courtesy gifer.com

Have you ever found a particular example of a type of product that, in concept, anyway, seems great? Something that you figured everyone would be destined to love? Only, for one reason or another, hardly anyone buys it and the product languishes in relative obscurity. Guns are no different.

Sometimes it’s due to a manufacturing fault or otherwise not executing the design as well as it could have been. Sometimes it’s due to a product hitting the market at the wrong time.

One of the guns that, on paper anyway, should be much more popular than it is: the Remington R51. It had so much promise. A slim, lightweight polymer frame with a grip safety for added security. Its dimensions make it easily concealable. A bore axis lower than a CZ, cool sci-fi looks that are actually interesting in a sea of boxy plastic fantastics and the novel Pederson hesitation lock mechanism.

But we all know what happened. The pistol hit store shelves before the bugs had been ironed out and it got pulled from the market within months of release. It wasn’t re-released for two years. As a result, it just hasn’t take off as it should. 

A gun from some time ago that should have been a lot more popular was the Colt Double Eagle.

The Double Eagle, produced between 1989 and 1997, was basically a DA/SA 1911. It had pretty much the same grip and ergonomics, but it had a SIG-like decocking lever on the grip. Full-size and commander versions were available, and you had your choice of .45 ACP, 10mm, 9mm, .40 or .38 Super.  

Pretty much all the benefits of a 1911 (great ergonomics, svelte dimensions that make it easy to carry) without the drawbacks of the single-action operating system and grip safety.

Unfortunately, it came out in the midst of the Polymer Spring. GLOCK was taking over and they really haven’t relinquished their hold since. A few outfits have tried to replicate the same idea – the goodness of the 1911 without the single-action holdups – such as Para USA’s LDA pistols and now the Hudson H9, of course.

So what seems like a great idea, a sure-fire hit on the drawing board, doesn’t always work out in meatspace.  

Are there other guns that you thought were perfect — or that should have been — but just didn’t work out? Guns that didn’t get the love they should have? Sound off in the comments!

 

Sam Hoober is a contributing editor at Alien Gear Holsters, as well as for Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also writes weekly columns for Daily Caller and USA Carry.

75 COMMENTS

  1. The action on the R51 was a terrible idea. Back in the day it made sense to evade patents but not so much any more.

    My “great” idea that will never materialize is a 38 Super rimless variant in a carry gun. A little more power than 9mm yet no compromise on capacity and minimal size changes.

      • Those rebates are sweet. I purchased my R1 Threaded 1911 on one of their $100 rebates. Paid under $600 for a very fine pistol made in the USA.

      • A rebate would be nice but I’d be just as happy if they could just send me a couple of extra magazines.
        I’ve said it before – that pistol is a sweety and the only reason one isn’t attached to my hip at this very moment is a bunch of auto repairs.

      • Perhaps silly. My hands down favorite CO2 BB pistol is the Rem R1. I’ve looked at the real deal several times. I’m sure I’ll save one eventually.

      • That’s what I did. After rebate the pistol cost me $199. Still haven’t fired it yet but it IS attractive and feels good in the hand. Having said that, I still wouldn’t bet my life on it until I’ve wrung it out a bunch. Which is my plan. I guess I just have a soft spot in my heart for Remington ’cause my first firearm was a Nylon 66 for my 13th X’Mas which was a long time ago.

    • “The action on the R51 was a terrible idea.”

      The ‘modern’ version, agreed.

      The original one was fantastic for people with limited mobility…

    • Explain *exactly* why the design itself is flawed. It’s as much a patent workaround as the P38 was to the Luger. Just a different action, with pros and cons.

      The flaw was that the R51 was produced by Remington amid its death throes.

        • Also the materials, also the machining quality, also cutting the chambers without a leade, also not doing any QC at all…I could go on.

      • {Modern R51}

        “Explain *exactly* why the design itself is flawed.”

        The weapon could be assembled *incorrectly* after being broken down for cleaning and appear to function normally, but would refuse to fire.

        I don’t know about you, but that’s one big-ass flaw in my book…

        • So user error, can result in user error. Alrighty then.

          Putting in the safety wrong results in the slide locking back. Not a fail to fire, and not something a simple function check after assembly wouldn’t catch.

