1911R1_Full

(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Brad Peirson

I have this thing with image association. When someone says “truck” I picture a Chevy. When someone says “dog” I picture a Labrador. And when someone says “pistol” I picture a 1911. I don’t know where that one came from, but there are worse associations to have. I’m looking at you, Hi-Point.

That said, when it came time to buy my first pistol it was going to be a 1911. I only owned two guns: a single shot Winchester 12 gauge and a .22 rifle. Yet here I was, standing at the gun counter at my local Gander Mountain staring at an entire section of display case filled with 1911s. Luckily, given my limited firearms knowledge at the time, there was only one manufacturer I recognized. So, I went home with a shiny new Remington Model 1911 R1.

Now at that time I hadn’t yet joined the People of the Gun and had yet to discover TTAG on the interwebs. I was blissfully unaware of the quality problems plaguing Big Green. Quality problems which, sadly, take the R1 from being an excellent budget 1911 into strictly “meh” territory.

New from the dealer, the R1 comes with two 8-round Remington magazines, a barrel bushing wrench, and two sets of grip scales: standard wood and red/black G10 with a Remington “R” logo medallion inset. The G10 grips are definitely head-and-shoulders above the wood scales as far as feel in the hand, but they’re also the first place I noticed quality problems with the gun. I took the photo at the top from my R1’s good side, the other medallion having fallen out within two hours of taking it home.

1911R1_SlideWear

Another quality problem popped up during my first range trip. I noticed that the finish was wearing off the bottom of the slide near the muzzle. By now I had educated myself a little more and assumed the wear was caused by my Kydex holster. After all, the internet gun experts had told me that Kydex would chew through the finish on a gun just by being in the same room. But, when I broke the gun down for its first cleaning I noticed it wasn’t holster wear, but some casting slag left in the frame. The picture was taken recently, where the slide has actually worn away the most offensive material:

1911R1_FrameSlag

Those relatively minor quality concerns aside, I did notice something about the gun within my first couple of range trips: the thing is a tack driver. Prior to purchasing the R1 I had put maybe 30 rounds through a pistol in my lifetime. Even with such a fine pedigree I was punching holes in paper at 20 yards (twenty yards having “felt” like a good distance, I had no idea what actual pistol distances were…).

About a year after I bought the R1 I took my concealed carry class. That was, and still is, the best shooting day I’ve ever had. I was punching ragged holes in the 8 1/2” x 11” piece of paper that was our target. So much so that the instructor asked me to spread out my groups because he could no longer tell whether or not I was hitting the target.

Now in the interest of full disclosure, until I headed out to refresh myself for this review I hadn’t been on a proper range trip in almost three years. In fact I hadn’t put more than a magazine or two through any firearm in at least six months.

1911R1_Target

Being more than a little rusty, this is the best group I could muster. Out of practice I can still put them on minute of bad guy at 7 yards. Go ahead and take a minute to stop laughing before reading on.

Concealing the R1 led to what, I promise, is the last quality issue I’ve seen from the gun. That pitting occurred on the very first day of concealed carry in a Galco King Tuk. One. Day. After some investigation it turns out that Remington decided to use a “new” black oxide formulation on the R1. As an engineer, I’ve used black oxide on various pieces of tooling for years. It’s been around a VERY long time and is a decent rust preventer in ambient conditions. It doesn’t hold up well at all to any type of wear and even worse when moisture is held against it. Both things that are kind of a given in a leather holster. I’m also not a fan of someone telling me a process that’s been in use as long as black oxide has suddenly been improved.

Before I close this ramble I need to point out that the R1 comes in standard GI configuration. It took me all of 100 rounds to realize that 1911 hammer bite is not fun, so I outfitted mine with a Wilson Combat hammer and drop in beavertail. The beavertail is cut for a Colt profile frame, which the R1 is not. There is a significant gap.

I can say that despite the aesthetic I can’t feel the gap no matter how high I grip the gun. It dropped in without any fitting (which is almost guaranteed to never happen in a 1911) and got rid of the hammer bite, so it served it’s purpose.

Conclusion
The Remington R1 suffers from quite a few fit and finish issues, but at the end of the day it outshoots me. Even on a good day. In more than 3,000 rounds now I haven’t had one single malfunction. Ball ammo or hollow points. Blazer, PMC, Remington, Winchester, Hornady. It’s eaten them all and always come back hungry. Which is really all I ask for in a sub $1000 1911.

