Gun Review: Remington R-51 Gen 2 1000 Round Test

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The last couple of years has been a real ride for this writer as well as Remington of course. Since the first post on the R-51 until the recent release of the R-51 Gen2 we’ve all watched and waited for this re-engineered pistol. Hats off to Remington for sticking with it and taking care of the customers not only in the interim but replacing the old R-51 with the Gen2 before releasing any to the public for new sales.

I decided awhile back when I got the new R-51 I was going to test it pretty hard. After the release I watched some of the video and print articles to see what some others opinions would be. Some good, some not so good and the ever present reviewer who hated it before they even saw it. I’m afraid I don’t operate that way. I want any review to be fair and as impartial as possible. The only difference is this one would be firing 1000 rounds over some weeks time. That said lets get to it!

R51 with Galco holster.

R51 with Galco holster.

I won’t go over the usual details and the origin of the design etcetera except to say it uses the Pederson action. Most everyone is already familiar with the particulars so lets stick with performance, reliability and wear. I used the 9mm ammo I had on hand as well as purchasing some rounds from Cor-Bon which were +P, SIG V-Crown JHP, some rounds with a copper bullet and of course lots of ball ammo some of which was Tul-Ammo. I never shoot the steel cased ammo so I just bought 150 rounds of those. The last batch of rounds was a large plastic bag of JHPs of various types, ages and weight. These would be fired in no particular order and unsorted. I thought that these might cause some problems if anything would.

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I also did this short video clip to give you all an idea of how short the takeup is on the new R51. It also breaks clean.

Of course before going to the range the first time I checked and lubed the pistol. One thing i noticed is the magazines now have a thicker polymer base plate. This was a welcome change since the first model had a rather thin baseplate and flexed a bit. Not so with these magazines.

During my range sessions I averaged about 200 up to 300 rounds per trip until all 1000 rounds were fired. So, what’s the final report? Well this Gen 2 fired everything I loaded into it including the old 9mm mixed rounds. The only problem I had was with TulAmmo which isn’t all that surprising. It just didn’t like feeding these so I’d say stay away from steel cased TulAmmo in the R51. I don’t normally use this ammo anyway and only purchased it for this test. Of all the JHP the R-51 seemed to like the +P rounds the best. They functioned well and gave the best accuracy. The second best accuracy was with the SIG V-Crown 9mm. Being a small pistol I shot most rounds from 7 to 10 yards. The best group from 10 yards was 1.17 inches which is more than acceptable for a defense pistol.

I cleaned the pistol at 500 rounds and 1000 rounds otherwise I would give it a bit of lube every few hundred rounds. The slide was a bit rough to manipulate at first but smoothed out at about 150 rounds.

After firing all of my rounds I disassembled the R-51 to check for any unusual wear and found nothing amiss. Some finish was worn but nothing remarkable. The photos above show the internals for your inspection.

It seems that all of the time and effort Remington put into fixing the design paid off. It functioned fine except for the TulAmmo and showed no unusual wear on the internal parts.

As far as holsters DeSantis, CrossBreed and Galco have them on the shelves at your local gun shop. Galco also has mag pouches for the R-51.

Remington R-51



Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


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  • roguetechie

    Phil I’m glad you got a good one. Wasn’t Alex’s experience with his 2nd gen quite a bit less confidence inspiring?

    If you guys can will you post an article showing both guns stripped and circle the abnormal peening on Alex’s and circle the same part on yours giving us a short description of the similarities and differences you see?

    If you do that, can you put both an Alex and Phil comment labeled under each photo with your individual inferences about what we’re seeing?

    All of this is a lot of work, but there’s at least a few people out there like me who genuinely want to know if this is a gun that’s worth buying. I sold my original 380 model 51 in direct anticipation of the first release, and have regretted it ever since.

    • Oh man that is a lot of work and expense. Shipping the guns adds a good deal more expense on top of the 1000 rounds of ammo I’ve already bought for the test. Normally I don’t buy that much ammo but in this case I felt like I should.
      As far as Alex experience we all lube differently, hold our guns differently so I can’t say why he had problems with brass cased ammo and I didn’t.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        I think a lot of it comes down to samples of one. I’ll take both of your tests and add it to my file of data before I make a decision on whether or not to buy a R51 or not.

