The Remington 597 is one of those firearms that seems like it was only around for a moment, and has been more or less washed aside by the tide of firearms history. Today, we’re going to look at this .22 rifle that has seen something of a resurgence in aftermarket popularity, several years after its discontinuation.
Here, I’ll start with a brief history. From there, we’ll cover the specs and features of this interesting rifle, before getting into the story of its downfall, namely in terms of magazines and recalls. After some final considerations on the firearm’s place in history, we’ll also address a few common questions at the end.
The Remington 597 is a magazine fed-semi automatic rifle offered in a few calibers. Remington began making it in the year 1997 and has stopped making them in large numbers. Those that do come up for sale as new, some hypothesize, are old stock, and some wonder if Remington is going to make them again any time soon.
The 597 was from a time in Remington history that is less than stellar: the company, at the time, was outsourcing many of its famous models’ production, and the quality control results were often less than stellar.
|Cartridge||.22 LR, .22 WMR, .17 HMR|
In terms of specifications, the model 597 is a direct blowback rimfire rifle that’s fed from a magazine in .22 or .17HMR, though the latter is much less commonly found. It’s a lightweight firearm, coming in at just over five pounds.
From the factory, most 597s had a black polymer stock, though some could be found in wood. All of them came with Weaver-style scope mounting hardware, making these a reasonably popular choice for people who were looking for a small varmint rifle or a range plinker.
Originally, the rifles came with ten round polymer magazines to save cost and weight, though these would later be changed to aluminum.
For folks who liked the rifles, the 20-inch barrel and light weight of the gun made it a good choice for taking out into the field to do some hunting, and many were more comfortable using this more affordable model as a truck gun than, say, one of Remington’s older models like the venerated Speedmaster series. Generally, they were also highly reliable once a few small issues were worked out early on in production.
One of those issues was the magazine. As has been the case with several attempts in the firearms world at cheap polymer magazines, the 10-rounders that came with the 597 often cracked, warped, or jammed.
Those with later production 597s will notice that theirs came with 10 round aluminum magazines that, generally, work exceptionally well. This was the first of several issues with the platform and is the easiest to solve.
For most people who buy a new 597, it won’t be an issue at all since the metal magazines work just fine. For others, you’ll have to go aftermarket, and there are some aftermarket magazines available, usually in larger capacities, all the way up to 70 round drums.
In 2012, the problems for the 597 got much worse. Apparently, some folks with the .17HMR variants experienced out-of-battery detonations. In any firearm, this is extremely dangerous and can result in fragments of brass or bullet going out of the ejection port and in unpredictable directions. Luckily rimfire rounds tend not to be terribly powerful, or else this kind of malfunction can easily result in the death of the shooter or a bystander.
The Remington 597 Recall
Remington issued a recall and refund in December of 2012 of the .17 HMR Remington 597 rifles (the .22 versions are safe to operate). Remington offered to take the guns and issue the customers affected a coupon for their trouble; however, some customers complained that the coupons were for much less than they paid for their rifles.
This has led to a low rate of compliance with the recall, meaning that people still have these likely dangerous rifles out in the wild.This sort of customer service mistake is what sullied Remington’s reputation in the early to mid-2000s: poor quality firearms were going out the door, and to fix it Remington was willing to take them back, retain most of your money, and leave you with no rifle and a gift card to buy another firearm of dubious quality.
In 2014, Remington issued a warning to customers to stop use of the 597 rifles chambered in .17 HMR due to the danger presented by the safety issues.
When they updated their website in January 2016, Remington failed to retain the recall information page as it has gone to a 404 error page ever since. We have dug it up and have pasted it here for you to use if needed to contact Remington to get a coupon or replacement:
DO NOT USE REMINGTON 17 HMR AMMUNITION IN SEMI-AUTOMATIC FIREARMS.
DO NOT USE THE REMINGTON MODEL 597 17 HMR SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE.
Remington has been notified by its supplier of 17 HMR ammunition that 17 HMR ammunition is not suitable for use in semi-automatic firearms. The use of this ammunition in a semi-automatic firearm could result in property damage or serious personal injury.
If you have a semi-automatic firearm chambered for 17 HMR ammunition, immediately discontinue use of Remington 17 HMR ammunition. If you have any Remington 17 HMR ammunition that you wish to return to Remington contact the Remington Consumer Service number below. Do not return the ammunition to the dealer. Remington will provide you with a $10.00 coupon for each complete box of 50 rounds of Remington branded 17 HMR ammunition you return to Remington. This coupon is for end users only and will be good for the purchase of any Remington ammunition at your local dealer.
In light of the ammunition manufacturer’s notice, it is very important that you immediately stop using your Remington Model 597 17 HMR semi-automatic rifle. If you own a Remington Model 597 17 HMR semi-automatic rifle and wish to return it to Remington please contact the below Remington Consumer Service Number. In return for your Remington Model 597 17 HMR synthetic stock semi-automatic rifle, Remington will provide you a coupon valued at $200.00 good for the purchase of a replacement Remington firearm. If you have a laminate stock Remington Model 597 17 HMR semi-automatic rifle, Remington will provide you a coupon valued at $250.00 good for the purchase of a replacement Remington firearm. This Coupon is for end users only and will be good for the purchase of a Remington firearm at your local dealer. Contact Remington to receive your free shipping label to return your Model 597 17HMR semi-automatic rifle to Remington..
Please allow up to 6 weeks after Remington receives your Model 597 17 HMR semi-automatic rifle or your Remington branded 17 HMR ammunition for the appropriate coupons to arrive. Instructions for redemption of the coupons will be contained on the coupon.
For any consumer questions or instructions on how to return of your Model 597 17 HMR semi-automatic rifle or your Remington branded 17 HMR ammunition, please contact the Remington Consumer Service Department at 1-800-243-9700, Prompt #3.
We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
Remington 597 Discontinued
It’s no real shock, then, that since the 2009 discontinuation of the .17HMR model, the rest of the models have faded into obscurity. In doing the research for this piece, I could not find a single new 597 for sale anywhere on the market, and used ones are going for fairly low prices.
Today, I’m not sure I would seek out a Remington 597. If I had one already and wanted to take advantage of the small but growing aftermarket, I’d be happy to do so, so long as it was one of the .22 models.
To be fair, most Remington 597’s are good guns. But that’s the issue: in the rimfire space, there are some awesome guns, like the Ruger 10/22 to contend with. In a market space where there’s both a lot of competition and a low price, making the kind of mistakes Remington made with the 597 is a fatal mistake and will lead, as it has here, to your firearms fading into obscurity.
Yes, the .22 Remington 597 is a good rifle that will perform well. The .17 HMR version however may be dangerous to operate. While the .22 version is a good rifle, there are much better .22 rifles available. That’s what cost Remington so much ground in this market space. They didn’t live up to the better offerings in the market.
Remington discontinued the 17HMR because it was dangerous to the shooter. For the rest of the line, the soft discontinuation over time is likely because they simply weren’t selling very well.
Yes the Remington 597 are accurate rifles and make fine firearms to shoot.
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.