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Old 09-11-2011, 08:43 PM
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Default Most ergonomic handgun ever made?

As many of you know, I write about classic firearms for Dillon's Blue Press catalog/magazine, which is issued monthly. I'm constantly on the lookout for interesting and classic guns. At the Phoenix gun show this weekend, I did find one that I've been seeking for some time.

The Remington-UMC Model 51 pocket pistol is regarded by many knowledgeable folks as perhaps the most ergonomic hand gun ever made. It fits most hands like a glove, points naturally, and with its axis of recoil very low over the hand, it recovers from recoil quickly. Rather than being a straight blowback design, it's actually a "retarded blowback" pistol. The breechblock is in two pieces, with the forward part able to slide back a bit before the slide begins to move rearward. This does a lot to moderate the already low recoil of this pistol.

It was a design by J.D. Pedersen, who also invented the famed Pedersen device that converted 1903 Springfields into semiauto rifles firing a pistol-sized cartridge. He also invented a rifle that gave John Garand's entry a run for the money in semiauto rifle trials in the early 30s.

These were produced in both .32 and .380 ACP. An earlier version had a hammer, but it was decided that a "hammerless" version (actually it has an internal hammer) was more practical for a pocket pistol. The gun features a grip safety, a manual safety, and a magazine safety. When the slide is locked back, a squeeze on the grip (depressing the grip safety) allows the slide to go forward, and if a round is in the magazine, chamber it. This is very quick - insert the loaded magazine, squeeze and fire if necessary.

The design of the grip was no accident - many tests and versions were sorted out to get it just right for most hands. The trigger pull is very much like that on the 1911-short and sweet.

These guns were made from 1918 to 1935. This particular specimen was manufactured in 1924. I'm pleased to have found a good example of this classic firearm, and I wanted to share a picture of it with you. It could still serve its intended purpose quite well after 87 years.

John

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Old 09-11-2011, 08:56 PM
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That's a nice one Paladin. I concur on the firing impression as well, they don't have the same kind of snappy recoil that some other .380's have and they are a fairly light pistol at 21 oz. Here is one that I posted about several months ago with a contemporary competitor, the Savage 1917. Coincidentally they both date from 1923.
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:05 PM
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Damn it, there was one at my local gunshop forever that I never really looked into getting

in good nick too, but what about the magazines, how hard are they to get ahold of?
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PALADIN85020 View Post
As many of you know, I write about classic firearms for Dillon's Blue Press catalog/magazine, which is issued monthly. I'm constantly on the lookout for interesting and classic guns. At the Phoenix gun show this weekend, I did find one that I've been seeking for some time.

The Remington-UMC Model 51 pocket pistol is regarded by many knowledgeable folks as perhaps the most ergonomic hand gun ever made. It fits most hands like a glove, points naturally, and with its axis of recoil very low over the hand, it recovers from recoil quickly. Rather than being a straight blowback design, it's actually a "retarded blowback" pistol. The breechblock is in two pieces, with the forward part able to slide back a bit before the slide begins to move rearward. This does a lot to moderate the already low recoil of this pistol.

It was a design by J.D. Pedersen, who also invented the famed Pedersen device that converted 1903 Springfields into semiauto rifles firing a pistol-sized cartridge. He also invented a rifle that gave John Garand's entry a run for the money in semiauto rifle trials in the early 30s.

These were produced in both .32 and .380 ACP. An earlier version had a hammer, but it was decided that a "hammerless" version (actually it has an internal hammer) was more practical for a pocket pistol. The gun features a grip safety, a manual safety, and a magazine safety. When the slide is locked back, a squeeze on the grip (depressing the grip safety) allows the slide to go forward, and if a round is in the magazine, chamber it. This is very quick - insert the loaded magazine, squeeze and fire if necessary.

The design of the grip was no accident - many tests and versions were sorted out to get it just right for most hands. The trigger pull is very much like that on the 1911-short and sweet.

These guns were made from 1918 to 1935. This particular specimen was manufactured in 1924. I'm pleased to have found a good example of this classic firearm, and I wanted to share a picture of it with you. It could still serve its intended purpose quite well after 87 years.

John

I know it was made 1st but it reminds me of a Whitney
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Old 09-11-2011, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
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Damn it, there was one at my local gunshop forever that I never really looked into getting

in good nick too, but what about the magazines, how hard are they to get ahold of?
I've never seen one that wasn't a companion piece to a gun. These magazines were very well made and durable. The back spine of the magazine is rounded; no other mag that I know of will begin to fit it because of this. The follower is finely finished of stamped steel, and they feed flawlessly.

John
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Old 09-11-2011, 10:42 PM
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What I ment was are spare magazines easy to get ahold of or are they hard to come across?
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Old 09-11-2011, 11:17 PM
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What I ment was are spare magazines easy to get ahold of or are they hard to come across?
They're hard to come by - as I said, I've never seen one except as part of the gun. Because of the rounded spine, though, they'd be easy to spot.

John
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:42 AM
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I thank you and Walter Rego for the education. I was unaware of this particular model and now find myself kind of interested. I have certainly found lots of handguns with bad ergonomics, so it's interesting to learn that somewhere, once, someone actually took shootability into consideration as a basic factor of design.
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Old 09-12-2011, 12:54 AM
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One of the reasons the 51 shoots so sweet is that it is a locked breach.Of course the other reason is the grip frame is perfect. The sights are just about invisible but it's no problem out to 10 yds. Just point and you'll hit it.
I was lucky. I traded my last one for a '96 Krag carbine. I say 'lucky' for a month later the extractor broke and it took 3 years to find a replacement part. (pre computer)
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Old 09-12-2011, 07:57 AM
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I have an early one and a later one. I love them! They fit my hand like they were made for me, and they are very thin.
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:17 AM
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Te Remington Model 51 .380 was an "Ideal backup" back in the day.
WE called it the "Steel Finger" because of its pointing ability.
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Old 09-12-2011, 02:59 PM
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The grip design is very similar to the Browning High Power.
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Old 09-12-2011, 03:08 PM
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Quote:
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The grip design is very similar to the Browning High Power.
Also noted as being one of the most comfortable grip designs--often duplicated.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:20 PM
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Magazines are available for the 51 in both .380 and .32ACP. Try ammoclip.com....of course, they are new production but I believe they still have the steel follower.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:32 PM
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Hmmmm, looks remarkably like a Ruger SR9...which gets my vote for best ergonomics. Although I would prefer a little more 1911-ish safety lever.
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Old 09-12-2011, 04:47 PM
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Sure looks a lot like the Browning 1922 model.
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:14 PM
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I vote for the Chicago Palm Pistol as most, whatever that word was.
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Old 09-12-2011, 07:54 PM
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The HP and the 191 with an arched mainspring--thin grips--get my nod.
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1911, 380, browning, carbine, cartridge, extractor, garand, hammerless, krag, remington, ruger, savage, umc

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