Remington R1 Carry: the EDC 1911—New Gun Review

Remington R1 Carry

By David Higginbotham


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Remington R1 CarryWhen Remington announced its intentions to begin remaking 1911s in the centennial year of the venerable platform, no one was terribly surprised. 2011 was arguably a better year for 1911s than the original model year. Everyone was making them. The surge brought new energy to the single action, and shooters were willing to test out the cocked-and-locked philosophy. Yet most of the new pistols on the market were oddly incomplete. If you wanted to carry one for defensive purposes, you needed to make some minor changes. The one stand-out for me, the one anniversary year 1911 that felt completely thought out, is the Remington R1 Carry.

Is it just another 1911?

Of course it is. That isn’t a mystery. The R1 only functions in single action, and it is built from steel and wood. The R1 Carry is a five-inch 1911 chambered in .45 ACP. The steel magazines will hold seven rounds. It weighs in at over two pounds.

Yet the gun comes with the typical upgrades that most people who carry contemporary 1911s expect. It has a skeletonized trigger and an even more skeletonized hammer. The grip safety has a large protrusion at its base and has been aggressively checkered. That same texture is on the mainspring housing and the front strap, which are checkered with 25 lines per inch.

Above the blued carbon steel frame, the slide has much more functional lines than many 1911s. The hard sharp edges that define some of these guns have been buffed off. This makes the gun less likely to catch or snag on clothing when it’s being drawn from concealment. Even the slide serrations have been knocked back just a bit. They provide enough purchase to allow for easy clearing of jams or miss-feeds, but they’re oddly easy to hold onto.

Remington R1 Carry

Here you can see the emphasis given to removing any possible rough spots.

Many of the controls on the R1 are ambidextrous. The thumb safety is ambidextrous and the magazine drop can be reversed for left-handed shooters. This has a certain appeal to about 10% of the population. Even though the gun will eject to the right, it is easier for lefties to use without having to pony up for a custom gun.

On top of the slide, the typical 1911 sights have been replaced by Novack sights. The front sight is a Trijicon with a tritium insert that makes it glow. The rear is a flat black sight with an almost pyramid-shaped hump. In low-light situations, the sights are really impressive. In true darkness, the front glows even brighter. While the sights aren’t refined enough for really accurate target shooting, they are good for fast target acquisition. Even the weight of the steel frame and slide eat up some of the recoil energy from the .45 ACP.

All of these elements come together to make for an effective carry gun. It is a familiar enough story, obviously. Yet the Remington R1 Carry brings it together in a way that proves the platform is still viable. It proves that the 1911 is still relevant.

Carrying the R1 Carry

The first pistol I ever shot was a 1911 A1, and I’ve been an ardent fan ever since. I approach the gun with a quiet reverence. The design speaks to me. Beyond the admiration I have for John Moses’s original masterpiece, though, is an odd nostalgia for a past I didn’t personally experience. As much as I respect the 1911, I don’t often carry one. I love my late father’s Model A Ford, but I’m not going to drive it to the grocery store. Why would I carry an antique for personal defense?

Remington R1 Carry

The front sight is functional in full light, and a rock star in the dark.

That’s one of the strangest aspects of the 1911. The stock configuration 1911 feels antiquated. I’m not saying it is ineffective, it simply feels like 2.5 pounds of history in your hand. I co-own a 1913 Colt that I bought with a friend (back when neither of us could afford even half of the gun we both still fight over). That gun shoots like a champion. It looks and smells like 1913. I assume it smells like 1913. I wasn’t there. It smells good, though, just like the old A Model. And like my father’s Ford, the old Colt is irreplaceable.

The R1 Carry doesn’t feel like an antique. The pistol has more in common with much more expensive 1911s, guns that almost never resemble their historic ancestors. When you work on the grip safety and update the sights, the gun becomes more reliably functional. When you buff out a slide and checker the front strap, it becomes easier to use. Once all of the potential pitfalls have been addressed, there’s no reason in the world not to carry one.

Except for the single action thing. This is a philosophical argument that will keep shooters dickering forever. I know some highly intelligent shooters who want their guns to fire when the trigger is pulled, even if the hammer isn’t cocked. There are a lot of people who won’t carry a gun with any external safety, much less two. Others want more ammunition. The seven rounds in a 1911 magazine seem pitiful when compared to the capacity of some double-stack pistols that are really close to the same size.

