As I’ve mentioned previously, as both a founding member of the 3913 fanclub and a recovering C&R addict, I am unreasonably excited about Remington’s new R-51 9mm pistol. A rebirth of the unsuccessful Pedersen locking breechblock pistol of the 1920s, the R-51 looks art-deco Raymond Loewy awesome, and is something genuinely new and unique in the carry pistol market by offering (hopefully) a decent trigger in a slim single stack 9mm package that doesn’t have a cheap feeling polymer frame.
Unfortunately, it looks like things are already going sideways. To coincide with SHOT Show 2014, Remington released some promotional materials, including this video:
While slickly produced and showing some good footage of the gun in action, the tone and atmosphere is completely wrong. This is not a pistol for young, tacticool, camo pattern of the moment shooters. It offers neither the capacity nor service cred of modern double stack nines, nor is it small or light enough to be a good pocket pistol. Yet everybody shooting this gun is young and looks like they subscribe to SWAT and Recoil and read Soldier Systems with their morning MRE.
So who should the R-51 be marketed to? I’ll give you a hint:
The R-51 is, the way I see it, the modern reincarnation of the Colt 1903 or Vest Pocket. A classy, safe, coat-pocket-able pistol that’s easy to shoot even if it’s been a while. It’s not a gun for multi-case range weekend classes or 32 round USPSA stages, it’s for tossing into the glove box of your Mercedes Benz or into a Zero-Halliburton briefcase for a trip downtown.
Back issues of Gun Digest are literal catalogs of excellent, but now dead designs that were marketed incorrectly, and I hope the R-51 doesn’t share that fate. Not only has the runaway .mil and LEO legitimacy arms race done damage to our public image and led manufacturers to market products to people who don’t really need them, but I’m starting to wonder if all this gritty FDE gung-ho isn’t turning off more than a few shooters too? Even though we appreciate the excellence in design, durability and reliability that successful military or law enforcement service brings a gun, we should remember that there’s shooters out there who don’t need a pistol that’s suitable for fast roping out the space shuttle ninja camp. They enjoy taking pot shots at tin cans in the field with their tactically unhip guns and occasionally need to pack something. That’s perfectly okay, and the R-51 is the gun for them.
The R-51 doesn’t need to be advertised in Guns ‘n Ammo, it needs to be in Popular Mechanics or Car & Driver.