Remington Model 51 -- John Pedersen


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Badger Arms
December 6, 2003, 02:42 PM
I mentioned the Pederson locking system in another thread and it was brought to my attention that this is not common knowledge. This thread is intended as a forum for this unique and outstanding pistol; any comments from owners, admirers, or the curious type are welcome.

The Remington Model 51 was the only production pistol with the Pederson type of operating system. Basically, the system is similar in layout to a Walther blowback style (like the PPK, Makarov, etc.) with a fixed barrel and the recoil spring surrounding the barrel. It differs in that it has a separate bolt inside the slide. This is a tilting bolt that locks into recesses in the frame on either side of the magazine. When 'locked' the bolt is actually a fraction of an inch forward of the frame recesses. When the gun is fired, the bolt and slide move together for that fraction of an inch during which time the gun is acting as a blowback. When the bolt lugs stop, the slide continues to move back. This allows chamber pressure to drop to safe levels. Once the slide moves back far enough, it lifts the bolt from its locking recess and continues the firing cycle. This is a truly locked breech. One can insert a dowel in the barrel and push on the bolt. It will move a fraction of an inch and stop against the lugs. Retracting the slide opens the gun as you would expect.

This system has the following advantages:
-Fixed barrel for accuracy, reliability, and simplicity of construction.
-Ability to handle greater pressure than a blowback yet without the size and weight penalty of other locking systems.
-The recoil spring can surround the barrel instead of occupying space below the barrel for a shorter profile gun.
-Due to its semi-blowback system, the gun handles a wider variety of load pressures.

This system also has some disadvantages:
-The frame needs to be either made from steel, or contain a steel insert of some sort in the locking recesses.
-Machining the bolt and slide is difficult and takes many more operations than a more traditional system.
-Because the Browning and Beretta locking systems are SO pervasive, building and marketing this 'strange' system would be difficult.

John Pederson worked in concert with John Browning to design the Remington Model 17 which survives today as the Ithaca 37. He also designed the 'Pederson Device’ that converted the US Model 1903 into a semi-automatic intermediate caliber rifle! What he's probably most remembered for is providing the competition to John Garand with a toggle-locked semi-auto rifle.

The Remington Model 51 enjoyed limited success. Made in 32 and 380 calibers, it was marketed as a pocket pistol. It was more expensive than the Browning designed competition and not overly much smaller. While Pederson was brilliant, he also tried to flaunt it with this pistol. The many safety features included a grip safety that operated as a slide release and many other kooky ideas. The grips were held on with spring-tensioned studs and I'll be darned if I can find a screw in the whole gun. From my point of view, he over-designed the Model 51.

The Pistol was sound-enough in design to be accepted as a substitution for the 1911 during the First World War as the scaled-up Remington Model 53. It offered many advantages in size and shootability over the 1911 but was never put into series production... production on the 1911 kept pace with wartime demands.

About thirty years ago, an inventor named Ross Rudd attempted to market another 45 pistol based on the Pederson design. This gun failed mostly because of a lack of business sense on the inventor's part.

Any comments?

Note: This picture has been altered to conceal the Serial Numbers.
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?s=&postid=647289

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mete
December 6, 2003, 03:38 PM
The M51 is beautifully designed and made.It is properly called a momentum block action. Pederson went to great pains to design a grip that would fit many hands, I would call it excellent design not over design. I always regret that I had to sell mine .I didn't know that the M53 had a number but you forgot to say that it was also in 45acp. Too bad the 1911 had already been chosen, I always wondered if the two were to compete which would have been chosen. ..I've also found that the M51 is not known by most shooters. It also has for some odd reason never had much of a collectors interest or value. It's a winner.

Daniel Watters
December 6, 2003, 07:16 PM
FWIW: My sources indicate that the US Navy wanted to adopt Pedersen's .45 pistol in 1917. However, the entry into WW1 nixed these plans.

Pedersen was also responsible for Remington's Model 10 pump-action shotgun, the rimfire Model 12 pump-action rifle, and the centerfire Model 14 pump-action series of rifles.

Hatcher claimed that Browning once told him that Pedersen had the potential to become a greater gun designer than even himself.

During WW2, Pedersen was involved in a venture to produce M1 Carbines. However, this effort was mismanaged and its operation was eventually taken over by Saginaw.

Gordon
December 6, 2003, 08:15 PM
This my favorite old pocket pistol. I got rid of the Colt 03s &08s, deepsixed the 1908,1910, 1922 Brownings,the Savage and H&R autos, traded away the weird CZ, Walther, and Dryse , Frommerstops ect.,, Kept a 1900 Browning .32 in 100% condition AND my Rem Mod 51s in .32 and .380! This is one slim gun and I feel OK with a loaded chamber in a good holster! Thanks for the great and interesting post!:)

Standing Wolf
December 6, 2003, 09:25 PM
Definitely nifty! I had no idea.

