Remington has decided to look to their past for inspiration for a new concealed-carry handgun, and they found it in the unique Remington Model 51, made from 1918 to 1927. Like the original, the new R51 is a single-action only (SAO), hammer fired, semi-automatic pistol with a grip safety and fixed barrel. Thanks to a redesigned Pedersen locking-block mechanism, the new R51 is chambered for 9mm +P with a 7+1 round capacity. The Pedersen breechblock operates with a combination of straight blowback and locked breech in what could be described as delayed blowback.
The advantages of this operating system are significant. By combining blowback and locked-breech operation, the R51 offers a smaller profile with an extremely low bore axis that can handle higher pressure and provides significant recoil reduction. Another advantage is that a lighter recoil spring can be used, making the slide much easier to manipulate.
The steel slide has a matte black finish and is topped off with drift-adjustable front and rear three-dot sights. The frame is lightweight aluminum instead of polymer. The fixed barrel is made from 416 stainless steel and features some odd-looking grooves cut around the outside about 0.25 inches from the muzzle that are intended to aid in disassembly. The triggerguard has an undercut allowing a higher grip on the frame, and the pistol also features a fully functional slide lock/release and an ambidextrous magazine release.
The 20-degree grip angle is designed for superior ergonomics and controllability, while also helping to reduce perceived recoil. On the sides of the grip frame are removable panels that allow the user to customize the pistol with grip materials of various colors and widths for a better, more hand-filling feel. Standard thin aluminum grips are included and Crimson Trace laser grips are a standard option as well. Remington also plans to produce a .40 version as well, but the 9mm version will be immediately available.
I had the opportunity to test fire more than half a dozen early samples of the R51 during an event at the Gunsite Academy. I found that the slide is indeed extremely easy to manipulate, and the ergonomics were outstanding as the gun fit well in the hand and had a natural “pointability.” However, what was most impressive was the recoil impulse. I have never fired any full-sized or compact 9mm pistol with less felt recoil and less muzzle climb than the R51.
For more information, visit remington.com.