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.[PAGEBREAK]
Despite the two fit and finish problems with the preproduction pistol, I loaded two seven-round magazines with BVAC hollow-point ammunition, snapped one into my R1, then took aim at a TQ19 police qualification target from a distance of 21 feet, and opened fire. My rounds impacted the chest and head area of this man-sized target, and the pistol functioned so reliably that I quickly forgot about the fit and finish issues. At least for awhile.
After emptying my first magazine into the target, I executed a quick combat reload and dumped seven more BVAC 230-grain hollow points into the targets. I also fired some 230-grain Speer Lawman FMJ ammunition through the R1, and was satisfied with the results.
Now I was on a roll. So I decided to get a little daring. I loaded two more mags full of BVAC hollow points. Then I repeated the qualification shooting. I also fired two different types of 230-grain Federal hollow-point ammunition into the man-sized paper target. The R1 performed amazingly well for a preproduction pistol.
During my first few range sessions, the preproduction R1 proved to be flawlessly reliable. Unfortunately, during the next range session, the Remington R1 failed to load the last round in the magazine and left the entire bullet resting on top of the empty magazine.
After separating the magazine that was involved in this stoppage from the other magazines, I then loaded the R1 with a Wilson Combat Magazine that I had used before in this pistol to shoot FMJ and hollow-point ammunition without any difficulties. Shortly thereafter, the R1 experienced a failure to extract that was so serious the empty round was rather severely dented when the empty brass case was caught by the slide as it cycled forward.
I should also mention that my preproduction R1 had a somewhat erratic ejection pattern, which may be explained by the fact that I believe the test pistol did not have a properly fitted extractor. I want to stress here that this was a preproduction test pistol that was sent into the field specifically so shooters could report any problems encountered back to Remington. Once these field reports were collated Remington used the information to make adjustments on their regular full production models.
It should also be noted that the preproduction test pistol tested in this article had more than 1,500 rounds through it with no malfunctions reported before it was sent to me to field test for POLICE Magazine. This means that my R1 was flawlessly reliable for some time before it experienced one feeding problem and one extraction problem during the POLICE Magazine testing.
Remington has taken all of the observations, comments, and advice from various shooters and has reportedly corrected every problem encountered. I checked with Diamondback Police Supply in Tucson and spoke to a sales representative who said he recently field tested a Remington R1 1911 and after firing 21 rounds (three magazines) they had no malfunctions. Then they fired a total of 300 rounds in one shooting session. I believe this means that since the initial preproduction and early production pistols were field tested, improvements were made to the design.
Carrying the R1
The Remington R1, like most 1911s, has a magazine capacity of 7 plus 1. In this day and age of high-capacity pistols, I have to wonder if most shooters will believe that is sufficient. All I can say to the doubters is that I know from experience that with the proper training anyone can execute an incredibly fast combat reload while armed with a pistol like the 1911.
When it came time to carry the Remington R1 1911 test pistol, I used a DeSantis paddle holster. I also have an excellent DeSantis leather Speed Scabbard and a leather inside-the-pants holster with a clip for concealed carry use. In the field I used the DeSantis paddle holster and BlackHawk coyote tan nylon Special Operations Holster. In order to carry spare magazines, I wore a variety of DeSantis mag pouches.
I believe the R1 1911 worked rather well for a preproduction pistol. In fact, now that all of these preproduction and early production problems have been resolved, I expect that every Remington R1 that you inspect at your local gun store will be a perfect specimen of an entry level 1911.
Nick Jacobellis is a medically retired U.S. Customs Agent and former police officer who was physically disabled in the line of duty while working undercover as a federal agent.