The gist of this Remington Model 1911 R1 review is that it’s well-made, accurate, made in the USA and you can basically get one for a song these days. If you want a basic Government frame 1911, it’s a great choice. My pictures turned out lousy (I know, I know; I’m buying a camera soon) so you’ll just have to deal with it.
In the broad strokes, this is an all-American GI pistol with a blued steel frame, parkerized slide and walnut grips. The barrel and barrel bushing are stainless steel, and the mainspring housing is the straight model from the original M1911.
This is intentional, as Remington made a small production run of M1911 pistols for the military towards the end of WWI, which the R1 is meant to pay tribute to.
It’s close to the gun that John Moses Browning bestowed upon us (and the army). By now, we all pretty much know what a basic GI pistol is like, so there’s no point in going over the parts of the gun that everyone’s already familiar with.
Big Green ships the R1 1911 in a big green box with two magazines, a bushing wrench, cable lock and an owner’s manual.
There are a couple of modern touches, however. First is the Series 80 firing system (love it or hate it) for safer carrying. Second is the sights, which is are simultaneously one of the best and worst things about the Remington R1.
The sights are modern white dot sights with a dovetailed front sight in lieu of the standard pinned front blade sight. They’re more visible than standard GI sights, which makes for easier shooting.
Unfortunately, Remington opted to use a proprietary dovetail cut for the rear sight. (The front is a Novak dovetail cut.) Upgrading requires you buy XS sights – the only aftermarket producer who makes sights for the Remington dovetail cut – or having the slide milled to a different dovetail cut. Doing so will void the warranty (during the three-year warranty period) unless it’s done by a Remington-approved shop.
Build quality on the R1 is excellent for an entry level pistol. Barrel-to-bushing and bushing-to-slide fit are tight and slide-to-frame fit is very good as well. After a few years of use it may loosen up, but most will need a bushing wrench for takedown.
Shooting it is classic 1911. It fits the hand incredibly well, almost naturally guiding the hand into a high, tight grip and pointing as if an extension of the hand. With the white dot sights, sight acquisition is easy. Recoil is ample compared to the garden variety 9mm, but very manageable in this 38 oz. gun, even if shooting one-handed.
The trigger is your basic Series 80 trigger. There’s a hint of creep, but very short travel, with a firm break at the end and no real stacking to speak of. As good as a custom shop 1911 trigger pull? No. Better than most plastic pistols? You bet.
The moderate bore axis, intuitive aiming and long sight radius make it very accurate, which is part of the appeal of the 1911 platform. It doesn’t take much to start hitting the 10 ring inside 25 yards.
Testing consisted of a mix of Remington UMC 230 grain FMJ hardball, with a few rounds of Speer Gold Dot 230-grain JHP just to see how it it fed. Hollow points fed just fine, since this isn’t the 70’s anymore. However, to honor that decade which transpired before my birth, anyone that feels like making nasty comments on this post must do so by paraphrasing Pink Floyd lyrics, or else my feelings won’t be hurt by them. You better shine on, you crazy diamonds, if you expect me to feel saddened by your incisive broadsides.
There was a hiccup, one failure to feed during a 150-round shooting session. The polymer posse is probably already headed to the comment section, but this happened with a factory magazine. I switched to my own 1911 seven round magazines and had no more issues. The difference between them, of course, is that the factory magazines say “Remington” on them and the 1911 magazines I use with my 1911 pistol say “Wilson Combat” on them.
Those of us who have actual experience with the 1911 pistol know full well that most factory magazines should go straight in the trash (or at least the springs and followers should) and be replaced with a few Wilson, Chip McCormick or – if strapped for funds – MecGar magazines, especially if you plan to carry it.
Overall, this is a well-made basic Government 1911 pistol that’s made right here in the US of A.
Fortunately for frugal consumers, Remington is a relative Johnny-Come-Lately to handguns. Since the brand’s reputation has suffered in recent years due to some quality issues a few years back, the Remington name commands less of a premium than it once did. That works in your favor now as their quality has improved and you don’t need to pay anything close to MSRP.
I’ve occasionally found the Model 1911 R1 online for around $450. Not barely used, new.
Ergo, if you want an entry-level 1911 pistol that gives you the basic 1911 experience, is well-made, looks good and shoots accurately…more bang for the buck will be hard to come by.
Specifications: Remington Model 1911 R1
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Overall Height: 5.5 inches
Width: 1.2 inches at the grips
Unloaded weight: 38.5 oz
MSRP: $749 (about $550 street)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy * * * *
Tight lock-up for a factory gun and bigger sights than the standard GI units make for easy paper-punching.
Reliability * * *
The factory magazines aren’t great, but that’s par for the 1911 course. Part of the price of admission to the 1911 pistol is lousy factory mags and buying some Wilson Combat, McCormick or other aftermarket magazines unless you’re getting a custom shop gun.
Ergonomics * * * *
The reason why this low-capacity, slab-sided lunk of a pistol stays so popular is because it fits so darn well in the hand and points so intuitively. Always has, always will.
Customize This * * * *
One star off because of the sights, though the rear sight cut can be changed if desired. Other than that, literally every single part on this gun can be upgraded or changed.
Aesthetics * * * *
There’s something about a blued pistol and walnut grips, and especially a 1911 pistol thusly appointed. While not shockingly gorgeous, the Model 1911 R1 is a classic beauty like Marilyn Monroe, first-generation Corvettes, Gibson Les Paul guitars and plenty of other things I could mention. Few guns of the same price point are as good-looking.
Overall * * * *
Fit and finish are better than almost any other gun that you’ll find for the same price point unless you pay close to MSRP, which – again – is easily avoided. If you can’t be accurate with a 1911 pistol, you’re probably doing something wrong. The only mechanical issue that you’re likely to suffer is due to a known quantity with this pistol system and easily corrected. Build quality is excellent, and it’s made in the USA. It can easily be found for less than $600. As entry level 1911 pistols go…it’s hard to find a better gun relative to the price point.