Specifications: Remington R1 1911

Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 5”
Overall Length: 8.5” (stock)
Weight: 38.5 oz.
Finish: Remington’s “new” black oxide
Capacity: 8+1
MSRP: $774

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style: * * * * *
Sure, I’m biased. But there are very few guns on the planet as pretty as a full-sized 1911.

Ergonomics: * * * * *
In the eternal battle of grip angle between a 1911 and GLOCK, I personally prefer the 1911. Personally. YMMV.

Reliability: * * * * *
3,000 rounds and counting and not a hiccup. I trusted my life to this gun for 2 years and would gladly do so again.

Customize This: * * * * *
Did I mention it’s a 1911?

Concealed Carry: * *
It’s not the R1’s fault, specifically, but the 1911 is a large, heavy gun that’s hard to hide. I’m a big guy and I get away with it, but a lot of people won’t.

Overall: * * * *
Overall the Remington R1 is a superb 1911. It’s even better if you compare its performance with 1911s going for twice the price. Where it falls short of a stellar review are the fit and finish problems that seem to plague a lot of Freedom Group’s offerings.

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43 Responses to Gun Review: Remington Model 1911 R1

  1. Your very generous on your stars given that the issues of the finish and fit. I know its accurate, however over time a rusting and pitting pistol for $750 will still become less reliable.

    • I like the 5 stars on “customize this,” since 1911s generally require gunsmithing knowledge to really customize.

      • I flip flopped on that too. I ended up seeing it as more a “parts are available” rating than a “plug and play” rating, FWIW.

    • The pitting all happened on day 1, I haven’t seen anything since. There’s no sign of any corrosion on any of the internals. I do keep the contact surfaces greased, and a healthy coat of oil on everything else.

      I cut the full story of CPL class day because it was getting longer than I wanted. Northern Michigan in April, 20 degrees and raining, shooting in the middle of an open field. During the 200 round course the R1 was the only pistol out there that day that didn’t malfunction, at all. Even a single action Vaquero next to me froze up, we had to warm up the cylinder to get it to rotate.

        • I’m not sure, I know it was a fairly new gun. I worked with the guy. It was his first handgun, bought it to get the CPL (not quite sure I get the logic, but hey…). When we get liquid rain in below freezing air temps it causes all kinds of fun…

      • I would just be concerned about the burring right from the factory, and the medallion falling off. Things like that nag at me and tell me that there was a lack of attention to detail at the factory. Just my 2 cents.

        • Worse: there’s a little hole in the scale behind each medallion. I assume it’s for glue squeeze out, but would be perfect for a little screw just to make sure….

  2. My first pistol was a stainless 1911 pattern pistol and when it worked it was amazingly accurate, but it would sometimes lock up part way through recoil and I had to hammer the slide closed before I could cycle the action again. Not great for a defensive pistol! That pistol and the company that produced it are long gone.

  3. I’d be curious for a side-by-side comparison against a comparable Ruger GI-Style 1911. Those two are usually the names that come up when someone wants a good 1911 without spending a ton of money.

    Given that Ruger owns Pine Tree Castings, I’m guessing their entry model also has a cast (not forged) frame, but I don’t know for sure.

    • Springfield too. My first was a A-1 Loaded model and it was fantastic. Great fit and finish and dead nuts reliable.

      • +1
        Springfield makes the best traditional GI 45 on the market today. It is well made and reliable. An excellent choice for a 1911 carry gun.

    • I like my Springfield Range Officer, but my R1 Enhanced is by far the more accurate gun. The latter is more tightly fitted, and yet the part move very smoothly. I don’t know what the finishing on the Enhanced is called, but it’s slick and durable.

  4. Cripes, that rough metal work looks like it was done by a Khyber Pass trainee washout the day after the poppy crop was harvested.

    At least we now know what the ‘b’ in piersonb stands for, thank goodness your parents didn’t name you “Butch”… 🙂

    • I was going to say “you could click my avatar and see my name” but apparently the new design doesn’t do that anymore. Never saw much point in hiding online, more fun when they KNOW who’s pissing them off.

    • Nice review but I’ll pass after seeing the inards. Hey Geoff you should catch(all of us should) Underworld Inc. from Natgeo channel. Extremely interesting “report” on “ghost guns”. Real ones especially 1911’s made in the jungle by Filipinos. With no machinery out of scrap metal. Smuggled and “finished” in the city. Sent to America and marked with fake serial #’s. And they look better than Remington…

      • In all fairness, FWW, *anything* looks better than Remington :).

        For those interested, Google this:

        Underworld Inc S01E01 Ghost Guns

        Soon as it downloads, I’ll check it out…

  5. I’ll be the first to admit that the 1911 fits my hand quite well. I just can’t get into the whole package. If I was to buy another .45 I would just get the glock 21 sf and call it good.

