I’ve shot Remington 1911s before. But those guns were more than 60-years-old. So I was interested to see if Remington could carry on some of the glory of those old guns from WWII with their new Commander-sized 1911 carry gun.

With a satin grey/blue of the finish evenly applied throughout the pistol, the R1 Carry Comander looks more expensive than it is ($799 online). It’s not a barbeque gun (a phrase I had never heard in my life until this website), but it exudes quality.

Remington’s smoothed-out the edges on the R1’s all steel slide and frame. There’s no rounded heel, but I wouldn’t want one. I’ve never had a problem with the heel of the grip sticking into me as I carried. If you do, this R1’s not for you.

I prefer the full-length of the flat mainspring housing running all the way down to the end of the grip. That gives me just enough real estate to put my entire hand on the gun, but no more.

The Remington R1’s grip is well made, especially at this price point. There’s full checkering on the front and back strap. The checkered bump of the safety blends in with the mainspring housing. Combined with simple checkered walnut grips, I had great control of the Commander-sized .45ACP.

The R1’s ambidextrous safety snaps on and off quickly. The magazine release is well textured and quick to respond. The R1 maintains the tradition of a well done bushing-to-barrel fit and a short GI-style guide rod.

There are no forward cocking serrations, and the script is kept fairly minimal on both sides of the slide. The R1’s ejection port is lowered and flared, thankfully standard on just about every modern 1911. The Remington’s trigger well is beveled, but only slightly.

The R1’s curved and textured aluminum trigger is good, but no more. It has very little pre-travel, breaking with a small amount of grit at four pounds, right in line with the 3.5 to five pound range listed on the Remington site.

The question is, why is there a 1.5 pound variation? Half a pound, I get. I usually can’t feel the difference between 2.5 and three pound triggers. But a pound a half on a 3.5 to 5lb trigger is more than I’ve seen from any of the other 1911s I’ve reviewed. Perhaps that’s a misprint on the site.

For those of you who haven’t carried a commander-sized 1911, there are very few firearms with a 4.25-inch barrel that carry as easily and conceal as well. In a quality IWB holster, a commander-framed 1911 disappears even under a fitted T-shirt. The R1 Carry Commander is no exception. In my El Paso Saddlery Summer Cruiser IWB holster, it isn’t seen until I want it to be, and draws quickly and easily.

There are a few things odd on this gun that make me wonder if it is exclusive to this individual testing and evaluation pistol, or more indicative of the full line.

There was some obvious wear on my testing sample, with the finish rubbed off just below the left side thumb safety. No doubt the gun’s been extensively used for prior testing. Along the same lines, the Remington website says that the front sight is on the Carry Commander is tritium. It certainly looks like a tritium vial placed inside the front sight, but it doesn’t glow like one. In fact, it doesn’t glow at all. Again, I’ll assume this is due to a gun that’s seen a lot of prior testing.

I’ve carried a similar sized, but lighter weight aluminum framed 1911 in .45ACP for while now, just recently switching to the double stack 2011 9mm for my EDC. So there were no big surprises for me on the range.

Any .45ACP is going to exhibit some recoil out of smaller gun, but at 36 oz. empty, the R1 delivers a little more than it should. I’m still trying to figure out why the recoil was so sharp; I can’t quite put my finger on it.

As far as comfortable shooting however, my hand knew exactly what was going on. After the first 200 rounds, I had a blister rubbed into the web of my firing hand right at the base of my thumb (and I shoot about a 1,000 rounds a month with a 1911).

The Carry Commander’s grip safety has a sharp, slightly raised edge where it meets the frame. Note the shape compared to my Colt Combat Elite.

I wouldn’t likely notice it with just a few magazines down range, but over a weekend course, it would almost certainly leave me bleeding. Two other shooters noticed it as well.

I had another problem with the grip safety of the R1 — one I have some 1911s, such as the current Marine Corp Colt M45A1. With a good high single-hand grip, sometimes the meat of my thumb doesn’t depress the thumb safety far enough to disengage it. The gun won’t fire.

No other person I had handle or shoot the R1 had this problem. If you’ve ever had that problem on a 1911 before, it’s something to watch out for. In searching the web, it’s clear I’m not the only one who’s experienced this.

