Some models, which were manufactured long before I was born, still exist, and companies continue to look backward as they go forward offering tried-and-true designs. Now a familiar name in the production of 1911s is back with the Remington R1. Remington is the oldest American firearms company, going all the way back to 1816 when Eliphalet Remington forged his first rifle barrel.
During World War I, Remington Arms-UMC began producing .45 ACP 1911s for the war effort in 1918. The original order issued after Christmas in 1917 called for 150,000 pistols from Remington to be built in the new Remington plant in Connecticut, however problems developed quickly, including incomplete or inaccurate drawings. Instead of using drawings, Remington had to start with original Colt pistols and work backwards. Three months later, the order was increased to 500,000 pistols. However with such a late start, August 1918, they had only produced just over 13,000 with the ending of hostilities in November 1918 and then another 8,000 after the war ended.
In WWII, Remington Rand, the typewriter company (not Remington the firearm company) manufactured some 900,000 1911s for the war effort. Some confuse them with guns built by Remington the gun company. But sometimes what’s old is new again.
This is not a target pistol even though it shoots like one!
A “Real” Remington
Remington has been back in the 1911 business lately and recently issued several versions of their .45 ACP 1911 in blued and stainless versions as well as those we would normally call upgrades. The original 21st-century version of a Remington 1911 coincided with the 100th anniversary of the original Colt 1911 and is given the model designation R1. It is a 1911, not 1911A1 — almost.
The Remington R1 reflects all of the basic changes of the move to the 1911A1 in the early 1920s, namely the short trigger was replaced by a longer trigger, the flat mainspring housing/backstrap was given an arch to combat the tendency for the original 1911 to shoot low in the hands of most shooters, and the tang on the grip safety was lengthened slightly to prevent hammer “bite.”
The original sights were definitely made for those with excellent eyes and consisted of a very small front sight matched up with a very tiny “U” in the rear. The sights on the R1 are upgraded and excellent. The front sight is a front slanting post while the rear sight has a nice wide square notch with a white dot on the side matching up with the white dot in the face of the front sight. Normally I prefer all-black sights, however as I have gotten older these 3-dot sights are much easier for me to see and definitely do pick up quickly. Both front and rear sights are set in a dovetail allowing easy adjustment of windage.
The Remington R1 proved to be an exceptionally accurate .45 ACP.
One thing most of us will remember from the government surplus 1911s we may have had as kids is how easy they were to take down. This new Remington operates the same way, however barrel to bushing fit is much tighter and the bushing wrench included with each R1 is necessary for bushing removal. All versions have 5″ stainless steel barrels. Slide to frame fit is also very tight with no perceptible play, yet the slide is quite easy to operate.
Feeding and functioning were absolutely flawless, except for some +P ammunition with large hollowpoints, which not only refused to feed in each one of these Remingtons but also in another manufacturer’s 1911. The problem seems to be ammunition not firearm. With regular ammunition no problems occurred and the lowered and angled ejection port enhances ejection.
The flat mainspring housing is serrated while the frontstrap is smooth just as on the original model. One of the main sticking points on me with most handguns is the grip … I probably replace about 90 percent of factory grips. Not so here. These Remington R1 grips are excellent. They are nicely checkered and figured walnut of the double-diamond pattern. The combination of the serrations on the backstrap and the checkering on the grips give a secure grip.
Controls are normal, with a memory bumpless grip safety, standard thumb safety and slide lock, and also the standard magazine release button on the frame behind the trigger. When this button is pushed the magazine ejects right now and very easily. I only dropped it once before I learned to catch it.
The left side of the slide is marked “Remington” while the right side says “1911R1.” There is one strange marking found on the pistol as well as in the owner’s manual. That marking found above the front of the triggerguard on the side of the receiver are the letters “ERPC.” The same four letters, actually “E-RPC” are found on the very sturdy and lockable plastic pistol box each Remington R1 comes in.
When reading the manual it sounded like the R1 was produced not by Remington but by this rather strange sounding 4-letter company. So I contacted Remington and asked about it and the reply I got was “ERPC was the legal entity for our handgun business. Since we changed to Remington Arms, LLC, we have since dissolved ERPC and absorbed everything under Remington.” So not to worry, ERPC is not some strange European country but was simply a part of Remington to begin with.
All R1s come in a sturdy plastic box with two magazines and a bushing wrench.
