Remington Model 504-T LS HB Rifle
By Chuck Hawks and the Guns and Shooting Online Staff
As many readers are probably aware, Remington is America's oldest gun maker, established in 1816. The 504 series is this venerable firm's entry in the deluxe rimfire rifle sweepstakes, the first such effort since the Model 541 series was discontinued some years ago. This series of rifles is intended to compete with upscale rimfires such as the Ruger 77/22 and 77/17 series, T/C Contender G2, Marlin Golden 39, Anschutz 1500 series, Kimber Hunter, CZ 452 American and similar offerings.
As part of Guns and Shooting Online's continuing series of reviews of .17 HMR caliber rifles, I contacted Teressa Carter at Remington to request the loan of a Model 504-T varmint rifle in the caliber. This is a new for 2005 model, the first 504 series rifle available in .17 HMR.
New 504-T rifles available to the press for review proved to be few and far between, so we had to wait our turn. When the rifle finally arrived, it was loosely packed in a replacement shipping container (not the usual Remington factory box). Cursory inspection revealed that the rifle had been handled and not wiped down; the interior of the barrel was dirty (it obviously had been fired and not cleaned) and all of the usual accessories were missing.
On the plus side, the scope bases that I had requested arrived, packaged separately, on the same day as the rifle. An unexpected bonus was six boxes of Remington Premium .17 HMR ammunition. Thank you Teressa! This is excellent ammo, favored by several of the .17 HMR rifles we have tested.
There was no magazine, owner's manual, gun lock, or guarantee cards with the rifle. Even the little plug screws that fill the scope base mounting holes in the top of the receiver were missing. If an Allen wrench is supplied to remove the stock (I don't know if it is), we didn't get that either. Thus, I didn't attempt to remove the test rifle's stock.
This rifle had been tested by one of Guns and Shooting Online's would-be competitors, one of the major print publications judging by their arrogant disdain of routine care and cleaning. A fine rifle deserves better. As we used to say in the West, it had been ridden hard and put away wet.
The last laugh is ours, though. Due to our short lead time as an electronic publisher, days instead of months, the review you are now reading was published long before theirs. Further, we returned the rifle to Remington properly cleaned and packaged, with all of the accessories we were able to accumulate.
Since the rifle was on loan, we could live without most of the usual accessories, but a magazine and owner's manual are important for a complete review. So was a proper shipping box for safe return of the rifle. I immediately notified Teressa and she had a pair of magazines sent to me, as well as the other items I requested. Unfortunately, whoever shipped the stuff not only took their time getting it out, they sent useless .22 LR magazines instead of .17 HMR magazines. Consequently, we did most of our testing using the rifle as a single shot (for which it is not well adapted).
As the result of a panicky telephone call to Teressa, she ordered a .17 HMR magazine sent via Fed Ex overnight air ("when it absolutely, positively . . ."), scheduled to arrive the next morning before 10:30 AM, so that it would be in time for our final range session with the 504-T. Only the magazine did not arrive! I can only presume that someone in Remington's shipping department dropped the ball (again). The comments about the magazine system that appear later in this review are based on close examination and trials with the similar (but smaller) .22 LR version that was mistakenly shipped to us.
The owner's manual, when we finally got one, turned out to be fairly well written and quite useful, if you can read past all the safety warnings that constantly interrupt the text. Pages 2 through 6 (of the 18 actual pages) are entirely devoted to safety concerns and nearly half of the remaining text seems to be safety warnings of one sort or another. My overall impression after reading the owner's manual was that gun ownership is dangerous as hell and I probably shouldn't engage in it. The warrantee card revealed that a new Model 504 rifle is guaranteed for a period of two years.
Inspection of the 504-T elicited generally favorable comments from the Guns and Shooting Online staffers who were to test fire the rifle. Technical advisor Jim Fleck would have preferred a genuine walnut stock and found the Monte Carlo comb too high for shooting comfort. The rest of us found the brown laminated hardwood stock to be well shaped, reasonably pleasing to the eye (this is, after all, a varmint rifle) and comfortable in use.
The stock incorporates a Monte Carlo comb, right hand palm swell and beavertail forend. It is supplied with a black rubber butt pad (my favorite kind), a black plastic pistol grip cap and detachable sling swivel bases. No checkering adorns this stock. The stock finish is a satin synthetic.
The action is nicely inletted into the stock, as is the trigger guard, magazine housing and escutcheon. The channel for the free-floating barrel is narrow and precisely cut. The magazine fits flush with the bottom line of the stock, a nice touch. Pull the magazine release (located at the front of the magazine well) rearward and hold to release the magazine.
No iron sights are supplied (iron sights are redundant on a .17 HMR varmint rifle), but the receiver is drilled and tapped for scope mount bases. It is not grooved for tip-off scope rings.
The barreled action is finished in a flat black "satin blue." Such finishes are sold to the customers as "low glare," but the real reason they are popular with arms makers is that they eliminate the expensive and time consuming process of polishing the steel for a deep luster blue job. The barrel is not threaded into the receiver. It is secured to the front of the receiver by a "barrel clamp screw."
The 504-T is an interesting blend of quality and economy. The very thick walled receiver (I measured the rear receiver ring at .301") is machined from steel bar stock. The bolt assembly is all steel. As far as my magnet can determine, the escutcheon, magazine release and magazine latch are steel, the trigger is stainless steel and the trigger guard and magazine housing are an aluminum or magnesium alloy. The loading/ejection port cut into the receiver is rather small, which when coupled with the very thick receiver walls makes the 504-T difficult to single load.
