Remington resurrected the old Model 51 a few years ago as the R51.  The retro-styled pistol had all manner of problems and eventually Remington recalled it.  A year or so later, the nation's oldest gun-maker brought it back as a version 2.0.  I won one of these a while back and put it through its paces.

Big Green jumped back into handgun production after many years (decades?) of concentrating on shotguns and rifles.  Today, In addition to the R51, Remington makes a slew of 1911s, as well as a duty-size 9mm RP9 and a pocket-sized RM380.  And now that Remington has emerged from bankruptcy, sales will continue.

The R51 comes from a nearly 100-year-old operating mechanism developed by John Pedersen.  Yes, the John Pedersen, of the Pedersen Device fame.   You can read at Wiki how the R51's unique operating system works.  Anyway, the system supposedly makes the gun softer-shooting and the slide easier to rack.  Or so they claim.


When I opened the box and brought out the pistol for the first time, I had very positive first impressions.  I liked the sights, three big, white circles easy for old eyes to see.  Additionally, the grip angle lent itself to natural pointing.  Double-checking for unloaded and dry-firing brought a slight grin.  The trigger broke smoothly and consistently without creep.

Plus, the gun looks cool.  It looks like something James Bond might carry.  Or something from the 22nd Century.  I could see people buying this for snag-free concealed carry.  Meanwhile, Southpaws will appreciate the ambidextrous mag release.


Looking it over again, I noticed how everything felt smooth on this little pistol.  Maybe a little too smooth.  In wet or bloody hands, it could be a slippery rascal.  Your perceptions might vary.

The first time I took the gun out and shot it, we did not make a happy family together.  Lots of little things made that trip to the range frustrating.  The two biggest issues I remember include how the gun beat the webbing of my hand up a little bit – and how I had several malfunctions as well.  Some folks told me to shoot it some more and "break it in".  Well, I have shot it some more and then cleaned it.

Just breaking down the R51 for cleaning elicited more than a few swear words.  Putting it back together brought forth more swearing and a trip to YouTube for a video demonstration.  In the end, I remember sighing.  "That was harder than it should be."

Sure enough, after almost 300 rounds and a cleaning, most of the malfunction issues settled down.

Even after cleaning out those malfunction demons, other issues remain.  While none of the issues serve as deal-breakers, I still did not like them.  Other people may not share my experiences with their guns.  However, several things keep me from liking this gun.

First off, while loading the magazine went without issue, racking the slide on that fully-loaded magazine proved very difficult.  How difficult?  Hard enough that it took me three tries to hold onto things tightly enough to pull the slide fully to the rear so it would catch that top round.  My good friend, a retired FBI special agent and Fibbie firearms trainer had similar issues when I handed it to him.

Now, I'll admit I'm not 18-years-old, nor do I look like Mr. America.  Or thankfully Mrs. America.  But this slide proved quite a little buggar on that full magazine.  If I had to compare it with something, I'd say it stands as the polar opposite of S&W's new M&P EZ when it comes to the ease of racking the slide on a loaded mag.

Furthermore, ejecting a seated topped off mag on a closed slide proved tough, too.  I can't imagine a lot of scenarios where I would dump a mag like this in a gun battle, but it happens now and then on the range.

Additionally, for those who use the slide release instead of pulling back on the slide to load and make ready may find the R51's a few hairs too shallow.  Especially if one finds themselves with flippers courtesy of an adrenaline dump when the pooh hits the fan.

Are these deal-killers?  No.  However, they can prove pesky, especially for those without a lot of grip strength.


I shot the Dot Torture drill with the R51, just as I do with every handgun I review.  It gives me some sense of apples to apples comparison for how well I can shoot a given pistol compared to my everyday carry gun.  By my count, I dropped 15 from perfect (50) at five yards.  My typical score lately hovers around 45 out of 50.

Taking a break then really bearing down for maximum accuracy, the R51 showed it can shoot minute of bad guy at five yards.  The trigger reset happens at nearly a full-release and without much in the way of sound or tactile notice.


On the whole, this range session did not leave me all that impressed with this new pistol.

Specifications: Remington R51 (version 2)

Caliber: 9mm para, +P rated
Barrel Length: 3.4 inches
Overall Length: 6.6 inches
Width: 1 inch
Height: 4.6 inches
Weight: 22 oz.
Capacity: 7+1, ships with two 7-round magazines
MSRP: $448 (street price about $385)


Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability: * * *


Following a 300-round "break in period" and a good cleaning, the R51 did better for this review than the first time I shot it.  This time, it ate all but one of the (mostly Federal) 9mm ball ammo I fed it.  I shot about 120 rounds.  Sorry, but I did not sacrifice any self-defense loads for T&E purposes in this review with the R51.


It hung up after the first round fired fired, leaving 6 rounds in the magazine.  While one malfunction doesn't spell disaster, the gun's previous malfunctions caused me to score it down two stars instead of one.

Accuracy:  * * * 
I could not shoot the R51 anywhere nearly as well as I shoot most other handguns.  The gun certainly performs to within minute of bad guy specs.  At the same time, if I cannot consistently put them where they need to go, all that does not matter.

Ease of Use: * * 1/2
For beginners, the ease of use on this gun would be two stars.  Charging the gun from a closed slide requires real effort and concentration – when it should require neither.  Ejecting a full mag on a closed slide requires effort too.  Cleaning proved a real, messy drag.

Trigger: * * * *
I rate for triggers because so much of the ability to land shots on target rests with a good trigger.  For a factory trigger without any work, Big Green's R51 ranks as good.  I’m a bit of a trigger snob (despite an edit by my editor in a previous review), and the R51's trigger stands as one brighter spot with this little pistol.

Value: * *
The gun lists for just under $450.  I've seen them under $400 on the shelf.  Frankly, in today's marketplace, Remington should have done better.  And you can do better for four Benjamins.

Overall: * * *
Rounded up to three stars.  Bottom line:  Let's not make shooting harder than it has to be, Remington.  You've got a stylish pistol with a good trigger, easy-to-see sights that points nicely.  The exotic action makes it a pain-in-the-butt to clean while not bringing any tangible benefits to the table.  The magazine tension makes racking the slide on a full magazine stupid-tough.


One thought on “DISAPPOINTING: Remington R51 v2.0 Review”
  1. I never cared for the whole concept of this pistol. Remington coming back into the pistol market was to be applauded, but trying to make a pocket pistol with a WWI design system seemed very unususal. Progress what a concept!. I remember seeing it introduced at the SHOT Show in 2014 introduced with great fanfare. I also remember the public found problems the gun not functioning and Remington had to issue a somewhat embarassing recall on all fo the R51s and admitting they had issues. They even halted all production of them for two years before returning to the market. Issues a company like Remington should have ironed out before putting it out for public consumption and especially when it was thier big ticket return to pistol building. It was off putting to me to have such a negative start for this model, and I was not interested in it when it came back into production.  Too many other fish in the sea.

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