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Handloading Beyond The Basics
Rifle Magazine
July - August 1999
Volume 31, Number 4
ISSN: 0162-3583
Number 184
On the cover...
Ron Spomer's 6mm Remington Model 70 Winchester coy
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Product Tests

When Winchester introduced their .22 Rimfire Magnum back in 1959, some predicted its range and power automatically made the venerable .22 Long Rifle obsolete as far as field use was concerned. Such euphoristic attitudes were short-lived. Initial field reports indicated the new rimfire round's ballistics were as advertised, but accuracy left much to be desired. To aggravate the situation, some critics charged that the arms chambered for the .22 magnum deserved a share of the blame as well. Be that as it may, the fact remains that the .22 Rimfire Magnum has never replaced the .22 Long Rifle among the hunting set although both the cartridge and its arms have improved considerably over the years.

Remington's latest entry in the magnum rimfire field is a case in point. For starters, it's an autoloader, one of a breed heretofore not noted for their exceptional accuracy. Whether the test rifle is representative of most Model 597 Magnums is impossible to say, but it's the first .22 magnum of any kind that let me put five rounds into an inch or less at 100 yards when fired over a rest - not once but 30 percent of the time!

Those groups were made with the aid of a Simmons variable scope set on 5x. In addition, the ammunition was the most accurate of several brands tested in the Remington: Winchester 34-grain hollowpoints that had their rim thicknesses measured by a Bald Eagle Rim Gauge and segregated accordingly. Rounds with rim thicknesses measuring .0048 to .0049 inch were the tightest and most consistent groupers in both the Remington and the check-rifle, a Model 882 Marlin.

The latter rifle was also fitted with a Simmons variable set on 5x. Its groups ran from 1.2 to 1.4 inches at the 100-yard line. That was the first time that rifle grouped under 1.5 inches in the eight years it has been in my rack.

Five-shot strings from the 597 ranged from .8 to 1.4 inches. As mentioned previously, 30 percent of the groups fired spanned an inch or less at 100 yards - bragging accuracy from any type of arm, let alone an autoloader.

The Remington's trigger pull was a bit on the heavy side, registering from 5 to 6 pounds on the Chatillon Pull Gauge. It broke clean, though; there was no drag. Since the 597's a self-loader, a lighter pull might not be a good idea. A touchier trigger might tend to launch a few extra shots now and then.

Nicely balanced, even when scoped, the Remington comes up fast and points like a shotgun. Unfortunately, the stock was designed with scopes in mind. To use the iron sights, a shooter's cheek must be jammed against the comb as hard as possible.

That rear sight, by the way, is one of the best of its type ever invented. Easy to adjust, quick to pick out against any background and align with the front bead, it's well made and rock sturdy. That beavertail forend deserves a share of applause too. Not only is it hand-filling, but it serves as insurance against canting, especially when swinging the rifle. Although the magazine is supposed to hold nine cartridges, the most the test rifle's would accommodate was eight. Perhaps, when the spring loses some of its tension, it will be possible to stuff that last round in.

All told, some 125 rounds were fired through the Remington. There were no malfunctions, not a single one. Feeding was glass-smooth. Ejection was positive, and the empties were flipped well to the right and rear.

Anyone thinking of adding a .22 Rimfire Magnum to their battery should take a long, hard look at Remington's new quick-firer. Like most of the old firm's line, it's obvious it was built for go, not show. If the rest of the production are like the test rifle, Remington has a real winner there.
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