Remington 1911 R1: A twin, not a clone

By Miguel C. Gil

Come to think of it, there is little that we can write about the M-1911 A-1 pistol in 2013, that couldn’t have been written by someone else in 1973, or for that matter, even in 1943! But gun manufacturers keep trying to reinvent the wheel, so to speak, in order to fill the seemingly eternal consumer demand for this century-old design.

Writing reviews about the “newest” 1911 can be a redundant chore. Still, once in a while, a company comes up with a 1911 that is so generic… that it actually stands out! The Remington 1911 R1 is just such a product.

Gun details

The R1 is a full-sized 1911 in the classic sense (5” barrel). Its overall length is 8.5 inches while its overall height is 5.5”. The pistol’s all-steel construction gives it an empty weight of 38.5 ounces. It is only available in .45 ACP.

Remington 1911 R1: The classic lines of this venerable .45 caliber pistol is unmistakable! It comes in a hard plastic box with cleaning implements. (Photo by IGG)
Remington 1911 R1: The classic lines of this tried and tested .45 caliber pistol is unmistakable! It comes in a hard plastic case with two 7-shot magazines and cleaning implements. (Photo by IGG)

It remains mostly faithful to the original Government Issue or GI specifications. This means that it comes with the military-style hammer and grip safety set-up, instead of the more contemporary “commander” hammer and “beavertail” format.  Its trigger is not “skeletonized” nor does it have provisions for pull adjustment. There are no ambidextrous thumb safeties or full-length guide rods on this gun.

The R1’s only deviates from the legacy format in a few small but notable respects. Its trigger is very slightly extended, which would please shooters with larger hands. And its barrel and bushing are hard chrome plated to ensure smoother functioning. Lastly, the fixed sights (3-dot type) on this gun are taller than the originals for better visibility.

Despite subtle refinements, the aesthetics of the R1 remain largely true to the “GI” 1911 used in both Great Wars.

Fraternal twin

Our sample R1 was courtesy of P.B. Dionisio & Co., which is one of the more prolific local distributors of Remington products. It came in a box with two 7-shot magazines and the user’s manual.

We prefer to call the R1 a “twin” and not a “clone” of the Colt Government Model. After all, Remington did help fill the US armed forces voracious wartime demand for the 1911 pistol nearly a century ago.

As it happened, Remington UMC was called upon by the US government to produce 1911’s towards the end of World War I to help fill Colt’s manufacturing gap. The war ended with less than 22,000 Remington 1911s being produced, many of which were probably not issued. It is likely that many of these units sat in the armories until being pressed into service with the outbreak of World War II.

Here come the Allies! The R1 is little different from the pistols that the "GI's" carried when they landed in Leyte Gulf in October of 1944. (Photo by IGG)
Here come the Allies! The Remington 1911 R1 is little different from the pistols that “GI’s” carried when they landed on the shores of Leyte in October of 1944.          (Photo by IGG)

The new Remington R1’s serial numbers reflect a continuation of that original production run which ended in 1918. Most contemporary producers of the 1911 and its derivatives do not have this historical claim to fame.

Shooting impressions

With the R1 and plenty of P.B. Dionisio’s proprietary Bullseye ball ammo on hand, our shooting session with this modern classic commenced. Shooting practically the same gun that our grandfathers carried during WWII gave us a sense of pride!

To our surprise, the first seven rounds we shot through the R1 all went significantly low to the left even as we tried to hold dead center.  This is probably attributable to two subjective factors.

We think our initial shots went low because of the taller-than-ideal front sight on the R1. This is not a real problem because the dovetailed front sights can easily be swapped for a shorter one. We also suspect that our shots went left because the trigger pull was heavier than what we have grown used to. Also a non-issue issue because if we were to acquire this pistol, we will surely get a trigger job at some point.

Realizing this, we simply applied “guesstimate” windage and elevation adjustments. Our subsequent rounds were dead on at 7 meters. Also, the all-steel heft of this gun undoubtedly helped us stay on target by mitigating felt recoil.

Play: Any 1911 enthusiast would welcome the opportunity to shoot the Remington 1911 R1. It shot like any classic 1911 pistol. (Video by IGG)

But what was truly reassuring was that this brand new pistol cycled with total reliability during whole session. This is not always the case with other out-of-the-box 1911s and 1911 derivatives.

Home defense?

The suitability of the M1911 A1 with its .45 ACP cartridge for any home or personal defense applications is probably beyond question by now. It will do the job provided the shooter does his/her job as well!

However, buying a 1911 with all the modern refinements will probably be better if home defense is the only objective. The Remington 1911 R1 may be more suited to the collector, the unabashed traditionalist and those involved in period-style shooting competitions.

SRP of Remington 1911 R1: Php 63,000 (gun only with two 7-shot magazines)

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