September 26, 2011

Remington 597 SS 22 LR

The 22 autoloading rifle is an American icon. Many a youngster had one for his first rifle, and while they may not be ideal for that service, they are unquestionably handy rifles for any serious outdoorsman. They can also be excellent training pieces for just about anyone interested in serious shooting.

So Gun Tests Magazine found a Remington 597 SS with stainless barrel and synthetic stock ($283) at a local gun shop.

Although the gun would accept tip-off scope rings and was drilled for traditional scope bases, they chose to shoot it with the iron sights provided. They intended to find out if the laser sight that comes with some other rifles was a useful addition, or just another sales gimmick.

They tested with three types of ammunition: Winchester Super-X Power Point HP, Aguila Supermaximum Hyper Velocity solid point (flat nose), and CCI Mini Mag round-nose ammunition. Here is what they found.

The staff felt that the rifle seemed to be designed for the right-handed shooter, though the stock was entirely ambidextrous. The design is also available with blued barrel for an incredibly low $188; blued with scope for $229; in a laminated-stock, heavy-barrel version ($337); and with laminated stock and stainless barrel ($348). Another of the many versions in multiple colors (including pink) is a thumbhole-stock version called the 597 TVP with heavy stainless barrel and scope rail for $532. Many more may be seen at the company website (

The testers said it was an exceptionally clean-looking rifle. Its finish let light into all its dark areas, which helped the overall clean look. The light-gray stock looked like costly Kevlar, but was not. The free-floated barrel was matte stainless, and plugged into an alloy receiver having a similar finish. The barrel, receiver, and stock were entirely glare free. Though the iron sights were blued, they were also matte finished. Likewise the plastic trigger-guard and butt-plate finishes were dull. This rifle simply didn’t shine, and that’s all to the good. The non-glare matte finish was excellent in the field, just what you want for serious use. The finishes would also fight weather over the years.

Gun Tests May 2008

Lean and clean was the Remington 597 SS. The stainless barrel will appeal to a lot of shooters. If you don’t need stainless, the blued version of this neat rifle costs a lot less than our test rifle. We came to like the 597 a lot, though not quite as much as the far cheaper and just as accurate Marlin.

They found the stock to be extremely hand filling, and highly attractive as well. They thought this was by no means a youth’s rifle. The dimensions were pure adult. The forend was wide and comfortable, and the pistol grip was also on the large side. There was no checkering, but it didn’t seem to need it. The stock had a slightly pebbly surface, rough enough to keep the gun from slipping when wet. The butt plate was checkered to help hold the rifle in place on the shoulder. They noticed the butt plate seemed slightly loose, so they carefully pried it out. Whether by design or by accident there is a nice storage area inside the stock that could probably be put to good use by the clever outdoorsman.

Remington went to the extent of Teflon-nickel-coating some of the guts, like the bolt and sear-engagement parts, to ensure smoothness and long life. The bolt was noticeably slick and clean in its movement. They liked the fact that the bolt stays open after last shot.

Gun Tests May 2008

The bolt stayed open after the last shot, like the Marlin’s. But there was no way to lock it open easily, other than by sticking your finger into the mag well and fishing for the lever. Workmanship and attention to details were excellent on the Remington. The action had grooves for a tip-off mount, and also was drilled for a scope rail.

The iron sights were matte blued, and attached to the barrel with screws. The front was a round-top bead with a large white dot, which was highly visible. The rear was one of the common U-notch sights, a bit too small for best use but fully functional and adjustable. The sights required lots of movement to the left and some added elevation to get the shots centered. Windage was easily changed with a screwdriver. An Allen wrench was needed to loosen the sight’s clamping action to change elevation. They liked the sight setup, though they wished for a wider gap in the rear blade, and would have preferred a flat top to the front post.

The trigger guard and integral magazine well were polymer, and worked very well for their tasks. The magazine release button was slick and handy. The mag held ten rounds, but they had the devil of a time getting the last one in. The safety button was behind the trigger guard like that on the Remington 870 shotgun. They pointed out that they didn’t know of anyone who likes this setup, but if you have an 870 you’ll know where to find this 22 rifle’s safety. A press toward the left displays a red ring if you turn the gun upside down, and that lets you fire.