Jim Watson
December 6, 2003, 09:31 PM
One subtility of the P51 design... the setback of the internal breechblock before it locks up is equal to the thickness of the solid casehead of a .380 as then made. No exposed casewall under pressure. The one I had was a good shooter with ball, but would not feed modern JHP.

Gordon, do you carry yours with the tiny little thumb safety on or off? I had the idea that the thumb safety only blocked the big grip safety out and thought it might MIGHT be safe to carry unlocked. Never got brave enough to take it completely apart to look, though.

Complex as the design is, maybe the Navy was better off with the Colt.

After listening to my neighbor the gunsmith, I would not want responsibility for design of the Remington M-10 pump gun.

Gordon
December 6, 2003, 11:00 PM
The thumb safety block the sear, allright, but pretty well blocks the mechanism like a 1911. I only carry mine when I want the nostalgia, I have an old Berns-Martin (Georgia) holster for them. Makes a good funeral or Wedding concealed piece. Never saw any body nut act at a funeral however! I really like the Model 14 , 14 1/2 and 141 Remington pump rifle, I consider it THE woods gun in .35 Rem , and my 14 1/2 44-40 is kinda fun! Pederson did NOT invent the Mod 31 Remington shotgun, which is IMHO the best of the pumps. :)

Jim K
December 6, 2003, 11:21 PM
Hi, guys,

I too like the little Remington, but would be under no illusions that it could ever come back; it would simply be too costly. And no real advantage over a simple blowback for the .380 and .32.

But perhaps Badger Arms will permit a couple of comments on his description of the firing cycle. When the gun fires, the breechblock is locked into its recess behind the magazine well (not on either side), held forward and down by the camming surface on the inside of the slide (which is held forward by the recoil spring). The dowel rod test without the barrel will show that the breechblock does not move without the slide moving as well, so it is not a short movement of the breechblock that functions the gun. Several writers have said that, but it is not true.

The breechblock at rest is solidly backed by the slide and cannot move independently. When the gun fires, the breechblock and slide are driven back together, just as if they were one piece, as in any blowback pistol. But as the breechblock reaches its maximum rearward travel at the back of the locking recess in the frame, the movement of the slide unlocks the breechblock (not vice versa), withdrawing it from the recess and pulling it back. The barrel does not move and is not locked to either the breechblock or the slide, so the Model 51 is not really a locked breech pistol. The system is usually categorized as a delayed blowback.

Does all the complication really work? Yes, but it is not necessary for the cartridges involved, although it might allow a lighter slide.

The real (and only) reason for that pistol design (and the S&W .35 pistol that came out at about the same time) was to get around Browning's (Colt) patent on a slide that surrounded the barrel and had the breechblock built into it. Pedersen made his breechblock separate from the slide, and S&W used a small breechblock and no slide.

As to the Remington Model 53, it was intended to supplement, not substitute for, the Model 1911. With its complications, and reported wicked recoil, it is probably better that it did not go into service. AFAIK, there is only one and it is literally priceless, since it is in the Remington museum and not for sale.

One more point. The Pedersen rifle that competed with the Garand in the early days was not "toggle locked". It was not locked at all, but its toggle joint was set up to be at a mechanical disadvantage; Hatcher describes it accurately as a "retarded blowback". It is, by the way, a real pussycat to shoot, and there is never any doubt when the rifle is empty.

Jim

Jim Watson
December 6, 2003, 11:37 PM
I have no resource on the Remington-Pedersen 53 except Hatcher's Notebook.

It was the Savage with the (slightly) rotating barrel that had such sharp recoil. Hatcher said ..."the Army had issued 300 .45 caliber Savage automatic pistols, and when they were withdrawn and sold as surplus I bought one of them. On firing this the recoil was found to be excessive, much worse than that of the M 1911 pistol. Then some firing with the Remington .45, designed by my close friend J.D. Pedersen, had revealed that this gun had a notably mild recoil."

Badger Arms
December 7, 2003, 03:27 AM
If you can get hold of it... and I have... there is a wonderful article in the 1979 edition of Gun Digest. It's 14 pages long and authored by Donald M. Simmons Jr. This outstanding article has a grainy photo of the Remington M53 as seen below. This was the only prototype made and was tested by the Navy, but not made. Thanks for the great replies, I'm learning something today.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?s=&postid=648227

Daniel Watters
December 7, 2003, 05:57 AM
A slightly better version of the photo is in Hatcher's Notebook.

PCRCCW
December 7, 2003, 07:52 AM
Guys you had to post this thread.........didnt you! :scrutiny: I played with a very very good condition R51 in Idaho on a sales trip years ago. I DIDNT know what it was at the time....it was in very good shape and they wanted just over 150$ for it :what:
Ive since fallen in love with the guns lines and romantic history and havent found 1 for under 600$ that was even close, NOT EVEN CLOSE to the shape of the one I passed on in ID.
Great little gun, rare, collectable and still romantic IMO..............
Shoot well.......