The round bolt body was left in the "white," while the bolt handle assembly and bolt plug (rear cap) were finished in the same satin black as the receiver. The bolt is locked closed by a square lug at the root of the bolt handle that drops into a deep matching cut in the receiver wall behind the rear receiver ring. This is typical of mass produced rimfire bolt action rifles. There is also a very shallow secondary locking lug spaced about 120 degrees from the bolt handle that engages an equally shallow cut in the left receiver wall. Judging by the wear marks, the main locking lug at the base of the bolt handle solidly engages the receiver, but the secondary lug's engagement is tenuous at best. The owner's manual includes instructions for disassembling the bolt for cleaning.
The bolt handle appears to be pinned in place and incorporates a comfortable round knob. (The main locking lug, bolt handle, and fastener are labeled the "bolt cam lock assembly" in the parts diagram.) This bolt handle is bent rearward, but should be longer for comfortable operation by adult hands, a common complaint about rimfire rifles. It barely cleared the ocular bell of the 5-15x40mm scope we fitted to the test rifle.
Cases are extracted by dual, spring-loaded extractors and ejected by a fixed blade as the bolt is pulled fully rearward. This is the system typically employed in bolt action rimfire rifles.
The bolt release is a button at the left rear of the receiver. It is a good design, tidy and easy to use.
The safety is located at the right rear of the receiver. It is the usual Remington two position type, which is easy to understand and use. Forward is "fire" and back is "safe." I have always liked the position and operation of Remington bolt action safeties and this one is no exception.
The Model 504-T features highlighted in the 2005 Remington catalog include the following:
The die cast detachable magazine deserves special mention because it is not made from sheet metal like most such magazines. It is a staggered-row box magazine cast in one piece from a lightweight magnesium-based alloy. The detachable magazine floor plate is black plastic and the follower is orange plastic. The follower has a wide, flat guide rail on one side that matches a track cast into the magazine body; this keeps the follower level, preventing it from tipping fore or aft.
This very lightweight magazine is dimensionally precise and appears more substantial than most of its sheet steel counterparts. Remington uses a similar magazine for their current 597 series rifles, which reportedly had problems with their early magazine.
The trigger also deserves mention. The test rifle's trigger broke at 3.75 pounds with only a tiny hint of smooth creep before let off. This is excellent for a factory trigger and I did not attempt to adjust it. The trigger is adjustable "within certain limits," but supposedly for competitive target shooters only, and all adjustments are supposed to be carried out by an authorized Remington repair center. After so informing the new owner, the owner's manual rambles on for paragraph after paragraph, telling the owner why he shouldn't mess with the factory trigger settings. I assume that the company lawyers are responsible for this rhetoric.
Here are the basic catalog specifications of the Model 504-T LS HB rifle:
Specifications and features are all well and good, but most readers are primarily concerned with how a rifle shoots. Frankly, it is pretty hard to buy a .17 HMR rifle that doesn't shoot well. Remington rifles have a generally good reputation for accuracy and the 504-T did its part to uphold that tradition, right out of the box.
I mounted a Bushnell Elite 3200 5-15x40mm scope in Weaver rings and 2-piece bases on the 504-T for testing. This is a good scope that is well suited to any varmint rifle. I weighed the rifle with scope mounted and got 10 pounds, so this is not a lightweight rig.
I boresighted the rifle using my Bushnell Magnetic Boresighter. At the range I first checked the rifle at 25 yards (the first shot was in the "X" ring!), then Gordon Landers refined the zero at 100 yards before we began our test shooting.
The testing was done over two extended range sessions at the Izaak Walton outdoor rifle range south of Eugene, Oregon. This facility offers covered shooting positions and solid bench rests. As an aid to accuracy, a Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest weighted with a 25 pound bag of lead shot was used throughout.
The weather was sunny and hot both days with highs of 90-95 degrees and variable winds of 10-20 MPH. As always, we tried to shoot between the gusts, but there were some wind caused flyers.
Guns and Shooting Online staffers Gordon Landers, Bob Fleck, Jim Fleck and I did the shooting. Four different brands of .17 HMR varmint ammunition were used, all with 17 grain bullets. These included Hornady (V-MAX), CCI (TNT), Remington (AccuTip-V), and Federal (TNT). Each shooter fired 5-shot groups with all four brands of ammunition.
No rifle malfunctions were experienced during our testing. The rim of one cartridge case did blow out when struck by the firing pin (Hornady brand ammo), but this was judged not to be the rifle's fault. The lawyer-inspired cocking indicator "safety feature" that protrudes from the rear of the bolt shroud, thus destroying its integrity, allowed powder gasses and particles to come straight through and splatter Jim's face. No real damage was done, a good example of why you should always wear shooting glasses.
For the recorded groups we used Outers Score Keeper Targets at 100 yards. This time out Jim Fleck produced the most consistant groups. Here are the complete shooting results:
OVERALL AVERAGE, ALL BRANDS OF AMMUNITION = 1.16"
That is the kind of good performance that we have come to think of as typical from a .17 HMR rifle. The 504-T 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.
The Remington 504-T LS HB rifle impressed us with its accuracy, reliability and good looks. We regret that we have to return it to Remington.
RIFLE REVIEW SUMMARY
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