Meanwhile, Remington can definitely boast about the R1’s absolutely perfect reliability. Other than those few times the safety didn’t engage quickly with a single hand grip, I had zero issues. I lubed it lightly with some Slip 2000 prior to my first shots at the range. After that, I did not lube, clean or disassemble the gun until I was finished with 560 total rounds.

The gun didn’t malfunction with FMJ rounds from three different manufacturers, and had similarly perfect reliability scores with JHPs from five other companies. I used the supplied magazines, as well as others from STI and Wilson Combat. Three different shooters shot the gun over a four-day period and it ran like a champ for everyone.

I was also impressed with the Carry Commander’s accuracy. Oddly enough. the Remington Ultimate Defender 230gr JHP was the worst performing round. It printed 2.4-inch five-round groups off a bag at 25 yards. The CapArms 230gr XTP round scored similar to most of the FMJ rounds I fired, at 2.25-inch groups.

I didn’t have any lighter commercial rounds on hand, so I used the carry load shoots well out of my STI Duty One 4.0: a 185gr Hornady XTP bullet pushed with 6.3 grains of TiteGroup. The hand load produced groups hovering a hair under two inches. Choose any round and get good accuracy. Roll your own, or just be very picky, and get very good accuracy.

I’m hoping the finish wear and tritium problems were just the result of a heavily-used T&E gun. Those issues aside, the R1 Carry Commander is a very good pistol for the price. The R1’s uncomfortable grip safety can either be replaced or de-horned, if that’s a problem common with this model. The Remington R1 Carry Commander’s overall build, reliability and accuracy make it an excellent gun at a reasonable price.

Specifications: 1911 R1 Carry Commander

Caliber: .45ACP
Magazine capacity: 7 rounds
Barrel length: 4 1/4″
Overall length: 7 1/2″
Overall height: 5 1/2″
Trigger pull weight: 3 1/2 – 5 pounds
Finish: Carbon steel
Grips: Walnut
MSRP: $1,067.00 (easily found online for $799)

Appearance and Style: * * * * 
A very good looking gun, with traditional styling.

Ergonomics: * * *
Machine dehorning isn’t hand dehorning, and no one should expect it to be. That said, the sharp grip safety edge should be addressed.

Reliability * * * * *
Exceptional.

Accuracy * * * *
Remington got right the parts they had to get right. I was surprised at the small groups from a relatively inexpensive commander-sized 1911. I wasn’t surprised once I opened up the gun. Remington paid attention building in a quality barrel with good barrel-to-bushing fit. The rest is gravy.

Overall * * * *
This is very good gun for the price. Assuming a good tritium front sight, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick one up. The important parts —  accuracy and reliability — are all there.

26 Responses to Gun Review: Remington 1911 R1 Carry Commander .45 Pistol

  1. Someone might have thrown it into a sonic cleaner and that ruined the tritium vial. I had my Coonan at at range in Vegas that did free sonic cleanings at the end of your range session and it trashed the front vial on mine.

  2. Could it possibly be that The Recoil spring was worn out in the gun causing the sharp recoil pulse you are feeling? Is it possible they sent you a gun that had thousands upon thousands around shot through it and they didn’t replace the recoil spring assembly? That’d be my guess.

  3. Re the front sight, just using the gun won’t make the tritium decay early, but if they installed an empty vial, either as an oops or on propose for whatever reason, that could be it. (There are some places so strict about radionuclides, even my tritium watch dial was verboten.) Or, as a previous poster noted, an ultrasonic cleaning could have spalled the phosphor off, although I hadn’t heard of that before.

    If the shock of shooting opened up a crack in the vial, that would be surprising; this a .45, after all, not the dreaded hyperballistic 0.9mm.

    Maybe ask Remington?

  4. “For those of you who haven’t carried a commander-sized 1911, there are very few firearms with a 4.25-inch barrel that carry as easily and conceal as well. ”

    I take issue with this statement.

    A Glock 17 is smaller in every dimension than a 1911 Commander, even without an ambi safety, except it’s .1″ longer. The barrel is even longer than the Commander. It also holds 17 rounds, and weighs less loaded or empty, 10 or 12oz respectively. You’d have to carry a spare magazine to equal the capacity of the loaded 17.

