Remington’s Gamble: Old School, Not Tacticool for New Pistol


There were a lot of new pistols at SHOW Show this year, but I think most unique design had to be the Remington R51.

Breaking from the popular frame designs like Glock and 1911, Remington Arms Company has produced a very streamlined carry pistol that is loosely based on the 1916 Remington Model 51, designed by John Pedersen.

It looks like something that would have been right at home on the set of an early James Bond flick.

But I’m not judging. I didn’t see it fire on the range, but it does have a lot of features that warrant a closer look.


For one, Remington designers positioned the recoil spring over the over the barrel instead of under the barrel to give the R51 a lower bore axis. This means less muzzle rise, so less felt recoil, said Leland Nichols of Remington Arms Co.

The R51 is single-action and hammer fired with an internal hammer. It also has external grip safety that deactivates when squeezed. It’s chambered for 9mm Plus P, instead of .380 like the new compact Glock 42.

“Most people don’t have the confidence in .380,” Nichols said. “This same platform will do a .40-caliber round.”

Remington is considering offering the R51 in .40 and eventually .380, he said. It just depends on future demand.

One feature I like about the R51 is that the slide requires very little effort to operate, making it ideal for the elderly and for women who just don’t have the hand strength to rack the slide of an M&P or a Glock.

“Our target was to have less than 20 pounds pressure to rack the slide,” Nichols said. “We achieved 17 pounds.”

It’s a nice size for conceal carry at 6 inches long, 4.5 inches high and 1 inch wide. There are no sharp corners for snag-free drawing.

It comes with two seven-round magazines and costs about $400 bucks.

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Matthew Cox
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  • Pete Sheppard

    I’ve read a couple of other reviews, and I’m VERY interested! I’d like to compare it directly to the K-T 9mms.
    Another problem with .380’s: Where’s the ammo? All I see is 9×19, .40 S&W and .45 ACP.

    • Balais

      “Another problem with .380’s: Where’s the ammo?”

      LOL exactly.

  • James

    Wow! It’s nice to see Remington making pistols again. I like the design.

    About the ammo problem. Get whatever you can of what you need. Please don’t horde. There is a severe ammo drought that will be affecting everyone very soon. If you thought last year was bad, just wait for the repercussions of China being our only supplier of lead for your bullets now. Quantities are going to drop and prices are surely going to skyrocket. And you must know, all of this is by design, the same as energy, health care, food and everything else that we all depend on. Sorry to get off subject, but I thought this was important.

    • Crusty Old Chief

      Don’t fall for the red herring on the lead supply. As far as I have been able to find, not one ammo manufacturer in the U.S. is using virgin lead… it’s all recycled, primarily from batteries, which in turn have about a 90% recycle rate. Sure, there’ll be *some* offshore supplies coming in but not enough to cause a crisis.

      • James

        That’s good to know. Still, I’ll bet you anything the price of recycled lead is going to go through the roof. And I still have that sickening feeling that this will create yet another shortage in ammo, whether it is real or artificially generated. Plus the same fear as I had/have will make people get as much as they can wherever possible. I would still ask all those in those early morning long lines at the ammo counters, buy only what you need, there are a lot of people, in need of ammo, who simply can’t race to the stores ahead of you. I know I’m talking to the wall, but hopefully this may make a dent in someone’s mind. Another thought, a gift of ammo to those you care about most, is a superb gift. And of coarse, make them understand its value.

        • Martin M

          I live above all the lead, and it’s not going to run out anytime soon. They are still mining it at Viburnum (>300k tons a year). The smelter is closed, but the lead is just getting shipped out of the US for smelting. Even the Old Lead Belt still contains an enormous amount of lead. They stopped mining there when the ore content fell to 2%, which is still 40lbs of lead per cubic yard (ton).

      • Joshua

        You are correct, the vast majority of lead usage comes from recycling batteries and very little comes from the plant that was recently shut down.

      • J Morgan

        There is at least one lead smelter in Canada. I think Xstrata owns it now. Sat next to the laboratory manager for dinner one night several years ago at a company meeting. Their largest customer was a car battery manufacturer. Kind of pathetic when Canada is more business-friendly than the US.

    • Tom

      It’s people on sites like this talking about an ammo shortages that incite people to hoard. If you don’t want to spread fear, the best thing to do is not talk about it.

      • James

        Good point, I didn’t think about that. But what I said, I think still stands true. If they can find an excuse to raise the price on anything, they will.

    • JamesW

      Australia is also supplying much of the lead the US requires.

  • Ben

    It’s an interesting looking pistol to be sure, but with the 6 round mag is clearly being marketed as a CC firearm, and it’s a tad large for its round capacity when compared to similar sized arms.

    Haven’t being seeing anything really and truly new and innovative come out of this shot show.

    At this point there are enough decent pistols out there for both CC and duty, we don’t need any more UNLESS the firearm is: abnormally small, ultra high capacity, or has some groundbreakingly new recoil management system. Just my 2c.

