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Remington 1911 R1 Review: The Good, The Bad And What It Took To Make It A Usable Gun

Updated on December 23, 2016

First Impressions

When I first started writing this article, the original title was gonna be "The Remington R1 - This Gun SUCKS", but after some time with it, I have managed to make it a decent shooter, and quite a accurate one at that, so decided to give a more thorough review, and what it took to make the gun EDC worthy.

The Remington was not my first choice in the price range. I really had wanted a Ruger SR1911, as I am a huge fan of Ruger firearms. That is actually what I went into the store to have ordered when I saw the R1 in the case. I'm a sucker for milspec guns, and really enjoyed my milspec Springfield, but unfortunately had to sell it at a point when money was tight. The Remington when I picked it up was the smoothest handling 1911 I've handled in the price range. Slide racked back with ease, trigger was exceptional, although does have a bit of creep. The store was having a sale of $50 off any gun in stock, which made this gun almost $200 cheaper then the Ruger, so I took it home. And it was great....for the first box and a half of ammo.

First photo of the gun along with the holster I had just finished for it.
First photo of the gun along with the holster I had just finished for it.

The gun came with a really nice hard plastic case, 2 mags, a bushing wrench (for which I was very thankful later), and the usual lock and paper work. The finish of the gun was also very nice, and as said above it was super smooth. After a strip and a good cleaning it was ready for its first trip to the range.

The R1 came with a very nice carry case that even had room for the holster that I made for the gun.
The R1 came with a very nice carry case that even had room for the holster that I made for the gun.

About The Gun

I'm not gonna get deep into the history of the 1911 here. Wikipedia has a great page with lots of information on the development and use of the 1911. Most of us probably know that the 1911 was used by our armed forces for right around 70 years, and is still used by some special ops forces. During, WW1 Remington made some 1911s on government contract, although stopped production in 1919 right after the war. In 2011 Remington reintroduced the 1911 as the 1911 R1 to commemorate 100 years of the 1911.

The R1 has features from both the original 1911 and the 1911-A1, as well as a few other features off of more modern guns. Unlike either the original 1911 or the A1, the R1 uses a series 80 receiver, so it has the split firing pin safety. It also has a front dovetail instead of a pinned front sight to allow the front sight to be adjusted or changed easier. The R1 also comes with 3 dot sights. One other change is that Remington lowered and flared the ejection port to allow empties to be ejected easier. They also put a small slot in the barrel at the rear of the chamber area as a loaded chamber indicator. I should probably note that Remington also fit the R1 with a stainless barrel and bushing.

View of the series 80 fireing pin safety
View of the series 80 fireing pin safety
View of the upgraded front sight
View of the upgraded front sight
View of the slot which serves as a loaded chamber indicator.
View of the slot which serves as a loaded chamber indicator.

The only two things that the R1 really has in common with the original 1911 is the double diamond walnut grips, and the flat main spring housing. The gun does have very nice checkered walnut grips, probably of higher grade then what would have served on the army guns, but they did stay true to the double diamond design like the originals.

Showing off the nice fit of the walnut grips and the flat main spring housing. You can also see the A1 style trigger and grip safety.
Showing off the nice fit of the walnut grips and the flat main spring housing. You can also see the A1 style trigger and grip safety.

The trigger on this gun is the shorter A1 style trigger, as well as the extended grip safety to reduce the chance of hammer bite. One other thing they did to this gun was bevel the back edge of the trigger guard to smooth it up a bit.

Take down on this 1911 is the same as any other 1911, with the exception that this gun is very tight. Out of the box the barrel bushing as so tight that it was nearly impossible to remove without the bushing wrench. This caused other problems and i ended up polishing the inside of the bushing to loosen it up a bit, although it is still tighter then any other 1911 I have ever owned.

