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Remington Model 51 Semi Automatic Pistol
The Remington Model 51 semi-auto pocket pistol was produced from 1918 through 1926. It was available in either cal. .380 ACP or cal. .32 ACP. Approximately 65,000 were made and this example is serial number PA27066.
Although the Remington Arms Company is now noted almost exclusively for its sporting rifles and shotguns, this firm once ranked among the leading producers of handguns. This held true from the mid-1800's until 1910, when the Remington Arms Co. merged with the Union Metallic Cartridge Co. After the merger, Remington left the handgun field to such competitors as Colt's and Smith & Wesson and concentrated on shoulder arms and ammunition. Only two Remington handguns were introduced after 1910. One of these, the Model XP-100 single-shot pistol, appeared in 1963.
The other was the Remington Model 51 semi-automatic, sold from 1918 to 1934. The Remington Model 51 is a hammerless (concealed-hammer) semi-automatic pocket pistol which was offered first in cal. .380 ACP and later .32 ACP. Total production was approximately 64,786 pistols. Most were made in cal. .380. Although there are no records to verify the exact date when production of the Model 51 was started, it was sometime in 1918.
A total of 22,966 pistols were shipped by the end of 1919. Production ceased Dec. 12, 1926, but sales continued on a large scale through 1927, with 3,045 pistols being sold after 1926. Only 61 pistols were sold from 1928 to 1934. The basic patent for the Model 51 was number 1,348,733 dated Aug 3, 1920, and was issued to John D. Pedersen, who designed several models of Remington guns. The original application for the patent was filed July 30, 1914, and was renewed July 17, 1919. Patent No. 1,348,733 is an extensive document with 19 pages of drawings and 102 pages of text. A total of 31 patents issued on various features are attributed to the Model 51. Twenty six patents were granted to Pedersen, three to Crawford C. Loomis, and one each to C. B. Dygert and G. H. Garrison.
Many of the patents relating to the Model 51 were never utilized in final production pistols. Eight patents described features which were actually implemented in production of the Model 51: 1. Barrel attaching means: Split pin (Mar. 9, 1920Ð1,333,570, 1,333,571 and 1,333,572) 2. Barrel bushing for slide (Aug 3, 1920Ð1,348,284) 3. Action spring bushing (June 14, 1921Ð1,381,291) 4. Extractor (Dec. 27, 1921Ð1,401,552) 5. Magazine safety (Sept. 4, 1923Ð1,466,749) 6. Ejector (Dec. 9, 1924Ð1,518,602) 7. Grip plates (Mar. 1, 1925Ð1,531,796) 8. Breechbolt and magazine for cal. .32 (Feb. 2, 1926Ð1,571,592)
Much of the Model 51's fame results from its excellent balance and specially-designed grip which positions the gun low in the hand. The grip is angled in relation to the barrel to provide a natural position of the hand and wrist, which gives the pistol excellent pointing qualities for fast and accurate shooting. Hundreds of experiments were made with hand molds to determine the correct shape, length, and pitch to provide the most nearly perfect average grip. The pistol was designed to be as flat as possible with carefully rounded corners. The action of the Model 51 is not a true blowback, but is actuated by cartridge set-back to give what is sometimes called hesitation action or impinging action. The barrel is fixed to the frame. However, the breechbolt is a separate movable part not locked to the slide or barrel. This is designed to delay slightly the opening of the action.
During firing, the cartridge case is set back about .08" by chamber pressure. This starts the rearward movement of the breechbolt and slide. The breechbolt engages a shoulder on the frame after having traveled about 3/32". The slide continues rearward, lifts the breechbolt out of its temporary engagement, and continues to compress the action spring. As the slide returns forward under pressure of the action spring during counter-recoil, it drops the breechbolt back into its locking recess in the frame. Capacity of the box magazine is seven cartridges in cal. .380 ACP and eight in cal. .32 ACP.
An additional cartridge may be carried safely in the chamber with the safety lever engaged. The 3 1/4" barrel is rifled with seven grooves, right twist. Overall length of the pistol is 5 5/8", width is .9", and weight unloaded 21 oz. There are three safety devices: A grip safety, thumb-operated safety lever on the left side of the receiver, and a magazine safety. The grip safety prevents firing unless it is depressed by grasping the pistol. It also serves as a cocking indicator by extending rearward when the hammer is cocked. If the grip safety is not depressed when the slide is pulled fully to the rear, the slide is locked open automatically.
Depressing the grip safety releases the slide which moves forward under force of the action spring. The safety lever can also be used to lock the slide to the rear by pulling the slide fully back and at the same time turning the lever upward to safe position. Unless the hammer is cocked, the safety lever cannot be put on safe. Removing the magazine causes the magazine safety to block the sear and thus prevents any cartridge remaining in the chamber from being fired. This prevents accidental firing by persons who assume that the pistol is unloaded if the magazine is removed.
A contemporary Remington catalog lists as a fourth safety feature the solid breech with enclosed hammer. This construction prevents the hammer from being released by striking it against some object or dropping the pistol. The hammer can be cocked only by rearward movement of the slide. While the Model 51 appeared only in one basic type, there were variations in slide serrations, the legend on top of the slide, and other markings. The serial number stamped on the left side of the frame has a "PA" (Pedersen's Automatic) prefix except on very early models. When the pistol was first marketed in 1919 the top of the slide was stamped with the two-line inscription: "THE REMINGTON ARMS UNION METALLIC CARTRIDGE CO, INC. REMINGTON ILION WKS. ILION, N.Y. U.S.A. PEDERSEN'S PATENTS PENDING." This inscription has been observed on a specimen as late as serial no.PA45657.
