Sunday, August 29, 2021

R51 The Next 93 Rounds

The second range outing for the Remington R51 involved 43 rounds of reloaded ammo. The load was a 125 grain FMJ over 5.5 grains of Auto Pistol running at around 1000 FPS. I also had the opportunity to bamboozle a couple of range cronies into running a magazine each through the R51. One commented it performed similar to a Sig P365 while the other felt the recoil was snappy and the trigger was very light. The next drill was the 5x5 cubed. Five shots from five yards in a five inch circle in under five seconds. The times were as follows: 3.90 seconds. Two misses. Sighting run. 4.17 seconds. Clean 4.14 seconds. One miss 4.12 seconds. Clean 4.65 seconds. Clean 4.65 seconds. Clean I found this ammo and load very pleasant to shoot. No function issues were observed.
At this time I swapped to fifty rounds of Monarch 115 grain, steel case, laquer coated ammo. The next drill included picking up the empty pistol, inserting a loaded magazine, racking the slide, and firing one shot at a steel silhouette at eighteen yards. This drill mimics many IDPA stages of starting with an unloaded gun and having to load and fire under stress. Times were as follows: 3.64 4.38 3.96 3.98 3.16 3.63 3.08 3.35 The magwell is narrow (it is a single stack 9mm after all,) with no flaring. Magazine insertion requires good alignment. the remaing rounds we spent in an alternating Strong Hand Only/Weak Hand Only drill on a steel silhouette at fifteen yards. No function issues were observed. Ninety three rounds is close enough to 100 to justify the next field strip and cleaning. There was a fair bit of powder residue noted. I'm not familiar with how clean or dirty Auto Pistol powder is but there seemed to be more residue than from the first session.
There was more finish wear on the frame slide rails but the small deformations noted in the first post didn't seem to have increased in size.
The shelf on the frame had lost more finish but didn't show any signs of deformation.
The ramps on the breech block did not show any increase to the small deformations noted earlier.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

R51: The First 100 Rounds

My immediate goal with the R51 is to run 500 rounds without any failures directly attributable to the gun. I'm planning to run 100 or so rounds through the gun in five different range sessions. The shooting done will be a mixture of accuracy drills and drills that require magazine changes, speed, accuracy, freestyle shooting (using both hands,) Strong Hand Only (SHO,) and Weak Hand Only (WHO.) Distances will be from contact to 40 yards. For those that wonder why 40 yards, that's the deepest pistol bay available at my range. One of the complaints that I saw mentioned during my research was spotty reliability with steel case ammo. The rationalization was that if the gun wouldn't run with cheap steel case ammo then it would be difficult to practice with the gun. I'm guessing those wags never heard of dry fire? Regardless, I started off my testing using steel case ammo because that's what I had on hand. I'd of argued the point of using steel case ammo two years ago when quality brass case ammo was available at $.17 per round. Since current prices are almost triple that, we use what we can afford and have available to hand. Keep in mind that dry fire is always an inexpensive alternative to live fire. Claude Werner, aka The Tactical Professor has an awesome array of dryfire drills and tips here. I started off with a 50 round box of Barnaul 115 grain, FMJ, Polymer Coated, Steel Case ammo. I shot Claude's 12 Shot Test from 3 yards with a single sighter shot at a 1" paster to verify the Point of Aim/Point of Impact.This drill was shot cold. In lieu of using a holster I shot the drills calling for drawing from a holster from a compressed, high ready. this is not a timed drill.

I then moved on to some distance work working a steel sillouhette and plate rack from fifteen yards. Steel doesn't lie to us. I had some misses on the plate rack. This prompted me to run a walk back drill starting at three yards, fire two rounds, evaluate, then move back one yard and repeat. At six yards I noticed the point of impact dropping. At thirteen yards the point of impact was six inches low. This concluded the fifty rounds of Barnaul. I then swapped to Monarch 115 grain, steel case, laquer coated ammunition. I repeated the walk back drill and noted the same changes to the point of impact at six yards and stopped at thirteen yards again with the point of impact still six inches low. I wanted to swap things up a bit and ran the IDPA 5x5 Classifier. As I didn't have a holster I started from a high, compressed, ready position. I was timing and tracking for a baseline of performance, not to classify so felt as if the holster wasn't relevant at this point. Times and scoring were as follows: String 1: 3.64/-1 String 2: 5.56/-1 String 3: 11.97/-1 (While I didn't think a holster was relevant a mag pouch would have been handy here.) String 4: 4.20/-4 The raw time was 25.37 and the adjusted time was 32.37. Not stellar but certainly a good point to work from.
The remaing rounds were used on a steel sillouhette at fifteen yards. This concluded the first 100 rounds fired with functional issues.

