CCW and EDC practitioners, listen up. Remington has focused on the Three Rs for this model year—Redesign, Refinement, and Relaunch. Here’s what you need to know…
by the ShootingDaily staff
In the defensive handgun world, Remington has not always made the “Top of Mind” list for many enthusiasts. The company’s 1911 variant continues to stand tall in spite of its relatively short 17-year history, and its more recent efforts to enter into the crowded handgun marketplace did not deliver the traction first anticipated.
That has all changed. With the refinement of its big boy RP9, redesign of the CCW-friendly R51, and entry into the pocket-pistol segment with the new RM380, Big Green is making some real noise in corners where it once could not buy admission.
Intrigued, we got our hands on all three of Remington’s freshest offerings—from the micro RM380 to the macro RP9. Suffice to say, the company’s renewed effort to deliver quality engineering while ploughing new ground in a well-worked field seems to have succeeded.
Here’s what we discovered…
Remington RP9: The Big Pistol That Doesn’t Feel Like It
Let’s face it…a discrete carry handgun has become a must-have for most of us, but when the CCW aspect is not a factor and we ponder the kind of hardware we want for when the serious stuff goes down, “bigger” becomes the operative noun. Why “bigger?” Increased fire capacity to win the game, longer sight radius for downrange accuracy, and overall greater confidence in keeping the “bad” elements suppressed.
Well, the new Remington R9 semi-auto ticks off all those essentials, but it does so in a most subtle manner.
Look at the RP9 and you see a big handgun. Pick it up and you instantly wonder, “What happened to the ‘big?'”
The RP9 is Remington’s first full-size semi-auto handgun built on a polymer frame, but don’t think of it as an also-ran in an already crowded polymer field. The moment you wrap your hand around the grip, you realize something’s going on here. Actually, there are three things going on that contribute to the RP9’s hand-in-glove feel, starting with the grip profile. It is relatively slim and deliciously contoured so that all but the most diminutive shooting hands can achieve a full and comfortable finger wrap while enjoying ample trigger reach.
Next comes the backstrap and the frame’s beavertail profile. The RP9 includes three different backstraps to allow the shooter to customize the grip. Whichever you choose, the contour guides the web of your hand effortlessly beneath the frame’s beavertail. Speaking of the beavertail, it’s of the wide, extended variety, allowing the “tail” to sit comfortably on top of your hand for a positive, sure grip.
Remington touts the RP9 as being ergonomic for 95 percent of shooters. From our testing, we’ll buy that line. It’s certainly one of the most comfortable full-frame polymers we’ve wrapped our mitts around.
Another surprise about this grip is that it houses a large, double-stack magazine—18 rounds worth, to be exact.
Aside from the exquisite ergonomics, the other aspect of the RP9 that quickly comes to the fore is the slide. It’s a large chunk of metal for a striker-fired 9mm, but we’re not complaining. The contours are smooth and taper nicely to match the rear sight width. In other words, unlike square-slide handguns, the only thing you see in this sight picture are the sights. Another benefit to the large slide, whether by design or by happenstance, is that it helps soak up some of the recoil, making the RP9 a fairly soft shooter.
Regarding the sights, they are of the three-dot configuration and can be adjusted with a drift. The rear sight is also square-cut on the front end to allow for one-handed slide operation.
Additional noteworthy features of the RP9 include an integrated Picatinny rail for mounting a light or laser, a low-profile ambidextrous slide lock, PVD (Physical Vapor Deposition) finish on the slide and barrel for durability and inherent lubricity, and a reversible mag release.
Another plus to the RP9’s small circumference grip is that even medium-sized hands can easily engage the mag release without major repositioning of the strong hand. This is a huge benefit for tactical mag changes.
Finally, there is the trigger. Here is where we usually find our biggest faults when reviewing handguns, but we couldn’t poke any holes in the RP9 trigger. The take-up is on par with other top-end SAO models we’ve tested and the reset is relatively short, the break smooth and clean. In sum, we found nothing to complain about here.
While Remington has had a start-stop-start again history with their 1911 models, the company’s entry into the full-size polymer segment is welcome. The market didn’t necessarily need another big polymer, but a large go-to defense handgun that comfortably fits most adults and is backed by a large-capacity mag…there’s certainly room on the shelf for that.
Chamber: 9mm Luger +P
Trigger Pull: 5.5-7 lbs.
Barrel Length: 4.5 in.
Overall Width: 1.27 in.
Overall Length: 7.91 in.
Overall Height: 5.56 in.
Magazine Capacity: 18+1
Average Weight (empty): 26.4 oz.
Remington R51: The New EDC Standard?
If you’re a true handgun fan, the R51 may have a familiar vibe. That’s because this redesigned and updated pistol calls on dormant Remington DNA that first emerged in 1918 when the company introduced the Remington Model 51, featuring the Pedersen locking breech block. With its slim profile and reduced felt recoil courtesy of the Pedersen action, the Model 51 was the right gun at the wrong time—expensive to produce and overshadowed by Americans’ persistent affection for revolvers. Flip forward nearly a century, when Remington introduced the modern variation Model 51 platform. Called the R51, here was a revisioning of the Model 51 for conventional CCW practitioners. This time, however, the gun went to market slightly before it was ready for prime time. Now, Remington’s engineers have refined the R51 to a high gloss and the company has successfully reintroduced this intriguing action to deliver a 9mm Luger-chambered semi-auto in a sleek chassis and with a light touch on the recoil.
