Remington’s R1 line of 1911s has steadily expanded since Big Green first introduced them back in 2010. In that time, they’ve earned a lot of respect for performance and value (see JWT’s review of their R1 Carry Commander). For those open-minded enough to evaluate a gun on its merits and not on mis-steps the maker may have made in the past, you can’t help but be impressed by Remington’s new R1 Ultralight Executive.
The Executive’s aluminum frame shaves weight, bringing the pistol in at a relatively svelte 28 ounces empty. That’s a good 10+ ounces less than a full-size government version. In addition to the weight, Remington got all of the details right on the Ultralight Executive.
The 3.5-inch match bull barrel and rounded grip and mainspring housing in an officer-sized package make the Ultralight Executive carry as comfortably as a 1911 can.
The 20 LPI front strap checkering is clean and makes for a solid grip under recoil without being a cheese grater. The black PVD slide finish is well applied everywhere on the gun and you can look all day and not find a tool mark.
The R1 Ultralight Executive comes with nicely figured, attractive beveled G10 grips, an extended beavertail and skeletonized hammer. All surfaces have been rounded for easy carry and a clean draw. The magazine well isn’t beveled at all, so you’ll have to have good aim on your reloads.
Remington flared the ejection port. The skeletonized trigger is adjustable from 3.5 to five pounds. Mine was set at 3.75 out of the box which is pretty much dead on for a 1911 carry pistol.
The pistol also comes with a dovetailed set of XS tritium night sights, fore and aft. They’re almost a must-have in an EDC pistol. There’s some room on either side of the front sight when lining up your target, a plus in a personal defense pistol.
You don’t have to deal with a bushing to take the gun down for cleaning.
Just push the slide back an inch to get the indent over the slide stop, push the stop out and Bob’s your uncle. It’s as easy or easier than taking down any plastic fantastic.
The R1 Ultralight Executive comes with a pair of 7-round magazines.
But all the finish and details in the world are meaningless if you can’t rely on the gun — an everyday carry gun — to go bang when you need it.
I’ve had the gun for over two month now and have been carrying it almost every day in an OWB leather holster. I’ve also managed to put over 1000 rounds of ammo of all types through it and couldn’t get the gun to hiccup. I fed it cheap steel cased stuff, decent range ammo, and top of the line personal defense rounds. No failures to feed, not stovepipes, no nothing. I shot it with the provided Remington magazines as well as a couple of Chip McCormick mags as well.
As for accuracy, everything patterned within a minute of bad guy, as you’d expect, but a couple of loads did particularly well. Hornady Critical Defense turned in the best performance at 2.1 inches at 25 yards from a rest. Plain vanilla Winchester white box 230gr range ammo wasn’t far behind at 2.25 inches. That’s excellent from an officer-sized 1911. Others produced patterns from 2.3 to as much a 3.2 inches for the cheap steel range ammo.
In short, the R1 Ultralight is a surprisingly good performer. Almost as welcome is the price. With its impressive finishing and night sights, it MSRPs for $1250. But five minutes of Googling yields street prices of about $900. For an good-looking, ultra-reliable, well-equipped carry 1911, that’s a great value.
Specifications: Remington 1911 R1 Ultralight Executive
Caliber: .45 ACP
Barrel Length: 3.5 inches
Overall Length: 7 inches
Overall Width: 1.4 inches
Overall Height: 5.5 inches
Weight: 28 oz.
Finish: Black PVD Slide
MSRP: $1250 (about $900 street)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style: * * * * *
The Ultralight Executive is a looker. You won’t be ashamed to show it to your buddies at the range.
Ergonomics: * * * * *
If there’s a better handgun ergonomically for most shooters than the 1911, it’s hard to think what that would be. The R1 Ultralight Executive’s rounded frame and mainspring housing makes it a joy to shoot and for small-handed shooters like me, it’s ideal.
Reliability: * * * * *
Over 1000 rounds with zero — yes, zero — malfs. It cycled everything from the cheap stuff to top notch JHP loads. Can you carry this thing with confidence? Definitely.
Customize This: * * * *
Please. It’s a 1911, though officer-size pistols have a few less options.
Concealed Carry: * * * *
Few guns carry as well as a 1911. And of the genus, the officer model carries easiest and most discreetly, especially in an IWB rig. But it’s still an all-metal pistol weighing over 30 oz. loaded.
Overall: * * * * *
The Remington R1 Ultralight Executive is a surprisingly good carry pistol. It does everything an EDC gun should do, and does it well at a reasonable price. Remington has gotten everything right with the Ultralight Executive and at under $900, it’s certainly worth your consideration.