An interesting oddity on the block

Remington Model 81, CSP

Remington Model 81, CSP

It’s a documented Remington Model 81 Special Police Rifle, ex-Connecticut State Police, on the block at GunBroker. ┬áThe sellers are asking a metric crapton of money for it, but it’s that rare a gun that they just might get it.

The Model 81 was an outgrowth of John Browning’s Model 8, and a close cousin to his autoloading long-recoil shotgun. It was also, reportedly, one of the weapons that Mikhail Kalashnikov (who is, incidentally, reported to be unwell) had for a reference when he was designing his AK in the 1940s. The selector lever-cum-dust-guard, the magazine release (which is, to be sure, similar to the 1930s Tokarev or Simonov semi-auto mag release, so Kalashnikov’s borrowing could easily have been indirect), and the general arrangement of the weapon are among the several areas that show either Remington 8 DNA or convergent evolution in the Kalashnikov automatic weapons. The factory 15-round-mag, which it’s unclear whether Connecticut State Police ever used, has a profile view much like an AK; the .30 Remington has a similar taper, but the early gun’s mag is single-column.

Catalog page from the Collector Grade Publications book on the Model 8 and 81.

Catalog page from the Collector Grade Publications book on the Model 8 and 81.

Under the nation’s earliest assault weapon ban, the auction weapon apparently had a short magazine when discharged from the CSP, if not on its acquisition, but a catalog photo shows that these weapons originally had the curved magazine.

There are other parts of the Remington 8/81 that went on to inspire other designers. The bolt handle with its unusual two holes for a spanner wrench should be familiar to Johnson fans, for instance. As an early example of a successful centerfire semi-auto rifle, the Remington birthed a worldwide revolution that’s still ongoing.

This particular instance was one of the earliest and bears a low serial number (10003). It was shipped to Connecticut in 1940 and disposed of in 1950 (the disposal bill of sale is one of the hundreds of photos at the link).

The Remington Model 81 had attractive lines and an effective cartridge.

The Remington Model 81 had attractive lines and an effective cartridge.

The Special Police models were available only to police departments as departmental weapons. The factory engraved them with “Police Weapon: Property of ” on manufacture, and added the department name when the weapons were sold.

In the days before Police Tactical Teams or SWAT, rifles were used more to dispatch injured animals than to engage barricaded criminals, so buys tended to be few and small. Some police departments never dispose weapons to the public, and the Remington Rimless cartridges (.30, .32, and .35) for which these guns were chambered, once very popular with big-game hunters, have fallen out of fashion — and production, rendering them a handloading project for anyone looking to fire these weapons. When factory-loaded cartridges ceased to be regularly available, treasured old 8s and 81s became much less treasured, which has cut down on their survival rates.

This example is also in remarkably good condition inside and out, as the photos document conclusively. That’s a beautiful rust blue on there, even in the photographs (we’d wager the blue is deeper and more beautiful in person than Nikon or Canon can show us). We want it for its historical significance and its pristine condition, but Model 8 and 81 guns change hands all the time for under $1k. But this would be a nice centerpiece for a Model 8 collection, for an early-semiautos collection, or for a police-rifles collection.

Update: Gee, that was quick. The auction was one-day only and has ended with no bids before our post could even go up. For the moment, the link still works, if you want to see scores and scores of Model 81 Special Police pictures.

5 thoughts on “An interesting oddity on the block

  1. Jim

    Stupid stupid stupid!..had one of the Model 8s in .35 Remington in my hands at my favorite guns n tackle shop years ago, but I thought the 200 dollar asking price was too high, and I had my eye on one of them “exotic” SKS’s that were just hitting the shelves at the time. Yeah I owned that SKS for awhile until I realized it wasnt anything special. That (mint condition) Remington was long gone by then. Live and learn I guess.

    1. Hognose Post author

      You don’t even want to know what I paid for Vietnam bringback SKSes. About five years before you could buy a barrel of them for a case of beer, and owe the guy the beer….

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