Remington 1911 R1 .45 ACP Pistol

By the Guns and Shooting Online Staff

Remington 1911 R1 .45 ACP Pistol
Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co., Inc.

John Moses Browning's 1911 model .45 caliber pistol was arguably the most successful semi-automatic to appear before the start of the Great War (First World War). During that conflict Colt, the manufacturer of all pre-war 1911 pistols, could not meet the demand and several other companies were enlisted to build 1911 pistols for the U.S. military. The same situation pertained during the Second World War, when once again other manufacturers built 1911 pistols under contract for the war effort. One of the gun makers who helped defend freedom during the 20th Century by producing 1911 pistols was Remington. Thus, Remington has some historical attachment to the 1911 pistol, which is more than can be said for most of the importers, distributors and manufacturers hawking 1911 pistols these days.

The Remington 1911 R1 pistol that is the subject of this review was loaned to Guns and Shooting Online by Brian Collins, who recently purchased it from a local retail outlet. Our thanks to Brian for his generosity in loaning us his new pistol!

The Remington R1 is a traditional 1911, meaning it is generally faithful to the Colt/Browning original design. It looks like, handles like, operates like and is disassembled like the original. However, Remington has incorporated a number of improvements. The R1 comes with three-dot dovetail Patridge sights, a flared and lowered ejection port, loaded chamber indicator, stainless steel barrel and bushing, short aluminum trigger, beveled magazine well, flat mainspring housing and semi-beaver tail grip safety. Traditional features include a round-top machined slide, machined steel frame, double diamond pattern walnut grips, spur hammer, short trigger, GI type safety lever, GI type magazine release, short guide rod, internal extractor and 19 vertical slide serrations. The metal finish is a satin black oxide.

Remington produces the R1 at their factory in Ilion, NY, USA. Tolerances are claimed to be kept tight for improved accuracy. We found a tight slide to frame fit on our test pistol and the barrel has minimal movement when in battery.

The trigger pull is specified to be between 3.5 and 5.0 pounds. Our sample pistol's trigger released at about 4-3/4 pounds per our RCBS trigger pull scale. The short aluminum trigger is lighter than a steel part and this is supposed to improve the trigger action by taking some load off the disconnector. The R1's trigger had about 1/16" of initial take-up followed by a little creep before it released the hammer. The recoil and mainspring rates are more moderate than in the recently reviewed Ruger SR1911, making it considerably easier to rack the action and cock the R1's hammer.

Here are the Remington R1 specifications:

  • Order #: 96323
  • Type: Single action, short recoil operated, autoloading pistol
  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Magazine Capacity: 7 (two magazines supplied)
  • Metal Finish: Satin black oxide
  • Grips: Checkered "double diamond" walnut
  • Sights: Fixed three-dot Patridge; drift adjustable for windage
  • Barrel: 5", stainless steel
  • Twist: 1 in 16" LH
  • Trigger Pull: 3.5-5 lbs.
  • Safeties: Thumb, grip, firing pin; visual "chamber loaded" inspection port
  • Overall Length: 8.5"
  • Height: 5.5"
  • Weight: 38.5 oz.
  • 2011MSRP: $719

New 1911 R1's come in a large, green plastic case with two steel magazines, bushing wrench, gun lock, Owner's Manual and the usual paperwork. The Owner's Manual is, unfortunately, larded with safety warnings highlighted in red ink that seriously detract from its readability.

The R1 appears to be a business-like pistol. It lack the stainless finish of the Ruger SR1911 or high polished blue of the Browning Hi-Power pistols we recently reviewed, but it is nicely turned-out. The right side of the slide is stamped "R1", while the left side of the slide bears a simple script "Remington." It is not a pistol you would want to see in an opponent's hand.

All controls are right-hand and conventional. The front of the grip frame is smooth and rounded, as is the front of the trigger guard. The back strap, hammer spur and safety lever are grooved and the magazine release button and slide takedown lever are checkered. The all steel magazines drop free when the release button is pressed.

Like any full size 1911 pistol, the R1 is really too big for comfortable concealed carry. Open carry in a rigid duty holster on a wide, supportive belt is more practical. The R1will fit in any holster designed for standard 5" barrel, single stack magazine, 1911 pistols.

Normal thumb pressure is required to cock the hammer. Because it is a traditonal spur type hammer, it is easier to lever back than the loop and burr type hammers found on many 1911 pistols. There is a half-cock hammer notch to (hopefully) catch the hammer should it slip from under your thumb while being cocked. The slide can be racked normally. We think that most owners will be satisfied with the R1's operation without needing to replace the recoil and main springs.

Carried on a solid gun belt in Condition One ("cocked and locked"), the favored carry mode of most 1911 aficionados, the R1 is easy to get into action. The manual safety is conventional; up is "safe" and down is "fire." The grip safety automatically releases when the shooting hand firmly grips the butt. The sights are precise and easy to see in daylight. The single action trigger, full size grip and heavy weight of the pistol help with recoil control and expedite fast follow-up shots.

To unload a 1911 pistol carried in Condition One (chamber loaded), first remove the magazine. Remember that the chamber is still loaded, the hammer is at full cock and the 1911 R1 doesn't have a magazine safety. Rack the slide to eject the chambered cartridge. In order to rack the slide, the manual safety must be set to the "fire" position and gripping the pistol firmly to rack the slide means that the grip safety is depressed (off). Be sure to keep your finger off the trigger and the pistol pointed in a safe direction while you are ejecting the chambered cartridge.

Take-down for cleaning is standard 1911 fare. After field stripping, you will have the usual assortment of assemblies and parts on your workbench. These include the slide, bushing, slide stop lever, barrel, recoil spring and guide rod, recoil spring plug and frame assembly. The Owner's Manual recommends using Rem Action Cleaner to clean the R1 and Rem Oil for lubrication.

We did our test shooting for this review at the Izaak Walton outdoor range south of Eugene, Oregon. Guns and Shooting Online staff members Chuck Hawks, Rocky Hays, Jim Fleck and Bob Fleck were on hand. Our standard handgun testing distance is 25 yards and that is the range at which we shot the 1911 R1. All of our shooting was done from a bench using a Pistol Perch rest. The early summer weather was overcast with occasional rain showers and a high temperature of 69-degrees F. We fired five-shot groups for record with three brands of 230 grain ball (FMJ) ammunition: Winchester/USA, Remington/UMC and Stars & Stripes. Here are the results:

  • S&S 230 gr. FMJ: Smallest group = 1-3/8", Largest group = 3", Mean average group size = 2.19"
  • Rem. 230 gr. FMJ: Smallest group = 2-1/4", Largest group = 2-7/8", Mean average group size = 2.6"
  • Win. 230 gr. FMJ: Smallest group = 2-5/8", Largest group = 3", Mean average group size = 2.8"


This is excellent accuracy for a stock 1911 pistol. We suspect that, with some load tuning, the R1 would prove to be the most accurate 1911 pistol we have tested to date.

After drifting the sights to center our groups in windage, the average point of impact was about 3" to 4" below the point of aim at 25 yards. Unfortunately, there is no way to correct for elevation except to file down the front sight, or replace it with a shorter blade.

The 1911 R1 functioned perfectly during our testing. There were no malfunctions of any kind. We enjoyed our time with the R1 and were sorry to have to return it to its owner.

In conclusion, Remington's 1911 R1 is a well made, traditional and reliable 1911 pistol. It looks a lot like John Browning's original 1911 design and shoots better. Indeed, accuracy is its strongest attribute.

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