This article appeared originally in the March 2006 issue of American Rifleman. To subscribe to the magazine, visit the NRA membership page and select American Rifleman as your member magazine.
One of only three semi-automatic pistol models ever manufactured by Remington, the Model 51 was first offered to the public in September 1919 in .380 Remington Autoloading Cartridge (.380 ACP) only, with an original retail price of $36.30. The .32 ACP was added in August 1921 and retailed for $25. Anyone who’s shot a Model 51 will tell you that it is smooth-functioning and reliable, providing good competition at the time for either the Colt 1903 or 1908 Pocket Models. When Remington announced the discontinuance of this pistol on Aug. 18, 1926, approximately 65,000 had been manufactured. Some eagle-eyed Remington collectors will have already noticed the red UMC logo on the box and UMC markings on the grips, indicating this is an early gun, as the company’s name was changed from Remington UMC to Remington Arms Company, Inc., in 1920.
It’s unusual to find guns of this vintage in 98 percent-plus condition, especially with the original box, accessories and paperwork. During this time, many pistol owners used the factory box for storage instead of buying a soft case, which helps explain the box’s wear, especially on the corners and edges. This practice is the opposite of rifle and shotgun owners at the time, who typically threw the boxes away and stored their long guns in cases.
The Blue Book of Gun Values lists the value for the Remington Model 51 in this condition at $700. Add 25 percent for original box, accessories and paperwork. Because of the premiums now being asked for boxed guns, it is important to make sure a gun’s box is original to that gun, not a similar one from the same period, re-labeled or possibly even a modern reproduction that has been aged to make it look authentic. Additionally, another $100 can be added for the .380 ACP chambering. Even though considerably fewer .32 ACP pistols were produced than the .380 ACP, the larger caliber remains more desirable. In contrast, a 10-percent condition Model 51 without a box is a hard sell at $150.
—Jim Supica & S.P. Fjestad