We compared two 1911 handguns from companies not known for those pistols in the May 2012 issue. After a very long wait the staff acquired one of the Remington Model 1911 R1 Enhanced 45 ACPs ($940 MSRP). The GT team wanted a similar-priced gun to compare it to, so they went to another company not commonly known for producing 1911s, Taurus. The test Taurus PT 1911 ($900 MSRP) was stainless. Here is what we found.
In the gun world there’s no shortage of 1911-type 45 autos. However, when an old company which made a few 45s during drastic times of national need around 1918 — but has made none since — brought out a fresh, U.S.-made 1911, it got our attention. Remington-UMC made a few 1911s long ago for WWI use, as did Singer Sewing Machine Co., and a few other companies. Remington apparently made something over 21,500 copies of the 1911 for WWI, and then quit — until now.
Remington Model 1911 R1 Enhanced No. 96328 45 ACP, $940
Our first impression of the R1 Enhanced was that it had a great finish, seemed snugly assembled, and had a great trigger. But what was that abomination where the front sight is supposed to be? Careful, or you’ll cut your hand open, and by no means put this gun into a holster, because that hook-bill on the front end is razor-sharp, and we’re not kidding. We’ve never seen a more dangerous front sight on any handgun, nor have we ever seen a sharper metal edge on any gun anytime.
Going past the front sight for the moment, we liked the dull-black finish, and the pebbly-surfaced wood-laminate grip panels. By the way, there’s no stainless Enhanced version, only a blued one. The slide serrations, front and back, were appropriately sharp and easily used to lock back the slide, pick up a round, or (using the forward serrations) press-check to see if a round is in the chamber. There’s a slot at the back of the barrel that lets you check the chamber, but we are not used to those. There were two well-made eight-round magazines in the fitted hard case. The magazines both had slam pads and had numbered holes to show how many rounds are in there. There was also a decent instruction book.
By the way, the R1 standard version costs $730, but you don’t get the beavertail, the great rear sight, nor the lightened, pierced hammer spur. The standard model looks like a wartime 1911 such as Remington might have made during WWI, and may not have the tight fitting of the Enhanced version tested here. It also has seven-round magazines instead of our eight. We think most shooters will be happier with this Enhanced version in the long run. There are also stainless standard versions.
The left side of the slide had a bold “Remington” in script. The right side had “ENHANCED” in small letters below the ejection port, and “1911 R1” boldly on the forward part. The front strap had vertical serrations that helped keep the gun from twisting in the hand on recoil. The rear strap was straight, with a checkered-steel hammer-spring housing. The checkering extended to the protruding portion of the grip safety, a nice touch, we thought. The grip panels were checkered in 10 lines per inch, which gave an interesting and solid feel to the gun. The left panel was cut away slightly to permit access to the extended magazine release, which was vertically serrated.
The Videki-style trigger had three holes for lightness and an adjustable stop. By the way, it does no harm to remove that stop screw entirely. Some gunsmiths do that to be absolutely certain the screw won’t vibrate back and prevent the gun from firing. There was only one safety, which some of us prefer. It had an extension which made it easy to use, and we found it comfortable if you choose to keep your thumb on it while shooting, as many do. The barrel was stainless steel, another nice touch. Remington says it’s match grade, and we believe it.
The rear sight, apparently made by Remington and bearing that name, was adjustable for elevation with a large, fine-slotted screw. Some shooters might like a wider rear notch for more light on the side of the front blade. Windage was by drifting, which means tapping with a hammer and brass rod. The forward surfaces of the rear sight permit easy and cut-free clearing of stovepipe jams, and at least some effort was made to smooth the edges of the ejection port to alleviate getting cut there, too. Someone at Remington was paying attention to these small details that can make or break a good design. The hammer was easy to thumb cock, and the beavertail was very comfortable for us.
Also, we found it easy to use the grip safety. Some 1911s have grip safeties that are very difficult to depress with some hands in some positions, such as with a high thumb. We found that to be the case on an early S&W 1911, and on the Taurus tested below.