    • J Morgan

      Besides High Points, every single 9mm and up gun out there, and the all the small 380’s that are manageable, all use the Browning style locked breech / tilting barrel design. Whether it locks in grooves in the slide or in the ejection port itself, every single pistol out there uses that design. Just take your pick of metal or plastic, striker or hammer, etc.

      The R51 uses the Pederson design for the barrel lock up and release. Here is the thing: if the us War Dept had waited 7 or 8 more years before adopting a semi-auto pistol, it would have adopted the Remington 53, which as a model 51 scaled up to 45 ACP. The Navy (back when the War Dept and the Navy Dept were separate) tried the Model 53 and the 1911 in a trial near the end of WWI and said that the 53 was more accurate, simpler, very reliable, and had less recoil–and recommended adopting the 53 over the 1911. Then WWI ended and since all those 1911’s had been made, why adopt something new, even if it was better. The Marines that close to going with the model 53, and they Army would have followed suit if the Marines had cleaned up at pistol matches. The Model 51 was very popular by pistol buffs, until the great depression put a lid on things. The 53 was never made in production due to costs for tooling up, and there just wasn’t much domestic demand for large caliber semi auto pistols back then. The point is, if the military had gone with the 53, very possibly that would have been the end of the Browning locked breech design. Handgun history would have profoundly changed, and the only thing that stopped that was when WWI ended.

      Fast forward, and the Glock 10th generation model 498 1/2 the S&W Constable and Mounty, The Sig 999, the Ruger whatever, well, they are all using the fundamental operating method that LOST OUT IN COMPETION ABOUT 96 YEARS AGO. The Browning design locked breech has gone about as far as it is going to go, and Remington very wisely said, hey why not go back to the great fork in the road that occurred around 1917 or so and look if that other path might have been better after all.

      Less recoil, less force to cock the gun, a trigger that works with someone–not against them, a fixed barrel–damn right this is big. I could see that replacing my wife’s compact CZ, and I would rather carry that than a 38 J-frame. I was debating on a 380 Kahr or a Sig or Colt Mustang-style 380, but this stopped that debate. Unless reliability turns out to be an issue, I’ll take two.

  • Lance

    Looks nice wish 007 would ditch the PPK and go with this.

    • Slag

      Blasphemy Lance, blasphemy…

      • Slag

        Oh, and by the way, “that’s a Smith & Wesson, you’ve had your 5 shoots.” pew pew pew.

    • Bil

      I think Bond *did* ditch the PPK. In “Tomorrow Never Dies”, he is rummaging through the Chinese armory in the warehouse, and he grabs a P99 and says “Ah, the new Walther. I’ve been asking Q to get me one of these.” It’s a throwaway line, but he continues to use that weapon throughout the movie and throughout the next 4 movies, actually.

  • Balais

    Why in the holy name of F*@& did glock ever introduce the 42 in 380?

    They could have made a killing selling single stack 9mms after many (including myself) poked, prodded, and begged for them to introduce one.


    Fine by me. Ill buy one of these after they’ve been out for a while if there are any unintended bugs.

    • Slag

      Dude, not every shooter out there can choke a javelina to death with their bare-hands like you can.
      Many women shooters and even disabled folks as well, have smaller hands and require a more tolerant round.

      • Balais

        The 380 is not “more tolerant”.

        It produces a sharper recoil, noticed highly in a pocket pistol, and offers nothing that a 9mm does.

        I cant see the justification for it.

        Glock could have made a killing, selling single stock 9mms like hot cakes.

        • teebonicus

          Being at retirement age (and heavier and thicker through the middle), it just isn’t comfortable to carry larger sidearms like I used to. I now carry an LCP in my front cargo pants/shorts pocket, and it’s a beautiful thing.

          — Until you shoot it. That HURTS, especially with heavy, FMJ ball. But, it isn’t a “range gun”, it isn’t a “fun gun”, it’s a pocket-carry defense gun, meant to be broken in and then tested with carry ammo, then not shot until the balloon goes up.

          And, contrary to your intimation, modern .380 Golden Sabers are as effective as .38SPL. Not that .38SPL is anything to write home about, but considering the size/weight/no-hassle-carry factors, it’s the cat’s ass. No print, no weight, no dress considerations, no problems.

          This new Remi is interesting, but I wouldn’t buy a gun that size for carry in .380, when you can get an LC9 that’s much smaller and lighter.

          But not small enough, which is why I carry the LCP in .380.

    • Stormcharger

      Also, if you’ll notice, the rear sight is shaped to allow hands free slide manipulation and well as being relatively snag free. I have several shooters at may range who carry tiny Beretta’s only because of the tip up barrel and not having to cycle the slide at all.

      As for the Glock 42, it’s been a Glock caliber they have never been able to import for years and now that it’s made in the US it can be marketed worldwide, that’s why. .380 is poular and effective everywhere but in the misled minds of the American public.

      • Balais

        The 380 is popular even in America, but Glock is really missing the boat. That was my point. Americans, who DO shoot far more than others “worldwide” know which cartridges are more suitable and which ones arent. Why wouldn’t someone pick a 9mm over 380?

        Personally, I hate 380 and don’t see a purpose for it. But to each to his/her own.

