Concealed Carry 9mm Pistol Comparison: Remington R51, Ruger LC9s and Walther PPS M2
"It is essential to bear in mind that the single most critical factor remains penetration. While penetration up to 18 inches is preferable, a handgun bullet MUST reliably penetrate 12 inches of soft body tissue at a minimum." (Handgun Wounding Factors and Effectiveness, FIREARMS TRAINING UNIT FBI ACADEMY QUANTICO, VIRGINIA July 14, 1989).
It was the Miami shoot-out of April 11, 1986, that gave the 9mm Luger cartridge a bad name in US law enforcement. However, the real culprit was a simple one: all but one of the eight FBI agents that engaged were bad shots and they had no rifle, whereas M.L. Platt had one, a Ruger Mini-14.
Platt finally expired after being shot twelve times, the last time by a Special Agent who remembered to focus on the front sight of his .38 Special revolver and squeeze the trigger. Now, thirty years later, the F.B.I. and other Federal agencies are going back to the 9x19mm, awarding an $85 million contract to Glock for 9mm pistols to replace the .40 S&W Glocks that were standard issue from 1997 onward.
As it turns out, the penalties of going away from the 9mm Luger cartridge proved too severe, including less magazine capacity, more recoil and no discernible benefit in performance. The .40 S&W is also less accurate, meaning most folks shoot 9x19mm more accurately.
Handguns suitable for carry are not particularly lethal. The Vanderbilt University Medical Center, over a five year period ending with fiscal year 2001, treated 1,302 victims of gunshot wounds. Patients treated at VUMC for gunshot wounds have an average survival rate of about 80 percent. About 60 percent of these patients of all ages are treated and discharged directly to home. Two percent of VUMC's gunshot victims are discharged directly to jail.
Handgun lethality is largely random, luck of the draw, or roulette, according to Dr. Martin L. Fackler and Dr. Vincent J. M. Di Maio. Not only is the survival rate 80%, but if a gunshot victim's heart is still beating upon arrival at VUMC, the survival rate is roughly 95%.
Some are surprised at this, but the stupidity of Chicago, Illinois shows that guns are not nearly as lethal as often portrayed. The preliminary totals for Chicago in 2016 are 4,376 shot, 3,663 shot and wounded, 713 shot and killed for a 16.29% mortality rate. In 80.3% of these cases, the shooter is unknown and there was no arrest.
Sure, handguns are potentially lethal, regardless of cartridge, but only potentially and lethality isn't the point if you are forced to use a firearm for self-defense. The goal is to stop the attack.
I have handgun hunted on and off for years, but those guns are not remotely suited for concealed carry, or even home defense. My scoped Ruger Super Redhawk .44 Remington Magnum weighs over 4-1/4 pounds. In actual self-defense use, I have had to use a gun exactly once in my life, an IJ-70a Makarov .380, and it did the job.
There isn't as much difference in accuracy between pistols as some folks like to think. The main difference is more often you and I, not the gun. Heavier guns, whether handguns, shotguns, or rifles, are more stable and easier to shoot well. They are also more pleasurable to shoot, up to a point. It is hard to get away from this. Unfortunately, heavy, bulky, long and stable do not make for a practical concealed carry firearm.
Whenever I do comparisons like this, I am reminded that none of these models are California approved or available in Massachusetts. The Second Amendment remains a second class right in several states and American citizens are legislated out of the right to protect their families. As with most gun laws, criminals remain unaffected.
The three pistols featured in this comparison are all striker-fired, sub-compact models. They are 9x19mm autoloading pistols intended primarily for concealed carry.
The Ruger LC9s is noticeably lighter than the Remington and the Walther. This makes it easier to carry, but the least comfortable to shoot.
The little magazine extension on the supplied seven round magazine is needed to keep my pinky from dangling in the air. A rather expensive nine round accessory magazine is available from Ruger.
The trigger is light enough at 5 pounds 2 ounces, but has excessive take-up before you get to the business portion of the pull. There is a Glock style trigger blade safety.
Take down is easy, as you decock by pulling the trigger then knock out a pin with a punch. The pistol is, overall, a big improvement over the original LC9, which was introduced in 2011. Ruger does not have a written warranty, but does have a good customer service record for taking care of their customers.
Walther PPS M2
The blocky-looking Walther PPS M2 feels and shoots a lot better than it looks. Early in 2016, when I first started evaluating it, I felt it was the best new sub-compact pistol of 2016. At 6.1 pounds, it has a bit heavier, but far crisper, trigger pull than the Ruger. There is a Glock style trigger blade safety.
I needed to use the (supplied) extended magazine to give purchase for my little finger. Take-down is easy, as it is tool-less Glock style.
I am far more accurate with it than with the Ruger, although the sights are mounted lower than the Ruger and Remington. It was easy to keep a magazine full of Hornady 115 grain Critical Defense loads inside of three inches at 10 yards shooting off-hand. This is quite sufficient accuracy for intimate self-defense.
The PPS M2 is a significant improvement over the prior Walther PPS of 2007, given the latter's wacky trigger guard magazine release. The PPS M2 loses the dual back straps of the PPS Classic and clearly has a better trigger than the original PPS. The PPS M2 is also less expensive than the original PPS, although significantly more expensive than the Ruger and Remington sub-compact pistols.
The sleek looking Remington R51 was the last of this trio to make it to me for review. It is a substantially different design than either the Ruger or the Walther, both of which are Glock-inspired.
Replacing a plastic frame with aluminum alloy, the Remington is better balanced and handles better than the Walther. It also has a lighter trigger (slightly over four pounds) with a short take-up. The magazine release is ambidextrous.
Rather than rely on a Glock-type (trigger blade) safety, it has a grip safety. Take down is certainly more involved than the Walther, but not especially difficult after you have done it a couple of times.
The R51 is the easiest of the bunch to shoot well. Being heavier, it kicks slightly less than the Walther and significantly less than the Ruger. It also has less muzzle jump than either, so accurate follow-up shots are faster.
Features and Specifications
2017 RETAIL PRICE (per Gander Mountain)
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The Remington R51 features essentially all metal construction, superior balance and handling, less muzzle rise, ambidextrous magazine release, a light and short take-up trigger. These factors combine to make the R51 an easy winner in this comparison.
It is a good idea to rent the model or models of handgun in which you are interested at your local pro shop / shooting range and take them for a test drive. A big variable is always the human factor and personal preference. Hands-on experience will not only tell you what is right, but also what is right for you.
Copyright 2017 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.