Are we excited about it? Absolutely.
The new R51 is a subcompact with substance. Built on an aluminum frame and with contours smooth as glass, here is a pistol that looks and feels as if it were designed from the outset as the ultimate EDC companion. There is not a sharp edge or corner anywhere to hiccup a draw, and the table-flat side profile contributes to the R51’s precision-engineered look and feel.
The headliner, of course, is the gun’s recoil management, which combines the relative soft touch of the Pedersen block design (commonly referred to as a “delayed blowback” system, not to be confused with a conventional blowback design) with a low bore axis and grip angled just right to mitigate muzzle rise and minimize felt recoil.
External controls are Spartan on the R51. Whereas the original Model 51 featured an external manual safety, the new iteration uses a grip safety. Our test model exhibited a bit of drag on the safety when engaging the grip, but it never failed to disengage while shooting strong or weak hand. Speaking of weak-hand shooting, the pistol is built with an ambidextrous safety that works smoother than most we’ve tested. It also has a sizeable mag release button that doesn’t protrude grossly beyond the frame.
Another feature that really stands out to us is the trigger. So many sub-compacts today have a nauseatingly long trigger pull. Not so with the R51. It’s short, and the trigger break is quick and crisp. For us, this not only provided shot predictability, but not having to squeeze the trigger all the way back to the frame (like some handguns) practically eliminates the chance of introducing trigger torque.
On the range, the R51 exhibits intuitive handling. The frame’s long beavertail profile, slim grip with aggressive side panels and checkered front strap, and undercut trigger guard allows for a full, firm grip that compliments the low sight/bore axis. For natural point-of-aim, the R51 is about as close as it gets.
Yes, we may have found our new EDC handgun.
Chamber: 9mm Luger +P
Trigger Pull: 4.5-6.5 lbs.
Barrel Length: 3.4 in.
Overall Width: 1.08 in.
Overall Length: 6.68 in.
Overall Height: 4.63 in.
Magazine Capacity: 7+1
Average Weight (empty): 22.6 oz.
While we all prefer our everyday carry pistol to be as robust as feasible to conceal, sometimes the “pocket option” is the best option. Unfortunately, pocket pistols often represent an exercise in trade-offs—less ergonomic, compromised manufacturing quality, challenging triggers, diminished effective range…the list goes on. For most, micro pistols are used only as EDC backups or when attire and activities preclude the use of your EDC pistol.
When we opened the box of our RM380, we were struck by the handgun’s unusually svelte appearance. Credit that to the aluminum frame and polymer grip slabs that look as if they were also CNC-machined. Chambered in .380 Auto, the RM380 is a micro-pistol that looks like it was built to mean business.
Two single-stack magazines come with the RM380—one of which incorporates a finger extension. Slim- to medium-sized hand shooters will have no trouble achieving a three-finger grip in this configuration. Another reason a three-finger grip is possible is that the trigger guard is undercut to allow for more finger room. Overall, the grip is as comfortable as you could expect from a pistol this size. Milled serrations on the back of the slide offer a positive grip while the relatively soft recoil springs (there are two nested on the guide rod) make for easy charging.
The action is a simple blowback design with the expected DOA trigger and a hammer that sits flush with the back of the slide. The DOA trigger and flush hammer are desirable when building a handgun with no safety, of course. This also necessitates a relatively long trigger pull, and as with nearly every DOA micro pistol we’ve tested, the RM380 has that. If you’ve never shot one before, prepare to be educated. Contrary to some early reviews we’ve seen elsewhere, we actually like this trigger (as much as any DOA trigger can be liked in a semi-auto handgun).
Yes, the trigger pull is long, and it feels as if it “stacks” at the end of the pull, but that’s the part we like. Take up the pull until it stacks, and it’s only a minor effort to break the sear. In other words, it feels and acts almost like a two-stage rifle trigger, providing an easy take-up and predictable sear break at the moment of truth.
There are a few additional features we like about the RM380. First is the slide stop that locks the slide open on the last round fired. Second is the ambidextrous mag release. Both are conducive to rapid mag swaps. The only downside is that the slide release on the left side of the gun is small and flush with the grip slab. That makes for a smooth, snag-free profile, but renders the slide release practically moot during a tactical mag swap. You’ll need to rack the slide for an efficient charge.
Finally, the RM380 features super low-profile and contoured front and rear sights milled into the receiver block. This contributes to snag-free draws, and when combined with the exquisitely thin barrel channel in the receiver, puts the sight picture as close to the bore axis as possible. For the close-in work for which a micro-pistol is designed, this is as intuitive aiming as it gets.
Chamber: .380 Auto
Trigger Pull: 10 lbs.
Barrel Length: 2.9 in.
Overall Width: .95 in.
Overall Length: 5.27 in.
Overall Height: 3.86 in.
Magazine Capacity: 6 rds.
Average Weight (empty): 12.2 oz.
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