The following is an update to my original post regarding the Remington R-51 which was introduced in January of 2014. The R-51 is currently recalled and at this time Remington has no solution to the issues and no time frame for when the issues may be resolved.
To take a look at my original impressions of the R-51 you can scroll down to the bottom of this post.
The R-51 is just a symptom.
In 2014, more than 8 million U.S. cars and trucks were recalled due to faulty airbags. 8 million. There is no telling how many tragic outcomes it took to force this recall, due to what we view today as faulty safety equipment. Those involved with the tragic side of things will never forget. Those involved with with the business side of the auto industry began trying to forget almost immediately. The general consumer? They never had to forget. You see, other than a few segments on the 11 o’clock news the general consumer never knew. One day, they opened the mailbox and there was a letter. They spent a couple of inconvenient hours at the dealership and the issue was done. I grew up in Detroit. I know the game. It is all about the bottom line.
What do automotive recalls have to do with personal defense and PDN?
Sure there are recalls related to convenience, but the Takata airbag recall is there as well. Potentially defective airbags in more than 50 million cars world wide. Plain and simple, defective airbags can be life and death and these airbags probably never should have made their way into production.
Defensive handguns can be life and death as well and there is no place for deficient defensive handguns. Self-defense handguns that don’t work or are defective should never make their way into production.
Your life could depend on that. Don’t forget, your life is your responsibility.
What about the R-51?
The Remington R-51 did make it into production and into consumer hands. It was preceded by an aggressive defensive oriented marketing campaign. A campaign that included hefty full page ads in major publications, new media coverage that rivaled any other firearm introduction and a press junket that provided glowing reviews of pre-production models of the R-51.
Jeff Quinn of Gun Blast was one of the writers that participated in the press outing at Gunsite. You can read his review of the R-51 and watch a video where he talks about the merits of this handgun here.
Obviously Jeff’s testing and evaluation copy operated flawlessly (other than when the gun malfunctions when he cycles the slide on the unloaded R-51 at 2:34…) Remember, this is a pre-production copy.
Many people are looking for the best concealed carry handgun and there are a lot of choices out there. In this related podcast I take a look at how you can select the best defensive handgun.
Truth be told, I was pretty excited to get my hands on an R-51 and send some rounds down range. To my disappointment, Remington and the R-51 were a no show at SHOT Show’s Media Day At The Range, 2014. Something was wrong. I had a gut feeling. Remington probably had more than that.
There were R-51’s on the floor at SHOT Show and folks were quick to extoll the virtues of this rebirth of an old design. Even without firing the gun. Take a look at this video from TacDaddy.
Could the fact that Chip confuses the Pedersen action with a Pedersen device be a sign that Remington was in over its head?
I worked diligently to get my hands on a testing and evaluation copy of the R-51 without success and by March of 2014, I had purchased my own as the R-51 was widely available.
In the first 14 rounds (2 magazines) I started to see some issues.
By the end of the range session some major issues had been discovered. Primer flow, which indicated excessive pressures, and mild injury to the web of the primary hand which I now believe were burns from hot gasses being blown back from the action.
I spoke with Paul Leitner-Wise and he summarized the issues with the R-51.
This pistol was marketed as a 9mm +P but in reality the design itself was barely able to handle the original and modest 380 ACP and 32 ACP rounds.
The modern 9mm pushes the Pedersen action beyond its design limitations. I have no idea what Remington’s design engineers were thinking of when they copied this without seriously considering how the gun worked and whether the design was appropriate for the application.
In July, 2014, Remington made it official with this announcement. The page is still live today promising you a new gun some spare mags and a Pelican case.
There has been virtually no communication from Remington to its customers since. Richard Johnson of Guns Holsters and Gear [has been following the R-51 disaster since the day he and I went to the range with the R-51. He recently updated his page to reflect the colorful history of the R-51.
When it comes to the R-51 he sums things up like this:
“While I can understand technical problems with any new gun design, what I cannot understand is the seemingly poor communication between Remington and its customers. I’ve spoken with several people who feel they’ve been left in the dark on the status of the new guns.
One of the folks that seems to be particularly frustrated by the R-51 disaster is Adolph Hitler.
The R-51 isn’t the only culprit.
There is a bigger picture that you must consider. A picture that is less about defective products and more about a broken system.
You see, our belief in the R-51 (and so many other things) isn’t based on reality. Instead, it is formulated in the fantasy land of glossy photos, technical jargon, YouTube videos and comped trips to gun camp to evaluate life saving gear that isn’t even real yet.
Manufacturers are responsible as they continue to rush products to market without adequate testing to make sure that their latest and greatest product is ready for prime time. In order to save money, they risk your safety.
Publishers big and small make the situation worse by chasing the advertising dollars and the clicks. In this arena it’s more important to get it to press quickly than to get it right. In order to make money they risk your safety.
Then there is you and me. It is our lack of diligence and short memory that let the manufacturers and the publishers get away with it all. When the defensive firearms industry puts our lives at risk through careless actions, we shake our heads and make jokes. Then we look with anticipation to the next big announcement.
Think about what really matters when it comes to personal defense.
If you can just do that, the solution is easy.
Take a moment and think about what matters when it comes to preparing to defend your life or the lives of others. What is the most important characteristic of survivors?
John Steinbeck had this to say:
The final weapon is the brain. All else is supplemental.
I think I might disagree.
Would I be too far off base to suggest the the mind is the first weapon? The tool that we must count on to keep us out of trouble in the first place and to make sure that if we find ourselves in that life threatening situation, all of our decisions leading to that point were structured to help us prevail?
Would I be wrong to imply that you and I, as pilots of our own destiny, might want to engage our minds?
Enjoy the glossy pages, the jargon, the YouTube videos and the trips to gun camp. At the same time, temper all the B.S. With common sense and realistic assessment based on the fact that your personal safety and the safety of those that you love is your responsibility. Yes, it is your job to wade through the crap and find the truth. You have to live with the consequences when it is all on the line.
It doesn’t matter if we are talking about an automobile accident or a defensive gun use. The Big Three, Remington and the writers won’t ever read your obituary.
Find the reliable resources, ignore the glam and do your homework.
I also wrote about the R-51 disaster on the Personal Defense Network blog. You can read the post here.
One last thing, If anyone is looking for an R-51 I have one for sale. It’s a single stack 9mm, hardly used, rated for +p and I’ll throw in a pelican case…
The Original Post Begins Here:
Safety Solutions Academy works to help everyday people live safer lives through safety, self-defense and defensive firearms training.
I have been trying to work with Freedom Group to procure a T&E copy of the new Remington R51. So far, I haven’t had any luck. So I did one better and I went to the local gunshop and picked one up.
With all of the problems that are being reported it might seem a bit silly to buy a gun that is experiencing problems like the R51 is. Maybe it was, because I saw some problems too, however, with all the problems I’ve heard about, I haven’t seen a lot of talk about what the problems really were. So I ponied up my cash and started to investigate. This video should give a pretty clear picture of my initial thoughts and the initial shots through the pistol.