Jim K
December 7, 2003, 08:18 PM
Hi, Jim Watson,

My bad on the recoil; wrote from faulty memory. Just shows I should check everything before writing.

Badger Arms, that Gun Digest article was very good, and I just reread it to refresh my memory.

One thing he mentions only in passing that I would like to really emphasize:

DO NOT TRY TO PRY OFF THE GRIPS!!!

The grips have metal backing plates that fit into cuts in the frame. To remove the grips, press in (upward) on the hammer spring plug at the bottom rear of the grip. With the plug depressed, push the cross pin above it flush with the frame on one side. The grip on that side can now be slid down and disengaged from the frame. Repeat the process with the other side, pushing the pin flush with the frame on that side. Re-install in reverse.

Jim

Badger Arms
December 8, 2003, 01:23 AM
Found this tidbit online:General Kenyon Joyce, a longtime friend of Patton, acquired and sent to the General a pocket-type pistol. It was a Remington Model 51 .380 automatic. It had been a difficult gun to locate as it had not been manufactured since 1935, but one was found by the Remington firm. It was re-conditioned and engraved on it was, "To George Patton/From his shooting partner of many years/Kenyon Joyce." Patton wore it from time to time.

In the book "Patton and His Pistols" it is reported that Patton began to favor the small Remington that General Joyce had sent to him. According to that book, it is the Remington that replaced the Colt .45 revolver as Patton's favorite. That, however, is incorrect. Upon very close examination of the photos available of Patton wearing an automatic pistol, some discrepancies are noted in the claims made by the authors.

Plainly visible are features of the Colt .380 displayed on the automatic with the inlaid ivory stars which are discernibly different from the Remington .380. The butt is straight; the grip rivets are of a light color and are located at the rear, middle portion of the handle. The clip catch is located on the bottom, rear of the pistol. The "wear marks" of the filled holster indicate, in a very pronounced way, a fully extended barrel of the same size as the portion near the trigger housing. These features are indicative of an exact description of the Colt .380 automatic pistol.

Conversely, the Remington automatic has a curved butt; it's grip rivets are of a dark color and are located at the top and bottom of the handle. It has a longer, tapered barrel which would not completely fill the bottom of the holster used by Patton, therefore not being of sufficient size to create the wear marks which are shown on the holster.

Grayrider
December 8, 2003, 09:11 AM
I love the lines of those early 20th Century pistols that were designed around the notion of carrying concealed. This gun, Savages, and Brownings designs have a certain elegance that Kahrs and such just don't share. One of these days I will pick one up. I passed not so long ago on a lovely FN .32 that would have been a great example. I don't recall which Browning design it was, but the price was too cheap for me to have passed on it. If any of you are fans of Bogart movies, he frequently is toting such a pistol whether he is on the right or wrong side of the law. Makes me nostalgic whenever I see one.

GR

Lone Star
December 8, 2003, 11:17 AM
Badger-

THere are photos of Patton with both the Colt and Remington .380's, and with a Colt Detective Special .38. However, these are all taken (the ones that I've seen) in rear areas.

When going into battle zones, he still wore the Colt SAA .45 and/or the S&W .357 Magnum.

Lone Star
P.S. The Remington M51 grip was said (by Col. Charles Askins, who was once US military attache in Spain as well as a gun writer) to have inspired the grip on the Star Model S and Super S .380's. They indeed have VERY comfortable handles!

Jim K
December 8, 2003, 02:39 PM
Askins also reported a potentially embarassing incident at a diplomatic ball in Madrid. He was carrying a Remington Model 51 in his waistband, and it slipped down his pants leg and skidded across the floor. A Spanish general picked it up and handed it to Askins, saying, "Su pistola, Senor".

And I have no doubt that the incident happened just as he told it. It was not at a diplomatic ball (don't get to many of those), but I was shopping for a Christmas tree and carrying a Model 51 when the same thing happened. Luckily, no one noticed and I was able to scoop up the pistol (along with some snow) and drop it in my jacket pocket. I figured it would rust before I could clean it, but it turned out no worse for the wear.

Jim

Mike Irwin
December 8, 2003, 05:05 PM
I remember that story, Jim, but thought that it happened not in Madrid, but in Vietnam...

Badger Arms
December 27, 2005, 07:18 PM
Yes, this is partially a 'bump' but I did find an article on the Remington 51 that I thought I'd pass on. It's from the "American Rifleman" December 1976 issue on page 20. I haven't read it, but if anybody has a copy of the magazine or knows where I can get one, could you please respond? Thanks.