In 1920, the Remington Arms-Union Metallic Cartridge Co. again reorganized and returned to the name Remington Arms Company. About that time the slide inscription was changed to read: "REMINGTON ARMS COMPANY, INC. ILION, N.Y. USA. PEDERSEN PATENTS PAT'D MAR. 9, 20, AUG. 3, 20 JUNE 14, 21, OTHERS PENDING."
In 1925, the Model 51 could be purchased for $15.75, and was sold with a cardboard box, an instruction brochure, wiping rod, and a cleaning brush. Although the Model 51 was last produced in 1926, it still ranks among the world's finest semi-automatic pistols in design, workmanship, and reliability. - Eliphalet Remington II was born in Suffield, Connecticut on October 28, 1793. His father, Eliphalet Remington, moved his family from Connecticut to the Mohawk River Valley in 1800, where he cleared enough land for a small farm, built a two-room cabin that was later replaced by a larger home, and, along with others who had also moved to the region from Connecticut, established the town of Litchfield.
Eliphalet Remington Sr. also owned an iron forge. Here he both fabricated and repaired tools, equipment, and hardware, and Lite, as Eliphalet II was nicknamed, worked alongside him and learned the trade as well. The younger Remington had the opportunity to examine various long arms that were owned by local residents, and in 1816, he decided that he was capable of manufacturing a good rifle barrel. This he proceeded to do, and he took the finished product to a local gunsmith for boring and rifling. Lite then fitted a lock, stock, and furniture, and upon completion, he found that it shot well.
After showing his new gun to area residents, he soon had a large number of orders for gun barrels. These were octagonal in shape, and as with his initial effort, boring and rifling was done by a gunsmith in nearby Utica. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 and the establishment of railroads soon thereafter provided an economic boost to the region. Remington's rifle barrel works expanded as well. By 1828, he had established his own forge in Ilion, and he soon came to dominate the local trade, producing over 8,000 barrels per year for gunsmiths who would do final rifling and fitting.
In 1844, Remington's oldest son, Philo, joined him in his business. This was reflected in the firm's name, which became E. Remington and Son. By the mid-1850s, his two other sons, Samuel and Eliphalet III, had also joined the company, and the name changed yet again. In addition to gun barrels, E. Remington and Sons also manufactured plows, mowing machines, cotton gins, and firefighting equipment.
In later years, their product line expanded to include bicycles, sewing machines, and typewriters. Remington's involvement in the manufacture of completed firearms came in 1848, when the company received a contract for the completion of 1,000 Jenks breechloading carbines for the U.S. Navy. In addition, Remington took over a defaulted contract from another manufacturer for the production of 5,000 U.S. Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifles.
The business expanded through the 1850s, and handgun production began in 1857 with the introduction of the Remington-Beals pocket revolver. The coming of the Civil War naturally brought about a dramatic increase in the demand for firearms, and Remington's production also increased to keep pace. During this period, the company manufactured both .36 and .44 caliber revolvers, as well as Model 1863 Percussion Contract Rifle, popularly known as the "Zouave" rifle.
The post-war years brought smaller pocket pistols and deringers, the Remington-Smoot metallic cartridge pistols, Remington Single Action Army revolvers, rolling block rifles and pistols, slide, autoloading, and hammerless shotguns, and the Remington-Hepburn falling block rifles. During the 20th century, Remington has established itself as a manufacturer of high quality sporting arms, especially with upland game and bird hunters. The company also did its part during two World Wars as a manufacturer of military arms and munitions.
In addition to the M1911 semi-automatic pistol, the Browning Model 1917 heavy machine gun, and the Model 1917 bolt-action rifle, Remington also manufactured the Pedersen device. This was an early attempt to increase the firepower of individual infantry troops armed with the Springfield Model 1903 rifle. These rifles were modified by cutting the receiver wall to accommodate an ejection port, and the replacement of the bolt with a semi-automatic assembly that accepted a 40-round stick magazine loaded with the .30 caliber Pedersen, a pistol-class cartridge. Over 65,000 Pedersen devices were manufactured, but most were scrapped after the war.
During the Second World War, Remington manufactured the M1903 (Modified) rifle, a transitional long arm in which stamped parts replaced some that had been milled in the earlier model, while other parts were dispensed with altogether in the interests of reducing production time. The company also manufactured the redesigned M1903A3 battle rifle and M1903A4 sniper rifle. Eliphalet Remington II died in 1861, at which time Philo took over management of the company. Samuel died in 1882, and Philo purchased his share in the company. By 1886, E. Remington & Sons had experienced serious downturns, and the company went into receivership.
In 1888, Marcellus Hartley, a partner in the New York sporting and military goods firm of Schuyler, Hartley, and Graham, as well as the founder and owner of the Union Metallic Cartridge Company, went together with Winchester Repeating Arms Company to purchase Remington. Each partner had an equal share of the firm, which was renamed Remington Arms Co., with Hartley serving as president and Thomas Bennett of Winchester assuming the role of vice president. In 1896, Winchester sold its stake in Remington to Hartley. Marcellus Hartley died in 1902, and leadership of the company passed to Marcellus Hartley Dodge.
In 1910, Remington Arms and Union Metallic Cartridge were merged into a single company, known as Remington-UMC. In 1934, both company's name and ownership changed as Remington-U.M.C. was purchased by DuPont and reorganized as the Remington Arms Co., Inc. The Ilion armsmaker remained a part of the DuPont organization until 1993, when Remington was purchased by the investment group of Clayton Dubilier Rice.