I bet you know where you stand on this matter. I can try to convince you that it is ok to carry a gun like the R1, because every aspect of the design feels intentionally designed for carry. I can tell you that cocked-and-locked is fast, especially when you learn to thumb the safety off as you draw, and lock that motion into muscle memory. The grip safety is a no-brainer. I’ve yet to draw a 1911 and not be able to fire it because of the position of my grip. I could even try to tell you that seven rounds, or eight (the R1 comes with both), may well be enough for almost any defensive gun use (at least in this country). But you know where you stand.

Remington R1 Carry

Feeding is very reliable thanks to a generous feed ramp.

When we did finally pull the trigger on the R1, it shot a lot like a 1911. This is one of the harder aspects of reviewing 1911s and ARs both. You pull the trigger and they shoot. The five-inch barrel returns reliable accuracy. And the R1 met our expectations, completely. Accuracy was good. The results from 25 yards were solid.

Yet the R1 is not a target gun. It isn’t a race gun either, but we put it on steel. Five steel plates in the 10- to 12-inch range, at various distances, will test your defensive skills. Use a timer and draw from concealment. In this drill, the size and weight of the R1 are its only liabilities. It shoots exceptionally well. The sights finish off the very natural point motion that 1911 owners know so well. You throw the gun up, and even as you’re fully extending, the sights are lining up. When they meet, you hit the trigger and hold on. The gun bucks, and falls back on target. You don’t have to pull it back down—it rocks back into place perfectly.

I can get the R1 out of an OWB holster and onto the target in about 1.4 seconds. I’m still slightly faster with striker-fired polymer-framed guns, and I think it has to do with the weight, mainly, but 1.4 seconds, for me, is good. I’m not a competitive shooter, and I’m certainly not Speed Racer. From an IWB, concealed, I’m closer to 1.7 seconds.

The R1 handles well enough that I can move through steel challenge stages with fewer misses than I normally do when I’m trying to shoot fast with my typical concealed carry gun. With the stress of time removed, I can put down a two-inch group from 25 yards.

During this whole process, I had very few malfunctions with the R1. Some 1911s are picky about ammo, but the R1 even takes flat nosed FMJs. There was no carry ammo that it wouldn’t feed reliably. The only problem that we had, early, stemmed from the tight tolerances of the gun. On lighter loads, the slide would seem to hang up a bit when returning to battery. A quick assist kept it moving. Cleaning always helped. In the end, after a few range trips, the problem resolved. The gun broke in. While it hasn’t lost any of its tight feel, it doesn’t hang up any more (not even with underpowered hand-loads meant for banging steel).

The R1 Carry is a very handsome gun.  The Cocobolo and high polish on the blued steel are a good combination.

The R1 Carry is a very handsome gun. The Cocobolo and high polish on the blued steel are a good combination.

Wrap-up

Earlier, I implied that Remington’s attention to detail has really made this a stand-out. I don’t think I’ve successfully proven that yet in this review. Instead, it sounds like I’m saying that the R1 is just a more modern version of a gun that most shooters love but have judged to be irrelevant for daily carry. And maybe that’s true, but consider this fine point. Look at the grips. 1911 grips are often textured like rasps. Even the old wooden grips had checkering up their entire length. This one, though, doesn’t. The old grips were made of walnut or some other pedestrian hardwood. These are cocobolo, which is harder and has more interesting grain texture. The portion of the grip near the safety, where your thumb might benefit from added mobility, is smooth. Nothing to slow down the movement to the safety. Below that, where your fingers and palm do most of the work, is a textured wooden grip. That’s what makes this whole design stand out. Every detail that I can think of has been addressed.

Now you’ll want to know what this attention to detail will cost. MSRP on these is $1,299. They sold incredibly well the first year out. They’re still selling briskly, but you’re more likely to see one sit at your local FFL for a while before it moves. That sitting brings the retail price down closer to $1, 149. Remington is even offering to throw in 200 rounds of .45 ACP to sweeten the deal.

The gun is now available in at least 13 variations. Commander length, stainless, with the wooden grips or the G10, as a historic homage or a modernized gun that, despite the platform’s age, continues to be relevant. The Remington 1911s are a welcome addition to an already crowded field. The R1 Carry is holding its own in that mid-range production model 1911 field, and, if you’re not sold on the single action, it is a good reason to reconsider cocked-and-locked.

