July 28th, 2014

Remington Announces R51 Pistol Exchange

Maybe the “R” in Remington’s 9mm R51 pistol stands for “recall”, or more accurately “replacement”. Responding to many complaints from pistol buyers (and some embarrassing videos posted on YouTube), Remington has offered to exchange the pistols: “Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol, along with two additional magazines and a custom Pelican case, by calling Remington at (800) 243-9700.” The second generation R51 pistols should be available by late October, according to Remington.

Remington R51 recall model 51

So, if your R51 is a lemon, you can get a new one, presumably one that is more reliable. It’s good that Remington is “doing the right thing” for its customers. But one wonders why Remington would sell a product that was clearly “not ready for prime time”. Apparently the early test pistols worked well, but production versions had problems. Remington has issued the following statement:

Remington R51 Exchange
Earlier this year, we launched the innovative R51 subcompact pistol to critical acclaim. During testing, numerous experts found the pistol to function flawlessly. In fact, they found it to have lower felt recoil, lower muzzle rise and better accuracy and concealability than other products in its class.

However, after initial commercial sales, our loyal customers notified us that some R51 pistols had performance issues.

We immediately ceased production to re-test the product. While we determined the pistols were safe, certain units did not meet Remington’s performance criteria. The performance problems resulted from complications during our transition from prototype to mass production. These problems have been identified and solutions are being implemented, with an expected production restart in October.

Anyone who purchased an R51 may return it and receive a new R51 pistol, along with two additional magazines and a custom Pelican case, by calling Remington at (800) 243-9700.

The Original Remington Model 51
The Remington R51 pistol is a much updated version of the Remington Model 51, a 1917-18 design by John D. Pedersen. The original Model 51 was chambered for .380 ACP, and later .32 ACP. It had a very low bore axis, made possible by the Pedersen’s “hesitation lock design”. The Model 51 pointed very naturally, and with its low bore axis, muzzle flip and perceived recoil was less than with other pistols of similar size, weight, and caliber.

Remington R51 recall model 51

Like a blowback pistol, the original Remington 51 has a stationary barrel and recoil spring surrounding the barrel. However, the Remington 51 employed a unique locking breech block within the slide. When the Model 51 is in battery, the breech block rests slightly forward of the locking shoulder in the frame. When the cartridge is fired, the bolt and slide move together a short distance rearward powered by the energy of the cartridge.

Remington R51 recall model 51

When the breech block contacts the locking shoulder, it stops, locking the breech. The slide continues rearward with the momentum it acquired in the initial phase. This allows chamber pressure to drop to safe levels while the breech is locked and the cartridge slightly extracted. Once the bullet leaves the barrel and pressure drops, the rearward motion of the slide lifts the breech block from its locking recess through a cam arrangement, continuing the operating cycle. The Remington Model 51 was the only production pistol to utilize Pedersen’s type of operating system. However a prototype .45 ACP version, the Remington Model 53, was built for testing by the Navy Board.

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