      • roguetechie

        Thanks Phil,

        It was worth a shot to ask. I just busted out my “work” laptop and opened a bunch of the images side by side to see what I could learn.

        What’s remarkable to me is the differences in your experiences, and the differences in what the inside of the gun looks like after the test.

        I suppose I’ll just save up and buy another original, then save some more to get one of the new ones.

        Really I have been looking for an excited to do just that anyway.

        • I wouldn’t buy the original one used at that. I’d go with the Gen 2 like I tested. I don’t know why he had differences in wear unless it was the way we were shooting. I think he shot all his rounds at one sitting maybe two which will heat it up more. I shot mine a couple hundred rounds a session then came back and shot 200 or so again a few days later until I hit 1000. I know my example wasn’t shot one mag after another until I ran out of ammo. My idea was to shoot it like most people would on an average range trip. Nobody will shoot as many rounds as possible in one range session unless they are testing a gun.

          • roguetechie

            Oh yeah I’d never buy a gen 1. I’ll just put money aside and wait until I see a price I like on a brand new gen 2.

            That’s how I’m going to go about getting another original 51 in .380 too.

            I don’t kid myself into believing I have some sort of urgent operational need for guns at this point. To be honest I’ve already got a large selection of pistols rifles MSR’s and milsurps that I like.

            The things I buy now I buy because they speak to me or to fill out the collection. It’s nice not feeling rushed anymore.

            Thanks for the tip on ammunition.

        • Ok I gotcha now you mean the real original from the early 20th century. I hope you find one!

          • roguetechie

            Yeah, the one I had was very very nice…

            I miss that gun so much!

            I’m not a pistolero but I sure as hell felt like one using my model 51. Truth be told it’s the only single stack I owned that didn’t leave me feeling under armed.

      • JSmath

        Since there is such a distinct difference in experience, I think TFB readers would be benefited by a video of you demonstrating your lubrication procedure.

        Rough figures for those problem rounds would also be a nice touch to the article.

    • AD

      You sold an original model 51 before the R51 came out? Ouch, I can imagine how hard you must be kicking yourself for that.

      • roguetechie

        Yup…. The only bigger firearms buying and selling blunder I ever made was the time I could a traded an AUG straight across for a semiautomatic SA80 AND a semi FAMAS!!!

        That was a $40,000 missed opportunity….

        You live and you learn, but DAMNIT that one still kills me to this day.

        • Stephen Paraski

          My regrets were stolen Ruger Super Redhawk and a 1943 marked P-38, living in Detroit.

          • Stephen Paraski

            But I would not want a 9mm that could not reliably cycle steel cased ammo.

  • David

    As much as I appreciate Remington’s efforts to fix the issue, I still have an issue with this one not functioning with the cheap Tula/Wolf style ammo. All of the 9mm’s in my safe function fine with Tula or Wolf. I’m not going to buy a gun that is finicky with ammo for self defense. Competition maybe, but never when I may have to trust my life to the gun’s function. As it seems that most of the reputable reviewers of the Gen 2 R51s have run into the same issue with the ammo, I couldn’t buy one of these. There are plenty of other choices(Glock, Sig, FN, S&W) that will eat whatever you feed them.

    • I’ve had other guns that had problems with steel cased ammo. A couple of different 1911’s a KRISS Vector and one other I can’t recall which gun it was. Anyway I’m in that group that usually doesn’t use steel cased ammo except in some test. Having said that if a gun only has problems with steel cased ammo and little of nothing with brass cases I don’t worry about it really.
      Of course what matters is the person using the gun. If they aren’t comfortable you probably want to widen the search a bit.

      • Bill

        I avoid steel ammo – frankly it’s “new” to American made/designed guns and I’m not certain that there aren’t mechanical/metalurgical issues that our guns are equipped to handle.

        • Agreed–I’ve just seen to many problems with guns using steel cased ammo of any kind.

