A couple of years ago, I made a tremendous mistake as an editor. I chose to run the then-new Remington R51 on the cover based on a review of a pre-production sample by a trusted writer. My thinking was: “Remington has been around for 200 years, and the company makes iconic rifles and shotguns that are awesome. Therefore, this new handgun—based on an 80-year-old design—must be good. Besides, Remington assured us that the production guns will be the same as the pre-production test model.” I was wrong. The actual initial production run of the R51 was disastrous.
While the handmade samples sent to the many outdoor writers who first saw the pistol worked quite well, Remington simply could not mass produce the design at that time. The guns just did not work, and I justifiably took heat for the decision to run the review.
To repent, I decided to torture test Remington’s next handgun introduction, the RM380. Over the past year, I’ve put more than 1,000 rounds through this diminutive .380 ACP pocket pistol and carried it often. At no point did I clean the gun during the torture-test period, nor did I wear gloves when shooting, so I, too, was tortured; putting 1,000 rounds through a gun this small is not fun. Fortunately, as you will discover, the Huntsville, AL-made, production-line RM380 I tested exhibited nearly perfect reliability and was great to carry in a pocket. But first, some background on the design.
In early 2014, Remington Outdoor Company quietly purchased Rohrbaugh Firearms, a Long Island, NY-based boutique manufacturer of high-quality (and extremely expensive) pocket pistols. Most famous for the recoil-operated R9, chambered in—drum roll—9 mm, the company also had a variant of the R9 that was essentially identical to the 9 mm, but chambered in .380 ACP called the R380. Rohrbaugh’s pistol’s had an excellent reputation for quality amongst the very few people who could afford a pocket pistol that retailed for more than $1,000. A major reason why the guns were so expensive was the company’s lack of economy of scale. Rohrbaugh simply could not manufacture that many guns. Most of the parts used in both the R9 and the R380 were OEM, and therefore had to be purchased prior to assembly. Moreover, as a boutique shop, Rohrbaugh simply lacked the resources of a massive conglomerate like Remington Outdoor Company.