    And I’m not a glock fanboy, either.

  6. At least it doesn’t have a rail, there’s nothing uglier to me than a railed 1911.

    Speaking of which, I should try to get a Gen 2 GLOCK 19 before they’re too expensive.

      • And a fat weapon light ruins the slim lines of the 1911. Manufacturers are making them smaller in height, but even the tiny TLR-3/4 is a fat bugger. Works well on most polymer double stacks though.

  7. I’m going to guess that the way Remington “improved” the black oxide process was to find a way to cut corners and save 10 cents per gun, with predictable results. Thanks, Freedom Group!

  8. I keep considering Remington for a 1911 because I love my 700, but fit and finish does seem to be a bit off these days. This review will prod me to keep looking at other manufacturers.

  9. I usually don’t trust reader contest reviews, but Brad’s been commenting on this site for so long (and so well) that I regard him as honest and ethical. Good review, peirsonb.

  10. I’m just curious when you originally bought this 1911. As a dealer I’ve sold a few R1s over the last year and a half that didn’t have the fit/finish issues you speak of. Even bought one back from a gentleman who bought it new from me and after 100s of rounds brought it back because he just didn’t like the 1911 feel/look. I kept it for a while and put lots of rounds through it before selling it again. Great gun, wish I would have kept it.

    • Would have been late 2011/early 2012. I’m way too lazy to look up the link, but I think it was a post on 1911forum.com that made me originally think to check for slag.

      The surface rust I haven’t heard about anywhere else.

  11. Bought mine in April 2015. Paid $544 and go another $75 back on rebate. I’m pretty proud of scoring that deal.
    I love mine. Don’t have any of the fit and finish issues you discussed, most likely because our guns were made years apart and processes are always changing.

    I have had some feeding issues with the last round of the magazine. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the issue yet but I think it’s the Remington factory mags. I use some of the other 1911 mags and have zero hiccups.

    The 1911 world can seem intimidating and overwhelming to get into sometimes. For me, this was my first 1911 and was the perfect price/qualtiy to get my feet wet.

    Thanks for the review peirsonb!

    • Given the timeline of Remington’s move to Huntsville, its a good bet Brad’s R1 was made in their New York facility, and yours was made in the new Alabama facility.

      What does it say for MFG location next to your serial number on the frame?

      • Mine was made in Ilion.

        Did they change the engraving when they moved? I’ve seen other, non gun manufacturers stamp everything with the headquarters location. Location, in those cases, is encoded in the serial number. I’m not sure if gun manufacturers operate that way or not.

    • Yeah, I was a little shocked at the $774 msrp. I looked it up for the review. I seem to recall snagging mine for right at the $600 mark.

  12. I enjoyed your review. When I got on my 1911 kick, I picked up an R1 after my Ruger SR1911 and Para Ordinance Expert. I never had any problems with mine and I put about 2000 rounds through it before I sold it.

  13. its obvious you like the gun.

    its obvious its accurate.

    its obvious remington has not had their shit together for quite some time and QC is a alien concept.

    Thanks for your time and the review.

    Remington is still dead to me.

    • I purchased an R1 in March 2016. Then a second in May 2016. I have had no problems with the finish or fit on either pistol with more than 2000 rounds through each. There were some problems with the Remington-supplied magazines with failure to feed issues, so I purchased some Wilson Combat magazines and had no further problems with ammunition feeding. Nor did I ever have problems with hammer bite. Perhaps it is a hand-size issue. I am very impressed with the pistol, both from a functionality issue and from an image perspective. The stock R1 with walnut grips and no embellishments almost looks like I could have picked it up on Utah beach shortly after the invasion. It may have taken Remington some time to get the quality control right, but I plan to keep my R1s for a long time.

  14. I have the stainless r1s and love it, shoot hostage style targets at 25 yrds as part of my practice. and it groups wonderfully. even doing fast follow up shots are decently tight. only problem I have really had is when using tulla ammo. I need to black out the front white dots on the sites.as it would probably help speed up my quick shots. used to both eyes open and focusing on front sight. plus it conceals pretty decent with a in the waste holster,but I am big enough to pull it off,

  15. I would leave gun reviews to someone with more real gun experience than you. The Remington 1911 R-1 is a POS, and Remington should return to the Remington of Old with quality control and sticking to what they know rifles and shotgun.

  16. As of 05/17/2017 they are $399 now after $100 rebate. Despite the quality issues I guess I can’t resist at that price.

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