          • DanGoodShot

            Since I’ve been into shooting I steered clear of the steel cased crap. I just don’t like the thought of a hunk of steel being shoved in and out of a chamber that I’ve always read, told and taught to never put anything harder than a cleaning brush into. Call me weird. Now, if it was all government issue and not on my dime or a shtf situation. Go nuts. Steel cased ammo just isn’t worth it, especially when you roll your own anyway.

          • Many times I’m shooting my own rounds (I reload). Of course for test it’s all factory ammo. Some companies don’t want the tester to use reloads and in some cases steel cased ammo.

          • DanGoodShot

            I couldn’t imagine a company ever asking their products to be reviewed with reloads. For pretty good reason too. I was just putting out my completely unnecessary opinion on steel cased ammo. As far as the r51 g2 goes… to be honest, I was really rooting for it. I really was. Unfortunately, your review is the most positive review I have come across. ALL reviews ran into some type of issue. In all reviews, steel cased, no bueno. Some where as bad as bulging brass cases. Ironically, all have ran great with… Remington ammo. Personally, I’d buy a gun like this for sd and not a range toy. For me, an sd gun should be able to eat whatever diet you might feed it. Just because you never know.

          • No it’s pretty universal they don’t want that done. It’s almost as wide spread as no steel cased ammo.
            Even mine wasn’t a glowing report. I’ll see how things go as I shoot more rounds through it. No more steel cased ammo though it just won’t work in the 51.

      • ironked

        The problem I saw noted in another post was that the R51 chamber did not support the cartridge well enough and steel/Tula brass showed bulging. Prompted me to look push a round into a Glock barrel. It shows quite a bit of wiggle. Why not the same complaints with them?

    • billyoblivion

      I would counter that I don’t care *how* a pistol handles cheap ammo for “self defense”, since I’m going to find some hollow points and run at least two or three hundred rounds out of a given lot and set aside a box or two *from that lot* as SD ammo. I’ve got several boxes of defense ammo in the garage from lots that worked without flaw in both Glocks, my P7, and my Beretta.

      Of course, I’ve been using Speer Gold Dot HP for the last 15 years as my “go to” defense ammo and never had problems that were realistically ammo based, so I have a bit more trust in *it* than maybe I should.

    • Bill

      Why shoot steel case ammo when aluminum Blazer can’t be *that* much more expensive and was designed for non-ComBloc guns?

      • Kivaari

        I wont use aluminum cases either. Used Blazer Brass as it works and is very clean. I don’t trust aluminum.

        • Bill

          I don’t now what there is not to trust, it’s never attacked me.

          I used approx. 1000 rounds per basic trainee for 2 -3 academies a year for 18 years without any issues, plus additional intermediate and advanced classes. I didn’t use it in MP5s, just because H&K said not to, probably a hexagonal chamber thing.

          • Kivaari

            I saw it destroy guns with gas cutting. I used it in MP5s prior to HK saying don’t do it. It didn’t work. The gas cutting is rare, but I understand that is one of the main issues with aluminum and if the interior coating isn’t perfect it gives rise to case failure. It has been 30 years since I used Blazer after witnessing the case failure and the fail to function.

          • L Cavendish

            a LOT can change in 30 years…rise of .40…fall of .40…rise of 10mm…fall of 10mm…fall of 9mm…resurrection of 9mmm

  • Ned Weatherby

    OK – so what types of malfunctions did you have with the Tula ammo? Just wondering. I almost never shoot steel cased unless it’s in a Soviet bloc rifle. But I’ve noticed that some gun writers always use steel cased ammo in their tests. Pretty good results anyways. I’ve found that some guns don’t function well with certain ammo, so one doesn’t use that ammo in said firearm.

    Was the Tula ammo ball? Do you think the cases were too hard to expand to the chamber walls for a proper gas seal? Did you notice undue fowling in the chamber when using steel cased?

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I held a new one at a local shop several weeks ago. Kinda reminded me of a Whitney Wolverine in a centerfire cartridge.

    It was a nice size and weight, and hopefully Remington got it right this time.

    • Bill

      Nice to see some love for the Whitney.

      I would hope the average writer doesn’t test (at least American) firearms with steel ammo. The US is a brass cartridge country, excepting aluminum Blazer which I go through by the bushel.

