Even though all Model 1911 pistols are based on a nearly century-old design, the 1911 is one of the most popular pistols in America. And it is actually getting more popular. When I began my law enforcement career, Colt was the only manufacturer of the 1911. By the time that I medically retired from the U.S. Customs Service, I couldn't count all of the companies that were producing 1911s.
During World War I, Remington Arms Co. produced nearly 22,000 .45 ACP Model 1911 pistols for the Allied war effort.
Recently, I had the chance to field test a preproduction Remington R1 1911. Testing a preproduction gun is kind of like beta testing software. The final product is not quite perfected, and the manufacturers are looking for input. But I chose to write about the R1 anyway because I wanted to give the readers of POLICE a look at what's coming down the road from Remington.
Most law enforcement officers are familiar with Remington products because Remington shotguns and rifles have been used by numerous agencies since law enforcement officers first started putting on a badge. But back in the days of the Old West through the end of World War I in 1918, Remington was also known for its handguns. And today, the company is once again planting its flag in the handgun market with the R1.
The R1 is an entry-level, all-steel 1911. It will be priced to sell for about $650 retail. (Law enforcement pricing is not available at this time.)
And I couldn't wait to get my hands on one so I procured this preproduction model. I have to admit that normally I write gun reviews about production model firearms and this is the first time that I have had the chance to review a preproduction pistol for POLICE.
My R1 was one of about 50 that Remington sent to gun testers to help them identify the strengths and weaknesses of their design. I found it rather refreshing that a firearms manufacturer would use that many pistols as test samples. I think it proves that Remington has no intentions of cutting corners on the R1's product integrity and reliability. By having all kinds of shooters with different backgrounds extensively test fire these preproduction pistols, Remington is making every effort to fine-tune the full production models of its entry level 1911.
Some 1911s need a break-in period. Remington says that's not the case with the R1. The minute it comes out of the box, it's ready for duty. Even though there's no recommended break-in period for the R1, it always makes sense to test the pistols that you intend to carry with the ammunition that you intend to use in the field.
The truth is the preproduction R1 really didn't need much fine-tuning. It's incredibly easy and comfortable to shoot. Better yet, even though the R1 is designed to be used with 230-grain FMJ or ball ammunition, the preproduction pistol proved to be flawlessly reliable when it was fired with three different types of ammunition.
The Remington 1911 has excellent high-visibility, three-dot sights that are very easy to acquire. They were properly sighted in from the factory, which was great. I love it when I don't have to make adjustments at the range.
If you're a fan of night sights, you still may want a Remington 1911. The company plans to offer a lot of accessories. That means you will be able to buy all of the bells and whistles that your heart desires.
Another feature that some shooters will want on a 1911 is a longer beavertail. Some shooters get slide bite unless they operate a 1911 with an extended beavertail. If this is a concern for you, then Remington will soon be offering a gun to fit your needs. The company plans to start introducing other models with stainless steel construction, an extended beavertail, eight-round magazines, and other features by early 2011.
I'll also say this: Of all the less expensive entry level 1911s that are currently on the market the Remington R1 has a beavertail that I believe is extended enough to be an improvement over the 1911s that have the World War I and World War II plain Jane frame.
My test R1 is as I've noted a preproduction pistol so I don't want to be too critical. But I did notice two fit and finish problems. The slide-to-frame fit was off by a hair, and the extractor was not flush with the rear of the slide. Neither problem was severe, so I headed to the range to see if these issues would affect the pistol's performance.