In the April 2012 issue, Gun Tests magazine tested three semi-automatic rimfire rifles that showed promise of being more than just plinkers. They were the $325 Savage Arms model 64 TR SR V Savage, CZ-USA’s $465 model 512, and the $595 Remington 597 TVP. Following is an excerpt from that test, used with permission:
To test for baseline accuracy we fired each rifle from the 50-yard line utilizing benchrest support. For optics, we chose low-power variable power scopes with circle-X reticles for rapid target acquisition. Test ammunition consisted of three high-velocity rounds topped with 40-grain bullets. Both our CCI Mini Mag and AR Tactical rounds were copper plated. Federal’s new Auto Match fired a solid lead slug with a smooth gleaming finish.
What we found were three very good rifles. Each one deserved an A rating, in our view, with downgrades that may or may not apply, according to the individual. By the end of our range days, the only job left was to accurately describe each gun in print so that our readers could choose which rifle would best meet their needs or suits one’s tastes. Here’s more on the Remington 597.
Remington 597 Stainless HB TVP No. 80852 22 LR, $595
The Remington 597 HB TVP (Heavy Barrel Target Varmint Plinker) offered a third way to stock a rifle. Its bold laminate stock was referred to as Shady Camo, and it offered a large rubber buttpad and a generous sloping saddle-like comb on which to rest the cheek. The pistol grip was fully defined as the greater interior surface of the stock was open. If we were to cut away the comb and the connecting length below, we thought the 597 might resemble one of Remington’s XP100 pistols that were sometimes referred to as hand rifles. Distinctive in appearance and comfortable to shoulder, we found this design appealing.
The heart of the 597 was a matte-stainless barreled action. The barrel was 20 inches long with a medium heavy contour. The scope mount, bolt, bolt handle, and trigger were rendered in a contrasting black, as was the polymer trigger guard. There was a crossbolt safety at the upper rear corner of the trigger guard. The magazine release was located on the right side of the action just above of the trigger guard. It was nestled inside a cutaway of the stock that was artfully contoured to accommodate its operation, which required sliding it to the rear. The aluminum magazine was a double-column design with a removable polymer basepad. Ten rounds were held inside its stubby 2.3-inch-tall body. In a category where the general standard of performance is high, small features show up big. Among our three rifles, living with the Remington’s magazine was the most pleasant and trouble free.
Takedown of the 597 began with separating the action from the stock by removing two takedown pins located fore and aft of the trigger guard area. The action had two major parts, the receiver assembly and the housing. Two more pins were removed, and the housing was able to pivot downward and out from beneath the bolt. The next step was to remove the two guide-rail bolts from the receiver. After cycling the bolt a few times, the guide rails began to protrude from the receiver. Once the guide rails were pulled free and the bolt handle removed, the bolt can be removed. We thought it was helpful that the trigger housing could be taken out as a unit. As far as performing a complete takedown, we don’t think it was worth the trouble unless the system was entirely stalled with debris. Even after a complete takedown, access to the chamber was not much more direct than if we had simply locked back the bolt and used the muzzle entry push/pull method described earlier. In any event our shooting sessions with the Remington was trouble free.
At the bench we discovered that our 597 liked lead bullets best. We could blame it on gusts of wind that were more prevalent during the test of our Remington rifle, but the high-velocity copper-plated ammunition landed groups that often measured in excess of 1.1 inches across. The Federal Auto Match ammunition delivered most of its hits inside of a 0.75-inch circle, including a best five-shot group measuring about 0.5 inches center to center. This exceptional accuracy was repeated with other lead-topped ammunition, including subsonic target rounds. The trigger was also very helpful. Of our three rifles, the Remington 597 was the one most comfortable being manipulated in a technique of press, hold, release until reset, and press again.
At the Varmint Village we fired standing unsupported. The balance and ergonomics of the 597 TVP made up for the lack of sling studs or other means of attaching a sling. Firing in this manner further underscored how smoothly the 597 cycled. In our view, perceived recoil generated by the bolt changing direction from open to closed was distinctly less when firing this rifle. Another impression we had from standing and shooting the Remington was that it was okay to cant the rifle. Whereas the CZ seemed more effective held straight up and down and shooters seemed to relish pulling the stock of the Savage straight back into the shoulder, the Remington stock was more open to interpretation. More than a thumb-through stock, we might refer to it as hand-through or palm-through design. In any case, we felt free to tilt the rifle however way our wrist desired. The buttpad was wide, felt bigger than it actually was, and seemed happy to settle anywhere we put it.
Our Team Said: We liked the big cheekpiece and the way we could play with the reset of the trigger, too. Handsome and well balanced, this rifle was a conversation starter. That it preferred lead bullets could mean more attention should be paid to keeping it clean. Whereas the other rifles may be adaptations of other more traditional designs, we enjoyed the Remington 597 because it made us feel that it was designed to be a rimfire rifle from the ground up.