Monday, May 12, 2014

The Good, The Bad, The Remington R51

So I am sure by now many of you have seen the multitude of posts that have been floating around the web about the Remington R5, it almost seems like every one of the guns that was sent out had some sort of issue. Sadly for a gun that had so much hype both by Remington and the gun community it is sad to see just how poorly the adaptation of the R51 has done in 9mm.

In this post I wanted to write down some of my thoughts on the gun, while this is not a glowing review it is also not a "You should never buy a Remington R51" post, so please stick with me to the end to understand exactly what I mean by that.

I personally had been looking forward to getting my hands on one of these after seeing the display models they had at SHOT Show. The ergonomics and the way that the gun fit in my hand made it interesting to me. While it may look like some weird futuristic ray gun you would see in a sic-fi movie it does have a comfortable feel to it.

The review pistol that I received showed up to my FFL back in March and I was looking forward to picking it up despite the fact that a few other people had received some that were less than acceptable. When I opened up the box and picked the gun up I noticed that it felt a bit rough, albeit a little unrefined, nothing like the copies I had seen at SHOT.  When I first racked the slide back I cringed a bit at how gritty and rough the slide felt, but I blamed part of that on factory lubrication (or lack there of) and was wondering how much that would change once I had it stripped down and properly lubricated.  One of the other things that I noticed was how spongy the trigger pull was, and how the reset literally required me to move my finger all the way forward before it was ready for the next shot.

When I got the pistol home I took the directions out of the box (yes I use directions) to figure out how to take the gun down since I had never taken one down before and it does require a unique technique. The first thing I noticed was how hard the slide release pin was to get out, and when I say hard I mean I had to actually take a punch to it. Once the pin was out I started the hop on one foot, rolling my eyes, while sticking my tongue out, and pulling the barrel while keeping the slide pulled back take down process (it's really not that hard after you figure it out, but seriously?).  I broke the gun down as far as I figured it needed to go and stripped off all of the factory lubrication and applied FIREClean to everything. Once I had the gun put back together I tried racking the slide again, while it was not as gritty as it had been at the shop it was still very rough; almost like it was catching or rubbing on something it shouldn't be.

After messing with the gun a bit more I was comfortable enough to take it out to the range and give it a go, I loaded up the 2 magazines that come with it (115gr FMJ) and fired my first few shots out of it. To say it was a comfortable first few shots would be lying to you, the amount of snap that this little 9mm had was unbelievable, add on top that there was an issue with what felt like slide bite I was completely caught off guard by how uncomfortable it was to shoot. I ran quite a few more mags worth of ammo through the gun, including some hollow point rounds (which fed just fine), but I just couldn't understand why I felt like I was getting slide bite from the gun.

When I got back from the range and watched some of the video I had taken while shooting I noticed that at no time was my hand close enough to be hit by the slide, so that left the question as to what was causing the bite. After taking a little more time to figure out what the biting was caused by I noticed that the back "safety" was actually the cause of the pinch. Instead of being smooth the edges are on the rough side, it also moves back and forth quite a bit while firing; and since there are gaps along the sides and the top to allow for it to function the meat of your hand is pinched by it leaving you with the feeling of slide bite. This is something I would like to see fixed if they bring out a second generation of the R51, along with other modifications that need to be made.

I didn't clean the gun up between the first and second trip out to the range because I wanted to see how the gun would handle not being cleaned between trips and using dirty ammo. I used Tulammo during the second range trip because I know that it is typically some of the dirtiest ammo I can get my hands on. After running around 300 rounds of ammo (100 Tula, 175 federal, 25 HP) it was still functioning but was becoming harder to rack the slide and have it go into battery from slide lock. It was also becoming harder to rack the slide from the closed position. Again it was as if the slide was dragging across something in the process and making it very difficult to move.

Before taking it out for the last range trip and final video I took the gun apart again to look and see if I could figure out what the issue was with the slide being so hard to rack. What I found was the part that goes over the barrel and holds the spring in place had some deep scratches in it from the slide moving over it.

After giving it a closer look it seems like this is where the biggest issue was at as far as slide function went. It is almost as if the tolerances aren't right and the two parts are working against each other and creating friction rather than just allowing proper function. This is something that needs to be fixed, even if it requires going back to the drawing board for Remington.

Is this a design that Remington can salvage and make something much better in a second generation? Yes I believe it is, I think if they fix the slide grinding issue, safety biting issue, and the loose sights issue (not something I had a problem with but have seen others have this problem), they could have a somewhat solid seller. Sure the trigger is not that great but there are innovative people out there who would take advantage of the poor trigger and make something better.

Is the R51 something I would suggest right now? No, the issues I had with my review copy were enough to push me away from the first generation release. With that being said if those issues were fixed and they figured out a way to tame down the amount of flip from recoil I would be more than willing to get my hands on another one and run some rounds down range with it.

This is a gun I will be keeping an eye on as Remington works to make it better (let's hope that they continue to work and listen to the consumer), it still has a look that I have grown to like and it was comfortable in my hand (when I wasn't shooting it). I personally never like to see a product fail because a company decided to rush it out, and then not make improvements when it is shown that the rushed out version has many flaws; so I hope that this design will be turned around and improved instead of failing all together.

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