Then there’s the question of that front sight. The intent was good, which was to suspend a red, light-gathering plastic element up front to act as a glowing dot seen easily against a variety of backgrounds, and in that light it is excellent. In order to get light to it there has to be cuts made in the front blade, and those are okay too. But the rear-most supporting element leans to the rear, like an undercut Patridge front blade, and that’s all wrong. If that rear element slanted the other way, it’d be a much better sight. As it is, it’s death to any leather holster. It also makes a mighty nice gouge which you can use to open veins, rip your clothing in a stylish manner, cut boxes — heck, the options are many and varied, limited only by your imagination.
To put the final death knell to that sight, we found the plastic insert to be loose. It could be withdrawn to the rear with a slight pull. Although a glowing front sight is a great idea, we think replacement front sights are going to be installed on about 95 percent of these Enhanced Remingtons. The front sight is attached in a crosswise dovetail, so replacement should be easy. At the very least, owners will take a file to that razor-like top edge. Three white dots would have been better, we thought, with a normal forward-slanted front blade. And tritium ought to be an option, we thought, which it now is not.
Takedown was traditional and easy. The gun inside the slide had a trigger-release pin on the firing pin, which means the firing pin cannot move unless the trigger is pressed. Taurus also had that safety feature. Workmanship inside was excellent, some of the nicest 1911 work we’ve seen. There was evidence of hardness checking at several points along the slide, which is more nice attention to detail. (Could it be Remington knows how to build good guns?) The barrel was relieved around its chamber opening nicely, though the ramp in the frame leading to it was on the rough side.
There were a few spots here and there on the R1 that were sharp, or had sharp corners that had not been broken. Some were at the bottom of the grip frame around the magazine well, and more were on the edge of the barrel bushing, These can be easily fixed by the owner, though Remington should do so. Some shooters are going to want more beveling inside the magazine well, but that’s a personal thing, and can be done by almost anyone at home. All in all we think Remington did a bang-up job making a really good 1911. The slide-to-frame fit was snug, but not sticky. We loved the trigger pull. We suspected the gun might shoot very well, but we must say we liked the Remington R1 a lot before we ever shot it. What would it do on the range?
We tested with MFS 230-grain hardball, Winchester BEB 185-grain ammo, Cor-Bon’s 185-grain JHP, and with a handload consisting of the H&G number 68, cast-lead 200-grain SWC in front of five grains of Bullseye, CCI 300 primers in mixed cases. We shot the cast bullets last to give the jacketed ammo a chance to slick up the barrels of both guns. We found the Remington worked perfectly with everything. There were no jams, no failures to eject, no problems whatsoever. It fed and fired everything we threw at it.
Even better, it put most of them into increasingly smaller groups as we went along. Our two best groups were 1.1 inches for five shots at 15 yards with Cor-Bon’s hot ammo, and 0.7 inch with our handload. There were touches of leading in the new barrel, indicating the need for a bit of polishing, or wearing-in. While not all our groups were stunning, the trend as we saw it was the accuracy seemed to be increasing as we went along. By the end of our testing there were commonly four shots of the five in a clump, and one out. Early on, there were two or three in clumps. We think the R1 will benefit from more shooting.
Our Team Said: As it was, we thought the Remington R1 Enhanced was an excellent 1911. It had very good accuracy as it was, plenty enough for anything short of a target gun, we thought. It worked perfectly, looked just great, had an exceptional trigger, tight fitting, superb workmanship, and a fine historic name on its side. We confess the front sight worked very well as it was, gave an excellent sight picture, and the red dot was easy to see in most any light outdoors short of darkness. The red element needs to be better retained, we thought. The sights were very close to being on the money as we found them. We gave the rear sight a slight tap to center the groups, which had been 1 inch to the left at 15 yards, but perfect for elevation. But that doesn’t mean we’d keep that front sight on there if this were our gun. Also, we wish someone besides Valtro would recess the takedown protrusion of the slide stop, but as yet no one has done so. We think the Remington is an A-minus grade gun, the minus for the front sight that is dangerously sharp.