After years of 1911 manufacturers all following the trend of “modernizing” the venerable design with enlarged sights, texturing treatments, extended controls, beavertails, lowered and flared ejection ports, undercut triggerguards and the like, the relatively new sport of Wild Bunch has many shooters in search of a “GI”-style pistol with which to compete. Accordingly, there have also been a few manufacturers who have moved to cater to Wild Bunch shooters.
When Remington began manufacturing the 1911 R1 in 2010, the company wasn’t necessarily aiming for the Wild Bunch crowd, but rather reintroducing the pistol after a more than 95-year hiatus (the firm, known then as Remington UMC, helped the war effort by producing around 21,500 pistols in WWI) in its basic bread-and-butter form as a test run. And because of customer response, there are now several variants of the 1911 R1, with some upgraded more towards the modern incarnations.
Made in Remington’s plant in Ilion, New York, the original R1 is—as already mentioned—largely patterned after the GI 1911 military pistol. Hence, this is a 5-inch-barreled, full-sized 1911 with the original-style, long-tanged grip safety, a short trigger and a satin black oxide finish. There are a number of subtle enhancements to the gun. These include larger, three-white-dot, dovetailed front and rear sights (rather than a staked front blade), a lowered and flared ejection port, double-diamond-checkered walnut grips and a GI-style barrel bushing.
The R1’s slide is machined from a carbon-steel forging and bears the GI-style cocking serrations at its rear. The breech face is smooth, without any heavy tool marks visible. As stated, it features the aforementioned lowered and flared ejection port and a traditional spring-steel extractor. “1911 R1” are machine engraved into the right flat of the slide, ahead of the ejection port, and “Remington” along the left flat.
The slide is mated with a cast frame, also of carbon steel, having a smooth, rounded frontstrap; relief cuts aft of the triggerguard; a flat, serrated mainspring housing; a GI-style grip safety; a short aluminum trigger with a serrated face; and the more modern touch of a beveled magazine well. The lanyard loop present on GI guns is absent. Remington has chosen to keep the exact grade of steel used in the slide and frame under wraps.
The slide and frame are tightly fitted, as I could manage very little play between the two with a lot of effort. A Series 80-style firing-pin safety prevents the weapon from discharging unless the trigger is depressed, employing a series of parts which cam the safety clear of the firing pin as the trigger is squeezed.
The WWII A1-style hammer spur is serrated and bears the familiar profile conducive to thumb cocking, and I found the hammer had a bit of sideways play. The rest of the controls include a GI-style checkered slide stop, a serrated magazine release of normal height and a serrated thumb safety I’d describe as being the usual GI width but absent the familiar “teardrop” profile tapering toward the rear. The trigger had a slight amount of take-up and broke fairly crisply at about 4 pounds with no overtravel. It’s not match-grade, per se, but it’s easy enough to work with.
The right side of the frame bears the markings, “REMINGTON ARMS CO. ILION NEW YORK USA 1911,” coupled with the serial number, and “ERPO.” Remington has declined to say what the “ERPO” acronym signifies. The hammer, sear, slide stop, thumb safety, grip safety and mainspring housing are metal-injection molded. The ejector is pinned to the frame.
The slide is returned to battery via a 16-pound spring utilizing a GI-style recoil spring plug and the aforementioned barrel bushing, though, unlike GI guns, in the R1 the bushing is a contrasting bare stainless.
The pistol utilizes a 5-inch barrel with a barrel link. The R1’s barrel is a throated and polished, broach-rifled 416 stainless unit with six lands and six grooves, and bears the marking “45 AUTO.” While it doesn’t have a traditional crown, the muzzle does bear a protective chamfer.
I carried the R1 in a beautiful El Diablo rig from John Bianchi Frontier Gunleather Limited Editions. This was a fine gun belt, holster and double mag pouch handcrafted of premium-quality, full-grain cowhide with a full-leather lining, saddle stitching and hand-laced welt. The holster features conchos and a removable hammer thong on a heavy-duty, 1¾-inch belt fitted with a handsome silver-tone ranger buckle set. The holster, belt and mag pouch are all hand-stamped with a fancy border pattern given and a hand-rubbed chestnut oil finish. Despite its rugged construction, the rig felt light when worn, and securely carried the pistol and magazines in a vintage early 1900s style.
Gathering a smattering of five different types of ammunition, I headed for the range. Once there, I stapled up targets and began testing for accuracy from a standing off-hand position at 25 feet, a test more in line with the type of shooting required of Cowboy Action Shooting competitions. This resulted in a 1.86-inch best group from CorBon’s 230-grain FMJs and one measuring 1.63 inches with Remington’s 185-grain JHPs. After that came Black Hills’ 230-grain FMJs, which produced a best group measuring 1.38 inches. Tightening up the patterns was Ten-X’s 200-grain RNSWC ammunition at only 1.25 inches, and the best accuracy of the day came with five of Asym’s 230-grain FMJ Match rounds, which crowded into just 1.13 inches center-to-center. Using a chronograph, I next tested for average velocities, and the R1’s velocities ranged from 752 to 1,046 fps.
Shooting the R1 revealed that it well-represented the ergonomic attributes that have made the 1911 a favorite for over a century. Aficionados of the 1911 will find no surprises in handling the gun; its slide stop, mag release and thumb safety are all easy to reach and manipulate. As with most pistols, it must be shifted slightly in the hand to disengage the slide lock and mag release. As a fan of double-diamond-checkered grips, I found the ones on the Remington comfortable and helpful in attaining a positive grip. The few slight modern enhancements didn’t go unnoticed on the range—especially the larger sights, with the well-defined front blade and rear notch. Compared to a genuine GI pistol, these are quite easy and quick to pick up and align with your eyes. This would be the case even for a Wild Bunch shooter who blacks out the white dots, most likely with a black magic marker. The beveled magazine well definitely makes it easier to reload.
Despite the absence of the modern beavertail, I had no problem with hammer bite or with the grip safety disengaging, despite a high-thumb hold. The thumb safety was a bit uncomfortable with that hold, and I missed the traditional tapering of the serrated pad, which breaks up its profile, leaving no corners, but it wasn’t a deal-breaker. The decent trigger made delivering accurate fire easier.
Remington has successfully made its foray back into the 1911 market with this original R1, providing a fine GI-style pistol for that niche of customers who desire this vintage configuration, integrating just enough modern improvements in materials and features to improve its function without getting too far from its original form. It would also make an excellent entry as a Wild Bunch pistol for the CAS enthusiast.
Remington has introduced a pistol with handsome aesthetics, excellent accuracy for Cowboy Action Shooting and a durable finish at a price point that is quite affordable among 1911 offerings these days. The initial success of the R1 iteration has spawned a number of follow-up models to create lines of Enhanced, Carry, Centennial, and rebate pistols in the standard black oxide or stainless finishes. The R1 is here to stay.
For more information, call 800-243-9700 or visit http://www.remington.com.