Remington R1 Carry

The skeletonized hammer nests nicely in the beavertailed grip safety.


Remington R1 Carry

Seven shots from seven yards, each from a timed holster draw.


The safety lever is enlarged, and the grip safety has a bit of checkering for extra grip.

The safety lever is enlarged, and the grip safety has a bit of checkering for extra grip.


Remington R1 Carry

The stainless barrel lug is an added touch of light on an otherwise dark pistol.


The branding on the slide, thankfully, is modest, which let's the gun's beauty shine.

The branding on the slide, thankfully, is modest, which let’s the gun’s beauty shine.


Remington R1 Carry

The rear sight has a concave dip that averts glare and preserves the flat black sight plane.


Remington R1 Carry

The same seven shot sequence in the hands of a more experienced 1911 shooter.


Remington R1 Carry

The checkering on the R1 is cut to 25 lines per inch.


Remington R1 Carry

While the grip has a defined aesthetic, the look is functional too: texture where you need it, smooth where you don’t.



 

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • Andrew Ling October 28, 2016, 7:37 am

    I have a 4.25 inch commander Remington R1 Carry from a years ago. Remington sold it with a $150,00 rebate program as a Black Friday promotion deal through Davidson. I have yet to receive the rebate from them. No, I have not contacted them as yet. The pistol came with the Crimson Trace and two mags of 8rd each. I promptly took it out to our Fairfax NRA range and put in about 100 rounds through it. The C.T. laser and the fixed sights. Nice gun for a factory 1911. I am assuming this EDC is the same gun, only with a 5 inch barrel and wood grips. I paid $1,091 at that time but never received the rebate. I am too ashamed to call Remington for the rebate because the R1 is a fine gun and worth the $1,091 that I paid. However, deal is a deal and Remington needs to live up to it’s reputation. Pony up, Remington! Send me that $150.00. I need more ammo for the R1! Anyone with the similar situation??

  • Rick July 6, 2016, 12:47 am

    WoW how much were you paid by remmy for this write up.
    This gun is just like the current crop of 870 shotguns…..cheap….they are selling fir 650.00 at the local gun store and are sitting there no takers

  • Butch September 29, 2015, 11:16 pm

    I had bad experiences with 1911 because of feeding failures but owning a Remington R1 carry changed my expectations with 1911. You can never go wrong with this. This gun is accurate, reliable, durable and no malfunction. You hit it Remington!

  • D Hicks December 29, 2014, 9:39 am

    First I must say I like Remington,shotguns. I bought a R 1 S/S and did not like it,Big hammer bite only takes R1 mags only takes R 1 parts, and series 80 safety. I will say super tight groups and good looks. I traded it for a New real COLT Government Model series 70 .45 More money but the COLT is worth it !!

  • Cliff Thew June 10, 2014, 3:07 pm

    I got my R1 about 18 months ago. After a brutally painful experience with a new Kahr Arms 1911 that I had to send back three times and still jams frequently, I was a bit fearful of the 1911. Got the weapon at Gander Mtn, went straight back to the indoor range and got to smiling immediately!! I have put over 700 rounds through it and still not had a malfunction. The weapon is tight and smooth. Hats off to Remington for a great execution of a fine arm.

  • JamesH June 9, 2014, 12:43 pm

    I am sold on Remington firearms. I had a Remington Rand 1911 that I foolishly traded at a gun show for a couple of guns I thought were a fair trade about 25 years ago. I regretted it for years. Finally, after researching every 1911 I could think of I decided on the Remington 1911 R1 Pistol (the basic model) based on quality and price. I bought mine NIB at a gun show for $520. Today the gun is selling for over $700. This is not the Carry but it is a fine gun and probably shoots as well and is as well made as the Carry without some of the refinements. I really like the standard dovetailed fixed 3 dot white front and rear sights. They are right on out of the box. I added the R11 (black) grips with the R logo which makes the gun look as good/bad as it is. I don’t know the advantage of the skeletonized trigger but I didn’t particularly want one because I don’t like the looks. To make a long story short, I like this pistol exactly the way it is and prefer it to the Carry, or any of the Enhanced models as well. BTW I have recently purchased a Remington 597 .22WMR which is just as well made. I wanted a Ruger 10/22 WMR but they are expensive and hard to find. I cannot imagine the 10/22 is any better than the 597. Back on subject, I would not turn down the Carry if somebody wanted to give me one.