    I’m not a Glock (or any modern pistol) fanboy, I use it as an example because it’s a known quantity, and I do happen to have one. I used to carry a Springfield Armory Champion (Stainless Commander), Springfield Armory Micro Compact (Officer), and presently carry a Dan Wesson CCO (AL Officer frame with Commander slide), so I think one can understand I dislike the 1911. I love the 1911 history and lineage. It handles great. It shoots great. The small ones are fairly easy to carry concealed.

    But after being beaten about the brain with the realities of modernity such as multiple assailants, concealed carry becoming more popular, vast improvements in ammunition leading the 9MM to be every bit as effective as .45, and more and more choices of *good* modern pistols, in my opinion it is harder and harder to justify the 1911 as much more than a range toy. We are talking carry here, not aesthetics.

    I’ve owned and carried a Springfield Armory Champion, a Micro Compact, and presently a Dan Wesson CCO. I’m not going to stop carrying the 1911, but I’m not sure why. Probably because I’ve invested in it, not because it’s more practical. I’m not saying this to start a huge discussion. But the facts don’t seem to align with the quoted statement, and if we base decisions strictly on fact, the 1911 is a lot harder to justify, and I don’t think many that espouse the virtues of the 1911 are using fact when doing so. If we were talking a “real” 1911, this might be a different conversation. But this article is about a gun that is apparently supposed to be carried, presumably used for self defense, which just so happens to be 1911 derived. That opens it up to comparison to other pistols that are also designed to be carried and used for self defense, especially when making statements like “For those of you who haven’t carried a commander-sized 1911, there are very few firearms with a 4.25-inch barrel that carry as easily and conceal as well.”

    • My Officer 1911 conceals much easier than any double stack 9mm I’ve ever had. Even on a single side safety 1911 that adds to the width measurement, but it’s just over that tiny area, the rest of the handgun is noticeably thinner…

      • “My Officer 1911 conceals much easier than any double stack 9mm I’ve ever had. ”

        I can see where slide thickness would help in not needing as much waistband to hold it. However, the gun is held against your body. The wider 1911 grip is what is going to push against your body, depending on holster.

        And generally, in my experience, a tiny projection is worse than a larger one. In the case of a safety with a leather holster though, I’ve not noticed it.

    • Glock 17 slide width: 1.18″
      1911 slide width: 0.91″

      1911s are a lot slimmer than Glocks, when it comes to concealability, that’s what’s important.

      • “1911s are a lot slimmer than Glocks, when it comes to concealability, that’s what’s important.”

        This guy took pics. If you ignore actual width when measuring width, your statement is correct:

        http://s831.photobucket.com/user/dyeager535/media/Guns%20and%20hunting/Glock%20vs%201911/0327172052.jpg.html

        Don’t forget, that’s only a single safety as well, and even THAT is not factored into the width difference. With no safety at all, a 1911 is wider than a Glock.

        • The rounded shape of 1911 grip panels is a lot easier to conceal than the 2×4 like grip of a Glock. Also there are some real slim 1911 grips out there, some as thin as an 1/8″, remember the 1911 frame is only 0.75″ wide. If you do not understand this, I am guessing you don’t own either of the pistols being discussed.

          I EDC a commander size 1911 at work because it is easier to hide than my G19.

      • “If you do not understand this, I am guessing you don’t own either of the pistols being discussed.”

        I am guessing based on this statement, you didn’t read my comments that you are commenting on.

        The butt on a 1911 is sharper. The 1911 slide is longer. The butt of the Commander is almost a full inch longer than the G19. The 1911 has a beavertail that protrudes from the rear of the frame. The glock already has a cut off frame at the rear (only done on bobtail 1911’s). Rugers lightweight commander (AL frame) is STILL 20% heavier than a G19. A steel frame commander is 36% heavier. That does not help me with concealability, as I don’t wear suspenders on a daily basis.

        Comparing a true commander to the G19 isn’t even apples to oranges. In no way other than slide width, is the commander smaller. A larger dimensioned gun that conceals better? Color me skeptical. However, personal preference and experience is whatever it is.I don’t know how you can conceal a wider, longer, sharper butt more easily than the opposite. Good on you if you’ve found a way. I’m taking you at your word, even though you chose not to apparently.

