platform that trips the automatic hold open catch, it did not work all the time. It looks like it needs to go up a few thou more, as you really have to smack it in to get the release catch to engage. It could be the stock or it could be the mag or just a one-off and without another rifle or magazine it’s hard to tell. But it gives 30-round onboard and it functions OK.
Though heavy for a 22 semi at 5 ½ lbs plus scope and mounts, the Yellow Jacket is none the less easy to hold and point. The slim rubber butt plate locks the rifle into your shoulder and the upright pistol grip, good eye/scope position and surprisingly efficient forend, all combine to make the rifle a good, off hand shooter. With supported performance being a no-brainer…
As I said this is really a range or Action-shooting machine and I reckon it will do well, as it offers what’s required, as the design is practical yet very different at a visual level.
Dares to be different
Radical yet practical stock
|Name||Remington 597 Yellow Jacket|
|Calibre||22 Long Rifle|
|Auto last round hold open||Y|
|Barrel||20” Heavy (1/2 x 20”UNF)|
|Weight||5 ½ lbs (un-scoped)|
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates