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Remington 51 Prototypes in the J.B. Cargile Collection
by Ed Buffaloe

The Aberman .380 Prototype

This gun has some pitted places that give it a spotted appearance which is distinctive.  This is the only prototype I am aware of that has an ejector in the frame rather than on the magazine--even the late prototypes all seem to have the ejector on the magazine.  Despite the ejector in the frame, it should be classified as an early prototype because it has a barrel with helical lugs.

The Aberman .380 Prototype

Serial Number

None

Barrel Type

Helical Lugs

Barrel concentric grooves

None

Barrel step

.27 inches

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Prototype - with tail

Extractor Type

Spring & Plunger

Grips

Black, No rivets

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

In frame

Unique Characteristics

 

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.380 Prototype - Grips Missing

J.B. Cargile says the gun did not come with the correct grips. The frame design is for grips without rivets.  The missing grips are an easy way for me to distinguish the gun. This prototype appears to be identical with the one owned by Mr. Simmons.  It differs from the Aberman prototype in that the ejector is on the magazine.  This is an early prototype.

.380 Prototype - Grips Missing

Serial Number

None

Barrel Type

Helical Lugs

Barrel concentric grooves

None

Barrel step

.27 inches

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Prototype - with tail

Extractor Type

Spring & Plunger

Grips

No grips, but frame designed for no rivets.

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

 

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.380 Prototype - Brown Grips

This gun has many of the characteristics of a production gun, such as a pinned barrel, standard extractor, inscription on top of the slide, and grip rivets, but it does not have a serial number in the usual location on the left side of the frame, it does not have an ejector in the frame or a magazine safety, nor does it have any proof marks.  There is a number stamped on the back of the grip tang.  I classify this gun as an intermediate prototype.

.380 Prototype with Brown Grips

Serial Number

6360 on grip tang

Barrel Type

Pinned

Barrel concentric grooves

.35 inches behind step

Barrel step

.27 inches

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Interim

Extractor Type

Production

Grips

Brown, Riveted

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Production

Slide Inscription

Standard Inscription

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

No grooves on thumb safety.

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.380 - Serial Number 7

This gun has many characteristics of a production gun, but still does not have an ejector in the frame, a magazine safety, production grips, nor any proof marks. It has a breech block with a removable tail, but has a spring-steel production extractor.  I classify this gun as a late prototype because it has a serial number, but it does not have a PA prefix like the gun below.  SN7 has several unusual features.  First of all, the slide sits forward on the frame about 1/16 inch--the only ill-fitting Remington 51 I have ever seen.  Yet, the action works smoothly and, judging from the condition of the gun, it has probably been shot quite a bit.  Secondly, the access hole on the right side of the gun, just above and behind the trigger, has a domed plug--the first of its type I’ve ever seen.  Finally, despite the fact that the magazine has an ejector spur, it is marked 380 CAL just like a production magazine.

.380, Serial Number 7

Serial Number

7

Barrel Type

Pinned

Barrel concentric grooves

Unmeasured

Barrel step

Unmeasured

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Interim

Extractor Type

Production

Grips

Black, No Rivets

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Interim Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

Domed plug, ill fitting slide,
and 380 CAL on magazine.

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.380 - Serial Number PA 23

This gun has many of the characteristics of a production gun, including the PA prefix in the serial number and an inscription on top of the slide, but still does not have an ejector in the frame, a magazine safety, nor any proof marks. It is unusual in that the barrel has the .380 CAL marking of a late production gun, but the breech block has a cartridge guide lug and the barrel has an extra notch for it.  The magazine also is marked 380 CAL, but has an ejector spur.  I classify this gun as a late prototype because it has a serial number.

.380, Serial Number PA 23

Serial Number

PA 23

Barrel Type

Pinned

Barrel concentric grooves

.28 inches behind step

Barrel step

.44 inches

Caliber Markings

.380 CAL

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Interim

Extractor Type

Production

Grips

Black, Riveted

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Interim Prototype

Slide Inscription

Standard Inscription

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

.380 CAL marking on a barrel which has Cartridge Guide Lug Notch

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.32 Prototype from the Cargyle Collection

This is one of two .32 prototypes I am aware of.  It has all the characteristics of a very early prototype, indicating that Remington had at least considered a .32 version before regular production of the .380 commenced.

.32 Prototype from the Cargyle Collection

Serial Number

None

Barrel Type

Helical Lugs

Barrel concentric grooves

None

Barrel step

.25 inches

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Prototype - with tail

Extractor Type

Spring & Plunger

Grips

Black, No rivets

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

None in frame

Unique Characteristics

Non-original magazine

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

Other Remington 51 Prototypes

I do not know the current location of the prototype once owned by Mr. Don Simmons.  Serial number 545 was reported by Mr. Simmons to be in the Wells Fargo Museum.  When I did some research on the internet, I found there are now eleven Wells Fargo museums.  I wrote to the curator at one of them, but never received a reply.  If anyone knows which museum holds this piece, I would love to know.  The .380 with the external hammer is in the collection of Mr. Charles Doty.  In 2004, Bob Hatfield gave a talk at the Remington Society Seminar on a serial number 2 which he had pictures of from a man in Houston, Texas.  I assume the gun is still in the possession of the gentleman from Houston.

Don Simmons’ .380 Prototype

Serial Number

None

Barrel Type

Helical Lugs

Barrel concentric grooves

None

Barrel step

Length unknown

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Prototype - with tail

Extractor Type

Spring & Plunger

Grips

Black, Riveted

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

None in frame

Unique Characteristics

Magazine missing

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.380, Serial Number 545

Serial Number

545

Barrel Type

Pinned

Barrel concentric grooves

None

Barrel step

Length unknown

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Interim

Extractor Type

Spring & Plunger

Grips

Black, Riveted

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Interim Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

 

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.380 with External Hammer

Serial Number

None

Barrel Type

Helical Lugs

Barrel concentric grooves

None

Barrel step

Length unknown

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Prototype - with tail

Extractor Type

Spring & Plunger

Grips

Black, no rivets

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

External Hammer

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

.380 Serial Number 2

Serial Number

2 (no prefix)

Barrel Type

Pinned

Barrel concentric grooves

Length unknown

Barrel step

Length unknown

Caliber Markings

None

Cartridge Guide Lug Notch *

Yes

Cartridge Guide Lug *

Yes

Breech Block Type

Unknown

Extractor Type

Unknown

Grips

Black, no rivets

Magazine Safety *

None

Magazine Catch Type

Interim Prototype

Slide Inscription

None

Ejector

On the Magazine

Unique Characteristics

 

* Characteristics shared by all known prototypes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2007 by Ed Buffaloe.  All rights reserved.
Click on the pictures to open a larger version in a new window.

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The guns shown in this article are from the J.B. Cargile Collection.
J.B. Cargile buys Remington 51s, lever action Winchesters,
Colt SAAs, and other rare and collectible guns.
He can be contacted at any
Saxet Gun Show or via email.

 

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