The Remington .17 HMR Model 597 controversy

    There has been much controversy over the Model 597 (.17 HMR) buyback.

    For those of you not familiar with the buy back, I will summarize. Back in August Remington finally acknowledged that their .17 HMR semi-automatics had serious issues. They offered a $250 coupon, which could be used towards the purchase of another Remington firearm, for each 597 that was returned to them. A $10 coupon was also offered for each box of ammunition returned. Since then there has been a lot of anger and confusion.

    The confusion regarding the .17 HMR cartridge.

    This buy back does not mean that the .17 HMR is unsafe in your bolt action, single shot or lever action rifles. The problems occur in semi-automatic rifles. Matt Groom explained in the comments

    With any bottle necked round, the pressure generated in the body of the case has to be compressed slightly to flow through the smaller diameter of the case neck. This is why the shoulder usually moves forward a tiny bit on rifle cartridges. The gases also accellerate as they travel through the neck area, which can cause the neck to soften and split. This all happens very fast, and is one reason why nearly everything with a bottle neck is fired from a locked breech. The PPSh and other Soviet SMGs are the only things I can think of that use a bottle neck in a blowback action before the modern .17 caliber rimfires came out, and I think those used steel cases.

    This was likely the reason that Ruger never launched their once advertised, but never seen, 10/17 rifles.

    Hornady .17 HMR V-Max

    In September Hornady, who originally developed the cartridge, posted this noticed on their website …

    Recently there have been notices placed on several web sites warning about the use of 17HMR ammunition in semi-automatic firearms. Statements are to the effect of do not use 17HMR ammunition in semi-auto firearms or serious injury may result and do not use unless or until you have contacted the manufacturer of your firearm. Every ammunition manufacturer determines the warning it believes is appropriate for its product.

    First and foremost, the safety of our customers is our primary concern, and the same is true for all other SAAMI member companies. We are making this statement to hopefully reduce confusion, answer questions and clarify issues.

    We believe 17HMR ammunition is manufactured to the highest standard of care and quality and performs within the specifications established for 17HMR ammunition and is consistent with SAAMI standards for ALL ammunition.

    We are not firearms manufacturers and we believe the firearms manufacturers are solely the ones responsible for determining if and how they should market and sell a model or type of firearm. WE STRONGLY URGE YOU TO CONTACT THE MANUFACTURER OF YOUR FIREARM TO DETERMINE IF IT IS SAFE TO USE 17HMR AMMUNITION IN YOUR SPECIFIC TYPE AND MODEL OF FIREARM.

    So there you have it. It is safe, but be wary of using the round in a semi-automatic.

    The controversy regarding the buy back.

    Many owners of recently purchased .17 597 rifles are understandably unhappy about the buy back. Some have paid hundreds of dollars more for the rifle than what Remington is offering in the buy back scheme.

    In the comments Rand said

    A few points, then: 1) Remington’s buy-back offer represents $10 less than what a gun dealer who is unaware that the thing has been recalled will offer for a gun that has blown out its magazine. So you could say it’s a pretty lousy buy-back offer, but you could also say that it’s about right, since you wouldn’t be able to get much more for the gun by selling to someone else. Either way, Remington is not doing anybody any favors.

    2) If you read Remington’s recall notice (which I also found when I Googled the thing), you’ll see that it does not admit that there is anything inherently wrong with the round OR the rifle. It says Remington has been “notified” by its “supplier” of 17 HMR ammo that the ammo is unsafe for use in semi-automatic rifles. So Remington offers to buy back its ammo. Then it says, essentially, that because it’s recalling its .17 HMR ammo, it’s also recalling its Model 597 rifles in .17 HMR. But why recall the rifles when the problem is the ammo? This is classic CYA legal language, pure and simple. I was in fact shooting Hornady ammo in my son’s rifle when it blew out the magazine.

    Overseas customers are worse off as they have to pay much higher prices for their rifles, but are being offered the same buy back. Pat Gallagher said

    I live in Ireland were we are screwed cost wise for just about everything, I bought a Remy 597 in .17hmr about 12 months ago.I paid 700.00 euro for it, approx 1040.00us dollars and am being offered the same deal as you guys recall value, and you guys are pissed!.

    Shooters affected by the buy back have been emailing and snail-mailing Remington, complaining to the BBB, organizing an online petition and threatening legal action.

    In the comments Joe argued that, on the whole, Remington are being fair

    Having worked at Remington for over 40 years and retired I know that the company does everything possible to produce a quality product. As with any other industry sometimes new products don’t live up to expectations for one reason or another,the 597 .17 being a good example.I am also aware that no matter what reconciliation is offered it won’t satisfy everybody. many of the issues raised in the forum are justified and I think the company will be fair in their response.The thing that bothers me is the talk of lawyers and lawsuits. With Washington filled with antigun politicians we as gun owners should not be so quick to hobble a company that is in the forefront of protecting the 2nd Ammendment. You may say that I am biased but I would feel the same if it was Winchester,Mossberg or any other American gun maker.

    What can Remington do to make this right?

    I am going to write an email to my contact at the Freedom Group’s Public Relations department and propose that Remington offer to replace any 597 purchased in the past X years with the closest equivalent .22 LR model. Customers could choose to have their 597 replaced or to take the $250 coupon. Sure this is not a perfect solution but I think it is more fair than the current situation.

    Do you think Remington is being fair or not?

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!