Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #53: Remington 51


A Remington Model 51 in .380ACP. Designed by John Pedersen, this pistol went on sale in 1918. For its time, it looks like a frickin' raygun.

It fits the hand very nicely, too. Allegedly, Pedersen spent a lot of time having people squeeze chunks of clay to get the grip shape and angle just so.

22 comments:

Phillip said...

I own one, and it's a total dream to shoot. It belonged to my grandfather before coming the long way down to me. I don't shoot it as much as I used to because I haven't taken the time to find a good and reliable source of spare parts in case something breaks, and I'm not completely comfortable with the few gunsmiths that we have around here. Not to mention .380 is fairly expensive to play with.

Robert Langham said...

Again I say: NOBODY. No- Body. Could complain about being shot with a fine vintage pistol like this.

Bubblehead Les. said...

If they would only make pretty guns nowadays.... though, with some of the Patent's having expired, and Modern CNC Machining Cells available...

Tam said...

Bubblehead Les,

Pretty as it it, that gun's about ten times more complicated than it needs to be.

Plus, compared to an LCP or P3AT, it's an awfully bulky way to carry around a small handful of .380 ammo.

But it sure is pretty.

And it's pretty, too.

Robert Langham said...

Back in the day, would there be a rapper known as Fitty-one?

Sport Pilot said...

Tam, you called it, the Remington and Savage pistol's of that era were far more complicated than they needed to be. Yet, they were so cool looking.

Tam said...

Sport Pilot,

"Tam, you called it, the Remington and Savage pistol's of that era were far more complicated than they needed to be."

Thanks to clever lawyery on Colt's part, they held exclusive US license to all of Browning's patents for straight-blowback and tilting-barrel short-recoil pistols and all their associated design features.

S&W, Savage, H&R and Remington couldn't even directly attach their grip panels to the frame with screws without being hauled into court...

Txred said...

Wasn't over-complication a trademark of Mr. Pedersen? I know my Remington 141 Gamemaster has some pretty Rube Goldbergesque parts.

That being said, Mr. Pedersen really could wrap his designs in a very sleek and visually appealing package.

DirtCrashr said...

Nothing really gratuitous about it! A lot of the over-complication came about during that time as a result of fastidious efforts to circumvent the patents of JMB.

Tam said...

Txred,

"Wasn't over-complication a trademark of Mr. Pedersen?"

As DirtCrashr said, "overcomplicated" was a trademark of everybody who had to work around Browning's patents...

Anonymous said...

When in '78 at age 24 I went to work for Mr. Bergeron at his West Palm Beach shop, one of the first walk-in guns I bought was a 51.

An old Jewish fellow -almost certainly from New York as the shop was just down the road from Century Village, a giant enclave of...well, NYC jews- brought it in in a brown paper bag. Still in its tattered cardboard box, and including the original box of ammo which was missing five rounds, which were in the magazine. He had never in over forty years fired it since buying it new (in a hardware store in New York!) in the 30's. Wife made him get rid of it, son's wife wouldn't let him have it. So I bought it for a hundred bucks, which is what he asked for. I remember being disappointed that it was an anemic .32, a fact that would be more feature than flaw to me now.

I don't know the circumstances of its sale, but it probably went pretty quick...as frame of reference remember this was the middle of the big Carter handgun grab; Obama wasn't the first gunshop salesman of the year (or the second of course) and Bergeron's was a pretty active FFL. I recall that year we bought the last 50 or so of the Interarms PPK-S's from McGee's Gun Wholesalers in Mississippi in .380 and .22, and sold them out in a few weeks at $500 a pop; not cheap now and a pretty good hunk then. So anyway, I'm sure that little UMC found a good home.

And I'll say this: while it wasn't Colts' intention, their patent protection efforts are largely responsible for the ingenuity and design coolness that we can appreciate from afar now in the guise of these old Remmies and the others you mention; a diversity of engineering and art that we wouldn't otherwise be privileged to enjoy. But of all of them, that little 51 had a naturalness to its heft and feel that only a few midsize pistols impart to me, notably the SIG and the aforementioned Walthers.

Reading your post and seeing that pic brought all of that rushing back to me, and I appreciate that, Tam.

AT

Old NFO said...

This is actually the first one I've ever seen... None of my family were fans of anything smaller than a .45 in semi-autos... Smallest revolver I can remember seeing was my Aunt's .32 Colt Police.

Neutrino Cannon said...

There was a .45 version called the Remington 53, about which Julian Hatcher had very complimentary things to say.

staghounds said...

Didn't Mr. Browning describe Mr. Pedersen as the greatest gun designer?

Txred said...

According to Wikipedia, St John of Ogden did indeed tell General Julian Hatcher that Pedersen "was the greatest gun designer in the world." Impressive stuff.

That article also details how Pedersen formed a company to build M-1 Carbines, which didn't fare well. Apparently they only made about 3,500 carbines, none of which met the standards of the Ordinance Department.

More here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Pedersen_%28arms_designer%29

I tell ya, with information like this so readily available, this internet thing might just catch on.

Anonymous said...

Your 51 could be the twin of one I just bought a couple months ago.
Shot it twice so far. The last time we determined that .380 ball from the 51 will take down an eight-inch steel plate at about 20 yards. It won't do it fast but it will do it. Hits don't need to be high center either just on the plate.

Now I need to find another magazine for it.

Tam said...

staghounds,

Mr. Browning was a very humble man. ;)

Firehand said...

I ran across one a while back that was decent outside, with a bore that had slight traces of rifling left; they guy considered that a bonus because "Between here and there(pointing to wall) it'll leave a square hole because the bullet'll hit sideaways!"

I declined. Even if it did feel good in the hand.

staghounds said...

He was indeed, but the greater compliment for all that. Like Robert Oppenheimer saying you are good at math.

Stranger said...

The 51 is one of my favorite carry pieces. It is substantially flatter than the PPKS and the Bersa .380s. And it shoots where it looks as well as pretty much shoots where I look, up to five yards or so.

Parts? I have not needed any but Bob's Gun Shop advertises quite a selection. Exact replica grips are available from vintage gun grips if you have the metal studs from the originals. Popperts may have parts as well.

Treat Betsy well, and it will treat you well.

Stranger

Don said...

Dad's .32 is one of my favorites. Beautiful but fun, like my wife.

enoriverbend said...

I have a .380 51 as well. I think it's a very nicely balanced and naturally pointing gun. "Naturally pointing" is good, because the sights are so small I couldn't trust my poor eyesight to see 'em.

My hands are about average-sized for a man's, and I don't really think I would want a smaller-framed .380 than this. It is ergonomically very well designed.

On the magazine -- I got a 2nd mag from Bob's and it fits "sorta" but I gotta jiggle the mag release to get it in, which I don't have to do with the original mag. I suspect some time with a Dremel would help but haven't gotten around to it. If anyone knows of a related tip I'm all ears (well, eyes, but you knew what I meant.)