For a lot of shooting enthusiasts, our first firearms experience was with a wood-stocked .22 rifle, being taught how to hit cans in the woods with our dads. Years later, either out of nostalgia, or just valuing the cheap fun of an accurate, low-recoiling firearm, many of us are coming back to .22 caliber rifles, and want to find out more about them.
Here, we’re covering the Remington 550-1. We’ll start with some background on the rifle, before getting into some specifications and commentary on its popularity and performance. If you’re interested in buying one, you’ll also need to know where to get parts and accessories.
History of the Remington 550-1
Remington, one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of firearms in the US, has been making the 500 series of .22 caliber semi-automatic rifles since 1941. Doing firearms research from that period can get a little difficult, since pre-1968, some guns didn’t even have serial numbers.
As best we can tell, the 550-1 came about in 1946, the 550-1 uses a different extractor than the 550A, along with some other small changes. Regardless, the 550 series was a wood-stocked .22 long rifle that fed from a tube magazine. Remington made large quantities of them until 1971 when production ceased.
Since the advent of the internet, much of the information on the 550-1 is the stuff of forums. Luckily, gun folks also tend to be fastidious about collecting and correcting information, so you may even have luck finding specific dates of manufacture, manuals, and spare parts with some degree of accuracy. Of course, the validity of that information should always be scrutinized, but in what research we’ve done, there is still a thriving community of folks who love this rifle and shoot it regularly. That means, also, that you’ll be able to find spare parts to keep yours up and running.
|Ammo Type||.22 Short, .22 Long, and .22 Long Rifle (LR)|
The 550-1 is an interesting design in that, because of the tube and configuration of the chamber, it can take either .22 long, long rifle or short ammunition. With short rounds, you’ll get more capacity, but keep in mind that sometimes rifles have a hard time cycling short ammunition, so most people stick with .22 LR ammunition.
The 550-1 has a length of pull that makes it comfortable for adults, which makes it slightly awkward for small children, but perfect for a rifle you want someone to hang onto for decades. In terms of shooting, some people find the trigger somewhat stout, but it’s still fairly light. The charging handle is located on the right side of the receiver: this makes it a little awkward for people used to the AR, but AK folks will find the controls familiar.
Loading is accomplished by simply pulling out the magazine tube and filling it with .22 LR ammunition. Unlike many of its contemporaries, the 550-1 has a safety that’s mounted on the right side of the receiver near the top, rather than a push-button near that trigger that you’d find, for example, in a Browning SA22.
Disassembly can be somewhat difficult and a bit finicky, so we recommend checking out one of the helpful tutorials that can be found online.
In terms of performance, this is a great example of what Remington used to be. Before the quality decline of the recent decade or so, Remington made beautiful, well-functioning firearms, and most examples of the 550-1 live up to that.
The fit and finish on these, as long as they’ve been well maintained, are reflective of lifetime rifles. Shooting them is also a joy: it’s relatively heavy, and thus has virtually no recoil. The trigger is somewhat stout, as we’ve mentioned, but with a little bit of practice, you can expect truly impressive groups out to about 50 yards. It is a .22 LR rifle, and it comes with the inherent limitations of the cartridge, but it will not disappoint in terms of accuracy for target shooting, pest control, or small game hunting.
Where to Buy Remington 550-1
The sheer popularity of the 550-1 has become something of a self-fulling prophecy. During production, Remington made a ton of the rifles, and sold them cheaply at sporting goods stores, and, pre-1968, in catalogs around the country. This made them a common, affordable rifle.
Because of this, there’s now a booming aftermarket of old rifles still for sale, and they can be often had for much less than a new rifle that has a lot less character and doesn’t shoot as well. Because .22LR space changes so slowly, a 70-year-old Remington 550-1 can still compete with brand new counterparts.
Because of its age, the 550-1 well predates the contemporary trend of rails for attaching things to rifles. Instead, the most common accessory you’ll see, and about the only one we’d recommend on a 550-1 is a low-power scope.
But, if you want to keep your 550-1 running strong, you’ll likely spend a lot of time on eBay and gun broker looking for spare parts. There are lots of them out there, and a few places even sell new-manufactured parts. It’s entirely possible to keep a 550-1 running well, and the spare parts tend to be affordable.
Now and again you might come across an oddity such as a nylon stock, but these are likely not official Remington parts. The originals came with a wood stock, and those can be found in good condition still. One thing to watch out for on those: the hole where it screws into the receiver can sometimes be chipped or worn, so ask for pictures of that before placing a bid.
The Remington 550-1 is one of those cool, old rifles that even tactical gun collectors will end up loving: it shoots well, eats cheap ammo, and has enough nostalgia factor to bring us right back into the woods on a cold Christmas morning when your dad let you shoot your new rifle at cans.
If you have one, count yourself lucky, maintain it, and pass it down to someone who will appreciate it. For the rest of us, it might be time to check out some auction listings.
George has been an avid shooter for twenty years. He began shooting when he was gifted a Browning SA-22 for target practice. Now, as an academic, he combines his love of firearms and knowledge of history to write for firearms blogs and is still a frequent sight at the local range.