    • USMCMoose

      The reason Glock released the 42 in .380 vice 9mm is that in many parts of the world (including a large portion of Europe) 9mm is considered Military Grade and not available for public use. It was a global market decision. Being they’re Austrian, I’m sure they crunched the numbers, repeatedly, and made their decision accordingly.

      Either way a .380 hit is better than a 9mm miss any day.

  • Rick

    Misled minds? Effective everywhere? Except FBI ballistics tests. The 380 round is anemic when compared to modern service calibers. Hollow point rounds do not effectively expand so all rounds perform as FMJs.

    A 9mm is leaps and bounds above the 380 and would involve absolute minimal dimensional changes.

    – Rick

    • Stormcharger

      When comparing data, one must understand what is being compared. Ballistics tests on various calibers fail to take into account human beings that are shot with any projectile. The vast majority of one shot stops are those that do not result in a lethal wound, which makes all ballistic tests meaningless. And since the .380ACP, 9x19mm, and even the .45ACP are more than 100 years old, which “modern” service caliber are we comparing?

      In a worst case scenario, where you are having to hold off a hundred crack smoking gang members, yeah bigger is better. However if you want something that you’ll most definitely be carrying the other 99.98% of the time, that little .380 is going to do the job just fine.

      I truly wish that people didn’t overstate comparisons between different loads and calibers. The .380 has the same muzzle energy as one of the most common .38 Special loads, so where’s the hate for that legendary cartridge as well?

      • Balais

        You have more recoil (even with shorter barrels) and increased ammunition cost for a cartridge that performs worse ballistically than 9mm (although not significantly in the pistol comparison scheme of things).

        It is indefensible.

        Partially the reason why I have a love/hate relationship with Glock.

    • Balais

      That and, arguably more importantly, the 380 has inferior penetration.

  • moondawg

    The R51 seems a tad large to be a pocket pistol or to fit in a woman’s purse that is medium to small size. For a pistol the size of the R51, it needs to hold more than six rounds. My Kahr 9mm is significantly smaller and holds up to seven rounds, and will still fit in a pants pocket.

    • Mikey

      It is not 6 rounds. It is 7+1. It is only a fraction of an inch larger than my Sig P938 with an extended (7 round) magazine at half the price. Count me as interested.

  • defensor fortisimo

    If they go the route of other slim-line 9s, they’ll probably make an expanded magazine. Also if you read the article, it says they are shipping out with 7 round magazines. I don’t know, it sort of has a retro look, I kind of like it, especially since according to wikipedia, the original was a favorite of patton.

  • Snuffy

    I cannot believe that we have survived this long without this superior handgun design. This is going to revolutionize the way wars are fought an won!!

    But seriously, just looking at it reminds me of a high point and makes me throw up a little in my mouth.

  • Dave Hudson

    ‘I am not a fan of the 9mm. I find it lacking in accuracy. This would be an excellent pistol with a .40 round or a .380 round. It is a good looking piece and the design is most interesting. It looks like a good piece for an automatic. I have not heard any range testing results so it would be difficult to say for sure with the range testing but I like the design. It is boxy looking and it seems to offer a number of different bullet sizes. It is a weapon that I would give some consideration to purchasing.

    • JPD

      Well, Dave, your lack of knowledge on the accuracy of the 9mm is either from ignorance, lack of usage, bad marksmanship, or inaccurate firearm. Just a clue, the 9mm is the favorite caliber of the Bianchi Cup. In case you are unaware, that is ALL about accuracy from a pistol. Oh yeah, after the 9mm. it is 38 spl, 38 super, and 45ACP. 40 does not make the list.

    • jon seamoore

      Not sure what 9s you have shot but as long as I have been shooting A nine is far more accurate than a 40 cal. And it has less recoil with better follow up shots.. Ive been at a police range on a day when our local PD dept. changed over to the 40 caliber and about five of the officers could not even score high enough make score.I would have to say after seeing this it assures me that a 9 is much better for fast work

  • Parnell

    Just for the record, the R51 is 6.625 ins. long. It’s just a little shorter than the XDs 9 4.0. Maybe not a pocket pistol but a damn nice CCW.


    The real problem with military pistols is that a 9mm with a FMJ will over penetrate at almost all ranges. Where as the 40 cal using FMJ will not. It 40 has more knock down power.

  • JPD

    Well, Dave Hudson, your lack of knowledge on the accuracy of the 9mm is either from ignorance, lack of usage, bad marksmanship, or inaccurate firearm. Just a clue, the 9mm is the favorite caliber of the Bianchi Cup. In case you are unaware, that is ALL about accuracy from a pistol. Oh yeah, after the 9mm. it is 38 spl, 38 super, and 45ACP. 40 does not make the list.

    • chuck S


  • chuck S

    Dave tell me your kidding tell me your post is a joke. 9mms is very accurate

  • John Friedson

    How the heck do you have a ‘single action’ pistol with an internal hammer? What am I missing?

    • James

      The Colt 1903 .32ACP. 100+ years old. One of the first of many other pistol designs as this. And there are internal hammer fired and striker-pin designs, both are considered single-action.