        • “Putting in the safety wrong results in the slide locking back. Not a fail to fire, and not something a simple function check after assembly wouldn’t catch.”

          Uh, no.

          From Nick Leghorn’s R51 review :

          “So a new shooter could buy an R51 and shoot it without any problem (save a bit of palm pain). At some point, he or she will break down the R51 to clean it. They reassemble the gun incorrectly and holster it without realizing their mistake. In a self-defense scenario they now have less rounds available than they thought and a gun that stops working “for no reason.” Not good.”

          http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2014/02/foghorn/gun-review-remington-r51/

          That’s a design flaw, *full stop*…

        • EDIT –

          “Following the release of this review, Tim from the Military Arms Channel confirmed all of my results and more. According to him, even when the gun is absolutely 100% assembled correctly, it still fails to fire, fires out of battery, and fails to feed with alarming regularity.”

    • The R51 bears a limited resemblance to the Model 51. They aren’t the same. The R51 was an attempt to make a Model 51 on the cheap.

      The original Model 51 was a very reliable pistol. It was considered (briefly) by the US Navy to replace the 1911 following WWI, because it had fewer parts, was as reliable as the 1911 and pointed so well, but the US government had little appetite for a new pistol once the 1911 production got underway in earnest.

    • I call my great idea, 32 super. Imagine a 32acp, now imagine that the case is actually a 30carbine case trimmed back to about .98″. Like 32 magnum, but for autoloaders. Should be able to fit more in and/or make single stacks even slimmer.

      Maybe I will finish it some day.

    • I agree, it was a great design, I am also going to avoid saying why as it would make this letter too long. However, the P7 had two things that kept it from being a world changing design. The first was weight. The second was cost.

      If it were possible to make the P7 with a polymer frame, and for the price of a Glock. . . well, there would never have been a market for the Glock.

      • From what I hear the third reason being the gas retard system made the gun too hot to shoot and it didn’t take a whole lot of rounds to do it, either.

        They are damn nice guns though, at least from what I know from handling and never firing a couple of them.

    • One of my favorite pistols. The H&K P7M8 is the thinking man’s P7. It wasn’t the design that caused the demise of the P7. It was the cost. Like many H&K products of the time, they were expensive. I’ll also admit the design was a little unorthodox for most U.S. shooters. That said, no one ever shot mine that didn’t fall in love with it.

    • If Colt or Remington want to redeem their fortunes, buying the patents and machinery to make the P7M8 (at a reasonable price) would make me a buyer. The last NIB P7M8 I saw was in 2015. Asking price, $2,100. I’d prefer Colt do it b/c then we’ll know at the outset that it was done right.

  2. I don’t know if that holds true for the Hudson H9! I understand those that have Rheumatoid Arthritis find the Hudson to be a Godsend with its Short Trigger Pull of ~1.3mm.

    • Its 3mm (not that big of a deal), and the Hudson H9 has nothing in common with a 1911 other than the SHAPE of the trigger and grip. Similar to the CZ-40B

  3. The Colt Double Eagle was Colt’s laziness / Chinese-like reverse engineering of the Beretta 92 in a barely sparged to 1911 appearance.

      • Not to mention they technically weren’t even colts. They were made by CZ and colt just imported them and slapped their name on them.

  4. I don’t know about guns, but there are a few accessories I want.

    [FU MagPul] I want a Tactical Link Bad Lever (MagPul’s ‘bent’ ones don’t fit on Sig Sauer ambi-controls lugs)

    AND . . .

    WhereTF went the STL-900 light / laser?

    • Pretty sure the Lionheart is exactly what you’re asking for. Used to own one. Great pistol. Just didn’t want a DA/SA back then.

    • “Bring back the Daewoo Precision Industries K5/DP51.”

      Great gun, my first new gun purchase. Like an idiot, I sold it…

    • The Lionheart LH9 is just a Daewoo K5 that gets (very practically) dressed up by the company that imports it. It’s a little expensive, but ultimately worth it. I went on a roadtrip to Seattle two years ago with a friend. She came back with a tattoo and I came home with an LH9.