Alimony Bob
March 22, 2009, 11:22 PM
My grandmother kept a M51 under her pillow until the day she passed away at age 98. After that my Dad had it for many years. He gave it to my brother and when I found out he had the pistol in one room, the clip in another and no ammunition I asked him if I could trade him an H&R 22 for it. So I wound up with what was nothing more then a family heirloom and didn't realize the neat history behind it. I saw my Dad kill a squirrel in a pine tree with it when I was a kid (he cojld do anything!) and I've shot it a few times. It's pretty accurate at around 10 yards or so. Not very good for two handed use though unless you want to lose some of the flesh on your thumb. My usual CC pistol is a derringer but I've used the M51 several times and it serves this purpose very well. Does anybody know what the values are it?

dogtown tom
March 23, 2009, 12:15 AM
Alimony Bob: Does anybody know what the values are it?

Value is dependent on condition.

Although there are distinct "series" or "types" within the overall production of the Model 51, it doesn't seem to affect the value as much as condition.

The blueing on the 51 leaves a lot to be desired. Most Model 51's will show significant finish wear (so would you if you were in your nineties).

Do a search on GunBroker for "Remington 51" and then choose "Completed Auctions". Most seem to sell for as little as $325 up to $800+ with original box.

Here is a good webpage with a history of the 51:
http://unblinkingeye.com/Guns/Rem51/rem51.html

Badger Arms
March 23, 2009, 12:23 AM
Wow, it's been a few years. Thanks for the bump. If anybody has a Remington 51 pistol and has not yet done so, please follow this link and fill out this short form. This information is very important to our research and helps us preserve the history of this fine arm and the company. Many thanks:

http://www.remingtonsociety.com/rsa/research/Model51

Guillermo
March 23, 2009, 06:15 PM
I have an old model 51 in the gun safe. Love that gun.

I was told that Remington did extensive tests with plywood cut outs and a bunch of people to try to find the perfect size, shape and angle of the grip.

Do not know if that is true but it is easy to imagine

Badger Arms
March 23, 2009, 06:36 PM
Yes, the story has been told many times that significant research went into designing the shape of the grip. This is notable because in its day, ergonomic design was a rare thing. Firearms were oddly shaped and didn't fit any large group of people.

Most notable among the "non-ergonomic" guns in my opinion is the Colt Single Action Army. Yep, the SAA everybody knows and loves. Why? Sam Colt was said to be left handed. Loading of the SAA is slowed because it is designed to be loaded with the firearm in the left hand. Even before I knew this, I would switch the gun to my left hand to unload and reload then swap the gun to my right hand, instinctively. You righties need to pick up your SAA and try this.

Anyhow, Guillermo, if you could please pull your 51 out of the safe and go to the Remington Society link I gave you, we'd appreciate knowing about your gun. Thanks.

Billy Shears
September 5, 2009, 08:08 PM
Most notable among the "non-ergonomic" guns in my opinion is the Colt Single Action Army. Yep, the SAA everybody knows and loves. Why? Sam Colt was said to be left handed. Loading of the SAA is slowed because it is designed to be loaded with the firearm in the left hand. Even before I knew this, I would switch the gun to my left hand to unload and reload then swap the gun to my right hand, instinctively. You righties need to pick up your SAA and try this.
Actually, the reason the Colt SAA is designed for use by the left hand is that it was designed as a sidearm for the cavalry, and for infantry officers, who were trained to be able to use pistol and sword simultaneously if need be (controlling the horse with their knees), sword in right hand and pistol in left. You'll note that the military flap holsters of the period are worn on the right side, set up for cross draw with the left hand. This was even so with the cap and ball revolvers that preceded the SAA.

Colt may or may not have been left handed, I don't know. But even if he was, he was not such a poor salesman as to design his product so as to favor a minority of his buyers and disadvantage a majority. The gun was designed for use by the left hand because that's the hand soldiers would often use to fire it. And if they needed to shoot with the right, it was easy to switch to that hand, and speed of reloading was not considered a major factor anyway (which is also one reason why the SAA was eventually retained over the faster reloading S&W Schofield.)

Badger Arms
September 5, 2009, 08:53 PM
Please support your statement that Sam Colt designed his revolver for the Cavalry. Your argument might be compelling if the gun FIRED from the left or right hand, but we are only talking about reloading... a two-handed endeavor and one that is decidedly difficult when holding the reigns of a horse.

Secondly, if one is riding a horse, how is it possible to do this task with one weapon in each hand? I find your statements very unconvincing however it seems you are at least agreeing that the Colt was designed to be operated from the left hand, correct?

capttom
September 5, 2009, 08:58 PM
I had never seen a Model 53 Remington. What a neat pistol! I love the lines, especially the slim slide. It reminds me a bit of the Spanish Campo-Giro, but maybe that's just my imagination.

