By Jeremy S.
In a land saturated with tacticool AR-look-alike .22 rifles, a couple of us may still be in the market for a semi-auto plinker that won’t scare Feinstein and her pals right to their misinformed cores. This market is dominated by the venerable Ruger 10/22, but it certainly isn’t the only option out there. A solid contender, Remington’s 597 is oft-overlooked but is deserving of a place on your short list, too. At the same time, it’s a tried-and-true design that’s just popular enough to have aftermarket support and to keep you from being called a hipster . . .
Remington is currently selling at least 13 variations of the 597, with different barrel profiles and lengths, stock styles/sizes/colors, accessories, and prices. Plus, some of the models are available in .22 WMR. In this review, though, we’ll take a look at the 597 HB (Heavy Barrel) with OD Green sniper-style stock chambered in .22 LR.
Upon opening the box at my LGS, we were all surprised just how short the barrel looked. Due to the heavy profile and the short receiver, it just doesn’t look like it’s really 16”, but fear not. It is. The rifle is also very light, coming in at about 5.75 lbs. It shoulders naturally and the shape of the grip is comfortable and allows for a solid hold. Combined with the forend’s mostly flat bottom and the recesses in its sides, you can really lock this baby in place. The HB’s receiver is drilled and tapped, and comes with an accessory Weaver/Picatinny rail already attached in addition to being grooved to accept some scope rings directly.
Another nice surprise: the 597’s trigger. If I’ve heard one complaint about the 597, it’s a very heavy trigger with poor feel. That certainly isn’t the case in the 597 HB, which Remington says has a sear and hammer that have been Teflon® and Nickel-plated for a “crisp, smooth trigger pull.” I’d have to agree, and guestimate the weight at just under 5 lbs.
The 597 may not look quite as good as Amber Heard, but its nice stock, multiple optic mounting options and more than decent trigger offer you few excuses if you’re not getting sexy shooting results. The 597 has proven to be extremely accurate with each of 6 brands of ammo tested so far, including a few variations of the cheap bulk stuff. At 25 yards, every one of the 5-shot groups pictured can be completely covered with a quarter.
Quality features that you won’t find on a lot of competitors’ alternatives include the dual, tool-steel guide rails on which the bolt rides, a last shot bolt hold-open feature, a true drop-free, double-stack, metal magazine that locks in as smooth as butter and releases with just a flick of your index finger, and even 5R button rifling on this and other models.
The barrel has a nice feed ramp, and the magazine lines ‘em up perfectly. The gun was taken literally right out of the box and it has run through about 240 rounds so far without a single failure of any sort. I’ve never gotten that many rounds in a row through the handful of 10/22’s I’ve shot without some sort of hitch – usually a failure to feed.
In short, I haven’t found a downside and I’m loving this gun. It’s more accurate than I’m probably capable of and it has that awesome, serious, tack driver look to it. All while still being light enough to carry around all day and to shoot on the move. As for carrying — no sling studs might be the only nit worth picking.
If you want tacticool, Remington has a couple 597 apps for that, too. If you’re looking for a semi-auto rimfire rifle, you probably already know about the 10/22 but the Remmy’s more than worth your consideration. The 597 is popular enough that you can find an OEM magazine for it at Walmart, but you still won’t be one of five guys at your local range shooting a 10/22 on any given day, if that matters to you. Nothing wrong with the ol’ 10/22, but I’m liking this gun more, and you can still find the, (and their mags) in stock at normal prices. Highly recommended.
Specifications (for 597 HB version):
Caliber: .22 LR
Capacity: Ships with 10-round magazine. Factory 30-round mags available. Multiple aftermarket options.
Sights: None. Receiver grooved, drilled and tapped (with rail attached) for scope.
Barrel Length: 16”
Barrel Diameter: 0.825” at muzzle
Overall Length: 36.5”
Weight: 5.75 lbs
MSRP: $249 (Street Price ~$219)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * * *
Love the OD Green, Hogue-style sniper stock and heavy barrel profile. It looks like it means business and shoots that way, too.
Ergonomics (firing) * * * * 1/2
Length of pull is on the short side for a 6’ dude, but otherwise, the ergos are great. I warmed up very quickly to the mag release and I like it a lot now.
Accuracy * * * * *
Tack driver. Period.
Reliability * * * * *
A little more than 200 rounds through it so far, but total reliability with three brands of bulk ammo and two better brands.
Customize This * * * * *
Okay so not as many options as the 10/22, but what has? Still plenty of stock replacement options, trigger/hammer upgrades, aftermarket mags, barrels, etc. Remmy makes a couple models with threaded barrels, and that opens up even more options.
Overall * * * * *
Hard to find a fault. A well-deserved five stars for my 597 HB.