  5. This goes back aways – late 19th c. – but I’ve always thought that the Merwin & Hulbert revolver should have done better and not passed away prematurely as it did. From my reading, it seemed to be superior to most other late 19th c. revolvers in the way it loaded/ejected rounds, it had interchangable barrels and it came in both SA and SA/DA versions. It came in a large size (for .44-caliber cartridges), but also as a pocket pistol (to handle .38s). With the technology available today, I think the design would be viable, if expensive. An attempt was allegedly made a few years ago to reintroduce it for the cowboy action crowd, but nothing was ever produced and people were bilked out of their deposits. But if a reputable manufacturer ever reintroduces the M&H, particularly in stainless, I’ll be in.

  6. YuP the R 51 was the most recent gun Flop that came to mind and there was the picture as I scrolled down.

  7. Armalite / Henry AR-7.

    The cool factor can’t be denied. I don’t own one but I’ve always wanted one ever since James Bond shot down a helicopter with one. And, despite all the alleged reliability and accuracy issues, Henry seems to have improved them quite a bit.

    Unfortunately, the gun has always been a solution in search of a problem. I can’t think of a single “practical” use for it. Not that we need an excuse to buy a novelty gun for less than 3 beans. I swear, one o’ these days …

    • “Unfortunately, the gun has always been a solution in search of a problem. I can’t think of a single “practical” use for it.”

      Toss the stock with the gun inside in your trunk or behind the seat of your pickup. For emergencies. *Cough*…

    • It’s a survival rifle. An extremely compact, lightweight rifle that you keep in your trunk or stuck in a backpack. .22 LR can take down a moose with proper shot placement. That’s why the AR-7 exists.

    • I bought my AR-7 as a solution to my not having enough fun while plinking. Mine dates back to the Charter Arms days. It’s small and light enough to get packed in a bag when anything bigger would get left behind while on a weekend trip to camp and plink out in the woods. I bought a Marlin Papoose for the same reason for my wife to shoot.

  8. For me it’s got to be the MR-412 REX. A modern design break open revolver in .357 but was doomed largely because they couldn’t import the thing from Russia to the US.

    I keep hoping someone would pick up the design. I figure it would be expensive for a .357 but anything under $1500 or so and I’d buy one the first chance I got.

  9. I thought the R51 is an aluminum alloy frame, not polymer. That was part of its initial allure: a svelte, single stack 9 that was all metal instead of plastic, with classic lines that was perfect for concealed carry, with a price well under $500. And with the initial demo guns (which weren’t the production guns) it seemed like a winner. And then… Not so much. The Sig P365 seems to have had some troubles on release as well, and it was destined to be “the next perfect carry gun.”

    The Bushmaster ACR, again, same culprit, also seemed like it was going to hit all the design objectives of a next generation rifle, but didn’t seem to catch on or get the support needed to succeed. CZ Bren 805 suffers from first generation obselence, where a theoretically superior 806 was quickly designed and announced putting a damper on the 805, though the 806 hasn’t even been imported yet.

    Vaporware tends to be an issue too, you see some designs at Shot announced and then they either take years to come to actual production, or just completely disappear. Which may actually be better to cut the losses than stubbornly inflict a flawed design on the masses.

  10. I watched a Forgotten Weapons episode recently about the M1 Carbine. From the discussion with an expert on this little rifle, its reliability issued stemmed not from the rifle, but from the sheety stamped steel mags. According to the expert, a ;lot of soldiers just ditched old mags when resupply came in with lots of new ones. And a lot of the new clones suffer the exact same reliability issue. So why hasn’t anyone made a reliable polymer mag for the millions of these things floating around in circulation?

  11. First thing that jumped out at me in this article:

    R51 “A slim, lightweight polymer frame with a grip safety for added security.”

    CDE “…without the drawbacks of the single-action operating system and grip safety.”

  12. A favorite design of mine that went nowhere (sadly) and never gets the love it deserves is the old Steyr GB. Tonka tough fixed barrel, gas delayed blowback, and about 20 parts in the whole kit and caboodle.

    Only part of it I don’t love is the slide-mounted safety.

  13. The new Colt Cobra? Doesn’t seem to be selling well despite all the “if only Colt would make revolvers again” internet experts

    • Colt’s making the ‘Cobra’ like Dodge is making the ‘Dart’. You could get a better replica (of the Cobra) out of Brazil.