Billy Shears
September 5, 2009, 10:17 PM
Please support your statement that Sam Colt designed his revolver for the Cavalry. Your argument might be compelling if the gun FIRED from the left or right hand, but we are only talking about reloading... a two-handed endeavor and one that is decidedly difficult when holding the reigns of a horse.
That is absolutely too easy. The gun was designed specifically for the US government service revolver trials of 1873. The primary user of pistols in the military was the cavalry, and this remained true right up to the time the M1911 was adopted, and is also why cavalry officers had the most input into that weapon's design -- the grip safety and thumb safety were incorporated at the request of cavalry officers who were worried about accidental discharges of a cocked pistol on the back of a moving horse, especially during reholstering). The second most common user of pistols in the army were officers in the other branches, and they also carried swords to be used in the right hand -- which, once again, is why military holsters of the period were all designed for a left hand draw (consult virtually any photograph of Civil War officers, if you doubt this). It wasn't because most people were left handed back then. All this is pretty common knowledge. Honestly, I feel like I'm being asked to prove the sky is blue.

Secondly, if one is riding a horse, how is it possible to do this task with one weapon in each hand? I find your statements very unconvincing however it seems you are at least agreeing that the Colt was designed to be operated from the left hand, correct?
Have you ever ridden a horse? It is possible (and I already said this) for a trained horseman to control the horse's direction with the knees alone. How do you think horse archers like the Huns, Avars, Magyars, Mongols, Turks, et al. did it for centuries? They needed both hands for the bow. Take a look at the photographs on this site, for example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mounted_archery

You'll note the photographs of the horsemen shooting bows from horseback, and no reins in the hands.

Now cavalrymen usually used either the pistol or the sword, and not both at the same time. But they were trained to do both at once if need be, and their gear facilitated this. And since the sword, the arme blanche, was traditionally considered the primary weapon of the cavalry, the sword was meant to be used in the strong hand. And unlike the common troops, officers in other branches, such as infantry and artillery, rode to battle on horseback, sometimes even commanding from up in the saddle, since they had a better view of the field (the downside was this made them better targets), their gear was similar to that of a cavalryman. Look at the movie "Glory", for example. It's a movie, but they got some of the details of military drill and training right. Matthew Broderick, as Col. Robert Gould Shaw, wields his officer's saber in his right hand, and his Colt Navy revolver in his left hand in a couple of scenes. This is absolutely accurate to the period. And this is why the Colt SAA, as a military sidearm, first and foremost, was designed to be used left handed, while the right was expected to be occupied with a sword.

Badger Arms
September 5, 2009, 10:30 PM
A sword in one hand and a revolver in the other? I find this DUBIOUS.

A Revolver designed with the loading port positioned for operation with the left hand so that it may be loaded with the hand holding the sword while the horse continues to gallup? I find this DUBIOUS.

A revolver designer who was said to be left handed (as evidenced by his penmanship as I have heard) designing a gun that works with his hands? I find this plausable.

The fact that Sam Colt had been dead for 10 years before the Peacemaker came out... Well... yeah.

Actually, capping a revolver held in the right hand is easier done from the right side of the revolver.... So... Sam Colt actually designed his revolver for right-handed use. Kinda blows the other arguments out of the water, eh?

Billy Shears
September 5, 2009, 11:31 PM
A sword in one hand and a revolver in the other? I find this DUBIOUS.
You shouldn't. Not only is it obvious from the design of the gear, it's also a documented fact that the sword was the primary weapon, and the pistol the secondary. As the secondary weapon, the pistol was designed, along with its manual of arms, around use in the secondary hand. Look at Cooke's Cavalry Tactics from 1862. Any weapon was held in the right hand, while the other hand was on the reins. But it was also possible to use sword in one hand, and pistol in the other (and when this was done, it was the sword, as the dominant weapon, that would be in the right hand), or both hands on the carbine.

A Revolver designed with the loading port positioned for operation with the left hand so that it may be loaded with the hand holding the sword while the horse continues to gallup? I find this DUBIOUS.
It wasn't designed for reloading while the other hand was holding the sword. At this point you are being deliberately obtuse. But it was a secondary weapon (in traditional terms, if not in practical one -- but the military is a very tradition bound organization) and as I said, it's entire manual of arms was designed around this fact, and its use in the secondary hand.

A revolver designer who was said to be left handed (as evidenced by his penmanship as I have heard) designing a gun that works with his hands? I find this plausable.
Colt didn't design the SAA. Kind of a problem for your theory, don't you think? He was dead before the Rollin White patent even expired and his company could make a revolver with bored through cylinders.

I find it more plausible that since this weapon was designed specifically to fulfill a military contract, it was designed to conform to military specifications, just like ever other weapon the military solicits contracts for.

The fact that Sam Colt had been dead for 10 years before the Peacemaker came out... Well... yeah.
Which really sort of knocks a hole in the idea that he had the final say in its design, wouldn't you say? Why would the Colt company design and market a gun to conform to the desires of a chief executive ten years in his grave? This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Actually, capping a revolver held in the right hand is easier done from the right side of the revolver.... So... Sam Colt actually designed his revolver for right-handed use. Kinda blows the other arguments out of the water, eh?
I don't see how you figure this at all. If you hold the revolver in your left hand, your right easily places the caps on the cylinder, since the relief cut to allow this is on the right side of the weapon. If you hold the revolver in your right hand, you have to rotate the gun over 90 degrees in order to reach over the top of the revolver and place the caps on the opposite side -- the right side. As a result. most people capping the pistol switch it to their left hand, so their right can place the caps on the cylinder. Kinda makes it look like it was designed to be held in the left hand all along, doesn't it?

Badger Arms
September 5, 2009, 11:40 PM
You resurrected a dead thread to argue that a Dead guy designed a gun for the Cavalry and yet you won't concede that while he was alive he designed it for right-handed use? This thread was about the Remington 51... start another thread if you want to start a cock fight. I believe that whatever I say you will argue with.

Billy Shears
September 5, 2009, 11:52 PM
The thread isn't that old, and I am not the one who argued that a man ten years in his grave designed a gun for lefties; you did that. And when I see someone putting out erroneous information, I feel a desire to set the record straight. Sorry, but people googling for info about the Remington Model 51 may come across this thread (that's precisely how I did), and read your comment about the SAA and believe it. And not only do I just hate to see people who don't know any better misled, it honestly never occurred to me that you would become so offended at being told you're wrong about something. And I'd be happy to take the discussion to another thread, but you made your erroneous assertion here. So if I start another thread on the matter, anyone reading the incorrect assertion here won't get the correct answer, now will they?

Lone Star
September 6, 2009, 05:18 AM
Good grief! Sam Colt died in 1862, and the SAA wasn't introduced until 1873!

Just hold the gun and reflect how it should feel and heft, and note that the loading gate is on the right side of the frame...for a right-handed person.

Cavalry holsters were used with "reverse" draw to get the gun in the right hand, while allowing for left-hand access, too.

Most soldiers are right-handed. The Army knew that in the 1870's. Colt knew that in addressing the commercial appeal of the new gun, too.

Frankly, it is almost inconceivable that Colt would make the gun mainly for left-handed people! It may have been hoped that persons with a master hand on either side would find the gun easily useable.

This idea that the Colt SAA was meant for left-handed users was probably conceived by a now-deceased manufacturer of similar revolvers that he said were set up "right" for right-handed men. Personally, I thought that was a sales tool. And I have never read or heard anywhere else that the Colt was a "left-handed gun." That doesn't even apply to Billy the Kid. A famous photo of him was supposedly reversed when printed, leading people to think that he was left-handed. So much for the movie, "The Left-handed Gun."

I think the issue is unworthy of further attention., Just regard it as a bonus if you're left-handed and the gun works well for you. If you're right-handed, it'll work for you, too, as it has for such a long time, for primarily right-handed users. If the matter seriously bothers anyone today, there are many modern guns that are much more practical, anyway.

At this rate, someone will probably point out that the cavalry was also the primary intended user of the Colt M-1911 pistol, or the Colt DA revolvers. But none of the official holsters for the M-1911 was ever built for left-handed access. And cavalry was still a very real force going into WW II, and the Patton saber of 1913 was meant to be a fully serviceable weapon! The M-1903 Springfield rifle was deliberately designed to be a compromise length for both infantry and for cavalry.

If anyone can actually prove that either Colt or the War Department intended the SAA to be mainly for left-handed use, I'd be very interested to see his documentation.

Lone Star

Badger Arms
September 6, 2009, 09:13 AM
Just hold the gun and reflect how it should feel and heft, and note that the loading gate is on the right side of the frame...for a right-handed person.

No, the gate on the right side allows easier access for a left-handed person. Try the reloads yourself.

Lone Star
September 6, 2009, 09:35 AM
I have tried the reloads, myself. Your mileage varied.

This is not a debate which I want to continue. But many newbies to firearms find their way to this board, and I didn't want them to be misinformed.
If you can produce original War Department or Colt documents supporting your claim, please do. Many would love to see them, if verified.

Lone Star

Billy Shears
September 6, 2009, 10:52 AM
Good grief! Sam Colt died in 1862, and the SAA wasn't introduced until 1873!

Just hold the gun and reflect how it should feel and heft, and note that the loading gate is on the right side of the frame...for a right-handed person.
Actually that doesn't track. What's the first thing most people do when reloading an SAA? Shift it to the left hand, so the right can punch out the spent cartridges with the ejector rod, and then push fresh cartridges through the loading gate on the right side of the frame. If you hold it in your right hand (the same hand most people shoot it with), you have to reach over the top strap and around to the other side of the gun to do these things. It was the same for the 1860 army and 1851 navy. The caps went on the right side, and the cut out to put the bullets in front of the lowest chamber for the rammer to force them in were also on the right side of the gun, making it easiest to hold the revolver in the left hand while performing these actions.

Cavalry holsters were used with "reverse" draw to get the gun in the right hand, while allowing for left-hand access, too.

