(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 handgun 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 this first-time buyer recognized. So, I went home with a shiny new semi-automatic 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 Remington magazines, a barrel bushing wrench, and two sets of grip scales: standard wood grips 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.
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:
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 (20 yards having “felt” like a good distance, I had no idea what actual pistol distances were…).
About a year after I bought the Remington 1911 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.
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 seven 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.
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 (FMJ) ammo, or hollowpoints. 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 $1,000 1911.
Specifications: Remington R1 1911
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel: Match-grade stainless steel barrel and bushing
Barrel Length: 5”
Overall Length: 8.5” (stock)
Weight: 38.5 oz.
Trigger Pull: 3 1/2 – 5 pounds
Finish: Remington’s “new” black oxide
Grips: Double-diamond walnut grips
Sights: Two-dot dovetailed rear sight, single-dot dovetailed front sight
Magazine: (2) 7-round magazines supplied
Other: Spur hammer, flat main spring housing with vertical serrations, standard grip safety (thumb safety), safety lock, lowered and flared ejection port
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.