  14. The Colt Double Eagle was multi-layer failcake of poor timing exacerbated by flawed execution, and proof that S&W management was smarter. By the time the Double Eagle showed up S&W and Ruger had well established wonder nines, as well as .40 & .45 variants, while Colt had an expensive me too with reliability issues and no double stack magazines. Worse for Colt, both competitors had polymer framed striker fired designs in the works or on the street ready for the next wave.

  15. Super Commanche. It’s a simple, single shot .410 pistol, but with full size revolver grips. It makes sense to me, since a derringer is only feasible in a very small caliber, and if it’s large enough, why not use a full size frame to eliminate the pain? I like that it’s basically a shotgun pistol, but cheaper than the Judge yet also reasonable to shoot, unlike some of the larger Bond Arms. Mostly, it just looks like fun. Sadly, nobody seems to have them in stock and I fear I’ll never be able to get one for a reasonable price.

  16. I’d love to see a return of the HK P7. Always thought they were cool but have never run across one for the right price when I have greenbacks in my wallet.

  17. Great idea that did work out (eventually): the S&W DA/SA semi-autos (a la 5906).

    I just wish they still made them but with updated tech and the stylings of the M&P M2.0, maybe even with a polymer frame. Not sure why they completely dropped it in the first place. The P226 and the 92FS are in the same family and they are still incredibly popular.

    • I just recently got a very lightly used 5906 mainly because it uses the same magazines as my Marlin 9MM Camp Carbine. I couldn’t resist having a handgun and long gun both using the same mags. I will say that after using my Glock a lot the past few years, I had forgotten just how heavy a loaded stainless steel pistol is.

  18. The trigger on the Rem R51 looks as if it belongs on a plastic toy, or water pistol. Aesthetics of the gun were forgotten by the design team, it looks like junk, no wonder that Remington went broke.

    • Aesthetics are an individual matter. I was looking at one yesterday and I found it quite attractive as a modern example of Art Deco.

      I am still holding off for another round of rebates.

  19. I bought several R51s to resell and not having any luck. Beautiful shooting gun so cannot imagine why they have not sold better. More rebates would be nice as that would really help pricing.

    • Sorry, my misunderstanding. Yes, I have an airsoft 1911 for basement practice.

      And yes, I thought you had found an airsoft R51. That would have been more interesting.

      • @ Hasaf

        Pyramyd Air also sells 5.1R’s made by “WE” in either Spring Loaded or Gas Blowback Softair Pistols ranging in price from $59.99 to $89.99. Unfortunately it’s on a 9-page list, and some digging is required…

  20. My list of gun ideas that didn’t work out as well as expected?
    1. Remington XP-100. a single shot bolt action pistol capable of 200 yard accuracy.
    2. Dan Wesson Revolvers. An amazing design to have a revolver that can be transformed by the owner from a 10″ barreled scoped hunting handgun into a 2″ snub nose carry gun in under a minute. Available in calibers from .22LR to .44 Maximum. CZ recently brought the .357 back after several years, but the price is steep.
    3. COP four barred .357 mag derringer.
    4. AMT Backup pistol. I have one in .22LR and can’t find magazines for it. I think of mine as a very handy little gun that works great, and needs little maintenance.
    5. Braverman Stinger Pen Gun.
    6. Stoeger’s .22LR Luger pistol, just because the FUN factor, this one should still be in production.

  21. The Colt All American 2000. Reed Knight/Eugene Stoner design. A series of articles circa 1990 made it seem like an ingenious design. I was hoping it would eventually be chambered in .45acp. But alas….

    • BP’s (i.e. Binary Propellant) Ammunition has been around since at least WWII, and while feasible as a Pistol Round. Long Term Storage is a “Bitch”, not mention the weight of the Ammunition and the actual Firearm. The First Liquid BP, used Hydrogen Peroxide as an Oxidizer and Kerosene as the Combustible Fuel. As I recall the XM2000/XM2001 Crusader 155mm Self Propelled Howitzer was a BP Gun. And was cancelled by SecDef Donald Rumsfeld in 2001…

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