Remington 597 Heavy Barrel Synthetic
- By Pete Moore
- 3 Comments
- Last updated: 22/10/2018
The good thing about Raytrade UK Ltd picking up Remington, is that products I had almost forgotten about are still current and available. A good example of this, is their Model 597 .22 Long Rifle semi-automatic rifle, which in many ways was launched as direct competition to the iconic Ruger 10/22 that’s still in production today, which I suppose was the one to beat!
Remington’s history of rimfires is chequered, but keeping it reasonably modern, let’s look at the time line from the mid-1950s to the present. In 1956/57 they introduced a pair of classic, wood-stocked guns; the pumpaction Fieldmaster and the semi-auto Speedmaster. Almost identical and very American in ethos, they used a tube magazine and are capable of feeding 22 Shorts, Long and Long Rifle and are still in production today. A bit old school, but rather lovely in what they offer. Radical, was the Nylon 66 (1959-1989) with a polymer, rifle-length stock, this semi was one for the first to offer all synthetic furniture, feed differed depending on version, with a butt-loading tube magazine and a more modern box-type.
Replacing this, was the short-lived 522 Viper (1993-1998) with maximum polymer construction; this semi-auto box mag never really made an impression and unluckily was launched at the time of the US Assault Weapons ban. Given that the Ruger 10/22 had been in continuous production since 1964, Remington needed something that would win them market share and in 1997 they launched the Model 597, which and as we shall see, was a technically better design in some areas that sorted some of the short comings of the 10/22. One final item, was a bolt-action; the 504, confusingly short lived (2004-2007) it handled like a mini Model 700 and was a real sweetie and I have no idea why it never succeeded?
Remington’s 2018 website shows only four versions of the 597; as I recall, there were more options back when it was introduced, that included the AR15-like VTR, along with wood and laminate furniture. But saying that, Ruger has also cut down on versions of their 10/22. Stocks are all synthetic, with Grey (20” no irons, not threaded, but packaged with a cheap scope), Olive Drab (O/D) with a 16.5” heavy barrel HB and threaded with protector, Kryptek (16.5 no irons and threaded) and Mossy Oak Pink (20” iron sights un-threaded) camo-fi finished models. All are drilled and tapped for bases, although the HB comes with a low Weaver-type rail as standard.
On test, is the Heavy Barrel in O/D, a nice colour, so you have a stable and rigid tube and in any 22 Long Rifle, 16½” is more than enough for maximum velocity and performance. Semi-auto 22s have a bit of a rep for variable reliability, but the 597 uses twin, tool steel guide rails to offer greater stability to the bolt as it cycles. The trigger mechanism’s sear and hammer are Tefl on®/ nickel-plated for an improved pull and release.
The last time I tested a 597, was when Edgar Brothers still had the agency, with a time stamp of around 2010 and my one abiding memory was of feed issues; so, I approached the Heavy Barrel version with an open mind. The build and layout is pleasing, the onepiece stock is solid, with the forend offering a light free-float to the barrel. It has an angled back tip and slightly tapered shape with vestigial fi nger groves. I like the O/D colour and the butt shows a straight comb with a slim recoil pad and a full and well angled pistol grip. With a generous length of pull of 14” and a solid feel, it’s highly shootable. The trigger guard is big enough for a gloved finger and the pull is firm and breaks around 4-5 lbs, could be lighter but it’s easy enough to read and understand. Annoying however, is the raised flash line that runs around the whole stock moulding, which is especially noticeable on the grip and comb, it’s the work of seconds to scrape it off, but! Also, Remington do not fit QD sling studs; near mandatory on a modern rifle I would have thought?
I think where Remington has really taken a look at the 10/22 and thought they could do better, is with some of the controls. As is the norm, there’s a cross-bolt, button safety in the rear of the trigger guard that pushes right – left to FIRE and reverses for SAFE; it’s a pretty standard feature on most semi-auto rimfires and is practical enough! The magazine is a 10-shot, vertical stick (30-rounders available) with a semi-staggered ammo column and slotted on the right side so you can check capacity. It’s made of aluminium or zinc alloy with a thick plastic base plate, so giving a near flush-fit, unlike the single column 10s of most European rimfires. Best of all, is the magazine release; located forward right of the trigger guard, this pull back, rectangular catch is in easy reach of the trigger finger.
Equally practical, is an automatic last round hold open as standard, with enough room inside the well to put your finger up and set it manually too. Remington have also considered the cocking handle too, this rectangular paddle is concave on its front face and though not huge, is big enough for easy operation, even with gloves on.
The inclusion of a low, Weaver scope mount is the icing on the cake, which offers a versatile base for day and night vision optics. On that point, Raytrade also has a line of scopes to compliment its rifl e brands in the form of GPO (German Precision Optics). They sent me their x3 magnifi cation, Evolve 4-12x42. This is the fi rst time I’ve had the chance to test a GPO product and it looks good, here’s a quick rundown of the spec:
The build looks good with a matt black finish, the magnification ring is long and slotted with a raised fin for easy dialling and at the rear a fast-focus eyepiece. You get 15 MOA per rotation and four full turns. Turrets are marked in 1 and ¼ MOA with the windage drum split 0-7 in either direction. Optical quality looks good with a sharp, bright image, with what GPO calls their double HD objective glass technology. On test out to 100m I had no complaints and if this is what we can expect from GPO then I look forward to using some of their more top end and higher spec models in the future!
Raytrade supplied 200-rounds of Remington, 40-grain sub-sonic hollow point ammo and I added an aimSport 22 Rimfire can to the ½ 20 UNF threaded muzzle. This compact little moddy only adds 4” to the overall length, which makes the 597 HB a well-balanced package, with just a bit of extra weight, which adds to stability, without sacrifi cing handling ability. In comparison to the 10/22, the 597 has a larger rifle feel about it and you soon start to appreciate the fuller dimensions of the stock.
The first 10-rounds ran fine, then I was getting a few magazine-related stoppages, but I persevered and at around 50-shots it all came together, and the rifle ran the other 150-rounds no problems. Accuracy was acceptable too, with average .75” groups at 50 yards and 1-1.5” at 100. Suffi ce to say, rabbits and hares at 100 would not be an issue. I also tried some other ammo brands, including Winchester 42-grain sub-sonic HP MAX, plus standard 40-grain and high-velocity 38-grainers too.
I did find the heavier 42s shot a tad tighter, but this seems to be across the board on recent rimfires I’ve tested. The trigger seemed to run in a bit, and although the weight did not change, the feel of the pull and break certainly did. Although not a big fan of semi-autos for small game, the 597 impressed me enough to consider it for some rabbit bashing.