Remington R51 9mm Subcompact Handgun, where classic inspiration meets modern design for a truly impressive subcompact pistol!

The R1 and R1 Enhanced represented a return to the design the company produced during WWI and WWII for the military, but brought up to date with modern manufacturing and design. Remington is not a company traditionally known for handguns, but they intend to change that in a major way. Their latest addition to this effort is the R51 subcompact pocket pistol.

“I have never fired any full-sized or compact 9mm pistol with less felt recoil and less muzzle climb than the R51. This is an incredibly easy and comfortable pistol to shoot.”

Through the R51, Remington decided to look to their past for inspiration, and they found it in the unique Remington Model 51, made from 1918 to 1926. It was designed by John Pedersen, who may be best known for developing the rare Pedersen Device, which turned a 1903 Springfield rifle into an increased-capacity semi-auto. The Model 51 was no less revolutionary, and Remington sought to preserve what made that pistol so exemplary and bring the design into the 21st century. The new R51 is a single-action-only (SAO), hammer-fired, semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9mm with a 7+1 round capacity. It uses a redesigned (and much stronger) Pedersen breechblock mechanism for its operation. Interestingly, according to Remington the R51 has “the lightest slide racking force in its class.”

The original Model 51 was chambered in .32 and .380 ACP, although a .45 ACP prototype was also developed and tested by the U.S. military. It was also a favorite carry pistol for General George S. Patton. Remington decided to make the new R51 a true defensive pistol and redesigned the Pedersen block to be much stronger to handle 9mm +P ammunition. Remington also plans on producing a .40-caliber version, but the 9mm version will be immediately available. As stated previously, this is a SAO, hammer-fired pistol. The hammer is internal and there is no thumb safety. Instead, the R51 has a very positive grip safety that can be heard when it engages. There is also a trigger bar disconnect safety so the pistol will not fire unless the shooter has both a firm grip on the gun and intentionally squeezes the trigger. The SAO trigger itself has also been redesigned for improved safety with a long, consistent travel. It is still a fairly light trigger at a reported 6.5 pounds. The trigger reset takes a bit of getting used to, as it is completely imperceptible. You have to make sure to completely let the trigger go forward to ensure it has reset.

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The steel slide has a matte-black finish and is topped off with drift adjustable front and rear three-dot sights. These use standard dovetails so that they can be replaced with aftermarket night sights, if desired. The rear sight has a distinct reverse arch, with the actual sights placed at the front of the unit. This is to provide the pistol a very smooth profile for ease of draw. Indeed, the entire pistol has had all of the edges smoothed or rounded for comfort and concealment. The slide also features a lowered and flared ejection port to improve reliable ejection and operation. The barrel is made from 416 stainless steel, and a threaded version for use with a suppressor is in the works.

Interestingly, Remington decided to go with a lightweight aluminum frame instead of polymer. 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 magazine release is oversized to allow for ease of use, and the magazines drop free. Remington sought to keep the dimensions close to the original, known as the “6-4-1” category (6 inches long, 4 inches high and 1 inch wide). The weight unloaded is just 20 ounces, and this makes the pistol very comfortable and concealable.

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I had an early opportunity to test-fire more than half-a-dozen samples of the R51 during an event at Gunsite Academy. I found that the slide is indeed extremely easy to manipulate, and the ergonomics were outstanding. 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. This is an incredibly easy and comfortable pistol to shoot (we put 3,000 rounds through the samples provided). The recoil impulse of this gun felt only slightly higher than for a compact .22 LR pistol.

Accuracy at 7 yards from a supported position was good, averaging 2 to 3 inches, and the sights were easy to acquire. I did experience a few malfunctions with these early test pistols (out of more than 200 rounds) including failure-to-feed issues due to faulty magazines (which have since been redesigned) and failure of the trigger to reset (a quick cleaning resolved this).

Remington intends to become a major competitor in the handgun market, and the R51 is certainly a game changer.

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To learn more of the Remington R51 9mm, visit or call 800-243-9700.

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