During the first part of December a group of firearm writers, including myself, were invited by Remington to the 2014 New Defense/Tactical Products Seminar held at the Gunsite Academy in Paulden, Arizona. To say I was excited to go would be an understatement!
As it turns out I would have been even more excited if I had known what was in store for us. Each day we would meet in a classroom and discuss products before heading to the various ranges for a day of shooting. This particular morning a presentation was on the screen and there was a pistol I’d never seen but looked somewhat familiar. The pistol turned out to be the new Remington Model 51 pistol in 9MM! (shipping in February)
The R-51 looked familiar because this new pistol is based on the John Pederson designed original model 51. For those not familiar with the model 51 there were 65,000 pistols made in .32 and .380 caliber between 1918 and 1927. Small numbers were made with existing parts into the 1930’s.
The mechanism of the model 51 is unique and only used in one handgun and that’s the model 51. The layout of the Remington 51 is similar to the Walther PPK pistol in the use of a stationary barrel and recoil spring surrounding the barrel. However, the unique feature is the use of a locking breech block within the slide. When the pistol is in battery, the breech block rests slightly forward of the locking shoulder in the frame. When the cartridge is fired, the bolt and slide move together a short distance rearward powered by the energy of the cartridge as in a standard blowback system. When the breech block contacts the locking shoulder, it stops, locking the breech. The slide continues rearward with the momentum it acquired initially. This allows chamber pressure to drop to safe levels while the breech is locked and the cartridge slightly extracted. Once the bullet leaves the barrel and pressure drops, and the continuing motion of the slide lifts the breech block from its locking recess through a cam arrangement, continuing the operating cycle.
Now that I’ve laid the base for the origin of the new Remington R-51 lets move on to this new pistol. First let me emphasize that the R-51 is not a rehash of the older pistol. Remington engineers have spent countless hours redesigning from the original to create this updated pistol.
The R-51 uses the Pederson action but that’s where we depart from the original. As you can see from the photos the entire pistol has been streamlined and dehorned. There’s not one sharp edge anywhere on this pistol. The magazine release is ambidextrous. There is the usual internal drop safety. The primary safety is the grip safety. As you draw the pistol you can feel as well as hear the grip safety click and disengage. Once the grip safety is depressed you’re ready to fire.
The trigger is really very good and has the same feel as a 1911. In fact the trigger moves straight back like a 1911. The trigger itself looks a good deal like a 1911 having a stirrup configuration. The R51 is very fast to get into action since you have no safeties you consciously have to release. It’s straightforward draw and fire. Trigger reset is short making follow-up shots fast.
A good deal of time was also spent on getting the grip circumference and angle as close to perfect as they could manage. They did a good job because the grip not only feels good but it’s a natural pointer. When you draw and bring the pistol on target the sights are pretty much lined up. The shooters hand also sits very high and much closer to the bore axis reducing felt recoil.
As far as calibers the R-51 is rated for 9MM+P ammo. A .40 caliber version will be next in the lineup. The magazine capacity is 7+1. Of course this is a compact pistol with a single stack magazine. Night sights are also an option. A Crimson Trace model will be available as well as one with a threaded barrel for a suppressor.
Other features of the R-51 include an undercut trigger guard as well as 25 lpi front strap checkering. Larger grip inserts are available for those with larger hands. The pistol also has a lowered and flared ejection port. The barrel is made of 416 stainless steel.
Shooting the R-51
After our classroom session learning the history and attributes we all headed for the range for an afternoon of shooting the R-51.
We used one of the ranges equipped with steel targets so we could get instant feedback. The Remington guys had a table with eight R-51’s lined up along with a table with several cases of ammo. The pistols we used were everything from early prototypes to pre production models.
I can tell you we all did our duty trying to break one by firing thousands of rounds of ammo. We used ball ammo as well as hollowpoints. The only difficulty I saw that afternoon was an early prototype that broke. There’s nothing unexpected in a prototype breaking down. Eight shooters fired non-stop for hours. At one point they had to make an ammo run and bring back more ammo.
We fired many thousands of rounds and I saw one failure to feed. Not bad at all considering we fired about eight or ten cases of ammo in eight guns. As you can see from the photo there was enough brass on the ground to walk around and never touch the ground! I can’t speak for the other writers but I’m sold on the R-51. A pistol that handles this well and shows that kind of reliability has to get some serious attention. Accuracy was also good in no small part to the fixed barrel.
One thing that happens all the time with the release of a new pistol is a lack of holsters. Well not this time. Galco has a leather holster. Fobus, Crossbreed and Comp-Tac all have holsters available now. Besides the Crimson Trace model lasers are also available now from Laserlyte and Lasermax.
The price of the R-51 is pretty amazing to me. MSRP is $389! This price is just way under what I expected.
The R-51 will be shipping to dealers on February 1st. After the range session we all got together with the Remington reps and discussed the pistol for an hour or so. None of us really had any significant changes we thought should be made. I don’t know of one writer that didn’t like this new pistol myself included.
I hope you all enjoyed this announcement and review! Our readers are one of if not the first to hear about it! There’s more to come—-