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Infamous Remington R51

 I am hard pressed to come up with a firearm that was such a complete and total commercial flop as the first generation Remington R51, 9mm pistol.  The stigma that follows these pistols rivals that of the  Colt All American 2000, Zip 22, S&W Sigma, anything made by Jennings, Davis, Rohm, Jimenez, and Charter Arms.  Why all the hate?

Remington invited a slew of gun writers to review their new R51 at a special even held at the prestigious Gunsite Shooting Academy.  The reviews were glowing, giddy, and gushing.  There was nary a bad word to be said about Big Green's latest attempt to garner a share of the pistol market.  Once the productions guns hit the shelves however, the bloggers and social media reviewers started observing a plethora of issues.  Sights falling off the gun, Failures to Feed, Failures to Extract, pins drifting loose, magazines dropping loose, and even reports of unintentional discharges.  The gun buying public was outraged, with good reason.  Customers were trying to determine how a firearm that received such glowing, gushing reviews was such a failure.

In short order the inevitable accusations were made.  Gun writers and magazines were accused of writing false reviews for money.  Counter accusations were made that the integrity of gun writers was unassailable and those making the accusations were petulant children, then that Remington misled the gun writers by stocking the event with hand built, pre-production pistols, rather than production units pulled off the line.  Within five months Remington issued a complete recall of the R51.  Owners were offered a replacement Gen 2 R51 with two extra magazines and a Pelican case, a replacement R1 1911, or a complete refund.  

Two years later, in August of 2016, Remington started to roll out the Gen 2 R51s with little to no fanfare.  The external changes were a relocation of the logo, set screws in the front and rear sights, and a thicker magazine base pad.  The internal differences were numerous.  The included a redesigned disconnector, redesigned breech block, knurled pins, a heavier action spring, redesigned ejector, and much better machining overall.  

I've wanted to get my grubby mitts on a R51 since they first came out.  I was fortunate to miss out on the FUBAR of the original guns.  By the time Remington had started to release the second generation pistols my interest had moved on to something else, mainly because of all the distrust we as gun buyers had of the product and of Remington.  This past week a local gun store listed a later production model as used-but-doesn't-look-fired for a decent price.  I decided to take the plunge and see what I could determine on my own.

R51, Crimson Trace laser, and two magazines

My R51 came with two seven round magazines, a Crimson Trace trigger guard mounted laser, the box, paperwork, and the obligatory and completely useless lock.  I was pleased to see that the laser printed directly in line with the front sight starting at two yards.  I manually cycled dummy rounds without an issue with both magazines.  I then proceeded to field strip the pistol for a quick inspection...well not really.  What actually happened was that I had to watch a couple Youtube videos to remove the slide from the frame.  This pistol is based on a 103 year old design that never caught on.  While innovative and functional, it is NOT intuitive.

As I was doing my due diligence and researching the R51 one of the recurring themes I noticed mentioned was deformation on the ramps of the breech block and the shelf of the frame where the breech block rests.  I noticed some deformation on the breech block ramps once the gun was field stripped.  I regret not taking pictures at that time prior to my trip to the range.  After 100 rounds there was no discernible difference.  There was only some loss of finish on the shelf of the frame.

Deformation of breech block ramps.
I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the deformation of the breech block ramps will stop at a certain point, similar to the flame cutting of a revolver.  I will continue to track these wear points as that seems to me to be a likely failure point.

Finish loss on frame shelf.

There was also signs of wearing and deformation on the frame rails. Again my hope is this will go no further.  Time and more rounds downrange will tell.  A couple of the vloggers mentioned that Remington said the R51 had a 100 round break in.  I can find no mention of that in the owner's manual.  My goal is to run 500 rounds through the pistol with no issues.  I'll clean it and inspect it every 100 rounds unless there's a major issue that requires immediate inspection for safety.

Slight deformation on frame rails.