Remington 51 .380

Discussion in 'Curio & Relics Forum' started by duck32man, Mar 27, 2011.

  1. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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    Jack First Inc (605-343-8481) sells modern reproductions of Remington 51 grip panels and backing plates. Not sure if rivets are available, but the parts section technicians who answer the phone can locate that information for you in a few seconds.

    W.H.B Smith's Book of Pistols and Revolvers contains detailed and relatively foolproof instructions for disassembly. Instructions can also be found in the NRA Firearms Assembly books.

    Firing is generally not recommended these days. The breechblock is a relatively light part and very slightly prone to fracture. This renders the arm unusable. Replacements are not available, and the youngest specimens are over 80 years old, with all the risks and uncertainties attendant to metallurgy and aging.
  2. duck32man

    duck32man Member

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  3. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Taking a better look at the picture, I retract what I said about rebluing. DON'T.

    The gun is not in bad shape and IMHO rebluing will destroy the value it has.

    Jim
  4. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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    Additional information has become available on Remington 51 grip panels.

    On the earlier models at least (under PA10000?), the hard-rubber exterior panels are not riveted to the thin steel backing panels. Instead, plate and panel are held together by two short pins, with heads of larger diameter facing the outside, somewhat like the pre-fab head of a rivet. The interior end of each pin has a narrow slot cut around its circumference close to the end, very much like the extractor groove cut around the head of a rimless cartridge case.

    The thin steel plate has three holes in it: the holes toward either end are cut in a keyhole shape, with the larger rounded portion big enough to slip over the end of each pin already described. The narrow section of the keyhole fits the groove near the end of each pin. For removal, the plate must be slid until the large holes align with the pin.

    The third pin is of smaller diameter, positioned between the keyhole pins. The backing plate, made of spring steel, must be pried or flexed (gently) up (away from the hard-rubber grip panel) until it clears this center pin; the plate may then be driven (again, gently) along the interior surface of the grip panel, away from the narrow keyhole section, until the round (large) openings in the plate align with the larger pins. The backing plate should come free of the hard-rubber grip panel.

    The two big pins can now easily be pressed toward their exterior heads to remove them from their seats, countersunk in the hard-rubber grip panel. In some cases, they may simply fall out.

    The center pin is very short, and sits in a blind hole in the center of the hard rubber grip panel. It too may simply fall out of its recess if the panel is inverted.

    Reproduction grip panels are available from Vintage. Price is above $40 per pair. There is a raised bump in the center of each, on the inside, right where the smaller diameter blind pin is located, on originals.

    Regret to report the short small-diameter center pins are not available (see bleow). Later models may use rivets, but definitive information is not yet at hand.

    REF: Jim K's post of 03-28-2011, 4:55PM

    The grip safety pivot pin at the lower rear corner of the grip is retained by the mainspring retaining plunger. In some guns, it will not be possible to drive the pivot pin either left or right unless the retaining plunger is pressed upwards, toward the top of the pistol, against mainspring pressure. This may require considerable force. A drift punch clamped in a bench vise will help.

    REF: duck32man's post of 03-28-2011, 4:16PM

    The wonderfully detailed image posted by duck32man showing the Remington 51's cracked right grip panel has a few other items of information to tell us.

    The mainspring retaining plunger is easy to see, in the bottom of the frame. It has a cupped hollow where a punch fits in easily.

    The cracked right panel appears to be damaged in other ways. It is resting much too high on its frame seat, almost rubbing against the lower edge of the slide. The cutout for the right end of the magazine lock on the panel's leading edge is not very big, but it is definitely above where it's supposed to be. And the grip safety pivot pin (showing its cupped end) is a long way below the recurved lower rear corner of the panel. A correctly positioned panel would have this recurved corner nearly touching the pin.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  5. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Hi, Sddso75,

    Well, I'll be darned, you are right! I have looked at the inside of dozens of Remington grips and somehow always assumed the grips were riveted to the plates. Now that you explain it, I can see how they are put together.

    Even so, all the precautions apply to taking the grips off and taking the assembly apart. The original grips are gutta percha (hard rubber) which becomes brittle over time, so trying to take that assembly apart can result in cracking the grip. If the originals are broken, replacing them with grips made of modern flexible plastic should be easy.

    Thanks again for the info.

    Jim
  6. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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    The Remington 51 is notable as one of the very few firearms built in the United States, containing no screws at all.

    Additional information on grips and backing plates (supersedes some of what I posted earlier):

    Jack First Inc (1201 Turbine Dr, Rapid City SD 57703, 605-343-8481) does sell reproduction grip panel backing plates. Two retaining pins (aka "buttons") are furnished with each plate. Front-to-back backing plate dimensions follow those of original factory parts closely, but upper and lower edges often do not (irrelevant to grip retention). The keyhole cuts in the new-made backing plates are ragged compared to original parts, and will require fitting to work properly. In some cases, the hole for the smaller center locating pin is off center. Thickness of material is a couple thousandths shy of original.

    Recently, an opportunity presented itself to examine another Remington 51, with serial in the PA50,000 range. Grip panels, backing plates, and buttons appeared identical to the example described earlier.

