If you’re among the masses who have been waiting for Remington to expand their modern line of handguns, the wait is finally over with the exciting new release of the R51 Sub-Compact.
Remington’s recent rebirth in the handgun market came with the introduction of the company’s own version of the iconic 1911. At one time, Remington manufactured several handguns of their own design—such as the Model 51, which was a compact, semiautomatic pistol chambered in .32 and .380 ACP. Surprisingly, the new R51 is a renovation of that almost century-old Model 51 pistol. The R51 utilizes a modified version of the operating mechanism designed by John Pedersen, which the original Model 51 was built around. It could best be described as a locked-breach, blowback action.
Most blowback action handguns have either very heavy slides or very stiff recoil springs. The first makes for a heavy pistol; the latter, one that’s difficult to operate. With its locked breach, the original Model 51 or the newer R51 is neither. In fact, the slide is easier to operate than other handguns in its class. Additionally, by using a recoil spring that encases the barrel as opposed to riding under it, Remington was able to keep the bore axis very low, helping to reduce felt recoil.
Even though the R51 is a take on an old-school design, it still must be considered somewhat revolutionary. It’s not the common response to a request for a compact carry gun—typically a pistol built on a polymer frame with a Glock-like operating system. Instead, the engineers at Remington stepped back in history and improved one of their own designs, not following the road most taken.
If you’re in the market for a concealed-carry handgun, the features of the R51 might make it a perfect pick. The R51 includes: smooth, rounded edges; a comfortable 20-degree grip with interchangeable panels; a flush-fitting seven-round magazine; an undercut trigger guard; a checkered front strap; a lightweight aluminum frame; an ambidextrous magazine release; a light but long and consistent trigger pull; a 416 stainless-steel barrel; snag-free drift; adjustable sights; and a lowered and flared ejection port.
The R51 doesn’t have a manual safety … at least one that must be operated by the thumb of the shooting hand. It is, however, a bit like the 1911 in that it has a grip safety that must be depressed by the web of the shooting hand before the trigger can be pulled.
Initially, the Remington R51 will be available only in 9mm Luger, but it’s rated for +P 9mm ammo. For those who believe a bad guy can’t be stopped with a 9mm, Remington already has a .40 S&W version on the drawing board. Remington also has a full line of R51 accessories in the works, including a threaded barrel. And, very wisely, they worked it out ahead of time with Galco and Crimson Trace to ensure holsters and lasers would be available in March when the R51 is scheduled to hit dealer shelves.
But perhaps the best feature of the R51—the one feature that everyone looks at when they’re considering a new defensive handgun—is price. The Remington R51 has a modest suggested retail price of $389.
If there was ever any doubt, it has been settled: Remington is once again firmly established in the handgun market. And they did it by going back to their roots.
Remington R51 Sub-Compact Specifications
Weight: 20 ounces
Total length: 6 inches
Total width: .96 inches
Chambering: 9mm +P
Barrel length: 3.45 inches