  5. I almost bought a 5″ version a month or so ago but ended up going with a stainless ‘Enhanced’ model instead. They were both ‘old new stock’ and they said the tritium sight might not be as bright. So I did a little research and found that they have a half life of 12 years so that was a minus for the Carry model. But I bid on it first and when someone outbid me I settled for the Enhnaced. $585 shipped, I think I did alright. Those grips and blued (not parkerized [Springfield Armory]) finish are pretty though.

    • I’ve got a Yugoslav AK I bought in ’88 (?) that has tritium, and it still glows. Maybe not as bright, but visible in darkness. I think you’ll see a long life out of tritium sights in general.

      • It wasn’t a deal breaker, but I figured you’d want to swap them out every 12 years or so and if I’m getting an already 5 or 6 year old firearm… But it takes 24 years to reach 25% and 36 to reach 12.5% etc. so maybe they are bright enough to not be a concern.

        • If my dad’s experience is anything to go by 25 years is often enough. New tritium sights are darn bright if they’re well made.

        • “If my dad’s experience is anything to go by 25 years is often enough.”

          Tritium’s half-life is about 12 years, so if it was fresh tritium, after 12 years will still be quite bright, and even 12 after that, still bright enough to use. And likely functional longer than that.

          And as you mentioned, all new tritium vials are *not* made the same. Those with better phosphor coatings and having more of the gas in them will be brighter.

          There’s a very strong incentive for manufacturers to cheap out on the gas, one number I’ve heard tossed about is 30,000 USD per *gram*…

  6. No surprise there, even coming from Remington. The 1911 platform is a lot like pizza; the design is so foolproof by this point that it doesn’t take much to make a good or even great one, and to make it truly bad you need to either cut a lot of corners in throwing it together, or put some weird crap on it that nobody likes.

    • You can never go wrong with a Ru ger, but Remi ngton has 3 lines of R1s and this is the top model.

  7. I don’t know why it wouldn’t be a decent BBQ gun. Not everyone can afford a Brown or Wilson 1911, and a nicely blued, wood stocked R1 looks plenty good to me. I’ve never felt the need to bling up my guns to impress someone though. As a bonus it also seems quite functional,

  8. I had a Remington 1911a1 about 1966 in Vietnam. Folks told me it was Remington Rand, the office machine company.

    • You may have had a Remington Rand M1911A1 made between 1942 and 1945. I don’t think that the Army had any new 1911s made for ‘Nam and Remington Rand was acquired by Sperry Corp. in 1955.

      You were carrying a piece of history!

  9. Where is all the Remington and 1911 haters? This gun was more reliable on TTAGs testing that any in recent memory. They probably hated the fact that they couldn’t hate on two of their favorite targets.

  10. I would like to buy one of these but I’m still holding out for the Para-Ordnance products to get integrated into the Remington line. I want my R1911 Warthog, damnit!

  11. I carried my standard R1 for years, until I could afford a second hand gun decided to switch. It’s never failed to run. My ONLY complaint was the finish, both the actual black oxide and the (lack of) finish machining. The oxide showed surface rust after just ONE DAY in a leather holster, and I had slag and machining marks so deep it wore the finish off the slide.

    If they fixed the QC issues I’d give them another shot…

  12. I got one for 556 ,+ 100 MIR, you can’t beat that with a stick, considering this gun is a “looker” and was priced a 1300 a year or two ago. For the value of a cheap ATI or Titan pistol, or other chealo gun, you get a quality gun worth a thousand bucks even in this market. I could buy 3 Glocks for what these were going for at msrp.
    Now what the gun is really worth, it’s worth what the market will bare plus what you feel a real nicelly finished 1911, with beveled edges great sights, and a near perfect set of internals, and a beautiful finish.
    Other than hand fitting, it could shoot as well as a much higher Baer or, at least a Springer Trp, handgun. If you want a more narly tacticle look just throw a set of G10’s on it, and you have a “Special Operations Black Ops” style gun, lol.
    Bottom line is , Great looking and great shooting gun with better than average care taken in production. I owned the stock R1, when they first came out about 8 year ago, put a nice set or Sarge’s “Handler Grips” in burled Mahogany, and it shot 2″ groups right out of the box, “with the fuller grips”. I missed that gun since trading it for a more expensive EMP, which didn’t shoot nearly as well in 40. So I am thrilled with the gun, and advise you to pick one up while Remington continues to run the MIR on it. It is a score at this price, and if you hated it, you could easily get your money out of it any time.

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