    New made magazine catches ("magazine lock" in factory parlance), catch followers, and catch springs are available also. Fitting is required.
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2011
  7. 45Auto

    45Auto Active Member

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    The M51 is a rather interesting pistol. For example, I have read that Gen. George S. Patton carried one as a backup gun. Springfield Research Service has noted that in WWII the OSS purchased a small number of M51 pistols from commercial sources for issue to field agents.

    If you have access to the 1979 Gun Digest 33rd Edition there is a great article about the Model 51.

    While I have no problem shooting standard velocity ammo in the M51, I have seen several broken breach blocks caused by shooting high velocity ammo through these pistols. Be sure you are using standard velocity ammo, no extra hot self defence ammo, "+P" or whatever.
  8. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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    A special thanks goes to Jim K for reminding us about the risks of tinkering with original hard rubber grips. The stuff does not age as well as wood, and at this late date many originals are warping, shrinking, cracking, even crumbling. They can crack without any "help" from a human hand. The modern-made plastic replacements by Vintage reproduce color and texture of hard rubber as newly made, but probably won't age so nicely. It's not really known yet, since another hundred years or so must pass before we can be surer.

    It might also behoove us to remember that all plastics above 50 years in age can deteriorate in ways that might ruin the guns they're installed on. This applies across the range of countries and manufacturers: I've seen it happen to WWII Walther pistols, 1950s Beretta handguns, "Tenite" installed as a non-hygroscopic wood replacement on budget shotguns, and various other pieces. Even "Coltwood," a vaguely wood-esque plastic Colt used from the 1940s onward, is warping.

    The best (in terms of retaining original dimensions and strength/wear characteristics) seems to be the DuPont nylon formula Remington used in its Nylon 66 and several other 22 rimfires. Be warned that many specimens of the Nylon 66, 76, 77, Mohawk 10c, and Nylon 10/11/12 are now suffering cracks. Replacements are simply not available. It is unclear at the present time (2011) whether the material is aging, or if poor use/storage conditions pertain, or design shortcomings are making themselves felt (in fairness to DuPont's materials engineers and Remington's design teams, they could not predict 50 years of use by the public - espcially not the myriad ways in which some members of that public contrive to abuse and neglect arms). Most cracks occur between the sear pin and the top of the stock, near the rear of the sheet steel receiver cover, where the striker spring and its guide press against their rear anchor point. The Nylon 76 (lever action) seems to be the worst offender, as it is a true locked breech arm, but the locking bar braces against the rear of the stricker slot; metal - on - metal locking does not occur, as it does in the 10/11/12 (all bolt actions very similar to the 510/511/512).

    Many of these rifles have been left in a cocked state for decades on end, and there are no metallic reinforcement rods, sheets, nor bushings - only structural nylon to absorb the loading, tension, and leverage. Snap your Nylon 66 and relax the spring without delay.
    Last edited: May 21, 2011
  9. sddso75

    sddso75 New Member

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  10. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    sddso75,
    Thanks for posting that valuable information.
  11. Jim K

    Jim K New Member

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    Just FWIW, another maker who used hard rubber grips that now could break is Savage, on their 1907, 1915 and 1917 pistols. Facing the same problem with the Browning patent, they used a moulded in lug that snaps into a slot cut in the frame. To remove the grips it is necessary to push each grip up from the magazine well and slide it to the rear. But those old grips can just snap when doing that. Fortunately, repros are also available, but the originals are still best on a collector gun.

    With all the different ways of attaching grips, one thing should be said loud and clear: NEVER PRY GRIPS OFF A PISTOL until you make absolutely sure that is the way they were meant to be removed; in almost all cases, it was not.

    Jim
  12. Georgia Guy

    Georgia Guy New Member

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    New to board but bet you guys have never seen a Remington 51 like this one

    Not totally on topic but:

    I bought it at a gun show almost 50 years ago. I think I paid $50.00.

    What I have found in my research is that Remington would nickle plate on a special order / request basis only. They supposedly never offered it as an either blue finish or nickle plate choice when purchasing one.

    Reportedly very few Model 51's ever came out of the factory this way I am led to understand. Handfull at best. I've not had any luck verifying this fact with Remington.

    This one was manufactured in very late 1922 per the S/N.

    Only found one other fellow, West Coast area, that has one and he claims he turned down an offer of $1,500 for his. His claim at least.

    I rarely shoot mine anymore because I am scared to death something will break and then I would not be able to get the parts to fix it.

    But if you have ever picked up, held and pointed a 51, it has the most natural feel you will ever experience. Never had that particular feeling with any other pistol I have ever owned.

    Georgia Guy

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  13. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Active Member

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  14. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

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    The way the worlds patents laws used to work ( who knows, maybe they still do ) If you had a patent in the U S, then you could not patent the same thing in Europe. This is why Sam Colt patented his ideals in England first, then in the US. So it is conceivable that a early 20Th century patent that was registered only in the US could be still be used in Europe. Also remember, the patent was not for a through bolt. Some European countries protected their own workers and would automatically rule against a foreign Patent ( Spain for example ) Could be wrong, sure been wrong before:D
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