Of all the new products at SHOT show, the Remington R-51 compact 9mm pistol has gotten the most attention (with the possible exception of the Glock 42). The current selection of compact 9mm single stack pistols like the S&W Shield, Walther PPS, and Springfield XDs offer a balance of size, power, capacity, and controllability that hit an ideal mark for a large chunk of the concealed carry market. Remington’s R-51 is clearly aiming at that same market, but they’ve taken a different approach. The R-51 is not polymer. It’s not striker fired. And it looks different than anything else on the market with sleek, almost feminine lines. Reaction seems to be split over the look, but either way, it’s a pistol that gets your attention when you see it.
At SHOT Show, we met one of the Remington engineers who worked on the R-51 and asked him how he’d sell us on the pistol if he only had seconds to make the case.
Why You Should Buy the R-51 in 30 Seconds
You can read the full Q&A with R-51 engineer Jesse Peyton after the first impressions section below.
R-51 Quick Summary
- Overall Length: 6.63″
- Height: 4.5″
- Width: .96″
- Weight: 20 oz
- Barrel Length: 3.4″
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 7+1
- Single action
- Safety: Grip safety w/ no manual safety lever
- MSRP: $389
- Holsters from Galco, Fobus, Crossbreed, and Comp-Tac
- Crimson Trace Laserguard. Available as a factory option with the R-51 or as an aftermarket accessory.
- Other lasers from Lasermax and Laserlyte.
- Threaded barrel from Storm Lake available as an aftermarket accessory (no planned R-51 model with threaded barrel from the factory).
- Interchangable grip panels, including checkered wood.
- estimated trigger pull from display models; crisp, ~7-8 lbs. Minimal pre-travel. Moderate overtravel.
- Grip safety resembles a 1911 safety more than the SA XD style grip safety.
- Other calibers planned for the future.
- R-51 promotional video from Remington
- The Firearm Blog Review
- Gunblast Review
- Size Comparison Chart from Triangle Tactical
First Impressions from SHOT Show
As much hype as there is around this pistol, there’s also no shortage of skeptics. The gun is larger than many were expecting, with an overall length roughly half an inch longer than most of its closest competitors. The grip safety has also drawn some criticism. On some of the display models at Remington’s booth, the safety “clicked” into place only after a firm squeeze, while on other samples the engagement was smooth and soft, similar to a well-built 1911. And of course, since Remington hasn’t mass-produced a pistol of their own design in nearly a century, there are some doubts as to whether their re-entry into the concealed handgun market is going to go smoothly.
Personally, I’m looking forward to the release of the R-51, but with a healthy dose of apprehension. It may not be quite as small as some of its competitors, but it’s really difficult to make any true determination on the size until you actually stick it in a holster and try to carry it. Those smooth lines aren’t just for looks, and they may make a difference in how comfortable it is to carry the R-51. For instance, I think the S&W Shield is a great size, but the sharp edge on the rear sights can get really uncomfortable against my skin after carrying it all day in an appendix holster. That would likely not be an issue with the R-51 and its rounded edges.
As for the grip safety issue, I still say its up in the air. All of the guns on the show floor at SHOT are required to have their firing pins removed. In many cases, this causes the guns to behave abnormally when dry firing and testing their function. This may or may not explain the inconsistencies with the various R-51 samples, but it does offer one plausible reason for why we shouldn’t be too harsh in pre-judging the gun before it’s released.
Having said all that, I think the skepticism over Remington’s inexperience in the pistol market is completely valid. Remington makes some really good stuff, but for the most part, their rifles and shotguns that are priced at a “budget” level tend to exhibit “budget” level performance and quality. That may mean sacrificing simple cosmetic issues like a less durable finish, or unsightly machine marks, but there’s a chance that corners could be cut in the quality control department. With an MSRP of $389, the R-51 is at a very attractive price point, but is it too attractive? I would love to be pleasantly surprised, but we’ll have to wait until February to find out for sure.
Interview with Jesse Peyton, Remington Engineer for the R-51
Lucky Gunner: I like that the slide is easy to rack. Do you think that’s a big selling point?
Jesse Peyton: I think it is. It’s one of the things weak handed shooters seem to state when they go into a gun shop. They grab a gun, they rack it, and say “man, this is heavy”. So I think it’s important.
LG: I think a lot of people associate a blowback action or fixed barrel with greater felt recoil than a recoil operated pistol. How were you able to design the R-51 to have less recoil than other pistols in its class?
JP: Technically, this is not a direct blowback gun. This is a Pedersen action. The best way to explain it is a kind of hesitating blowback, but I don’t think that really does it justice. The way it works; initially, there’s a certain amount of what we call “runup”. This locks the breechblock into the frame and allows the pressure to dissipate inside the chamber. The rest of the cycle goes back, the slide picks up the breech block, ends its cycle, comes back forward, picks up the next round, closes up, and locks the breech block back into the frame.
LG: That’s a mechanism Remington used on an older pistol, right?
JP: Yeah, it was taken from the original Model 51 made back in the 20s.
LG: So if you went back in time with the R-51 and showed it to the engineers who made the original Model 51, would they be able to look inside and recognize what’s going on here?
JP: Yeah, I think they could. Takedown is very similar. You know, the parts aren’t exactly the same…. the parts have been reengineered for the 21st century.
LG: What about the rear sights? The shape is pretty unique among carry pistols.
JP: From the initial design, the whole concept is concealed carry. The frame and slide have been de-horned to remove all the sharp edges. If you were drawing the gun, the [shape of the sights] helps to draw it out and not snag on anything. A lot of people do look at it and think it looks kind of backwards, but when they think about it, they realize that it helps with the draw and not catching on anything.
LG: There are accessories already planned to be released with the pistol, right?
JP: Yeah, we’re working with different companies on some accessories. Some different grip inserts for different hand sizes. We’re looking at tritium night sights and even a threaded barrel from Storm Lake.
LG: Is the threaded barrel something that will come with the pistol as a separate model, or a drop-in accessory to buy after you have the standard R-51?
JP: That’s an aftermarket accessory.
LG: I saw that there’s a Crimson Trace trigger guard style laser for this, but with the interchangeable grip panels, will CrimsonTrace make a lasergrip for the R-51?
JP: Not that I know of. It’s a laser that attaches to the trigger guard area. That will be available from the factory with the gun, and I believe you’ll also be able to buy that separately from Crimson Trace.
LG: And the R-51 starts shipping when?
JP: This is going to distributors in mid February.
LG: Any other calibers planned for the future?
JP: We have plans to do other calibers.
LG: Are you working on that?
JP: Umm… maybe. [laughs]