Remingtons New Model R51 Compact Pistol

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In the spirit of 'everything old is new again', Remington Arms has come out with a revamped version of its classic Model 51 pistol. While the styling and action are the same, the materials and construction are very modern. In short, this design could be a very interesting blend of old and new.

The Classic '51

Remingtons New Model R51 Compact Pistol - christophereger - remington-51-1801.jpg
(The Model 51 was a classic, being considered one of the world's first great concealed carry pistols)

Firearms legend John Pedersen worked for Remington in the early 20th century and came up with some of their best designs. Remembered by history as the man who came up with the "Pedersen Device" a modification to the US Army's Springfield bolt action rifle that would have turned it into one of the first assault rifles in World War One, he also produced the Model 10 pump-action shotgun and the Models 12, 14, and 25 pump-action rifles for Remington as well as the Model 1911 shotgun for Winchester.

In 1917, he designed a foray for Remington into the compact pistol category. This gun used a fixed barrel with the recoil spring wound around it. This gun used a rather unique modified blowback action that hesitated briefly to lock the breech when firing. This so-called 'hesitation action' was simple, effective, and easy to produce. With its low bore axis, eye towards comfort and long sight radius for a pistol its size, the gun was popular and shot like a dream. Chambered in either .32ACP or .380, it was designed as a self-defense gun, just being some 21 ounces in weight and 6.6-inches overall.

Remington made over 60,000 of these guns, dubbed the Model 51 between 1918 and 1927 when competition from cheaper European imported blowback pistols killed its market. They were nevertheless very popular. No less a person that General George S Patton quietly carried a '51 and he loved it.

Remingtons New Model R51 Compact Pistol - christophereger - 51-and-r51-1802.jpg

The New Model R51

Unveiling at the 2014, Shot Show in Las Vegas this month is Remington's revamp of this classic design. Called the R51 to differentiate, this new gun looks much like its inspiration and still uses its unique Pedersen "Hesitation-Locked" Action.

Different from the original is a chambering in more hard-hitting 9mm Luger, which seems to be the most popular round on the block these days. Also, this new gun is slightly smaller at some 20-ounces flat in weight and 6-inches overall in length. This is due to the use of an aircraft grade aluminum alloy grip frame and polymer in the magazine floor plate. Like the original, it has a single-action internal trigger. The slide and barrel are steel, with the former being stainless.

Remingtons New Model R51 Compact Pistol - christophereger - r51a-1803.jpg

These guns are completely modern being produced on state of the art CNC machines after a complete redesign.


  • Weight 20 oz (0.57 kg)
  • Length 6 in (15 cm)
  • Barrel length 3.4 in (8.6 cm)
  • Width 0.96 in (2.4 cm)
  • Height 4.5 in (11 cm)
  • Cartridge 9-19mm Parabellum (a .40S&W is in the works)
  • Action Pedersen "Hesitation-Locked" Action
  • Rate of fire Semi-Automatic
  • Feed system Box Magazine, 7-shot capacity (9mm)
  • Sights Drift Adjustable 3-Dot

The gang over at Triangle Tactical are already pointing out that the revamped Remington 51 is the same size, and in some instances smaller, than the all-new Glock 42 that is also being introduced at the Shot Show this month.

With a MSRP of $389 (which translates to a street price of around $299 once the start getting in stock) and a long Patton-proofed heritage, these guns could prove very interesting.

Who says the new ideas are always better?

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