The R1 field stripped
The R1 field stripped

Problems I Had With the Gun

For someone who shoots every few weekends, the problems I ran into probably would not effect them. The R1 is a very well built gun, and is built very tight. One of the reasons I bought it was because of how tight it was, but it being that tight is what causes most of the problems I ran into. The first thing I noticed was that the grip safety was a little sticky and slow to pop back out to the safe position. This was solved by taking it out, hitting the edges a little bit was very fine sand paper, and bending the spring out just a hair to give it a little bit more pressure. The second problem wasn't really a problem until about 80 rounds into shooting it. Out of the box, the slide was a little bit slow for my liking, but the gun functioned well. After about 80 rounds without cleaning it began to get slow enough to concern me, and I would kind of have to give it a little smack to fully chamber a cartridge every few rounds. This was caused by the recoil spring being too weak, and the barrel bushing being too tight. After stretching out the spring, and polishing he bushing so that it fit the barrel better, this problem went away, and it gets better every time I shoot it.

There was one other problem that I had to fix before ever firing the gun. Out of the box the slide release lever stuck so far into the magazine that it would gouge into the noses of bullets, although It wasn't s bad that it wouldn't feed. This was fixed with about 10 minutes with a file, and taking off a few strokes at a time until the lever no longer touched the bullets.

Showing how much metal I had to file off of the slide stop. The two angles used to come together to form a point which I filed off.
Showing how much metal I had to file off of the slide stop. The two angles used to come together to form a point which I filed off.

Overview: After 1000 Rounds

When I first started having problems with the gun, I will admit that I was extremely frustrated with it. I almost just sold it, cut my losses, and wrote a nasty review about it, but having grown up around guns I figured I would just try to fix it. Now that it's working properly I am glad that I hung onto it. I will say that the trigger and slide loosened up a bit after a few hundred rounds, and that bugs me a bit, and one of these days I may try my hand at pinching the slide. But for now it works well. The other thing, is even though out of the box the finish looked excellent, it's not all that great. I've had the gun for about a month now, and it is already showing finish wear around the grip from my hands, and also on the slide and frame from the holster even though I have only actually carried the gun maybe twice except for other then the shooting range. The factory magazines are not that impressive, but there are plenty of options out there for good 1911 magazines.

I will say this about the R1. Since it is so tight, it is very accurate. The inside of the barrel was a bit rough at first but it polished out. This gun is without a doubt the most accurate 1911 I've ever owned and may be the most accurate handgun I've ever owned. At 20 yards off of a bench I can keep groups under 2" with just about everything I shoot out of it, ranging from 200gn cast to 260gn swaged HP bullets.

7 rounds at 20 yards off of a bench with American Eagle ball ammo.
7 rounds at 20 yards off of a bench with American Eagle ball ammo.

If presented with the option to buy this model gun again at the price I paid, I would probably go for it. I'm sure the problems that I had with this gun are not common. I am pretty happy with it, although with how fast the finish is wearing off, I think I will have the slide refinished in a stainless look and I will probably fit it with a ambi safety at some point since I am left handed, and possibly a beaver tail.

Anyway, if you choose to pick up a R1, good luck and happy shooting!

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      Steve Jaynes 2 weeks ago

      After owning my Remington Stainless 1911 R1 for 2-1/2 years, I'll share I've not had problem one! It IS the most accurate semi-auto handgun I've ever owned, including my Mark III Ruger .22. It's on par with my Ruger Super Blackhawk 7.75" barrel .44 RemMag. Two thousand+ rounds through the R1 with no misfires, no failure to feeds, no nothing but great shooting, especially at the price. The stainless magazines seem to be A-OK, again especially for the price (I purchased one extra). Its one of my favorite guns to shoot.

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      GregT 12 months ago

      Interesting review. I've had a plain R1 since early 2016. Have put about 2k rounds through it with very little problem except feeding issues with the original Remington magazines and I had to tweak the rear sight a bit, which is easy as it loosens with a 0.05 in hex key. The finish is still perfect with no signs of wear. I think a lot of people don't realize that the barrel is slightly flared out in the last 1/2 inch so that when the slide returns it snugs the barrel into the bushing. You can feel this by running your fingers along the barrel when it is out. By pushing the slide back about 3/4 inch I can rotate the bushing without using the little plastic wrench. I'm not sure why the little notch is on the barrel to check for a round in the chamber as I can't see the brass without shining a flashlight into the notch. I really like the feel of this pistol, it has a nice heft, and is a nice blend of the 1911 and the 1911 A1. Glad I got it (there was a $75 rebate as well) and plan to keep it for a long time.