Remington recently released the latest version of its popular R1 1911 pistol series, simply named the R1 Carry. With the current trends in concealed handgun design leaning toward easy-to-pack models, one might have expected this .45 to be a cut down, aluminum-framed compact with the grip heel rounded off and lasers installed in the grip. Instead, the R1 Carry is a steel-frame, full-size 1911 that has been especially configured for concealed carry. Considering the current gun market, one might wonder why Remington's chose to go this route.
Now appearing to question the usefulness of a 1911 pistol for self-defense, in any configuration, risks the wrath of a whole bunch of shooters out there. For many, all good pistols start and end with the number 1911. But before breaking out the tar and feathers, just hear me out on this.
Not all shooters are dyed-in-the-wool 1911 fans. First, the grip shape and control placement are not always a good fit for certain hand types and sizes, thus shooters with smaller hands or shorter fingers may choose other designs. Second, good 1911s are not exactly cheap, though perfectly adequate non-1911 options are available for less money. Finally, the shooting market is currently flooded with a wide variety of small, reliable, lightweight defensive semi-autos and revolvers. Does a relatively large and heavy steel 1911 pistol still make sense for daily carry?
In its favor, the R1 Carry made a great first impression right out of the box. The forged carbon-steel slide and frame are thoroughly de-horned, removing any sharp edges or corners. The frame, slide and the controls have been expertly treated with a satin-black oxide finish that complements the de-horning work. The sights consist of a dovetailed Novak LoMount plain black rear sight and a tritium night sight in the front.
The slide is cut with angled rear cocking serrations and a lowered and flared ejection port. Internally, the pistol reflects Mr. Browning’s original simple and reliable design. The recoil assembly consists of the traditional plunger, short guide rod and single round-wire recoil spring. The 5-inch linked stainless-steel barrel has a target crown and is supported by a stainless-steel barrel bushing.
The enhanced hammer, of the skeletonized combat variety, is paired with an extended beavertail grip safety fitted with a memory bump. Having the grip safety’s memory bump cut with the same grip-enhancing 25 lines-per-inch (LPI) checkering as the main spring housing and front strap is a nice touch. The thumb safety is ambidextrous with paddles shaped to fit the natural bend of a user’s thumb for increased operator comfort.
The R1 Carry package is enhanced with a pair of handsome checkered cocobolo grip panels, attached with matte black Torx-head screws. The pistol arrives with two magazines; one is a 7-round flat base version, the other an 8-round model with an extended bumper pad base plate. The machined skeletonized aluminum match trigger, fitted with an over travel screw, tipped the trigger gauge at exactly 5 pounds. In dry fire, the trigger proved to be both crisp and smooth, feeling lighter than the trigger gauge suggested.
The R1 Carry performed beautifully at the shooting range. The action was tight and buttery smooth. The trigger's short, crisp break made it easy to stay on target. If 1911 pistols feel big and slippery in your hands, checkering on the front strap and main-spring housing can significantly improve the feel of the grip, as it did with the R1. Both of the magazines worked as expected, functioning properly and ejecting briskly when requested.
For those who haven’t shot a top-quality slab side, the reasons a full-size steel 1911, like the R1 Carry, remain a relevant choice for personal defense become quite clear during a live-fire session. The weight and balance of the 5-inch barrel and steel frame come together with the short, crisp trigger and excellent sights to produce tight target groups while experiencing moderate levels of felt recoil. A really good .45, like the R1 Carry proved to be, has a personality all its own, and folks who use them know they can trust their life to them.
Fed a diet of .45 ACP rounds ranging from budget ball loads to premium hollow points from companies like ASYM, DoubleTap and HPR, the R1 Carry produced no malfunctions over the course of testing. Formal bench-rest accuracy testing with premium loads provided group sizes that were better than expected, even from an in-house custom pistol like this one. When an iron-sighted defensive handgun keeps bench-fired groups hovering near the 3 ½-inch mark at 25 yards, then in most cases it’s considered an accurate pistol. The R1 regularly grouped at or under 3 inches, with five group averages ranging from 2.6 to 2.75 inches in size.
So the R1 Carry is good looking, accurate, reliable and loaded with the features 1911 shooters like to see. But how did it measure up when it came to packing it around all day? If you have never carried a gun in a belt holster, then any rig is going to take time to get used to. However, as with all pistols big and small, the right holster and belt combination will literally make all of the difference in the world.
For packing the R1 Carry, a DeSantis Mad Max inside-the-waistband holster with a matching De Santis belt, worked out nicely. As a small-framed shooter, I don't have much room to conceal large pistols. But using this holster system, the R1 could be completely concealed with a light cover garment, and it did a great job of retaining the pistol while allowing for a smooth draw. It was a bit of a surprise to see how comfortable packing this pistol could be.
Over the course of this review, the reasons for the 1911's continued popularity as a defensive pistol were reinforced by the performance of Remington's new R1 Carry .45 ACP. With a suggested retail of $1,299, this is not a cheap gun, but the money spent to buy one would be well invested, indeed. It's important to ask yourself exactly how much confidence you have in your defensive handgun. Will it run reliably? Does it have enough stopping power? Does it provide accurate shot placement for critical first and follow-up shots? Many shooters choose to sacrifice some physical comfort for the peace of mind that comes with having a well-made 1911 at hand. If you are in the market for just such a pistol, the R1 Carry deserves your attention.