I’ve shot Remington 1911s before. But those handguns 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 barbecue 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 4 pounds, right in line with the 3.5- to 5-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 5-pound 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 (as all concealed carry weapons should 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 test gun, 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 boasts that the gun has “Novak sights with a tritium front night sight.” And 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. Both the front and rear sight are dovetailed.
I’ve carried a similarly 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 Remington 1911 R1’s beavertail 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 who handled or shot 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 ammo 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 230-grain JHP was the worst performing round. It printed 2.4-inch 5-round groups off a bag at 25 yards. The CapArms 230-grain 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 185-grain Hornady XTP bullet pushed with 6.3 grains of TiteGroup. The hand load produced groups hovering a hair less than 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
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
MSRP: $1,067.00 (easily found online for $799)
Ratings: (out of five stars)
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 * * * * *
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.