Remington Model 597 Rimfire Magnum Rifles
By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
Remington offers the 597 in .22 LR as well as the more powerful .22 Magnum (.22 WMR) and .17 HMR calibers. Our sample Model 597 was chambered for the .17 HMR cartridge. This is the heavy barrel (0.825" OD), laminated stock varmint rifle version of the new Remington autoloader (LS = Laminated Stock, HB = Heavy Barrel in Remington speak). Other versions of the Model 597 come with standard contour barrels and synthetic stocks, at the option of the purchaser.
This rifle has a couple of interesting and advanced design features that, properly executed, should make it a winner. And, as we found out at the range, it is an exceptionally accurate autoloader. But before we get into the 597's noteworthy features, here are the basic catalog specifications of the 597 LS HB.
Our first impression of the 597 was that it is a trim and handy rifle despite our sample's heavy barrel and man size stock with a 14" length of pull. The free floating 20" heavy barrel balances the rifle with a noticeable, but not objectionable, weight forward bias. At only 6 pounds, sans scope, it is not a burden to carry in the field.
We like the looks of the one-piece, brown laminated wood stock, although the example supplied with the 597 LS HB is thicker around the pistol grip and forward of the receiver than it needs to be. None of which is alarming or unusual; almost all factory stocks need to be slenderized.
The shape of the stock is basically attractive and incorporates a classic, fluted comb with moderate drop that positions the shooter's eye properly for telescopic sights. The forend is comfortably tapered in three dimensions. A black plastic butt plate and studs for detachable sling swivels are supplied. This laminated wood stock is strong, weather resistant, very rigid and no doubt contributes to the rifle's fine accuracy.
The 597 autoloader has some special features that are worth mentioning. The receiver appears to be made of some aluminum alloy with a flat black finish. The steel bolt, unlike most blow-back operated autoloaders, does not slide in grooves in the receiver. Instead, the 597 bolt runs on two steel rods alongside the bolt. These round tool-steel rods are much harder than the receiver and should greatly reduce friction and essentially eliminate wear. The bolt stays open after the last shot is fired, which is always appreciated.
The 597's barrel is attached by means of a unique, permanently rigid, positive locking clamp. This appears to be a better system than simply pinning the barrel to the action, as is done with most rimfire autoloaders.
The magazine is another interesting feature. It is a removable, staggered box design that allegedly holds eight .17 HMR rounds, but the last three cartridges require excessive force to load. We limited the magazine load to five rounds for all of our shooting.
It is a unique magazine. The body is a one-piece magnesium alloy die casting onto which the black plastic bottom is snapped. The large follower is molded of orange plastic. This lightweight but heavy gauge magnesium magazine is light, rigid, and precisely made.
When loading, press new cartridges just deep enough into the magazine to slip the rim under the magazine guide/feed rails and no farther to avoid a cartridge tipping and jamming the magazine. We also recommend loading no more than 5 rounds at a time.
The bolt, hammer, and sear feature an exclusive Teflon/nickel finish for ultra-smooth operation. The lawyer inspired trigger in our test rifle was clean, but far too heavy. The trigger pull measured approximately 5 pounds on our digital trigger scale gauge. It is a wide, grooved, steel trigger that was manageable when shooting from a bench rest, but made shooting tight groups harder than it should have been. From field positions, this trigger would definitely degrade the practical accuracy of the rifle. Unfortunately, the trigger is not user adjustable.
The streamlined, one-piece, polymer trigger guard/magazine well assembly incorporates a simple cross-bolt safety at the rear that blocks the trigger when applied. The magazine release is inletted into the stock on the lower right side of the action, just above the front of the trigger guard. Slide the catch to drop the magazine, which falls freely from the magazine well.
Open sights are not supplied on the heavy barrel versions of the 597, although they are standard on the other models. The top of the receiver is grooved for tip-off scope mounts and also drilled and tapped for a Weaver rail. The latter is shipped already mounted on the LS HB model, a nice touch.
At our local rifle range we found the 597 LS HB to be an exceptionally accurate autoloader. It is included in the article ".17 HMR Rifle Accuracy Test Results," which can be found in the "Rifle Information" section of the Rimfire Guns and Ammo Page. There you can compare its range results with other .17 HMR rifles tested by Guns and Shooting Online.
During the course of our shooting we had only one failure to feed. The nose of a Speer TNT hollow point bullet jammed against the edge of the chamber instead of slipping inside as it should have. It was easy to clear by retracting the bolt a short distance and pressing the nose of the bullet down enough to feed into the chamber. This is actually a pretty good record, especially for an autoloader, considering the number of rounds we fired with four different brands of ammunition. So we have no criticism of the 597's feed reliability.
The .17 HMR Remington 597 LS HB performed well in the course of our review. It is certainly a more attractive rifle than most of today's autoloaders, handles well, and shoots great.
Note: A complete review of the Model 597 LS HB can be found on the Product Reviews page.
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