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

Phil White
by Phil White

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.

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.

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
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 retired as associate editor since December 14th 2017. My replacement is my friend Pete M email: you can reach Pete for product reviews etc.

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  • Sledgecrowbar Sledgecrowbar on Sep 21, 2016

    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 Hank Seiter on Sep 24, 2016

    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 and I ended up putting about 300 rounds through it. A local gun officianado asked if he could borrow my R51 since he was giving a lecture on flawed engineering, particularly Remington's inability to design a quality pistol. I figured if I never saw it again I wouldn't be out much given what I originally paid for it, but I did get it back with nary a scratch. I told him I though mine was totally safe to shoot and even invited him to shoot a couple of magazines through it but he politely declined. Heh!

    Also, Remington has managed to market some pretty substandard 1911s when they first got into that market over five years ago. As a gun-knowledgeable friend of mine said after the R51 debacle, "Remington should stick with what they know best ... making shotguns." I also have to admit their R-15s were pretty ho-hum in the accuracy department, too, and my R-15 was suppose to be a "varmint" version!

    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.