(This is a reader gun review contest entry, click here for more details.)
By Demetri Mosca
I began the search for my first firearm a few years ago, and felt I should begin with a semi-automatic rifle chambered in 22lr. Eventually it came down to the classic and timeless Ruger 10/22 versus the Remington 597. I opted for the Remington because the reviews I had read from those who possessed both stated that the Remington had better accuracy without modification. I then needed to choose between the various models that Remington offered. They offer this rifle in a variety of configurations including: an open sight model, a scoped model, a tactical model, a heavy barreled model, and a model with a pre-threaded barrel. I decided upon the open sighted model because I wanted iron sights on the rifle in addition to the scope I would mount. The rifle itself is a magazine fed, semi-automatic rifle, designed and intended for plinking and small game hunting . . .
The rifle is fun to hold and handle with a full length stock and a 20-inch long barrel, and a joy to carry in the field at about 5.5 pounds. The stock’s hard plastic is void of seams that would irritate one’s hands, and fits into the shoulder very well. One complaint I will voice, the rifle came without sling mounts pre-installed. It does include the plastic post to drill and put a sling swivel in the forward part of the stock and the rear stock has plenty of places to install the second. I chose to install the sling mounts with one in the forward post, and the second on the side of the stock.
When shooting the rifle, the bolt catch on the right is large enough to find easily but not so large as to get in the way of shooting, and very easily pulls back to chamber a round. The magazine release sits upwards and in front of the trigger, and pulls backwards to drop the magazine. The latch smoothly pulls back and the magazine drops free with little to no friction. The cross bolt safety, located right behind the trigger, pushes back and forth without difficulty.
I have had very few problems with this rifle. Chambered in .22lr, occasionally you will experience a failure to fire or failure to eject. The FTFs I have experienced could have resulted from faulty and unreliable rimfire ammunition instead of the rifle, and I have a FTE incident at a rate of about 1 in 100 on a bad day, but more often around 1 in 250.
Another issue that I have experienced: infrequently the last round will not feed into the chamber, and the bolt will lock open with one round left in the magazine. However, I believe that this problem was self induced by leaving the magazine fully loaded with 10 rounds for about eight months.
As far as which brands of ammunition to use, I have run all brands of bulk ammo from bricks without issue, Remington subsonic ammunition, CCI high velocity, CCI hollow points, the tin of unknown brand shells in my grandfathers garage, and Winchester target loads, and all of them have functioned quite well.
For the few years I have owned this rifle, I have always been impressed by the rifle’s accuracy. For this review I took the rifle to the local shooting range, and after sighting in a few deer rifles and playing with some Smith & Wesson revolvers (all the while waiting for the dude with twenty pounds of toys hanging of the rails of his AR-15 to leave the 25-yard bench) I shot these groupings from a bench with a few sandbags supporting the barrel, using 40 grain Remington solid lead round-tip loads.
I have a 4-times magnification scope mounted on the rifle, and it sits low, but high enough that the iron sights (adjusted with a small Allen wrench for windage and elevation) do not interfere with the sight picture.
I shot the first grouping from 25 yards, and all ten rounds fell within a one inch square, some of the rounds passing through the same holes. The second grouping opened up a bit at 50 yards, and I am willing to bet that the shots touching the outer edge of the circle could be fliers due to user error, but I will leave that determination up to you. I will end this section by saying that I have shot much better groupings with this rifle on better days at twice the distance, but I cannot prove it to you now so take with as many grains of salt as you please.
For those of you who enjoy cleaning your firearms (and who doesn’t?), this one will not be too much trouble to add into your routine.
The rifle breaks down into the receiver and the barrel, and the plastic stock by removing the two screws holding them together, one to the rear of the trigger, and the other forward of the magazine well. These unscrew with a 1/8 inch Allen wrench.
From here, you disassemble the trigger mechanism and the magazine well from the barrel and receiver by removing a single pin located upwards from the safety. Now you can use a 3/32 Allen wrench to take out the two, very tiny screws holding in the bars that carry the bolt, located horizontally from each other on the back of the receiver.
Now pull the bolt back to push the two bars out, and hold your hand over the bottom of the receiver, as the springs that push the bolt may fly out. Now you can remove the bolt itself and thoroughly clean the receiver section of the rifle. As you can see, this rifle breaks down into a plethora of teeny-tiny little pieces, so don’t even think about trying this in the field!
For those of you who are familiar with the Ruger 10/22 (which includes basically all Americans who shoots guns), I am going tell you up front that this rifle has nowhere near the choices of customization that the Ruger enjoys. However, if you buy the Remington, you are not stuck with the rifle you purchase and nothing else. You can replace the standard 10-round magazine with either a twenty or thirty round alternative, both of which work very reliably. Remington offers the open sighted version with a large variety of stock configurations and camouflages. A few companies offer after-market options ranging from heavy target stocks to AR-15 styled tactical stocks with rails galore (just in case the rifle looks too… rifle-ish for you).
As you can see from the photos, I have installed sets of rails off of the barrel and off of the scope, and I have also added in rails over the 3/8 inch dovetail rails included with the rifle (the set only cost about 10 dollars to acquire).
Length: 40 in
Barrel length: 20in
Magazine capacity: 10 (larger variants available)
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics: * * * * *
The rifle is comfortable to handle, fun to shoot, and if I can stumble out of my cot and put down a running raccoon that picked the wrong ice chest in the dead of night with a single shot. I’d say all the controls are pretty intuitive.
Reliability: * * * *
I do not enjoy malfunctions when shooting. They detract from the amount of highly limited time I have to send lead downrange. This rifle functions well enough that when properly maintained I have very few issues, and I appreciate that.
Accuracy: * * * *
My favorite thing about this gun is the accuracy I can achieve with it. I don’t think the groupings I shot for this review does it justice, but they certainly show its ability for small game hunting or teaching youth the fundamentals of marksmanship.
Cleaning/Breakdown: * * * *
This isn’t a tactical rifle meant to field strip in half a minute, but my preference is that it could at least be done without tools. All in all, it’s not a challenge to clean or take apart as long as you have a set of Allen wrenches handy.
Customization: * * *
Once again, compared to the 10/22 where the options are essentially limitless, this rifle barely has anything, but enough options are commercially available that you can use this weapon for a variety of purposes and it has enough configurations to keep most shooters satisfied.
Overall: * * * *
I enjoy this rifle more than many of the firearms I own, and I highly recommend it to anyone in the market for a semi-automatic .22. I have had great times with this gun and many raccoons have met their end from hot lead from this barrel.