      • Yep aluminum does fine in most guns.

      • Ned Weatherby

        I noticed one writer for Shotgun News almost always uses a sample of steel cased ammo with other ammo when testing AR platform guns. Mostly seems to work – but accuracy always seems to be lacking – although I’m not sure what people expect when using that stuff.

        I’ve only ever used it in Russian rifles. Certainly wouldn’t trust my life to it, unless that was all that was available.

    • Mainly it wasn’t chambering them all the way. Ejection was fine if the round seated.

      • Ned Weatherby

        Thanks – good info.

  • Zach Robinson

    A Remington rep stopped by the store I work at, and the R51 GenII he brought with him for demo failed 7 times out of 50 with Federal RTP9115. Some failures to return to battery, lock back during the middle of the mag, mags falling out, all from what was described as a flawless gun. I refuse to support Remington after this fiasco, and to say the least the Remington rep left a little embarrassed.

    • If he’s carrying it around shooting it as he travels I bet it hasn’t been cleaned/lubed since he picked it up. As far as the mag falling out I bet it wasn’t seated in the first place. That is one complaint I’ve never heard of before.

      • BlueMarlin Blues

        After that comment I have to ask: how much does Remington pay you annually? I’m pretty good at spouting off nonsense also, where do I apply?

        • Well that’s insulting which I guess was your intent. I sometimes answer dumb questions so why not this one. TFB has not nor ever will be paid for a review I refuse everyone of them and I do get those request from some companies who are used to dealing with print media. None of the writers are paid by companies for a review and we each pay for our own ammo.
          You are right about one thing you are good at spouting nonsense.

          • Stephen Paraski

            As a long time reader of your Blog I respect and take into account your opinions and writings. Any mass produced item can have 1 or 2 parts that tolerances are slighly off and it will affect performance. My Grand Father worked in a Industry where .00001 difference could lead to losing on Sunday.

          • Very true that some products tolerances are tiny. The Hubble comes to mind.

      • Zach Robinson

        I examined the gun and it appeared to be somewhat clean, that is, no dirtier than the M&P9FS I keep in my work bag. It has somewhere between 750-1000 rds on it since it was last cleaned and I approximated the R51 looked about the same. Then again due to the action it could have had less through it at the same time. The malfunctions were experienced, unfortunately, by three people, two of which were competent shooters I’d trust my life to, and the third was the chief instructor on the training side of the business I work for. I believe that if a person wanted to sell company A their latest widget or cog that they’d invented, I’d hope they had all their i’s dotted and t’s crossed, otherwise they run the risk of being ripped a new one and run off like the village leper, which is what happened in this case. I won’t recommend the latest gen R51 to my customers, and I don’t think any competent instructor or sales person would either.

        • Of course in your line of business you have to evaluate what’s best to stock that will sell and be a good gun for your customers. Not having been there I can only guess, I related to another person an experince I had with a company rep that came into a friends shop who really was clueless. She was in marketing and not a shooter. That was what caused me to make that guess. Her sample didn’t work either:-)

          Later we got the same Browning pistol that Nathaniel S reviewed and it worked fine. You never know I guess. I sure don’t have a rock solid answer why these things happen.

  • toms

    My has worked fine for 300 rnds. Mine did not set off brown bear 100%. It fed fine but would occasionally have light primer strikes. I’ve had that problem with other pistols as well. I don’t shoot the Russian junk much anyway so I don’t care.

  • John Brown Jr

    Congrats on getting the one R51 that actually works!

  • ARCNA442

    I applaud your shooting 1000 rounds rather than just the box or two most reviewers seem to use and I hope TFB reimbursed you at least part of the cost to encourage similar reviews in the future.

    However, this article would be vastly more informative if you had provided some solid numbers on reliability / accuracy rather than just a warning to avoid Tula (you say the +P functioned well – does this imply they somehow did better than the other brass-cased? ) and a single best group at ten yards (no mention of how many rounds or shooting method).