  • ohkay3 June 9, 2014, 12:40 pm

    OK I’m confused. I thought the R1 originally came out with a 5 inch barrel (govt. model) and the new R1 Carry had a 4 1/4 inch barrel (Commander size) Another web site states this. Can you clear this up for me?

  • Tom RKBA June 9, 2014, 8:34 am

    “Many of the controls on the R1 are ambidextrous. The thumb safety is ambidextrous and the magazine drop can be reversed for left-handed shooters. This has a certain appeal to about 10% of the population.”

    It also allows both types of shooters to fully control the gun when pieing corners and/or operating the gun with the alternate killing hand.

  • beemerguy June 9, 2014, 7:11 am

    I sure hope that they have a better roll-out than they are having with the R51. It has been shipping(supposedly) since mid Feb but the only place you can find one is at an auction sites. Interesting distribution system! I have had one on order since Feb 3rd. 2014

  • Donnie June 9, 2014, 6:04 am

    I bought a R1 about 1.5 years ago and being an avid fan of 1911’s and the .45 acp for over 30 years, this R1 is a great carry weapon. I have Colt commanders, Gov’s and a few Military’s but this R1 far exceeds Colt although I’d argue that myself from time to time depending on my mood and target scores. It’s my opinion the 1911 in .45 ACP is the best defence round and the 5″ R1 is a good looking, highly concealable reliable sidearm. when I squeeze the trigger it shoots true. I carried a Colt Government model as my duty weapon but have switched to the Springfield 5″ tactical in .45ACP. 13 rounds in the clip, one in the pipe, it makes for a better, safer duty arm with more fire power. Bottom line is I am a huge .45 and 1911 fan, truly devoted and The R1 is a great sidearm . Mine had a hard trigger and very tight tolerances but after addressing the trigger and shooting a hundred rounds of any type of ammo through it, problems solved and the gun doesn’t rattle! The seven round single stack clip, in my opinion, with drills and training, is more than enough rounds for conceal carry with an extra or two magazine’s in your pocket or on your belt,

  • Richard McGinley June 9, 2014, 5:57 am

    I can relate to the author’s comment: “The R1 Carry doesn’t feel like an antique.” I also like the discussion about how this platform settles nicely back on target after you fire. I think these are qualities of the 1911 design that leave an impression on most shooters – new or experienced. If the 1911 were a rifle I’d compare it to the legacy M1 Garand the way it settles back on the target. In fact I believe that if a new shooter can’t shoot a 1911 with some degree of accuracy than they will have a tough road ahead of them trying to master any other semi-automatic design.

    I also strongly agree with the author’s discussion about the suitability of the 1911’s single action design for defensive carry. For me the decision to carry (or not) a 1911 is not based on its functionality; it’s more of a weight issue. I find the single action design logical, and I trust it.

    Nice job; great article.

    • petru sova June 9, 2014, 7:58 pm

      I won one in a drawing and sold it before I even fired it when I found out it had junk MIM cast parts in it. Also the cheapies at Remington put a tritium front sight on the gun but cheaped out and only put a painted white sight on the rear. Now does that make any sense other than screwing the customer to save a buck. The outside finish was modern crude not the old fashioned high polished blue of days gone by. Thumbs down.

  • FHedrickjr June 9, 2014, 5:26 am

    I was stuck on the high capacity DA/SA type pistols for quite a few years. My Son let me try his Norinco a few years back, and even that pistol spoke to me. My Cousin, a few years later, let me try one of his Colts, and one of his Kimbers. Needless to say, we went to a local gun shop in WV and I traded in my S&W .40 cal on a Taurus PT1911. After break in, it feeds defensive ammo reliably well, and, is very easy to conceal, largely due to the slim nature of the 1911, and carry all day, every day, in a Cross Breed IWB holster. While some people sneer at the Taurus, it gave me what I needed: a reliable inexpensive weapon, loaded with features, that is capable of 4″ groups at 25 yards (unrested, at a rate of 1 shot per second) and can sling Hornady Critical Defense .220gr HP @975fps all day long. I am hooked for life, and, have been watching the prices. I am extremely glad I did not spend a ton of money on this pistol, since daily carry (for the last 3 years) has caused a considerable amount of wear on the finish of the slide. I am looking to upgrade to a stainless model, and I am looking with great interest at the offerings from Remington. This review will most certainly help me in making my decision. Thanks!!

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