Most soldiers are right-handed. The Army knew that in the 1870's. Colt knew that in addressing the commercial appeal of the new gun, too.

Frankly, it is almost inconceivable that Colt would make the gun mainly for left-handed people! It may have been hoped that persons with a master hand on either side would find the gun easily useable.
Colt’s didn't make it for left handed people, they made it made it for a military requirement that saw the revolver as a secondary weapon to the arme blanche, and was meant to be accessible mainly to the secondary hand.

This idea that the Colt SAA was meant for left-handed users was probably conceived by a now-deceased manufacturer of similar revolvers that he said were set up "right" for right-handed men. Personally, I thought that was a sales tool. And I have never read or heard anywhere else that the Colt was a "left-handed gun." That doesn't even apply to Billy the Kid. A famous photo of him was supposedly reversed when printed, leading people to think that he was left-handed. So much for the movie, "The Left-handed Gun."

I think the issue is unworthy of further attention., Just regard it as a bonus if you're left-handed and the gun works well for you. If you're right-handed, it'll work for you, too, as it has for such a long time, for primarily right-handed users. If the matter seriously bothers anyone today, there are many modern guns that are much more practical, anyway.

At this rate, someone will probably point out that the cavalry was also the primary intended user of the Colt M-1911 pistol, or the Colt DA revolvers. But none of the official holsters for the M-1911 was ever built for left-handed access. And cavalry was still a very real force going into WW II, and the Patton saber of 1913 was meant to be a fully serviceable weapon! The M-1903 Springfield rifle was deliberately designed to be a compromise length for both infantry and for cavalry.
There’s a reason the design of the holsters changed. Think about it. When the left-handed holsters for the cap and ball revolvers were designed, the revolver had only been on the scene a very short time. Just a few short years earlier, the only pistol available to the army was single-shot muzzle loader. The sword was still regarded as the primary weapon. The pistol was still regarded as secondary. And back when the only pistols available were single shots, that made sense. Then revolvers came along, but it took some time for military officers to adjust to the capabilities of the new handguns, and what that meant for cavalry tactics, and for the use of the saber. By the time the Colt DA revolver and the M1911 were adopted, it was decades later, during which time tactics had changed, a new generation of soldiers had grown up, and the gear reflected the change in orientation away from the saber and toward the pistol. Think about what the army had been doing between 1865, and 1890. During this period, the army’s primary job was Indian fighting, and in that job the saber was seldom if ever used, and in fact was frequently left in the fort when the troopers went out on patrol. It was cumbersome, and made noise, and the troops almost never used it anyway. A generation of practical experience had taught the soldiers by then that, tradition or not, in any practical sense, the sword wasn’t the primary weapon anymore. The pistol holsters now reflected this, and were meant to be accessed primarily by the dominant hand.

Sure the Patton saber was adopted, and meant to be issued. But as I said, the military is a very, very conservative, tradition bound, organization. It always takes them a while to adjust to new realities. Just look at how long it’s always taken to adjust tactics to changes in battlefield reality brought about by new weaponry. In the Civil War, they still occasionally tried mass formations and frontal assaults straight out of the Napoleonic Wars, even though those were suicidal now that soldiers were shooting rifles with an effective range of 500 yards, instead of muskets with an effective range of 80 (q.v Fredericksburg, Pickett’s Charge, et al.). And in that same war, conservative, backward-looking ordnance chiefs blocked the widespread adoption of available breech loaders and repeaters in favor of muzzle loaders (q.v. Col. James Ripley, AKA “Ripley Van Winkle”). And all militaries seem to be like this. At the start of WWI, the French cavalry was still wearing bright red pants and blue coats, that only high casualties forced them to abandon, and even then not all the officers wanted to give them up! So just because the sword was issued, and even meant to be used by officers who hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that it’s day was over, doesn’t mean it got any actual, practical use by that time.

If anyone can actually prove that either Colt or the War Department intended the SAA to be mainly for left-handed use, I'd be very interested to see his documentation.

Lone Star

I refer you to Cooke’s Cavalry Tactics of 1862.

http://members.cox.net/ltclee/Cooke.htm#ManPist


SCHOOL OF THE

Draw—PISTOL.

1 time.

62.—At the command, PISTOL, with the right hand un¬button the flap of the belt-hoister, draw the pistol, and, holding it at the stock, with the point of the forefinger reaching above the trigger guard, carry it vertically, with the hand as high as the right shoulder, and six inches in front of it.
63.—The instructor commands:

READY.

1 time.

At this command, place the pistol in the left hand, as the height of the breast, the muzzle elevated and directed to the left front, cock and raise pistol, (position No. 62.)

AIM.

1 time.

64.—At this command, lower the pistol to the front, the arm about three-fourths extended, the forefinger upon the trigger; aim with the right eye, the left eye closed.

FIRE.

1 time.