The trigger pull was just over six pounds, and somewhat variable from shot to shot on this new rifle. It settled down as more rounds went through the rifle, and became stable by the end of testing. They thought it was a decent trigger, though a bit on the heavy side.

Gun Tests May 2008

Remington went to the trouble to match the color of the action with that of the barrel. The trigger guard is polymer, as is the mag well. To remove the 10-round mag, tug rearward on the sliding button just in front of the trigger guard. The bolt moved very smoothly here.

On the range, after they got the sights where they wanted them, they found the Remington easily made sub-two-inch groups at 50 yards with the CCI Mini Mags. It didn’t like the Aguila ammunition whatsoever, often flinging one or two of a five-shot string completely off the paper. They didn’t know where they all went, but found one of them some nine inches out of the main group. The wayward shot landed head on. Velocity was a stunning 1645 fps out of the Remington. They saw several groups of three shots around an inch, but they had fired five, and the other two were simply not there. This is not a condemnation of the Remington by any means. Clearly the high-speed Aguila ammunition is not for every rifle.

After several days in the field and on the range with the Remington, Gun Tests came to like the rifle quite a lot. They said it felt good, looked good, and with the right ammo, it performed well also. They said its moderate price would put it into lots of gun cabinets, and they predicted its robust construction and good materials would keep it there for many years.

Comments (6)

There is always a reason for something to happen or not happen. I suppose that is either due to it making sense to do so, or because I want them to. I want a Ruger 22 magnum with working 30 round mags,and a Keltec PMR 30 with extra mags not much to ask for. Find myself old and sick and never satisfied with. Could be so simple.

Posted by: Fdmccarty | October 1, 2011 3:48 AM    Report this comment

Funny, I have problems with my 10-22 feeding from Ruger mags. It likes some ammo more than others, naturally, but eventually jams with whatever I try in the rotary mags. Oddly enough, it feeds reliably from a cheap aftermarket banana mag with plastic feed lips!

Posted by: JEAN F R | September 29, 2011 9:25 PM    Report this comment

Paul P, I too have found some very good 22lr and 22 mag rifles, that are great shoters but the mags are the problem. and found out the only thing you can do is keep trying until you find one that works and that can get expensive.
The only rifle that I have never had any problems with is the Ruger 10-22. The only problem is is that Ruger isn't making the rifle in 22 mag. right now and I have been trying to get them to put them back into production again, but it will take alot more shooters to contact them to get them to start making them again. So get everyone to call Ruger and get them to make them again.
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Oath Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | September 29, 2011 5:25 PM    Report this comment

I also have a Remington 597 in .22 Mag. I like the gun but have had magazine problems since it was new. It came with plastic magazines which were no good at all, they would not allow firing all the ammo without jamming. Contacting Remington they sent new ones which were just as bad. Finally they provided the new mags made out of aluminum and I have trouble with them also. Can only get 8 rounds in them and can't get the whole mag load to fire without jamming. Any ideas?

Posted by: PAUL P | September 29, 2011 4:27 PM    Report this comment

I have four (597s). Two are .22LR (a standard syn stock, sporter barrel and a TVP with heavy stainless barrel and Boyd Evolution stock); and two .22Mags (the sporter barrel syn stock one started life as a .17HMR but went through the re-caliber recall and the other is a heavy barrel with Evolution stock). I'm surprised you didn't comment on the "quirky" bolt guide rod system. Reassembly can be a bear, especially on the magnum models with two springs on each rod. However, all of mine are scoped and 'dead-on' accurate with their preferred ammo (CCI MiniMag 40 gr. solid in .22LR; CCI MaxiMag 40 gr. solid in .22WMR). Best of all, there aren't a huge number of after-market parts to tempt one into 'pimping' it up. They're great shooters and just the kind of fun a .22 semiauto is supposed to be.

Posted by: MemphisJim1 | September 29, 2011 10:49 AM    Report this comment

You never mentioned the Win. Super-x high speed. How did it work?

Not surprised the super Aguilla didn't work well.

Posted by: Tigerbeetle | September 29, 2011 10:09 AM    Report this comment

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