    • We generally buy our own ammo unless it’s an unusual caliber that’s hard to come by and runs several dollars a round. With all that’s gone on these past years with the R-51 I really just felt I was obligated to the readers to run that many rounds. Here is what I said on the most accurate group.” The best group from 10 yards was 1.17 inches which is more than acceptable for a defense pistol”. With brass cased ammo there was one malfunction with a round I believe was around 15 years old. In fact it was old duty ammo. That was a +P+ round that failed to fire. The indentation in the primer was good and should have set it off. Since it didn’t fire in the SIG 9mm I had with me I didn’t think it was important to mention. So, reliability was good —no complaints with that. Between regular and +P it wasn’t better but since the gun was designed for +P I wanted everyone to know it worked with the round it was designed for. Oh and that group above was standing no support doing slow fire.

      • ARCNA442

        Thank’s for the additional information – I feel it’s good to mention all the details since everyone has a different idea of what is important and what can be ignored.

  • tiger

    Things you do not buy Russian: cars, ammo, & tennis players. With that out the way, glad to hear the R-51 works now. It is a slick looking gun and looks like a nifty carry option in places with mag size limits like NY state or CA..

    • Reef Blastbody

      Well, theoretically okay in CA, but since they’re playing by their own rules, no R51s, or pretty much any handgun that manufacturers hadn’t already paid their vigorish to the CADOJ for are now verboten for the peasantry, except via the secondhand market. The politically connected classes, state lawyers, judges, LEOs and the like can still buy them from dealers, but that’s it.

    • CrankyFool

      No ammo unless it’s for a Russian gun, right? I’ve had no problems with steel-cased Russian ammo in either my Mosin Nagant or my AKs

  • Kivaari

    Let’s give it a year or two before we give it a passing grade. I don’t trust them yet.

  • Marvinator
  • Chris

    I received my R51 gen 2 a couple weeks ago and have put
    about 500 rounds through it. Brass and aluminum case shoot fine,
    steel does not. Not sure what it is but this is a much easier pistol
    to shoot than my CM9. Recoil is different and the gun just fits me.
    It is a fine natural shooter. I’ll need more time with it and run some
    reloads before I consider it as a CCW.

  • Joe Hathaway

    Phil White wrote: “Being a small pistol I shot most rounds from 7 to 10 yards.” I have never met Mr. White, but I am willing to bet that he is NOT a small pistol!

  • MarcoPolo

    Works except for Tul-Ammo is another way of saying doesn’t work.

  • Action45

    All due respect, but I find your comments regarding the Remington rep’s demo gun laughable. Making sure that pistol is clean and properly lubricated for shooting demos is one of his most basic functions as a sales rep. If a handgun won’t function properly with basic FMJ ammo (steel cased or not) then it’s simply not reliable enough to be considered for defensive use. Given that this pistol was specifically designed for the concealed carry/defensive purposes…I’d call that a fail. Remington pooped the bed on this one, plain & simple.

    • BlueMarlin Blues

      I couldn’t agree more, my M&P, Glock 17, and p226 will all function fine without any lube and sparse cleaning. Also I find it comical that this guy says “hats off to Remington for sticking with it” Are you frikin kidding me?!? They sold thousands of faulty pistols to people and now they’re some sort of heroes for trying to cover up their massive screw up with a “gen 2” aka the next model that may work a little better. Also this guy says the gun had no problems yet in the next few words he says it has issues feeding Tulammo? Hello?! Am I the only one reading this crap?!? Sounds like a problem to me dontcha think! I enjoy this blog, but anything this guy writes is total bull. Quality over quantity TFB, sometimes less is more.

    • Hey you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I was guessing at a possible cause nothing more. One reason I thought of that was a Browning rep who came in with a sample that looked very dirty. I just happened to be in the shop at the time.The thing was bone dry so the owner wiped it down and lubed it for her. She really wasn’t a gun person. It happened that time so you never know. Oh and she wasn’t aware of how to disassemble it. Some reps know more than others I’m sure.

  • Joseph Goins

    Remington: a once-great company that is sending us a plea for help.

  • ensitue

    Millions of dollars spent and for what, a chance to financially support a company that has sided with .Guv contracts over the 2nd Amendment?

