Finally, the new Remington R51 is in service as intended:
...and therein lies a tale, or five.
As you will recall, I ordered this pistol from my dealer back in early January. It finally came in six days ago. On Monday of this week, I took it to my range to break it in and practice with it. After firing 70-75 rounds of various factory ammo loadings including some Cor-Bon +P, it stopped firing. Range field-stripping revealed that the firing pin had become frozen in it's channel, and also, the elastomeric* extractor spring had dislodged from it's location, and the extractor was unsprung (still worked, but not as required).
That was the Range Day from Hell, because my Kel-Tec P-11 also failed, with a broken trigger! Yep, the trigger broke right off just below it's pivot pin. More on that later, but here's a pic:
Now, I've been shooting for around 60 years, and I've never seen that malfunction before.
Back to the Remington.
I went right to work with the pistol, and before the failure, which was due to manufacturing debris left in the firing pin channel, the pistol successfully ate 115gr ball from Blazer, 124-gr NATO military ball (Winchester White Box), Winchester Ranger 147-gr JHP, and 10 rounds of Cor-Bon +P 147-gr, probably the stoutest europellet available. I had, while the gun was till working, one smokestack malfunction, but it was my fault for trying to set the world-record double-tap, during which I either limp-wristed the pistol or loosened my grip enough to let the grip safety take an intermediate position. I couldn't dupe that fail today, so who knows. Of course, when the firing pin failed, there was first a light-strike malfunction, then a no-fire malfunction.
The gun is built like a tank, and the machining quality is as good as any pistol I've ever handled, including my pre-war (German) Walther PP, which has set the standard for me up to now. All Hail CNC machining!
Take your pleasurable moment upon eating the very best ice cream you ever put in your mouth on a hot day. Yep, this gun shoots that well! Everything at point of aim. The crisp single-action trigger is very predictable, and not so light as you can't stop your trigger pull safely. I estimate it at 4.5-5.0# by my calibrated trigger finger. Dee-lightful trigger, yes. Gunfighter's trigger, yes.
You would NOT give this gun to a novice, and it should NOT be a first gun. It is safe to use when all the proper gun-handling discipline one learns over the years is applied, but you could dummy up and get a ND very easily. The reason is, that once you grip the loaded and chambered pistol, it fires with a trigger pull, nothing else required. If you want to safe this pistol, you clear it and holster an empty weapon, period. You must never holster it in in a holster which has a retention strap (that releases the grip safety), and IWB carry has an element of risk as well. I bought the Galco belt-slide friction holster that you see in the above photo, and that's safe enough. You have to be cognizant that if you carry a round chambered, when you draw, you have made the weapon ready to fire by gripping it to draw.
Most previous reviews of the gun have praised it's shoot-ability, and I agree. It is easier to shoot and shoot well than a Glock G19, or my Kel-Tec P-11 in this caliber. It rivals the legendary 1911A1 in shoot-ability, given the difference in the cartridges. The R51 manages recoil and muzzle flip better than any other gun shooting a modern high-pressure cartridge, period. It stays on target for fast follow-up shots better than anything else I've shot.
The magazines don't come near to the build quality of the pistol. They look and feel cheap, and I notice that the ammo column of a loaded magazine is somewhat staggered, which leads to friction inside the magazine while it's feeding ammo to the pistol. The inside of the magazine has to be lightly oiled because of this. The floorplate does not fit closely to the bottom of the magazine, with the result that the metal corners of the magazine bottom bite you a bit as you are re-stuffing them full of 9mm shooty goodness. That's just crap. I hope someone like MecGar makes a decent aftermarket magazine for it soon. Also, it seems that the spring tension is VERY heavy, far heavier than any other 9mm magazine I've ever taken apart to clean. The magazine is a New Yawker, holds only seven rounds, but it feels like you are putting the last two rounds into a 33-round Glock monster-mag as you fill the Remington magazines. That said, I have to buy another one of these right away, because that heavy spring got away from me and I lost the spring retainer plate from one of the two factory mags while cleaning it. It's in my damn room, but hiding very well. I restored the magazine to service by fashioning another retainer plate out of a scrap of an old credit card using a nail trimmer to nibble it into shape, reassembling the magazine, and fixing the new plate into place with a small brass screw though the plate and the bottom of the magazine.
My carry of the R51 started two hours ago. It rides right where I have carried everything else, just aft of the center-line of my body, behind my hip. I am carrying Winchester Ranger 147-gr in the pipe and the top three, followed by four NATO ball. The backup mag has all NATO ball, because if I get past the First Four, me AND my adversary are likely using cover, and the ball has the zing to defeat light cover. It IS Europellet, after all.
My R51 may have been the first one in Portland, OR. If you're dying to get the feel of one, email me and I will meet you for a hands-on.
* Elastomeric extractor spring: The "spring" is actually a little rubber pill of about 4mm height. It sits compressed under the lever end of the extractor and is squashed in between the extractor and the breech block body, pushing upward on the lever end of the extractor, which translated into opposite motion at the fulcrum, a pivot pin, keeps the extractor in the closed position. When it popped out, fortunately it stayed inside the action, and after some musing, I was able to figure out how to put it back into position. It involved making a shoe-horn-like tool out of a grapefruit knife by dulling the edge so it wouldn't cut up the little rubber pill, but ease it back into it's nook.
UPDATE: 040814 0904 PDT: I'd noticed a few reviews of this pistol had nagative comments about the magazines not being of the same build quality as the pistol. Yeah, they look and feel cheap, but so far, they work. However, since I've been carrying the R51 almost a week now, I've notice something else about the magazines. They have a plastic (elastomeric?) bottom cap, which engages the metal bottom flares on the magazine body by a little less than 3/4 of the body cross-section, as opposed to the entire body being flared in most other magazines I've seen. The plastic bottom cap is somewhat flexible, and a bend develops in the piece when left loaded. I have no idea if Remington even knows about this, but again, it is an argument for a re-design of the magazine by either Remington or an aftermarket supplier.