65.—At this command, fire and raise pistol.
66.—At the position of AIM, the instructor may command, raise—PISTOL, at which command the men raise the pistols to the position No. 62; and if the pistol is not fired, at the command, return—P15T0L, first let down the hammer.
This is describing formal drill, but what it interesting is that even though the pistol is being drawn with the right hand, it is then being transferred to, and shot in the left. Now why would the army teach its cavalry troopers, who would be predominantly right-handed, to shoot their revolvers in the left hand? As I’ve been saying all along: because at this period in time, the sword was considered the dominant weapon, and the pistol the secondary one.

Lone Star
September 6, 2009, 11:55 AM
Well, I'll concede that the "arme blanche" had its place, and that extended into the British cavalry charge at Elandslaagte in the Boer War. The Boers were using 7mm Mausers, but many were slaughtered by British lancers, in what the Boers considered a barbaric charge. But a deadly one!

Cavalry was also effectively used at Omdurman, in the Sudan in 1898, where a young lieutenant in the 21st Lancers named Winston Churchill found his pistol better than his sword, in part because he had an injured shoulder.
He was using a 7.63mm Mauser, and in his account of the charge in, "My Early Life", the future Prime Minister and eventual Knight of the Order of the Garter said that he killed three men for certain, wounded at least one and another "doubtful". I think he claimed two as probably dead; don't have tiome to look it up now. The men he shot were Dervishes trying to get to him with their swords.

The machinegun pretty well made cavalry obsolete in WW I, although they were still used until replaced by tanks in WW II. I doubt that any US cavalry unit was employed in WW II battle. Maybe in the Phillipines?

I suppose that Col. John S. Mosby, CSA, was correct in saying that his command did as much as any to prove the effectiveness of the revolver as a close-in weapon. He wore a Colt .44 on each side, and used them well. But I believe that Mosby was right-handed, and he almost never used a saber, which he regarded as obsolete.

Daniel Watters
September 6, 2009, 02:25 PM
FWIW: William Mason is typically credited with the design of the Colt M1873 SAA.

Having the loading gate on the right side was pretty well established by the first cartridge conversions of the cap and ball Colt revolvers. As for the latter, I'd definitely want to use my most dexterous hand when trying to place primer caps on the nipples of a cylinder.

Jim K
September 6, 2009, 06:55 PM
The arguments are interesting, but far fetched. The loading gate on the Colt SAA is on the right simply because the capping cutout was in that position on the percussion guns and it was easy to just fill that hole with the loading gate on the cartridge conversions and later on the SAA.

If the SAA loading gate is on the right because Sam Colt was left handed, then the designers at Remington, M&H, and dozens of other companies who put the loading gate or loading slot on the right must also have been southpaws.

But the idea that the saber was considered the primary weapon of horse cavalry is true; nor was it necessarily due to tradition or backwardness. One old horse soldier is reported to have said that he preferred the saber because "it don't run out of ammunition."

Jim

dogtown tom
September 6, 2009, 08:14 PM
Wow.

In less than one page this thread drifted from a pretty nice thread about the Remington Model 51 into an arguement whether Sam Colt was still left handed ten years after he died.:cuss:

Could you guys start a new thread about the Colt SAA somewhere else? Like in REVOLVERS?

ATF3goodthings
October 27, 2009, 10:41 PM
Just for the record, my Remington 51's shoot well in either hand, one in each hand feels good too.
Just got one back from my gunsmith and its as pretty as a picture.
I have submitted one to Remington's research page and will submit the others when I get time to take pictures of them.
I will post them here as well. Everyone I have handed my 51's to-loves the way it feels in their hand. Which is odd because I have short thick fingers, one friend has large mits, one was a female with skinny long fingers, and the other is a friend with average size hands. Everyone agrees it feels natural and everyone shoots well with it with no previous practice with it.
I wish it were possible to shoot the remington 53 but I understand there is only the one in the museum. The reason I got into starting to collect these fine old guns is because a friend had one and brought it out while we were target shooting and said try this one out. I hit everything I aimed at right off the bat and it felt "right". It was then I decided I would own at least one of these.

conhntr
October 28, 2009, 12:18 AM
//You resurrected a dead thread ... I believe that whatever I say you will argue with.//

/The thread isn't that old/
wow

Dr.Rob
October 28, 2009, 01:02 AM
Wow I'd really like to know if I can cut this thread in half.

That Remington 53 in 45 ACP is pretty space age looking for its time. I'd love to see a verson of that produced, it looks almost elegant.

gyvel
October 28, 2009, 09:00 AM
As a gunsmith, I have worked with only a few Remington 51s. One had a bulged barrel which could happen to any gun, but the thing that concerned me is that I had two cases of cracked breechblocks. The breechblock in the 51, as beautiful a gun as it is, is very fragile at its rear end, and both were cracked at the firing pin cutout.

One other case was not the gun's fault. Some moron had installed a "custom made" firing pin in an attempt to make the gun full auto. THAT one I'll never figure out.:D

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