There is no doubt the 1911 market is large and wide, and anyone, any company, producing a quality 1911 at a reasonable price is going to be successful. In fact some companies have been so successful with their 1911 division they have cut back on other products to produce the better selling 1911. Remington has been successful enough to be able to expand and offer additional models.
The next R1 is a dead ringer for the original except the right side of the slide is inscribed 1911R1S. That extra letter “S” stands for stainless steel. So everything about this second version is carried out in stainless steel except it has the same excellent black white-dot sights. Grip panels are also identical. Both versions come with a bushing wrench and bright green pistol box as well as two flat bottomed, 7-round traditional magazines.
The slide to frame fit on the stainless steel version is every bit as tight as the blued R1, slide operation is just as easy, and functioning was just as flawless. The finish on the blued version is somewhat subdued and is actually a satin black oxide finish, not blue. The stainless steel version is also brushed matte rather than high polish. Trigger pulls, measured with a Brownell’s Trigger Pull Gauge, measure out at 41/2 pounds on the blued version with no creep, while the stainless steel trigger is a most satisfying 3 pounds.
Remington R1 Family: Standard Model, Stainless Steel and Carry Model.
So much for the standard versions; now we move up to the upgraded example. This one is marked in small letters “CARRY” on the right side of the slide directly below the ejection port. This gem of a 1911 .45 ACP has all the little niceties many of us want in a concealed carry or self-defense .45 pistol. Starting at the top, the sights consist of a Trijicon front post, complete with a night-sight dot matched up with a low riding, black square notch Novak rear sight. Both are set in dovetails and adjustable for windage, with a locking set screw on the rear sight. There are no sharp edges on the sights and this is carried out throughout the pistol, with sharp edges removed wherever possible.
Controls consist of an ambidextrous and extended thumb safety, which operates easily but is not so loose to inadvertently push off, beavertail grip safety complete with memory bump, and a standard slide stop. The slide is easily operated, as there are six rather large and deep slanted serrations on both sides of the slide below the rear sight. Slide to frame fit is tight with no play whatsoever, however the fitting is such most should have no problem working the slide to chamber a round, and by the same token functioning, just as with the other two Remingtons, proved to be fine.
The hammer is skeletonized and fits deeply into the top of the beavertail when cocked. The trigger is long-style aluminum, with three holes from side to side and is also fitted with an overtravel screw. Trigger pull measures right at 4 pounds with no discernible creep. The flat mainspring housing, the frontstrap, and the memory bump on the beavertail grip safety are all finely checkered.
Grips are about as good as grips get this side of ivory. They appear to be of cocobolo and of a deep-red color with dark-brown stripes. They’re a combination smooth and checkered with a diagonal line running from the front top of the grip panel down to the rear back part of the panel. The front half is nicely checkered while the back half is smooth. I believe the idea here is the smooth part helps to start our grip in the proper fashion while the checkering secures it once our hand is in place. Finish is the same subdued satin black oxide as found on the original R1.
The Remington R1 Carry shot Remington 230 FMC ammunition very well.
For initial test firing of these three Remingtons I chose eight different .45 ACP loads; six factory and two handload. As mentioned earlier two of these loads were very heavy +P+ loads and it only required a few rounds to find they would not work, as their large hollowpoints would not feed. So I wound up going with three loads from Black Hills (230 FMC, 230 JHP +P, and 185 JHP), a Remington 230 FMC and my two handloads consisting of the Lyman 200-grain #452460 loaded over 7.0 grains of Unique, and the Oregon Trail 200-grain SWC and 6.0 grains of WW452AA.
With the original R1 the most accurate loads proved to be the Black Hills 185 JHP with five shots in 1″ at 20 yards and a muzzle velocity just over 1,000 fps. This was followed by Remington’s 230 FMC at 850 fps and a group of 11/4″, then the Black Hills 230 JHP +P, 950 fps and 13/8″.
Switching to the stainless steel version saw the Remington 230 FMC load group five shots in a nearly unbelievable 1/2″ while both the Black Hills 230 JHP +P and my Lyman #452460 handload shot 1″ groups with the latter clocking out at 1,075 fps. The R1 Carry .45 ACP shot this same handload into 3/4″, the Remington MC put five shots in 1″, and the Black Hills 230 FMC and the Oregon Trail bulleted handload at 1,071 fps both group their five shots in 11/8″.
This is stunningly good accuracy from any 1911, much less factory production offerings. I came away very impressed. The R1 series offers great value, solid workmanship, terrific accuracy and notable history.
By John Taffin