Published on August 14th, 2012 | by Jakob Parks
The $165 Tacticle .22 LR Project
Like most who started handling and shooting guns at an early age, I paid my dues with a .22 rifle. Also like most, once I had learned how to operate and respect a firearm I moved up to a larger caliber and never looked back. However lately I have noticed a lot of respect surfacing for the .22 as a more than capable zombie apocalypse ammo so I decided I would take a 15 year step back and get familiar with one of the worlds most plentiful rounds.
As it turns out about a year ago while at a gun show I picked up a used Remington 597 for $90 cash. I wasn’t looking to buy one but it seemed like too good of a deal to pass up. It was the most basic entry model show below with grey plastic stock, 10 round clip and a 3-9×32 scope. I took it to the range a couple times with a Remington Gold Box and was impressed with accuracy of the little plinker. I took it home, put a lock on it and set it in the back of the closet where it sat until I found the ArchAngel body kit from Pro Mag.
The ArchAngel body kit consists of 4 major pieces all constructed of what Pro Mag describes as “Mil-Spec battle proven polymers” and are extremely easily assembled with just an allen wrench set. I ended up finding a used set for sale on ebay that I ended up winning for around $30, a huge improvement from the $139.99 MSRP (although you can pick one up from my favorite online store, Cheaper Than Dirt for under $100). It has an adjustable stock with pistol grip, upper and lower picatinny rails and a barrel tip with a detachable bayonet that I just left in the box.
Installation was a piece of cake. Simply remove the five screws from the 597 (three extremely small one on the top of the barrel and 2 on the bottom that holds the stock to the firing body) then attach the body pieces using 7 supplied screws. You will also use the 2 large screws that were holding the original body in place). It literally took less than 10 minutes and produced the results shown below.
One small snag I ran into was mounting the barrel tip as my Remington 597 never had iron sites, just the factory scope. The barrel tip is secured using the screw and threaded hole left behind from the removal of the front iron site. To remedy this I went one step above redneck adding a healthy amount of Gorilla Glue just inside the bottom lip of the barrel tip. I slowly slide the tip in place, straighted it as best I could using two pieces of straight timber and some pressure clamps and cleaned any extra glue with a warm damp rag. After sitting over night the glue had dried and it’s hard to imagine that it would be any more secure with just the one screw.
Bootleg, yes. Does it work, yes. This piece could have easily been left off but in the event that I ever want to drop on a set of iron sites for the rails this piece would be necessary. Plus it makes it look a little cooler I suppose.
For optics I decided to go with a BSA Red Dot scope I picked up used from Amazon for around $25. Knowing that a .22 LR round is realistically going to be effective on the undead at around 30 meters tops, I went chose this scope for it’s close range accuracy and the fact that it just looked sort of cool. It mounted easily to the top picatinny rail and made for extremely fun & accurate shooting once zeroed in. The fact that it runs on a regular watch battery is a downer for those who want to use this weapon effectively post ZA, so a set of iron sites for $50 are a suggestion addition for once the batteries run out.
While on Amazon I grabbed a folding front pistol girp for $10 that I’m not real thrilled with. The kit adds a considerable amount of weight to the rifle and it is a little on the long side for a true tactical weapon so a front grip is an extremely useful, functional addition. It fits well in the hand but has a great deal of wiggle to it. Not that I was expecting a lot from a $10 piece of plastic but I with I would have spent even less for a fixed grip.
The last addition was a Remington 30 magazine made specifically for the 597 for around $10. The magazine is made of clear plastic but thanks to a little painters tape and some spray paint I was able to make it flat black with a nice clear viewing window that runs the length of the magazine that allows me to check ammo count on the quickness. The magazine works pretty well all things considered. I found that if I loaded over 25 rounds I had feed problems for the first couple rounds. 25 rounds or below worked perfectly every single time with a 525 Remington Gold Box.
Once at the range and zeroed in, my new Remington 597 ArchAngel tactical .22 LR was incredibly fun to shoot and deadly accurate at 30 meters. I’m talking 1 inch groupings at a very quick rate of fire. I was having a blast with this gun and ripping through the ammo that only cost me $20 for over 500 rounds.
One issue I have with this mod is that it really makes it difficult to completely break down the rifle for cleaning. In order to access the trigger mech you have to completely disassemble the entire kit which is a pain in the ass. Remington Gold Box HPs out performed all other ammos I tried but was also without a doubt the dirtiest making me wish I could do a proper cleaning with less effort. I’m not saying it’s not possible, it’s just a pain.
If you buy into the concept that a .22 LR is a proper ZA round, want to have something a little more fun and don’t want to spend a lot of money, this set up is a pretty solid. Buying everything used and/or online I was able to assemble a very solid and very fun tactical .22 for around $165. I really do love this gun but I’m going to have to look further in the round itself a little more before I give it my endorsement as a ZA approved round.
Check back soon as I will be testing a Walther P22, various ammo brands and types and doing a ballistic test to check the capabilities of the .22 LR as a true zombie killing round.
*One last tip for those thinking about dropping for an ArchAngel kit, there is a hex screw that needs to be installed inside the pistole handle that secures the fire mech to the body. It is extremely difficult to due so without a long allen wrench. I have a Kobalt kit that I picked up which was the longest I could find and they were barley long enough to work. Please keep that in mind before assembling.