  • roguetechie

    With everything I said in my first post and my response to phil, I still think I’m going to get one at some point.

    When I do I’ll make sure to feed it stuff it likes.

  • Dave

    These people saying that if a gun doesn’t function with steel cases Tula ammo apparently haven’t ever shot much of it. It’s notoriously poor quality. In the past decade I’ve been shooting I’ve had lots of malfunctions in perfectly reliable guns just because I used Tula steel cases ammo. I’ve had entire boxes of Tula that were under loaded and you could audibly hear the difference between shots. Just because a gun doesn’t shoot flawlessly with Tula, don’t write it off immediately… unless it’s a Remington, they’ve been selling garbage for too long now.

    • Stephen Paraski

      My son has a Glock 21 that will shoot Tula and Barnual (Brown, Silver, Etc. Bear), but my 80 series Combat Commander will feed, cycle but not shoot any steel cased ammo, esp Wolf, and 1911 is a more complicated design with tighter tolerances. I understand there are more than a few pistols that will not shoot steel cased. But at Remingtons price point, and market they are targeting it should reliably shoot cheap, crap ammo. That is just my opinion, which we all have in addition to another thing.

  • KEVIN WELLS ANTHONY

    HAVE YOU HEARD IF REMINGTON GOING TO BRING BACK THE PARA USA BLACK OPPS 14-45 IF NOT I WILL GO WITH COLT LIKE I USED IN SERVICE

    • Not a word on the future of the brand except they will say Remington them rather than Para. That model I just don;t know. I liked that one as well.

  • schizuki

    We demand cheap guns that shoot cheap ammo, then complain about the resulting quality.

  • Concerned r51 buyer

    True or false. I read in a gun magazine that the writer could feel gas hitting his webbing while shooting. Said he had a burn mark when done shooting. Also i have read the reset is nonexistent, and breaking the gun down is ungodly hard. What say u?

  • Sledgecrowbar

    The thing I note is that it took 150 rounds for the slide to get smooth. Now, I’ve had cheap shotguns that needed breaking in with a few boxes of heavy loads, the owner’s manual actually stated as much, but I’ve never actually had a modern handgun need wearing in. Homebrew guns might need some working of the actions to settle down and maybe the cast-zinc blowback pocket guns we’re all familiar with may need something like that (although I hear – and I’m not defending them – Hi-Point runs as good as it’s capable of over it’s lifetime out of the box, because I doubt anyone who would buy one would bother practicing). I just don’t get why a market-priced handgun from the largest manufacturer, who already produce 1911’s, arguably the hardest gun to make reliable through production, can’t make it as smooth as every other manufacturer. Their shotguns certainly aren’t settled out of the box, either, nor do they have a finished appearance. I own a 742 in 30-06 from the 70’s that was obviously put together with care so it wasn’t always this way.

  • Hank Seiter

    I still have a Gen 1. My dealer was one of the first dealers in our area to get the R51 when they first hit the market a few years back. Though I noted the slide was a bit “ratchety” and never really smoothed out even after shooting a mix of (mostly) handloads and factory it never failed to feed, fire or extract. I never had an instance of it firing out-of-battery either. So I must have been the lucky ones to have gotten a functioning Gen 1 R51. The clearance gods were with me. So I decided NOT to trade it in for the new Gen 2 that Remington was promising at the time. So I guess I may end up with a collectible since I’m pretty confident all the turn-ins will be destroyed.
    I found it pleasant to shoot for such a relatively small 9mm pistol. I haven’t shot the Gen 2 though that same dealer now has one under glass if I decide to buy the upgraded “fixed” version. I still believe the trigger to be a bit dorky-looking and unsophisticated but it’s not as bad as some striker-fired pistols. But I found the accuracy to be acceptable and I do like its Buck Rogers look though I have to say from my POV that Remington would have been better served resurrecting and duplicating the old R51 through and through.
    BTW, I’m very partial to the M&P Shield 9mm as a conceal carry pistol and I will admit that despite my relatively good experiences with the R51 as a range pistol, I would never use it as a carry pistol though I might throw it in the bottom of my bug-out bag or hiking pack as a compact back-up pistol.