Review: Remington 1911 R1 Ultralight Commander

    When I first got back into guns as an adult, the range I would visit in the Bay Area had a Wilson Combat 1911 for rent. So I rented one exactly once, and after shooting it and looking up the price-tag I vowed never to touch another 1911, lest the fever get its hooks into me.

    I’ve therefore spent most of my subsequent years as an outdoors writer staying away from 1911s. I avoid these guns for the same reason I avoid fancy watches — I don’t need yet another expensive gear addiction, because I’ve got my hands (and budget) full with blinging out my SIGs and my long guns.

    But about a year ago, at a Remington new products seminar at Gunsite, I accidentally bonded with Cerakoted Remington Custom Shop 1911 Commander. This gun was just about all I wanted to shoot the entire week, and I claimed it every chance I got. I even did my first shoot-house run with it, and at the end, I put a .45-caliber pill right through the nostril of the hostage taker down the hall while talking him down in mid-sentence. I felt like Jason Bourne and was totally hooked.

    Another thing I also observed about these Remington 1911s (at this event) is that we ran them hard all week and they just kept going. It’s a testament to the miracle of modern computer-controlled manufacturing that a 1911 in this price range can be this reliable — if anybody had a failure with one of these guns, I didn’t see it or hear about it.

    I ended up getting one in for T&E, and have been shooting it for the better part of a year, now. I carry it on road trips in gun-hostile territory, when magazine capacity restrictions dictate that I leave my DA/SA SIGs at home. And I bring it out back to the range and go through a box of .45 with it, just to mix things up a bit (with the exception of a Bond Arms Snake Slayer in .45 Colt/.410, all the other handguns in my safe are 9mm).

    Read on for a short account of my time with the Remington 1911 R1 Ultralight Commander (see the TFB coverage of it, here).

    Note: I have never cleaned this gun, or even wiped it down, the whole year or so I’ve had it. I’ve abused it like a cheap GLOCK, and when it came time to photograph it I just put it up on the table and photographed it as-is, fingerprints, grime, and all. I think it looks pretty cool that way, but if you’re looking at the shots and wondering what’s up, that’s what’s up.


    Here are the gun’s basic stats, per Remington:

    • Lightweight Aluminum Frame, 7.5oz -lighter than a standard steel frame
    • 3 hole adjustable match trigger
    • Fiber Optic Front Sight
    • Adjustable Rear Sight
    • PVD Finished Slide
    • Front and Rear Cocking Serrations
    • Aggressively checkered laminate grip
    • Extended Beavertail
    • Skeletonized Hammer

    This gun also seems to have a number of the R1 Enhanced components, and in fact, it has “Enhanced” stamped on the side and the box that it came in bills it as the “1911 R1 Ultralight Enhanced Commander.” The googles turn up no such beast, though. I’m assuming this is just the Ultralight Commander and that Remington needs to get their nomenclature sorted.

    The MSRP on this gun is a little over $850.00.

    Testing and use

    I actually don’t have a real round count for what I’ve put through this gun. I’ve run it at a number of range sessions, including group range session where a number of people brought their own ammo and shot it. I’d guess at least 400 rounds of everything from cheap range ammo to Speer Gold Dot defense loads. The gun has yet to fail in any way.

    I’ve also never cleaned the gun, although I have broken it down twice for road trips, just to be extra sure when traveling through Illinois.

    But all of my testing is sort of redundant to what we did at Gunsite Academy, at an event I referenced above where there were a number of these guns that made it through a week of different groups of gun writers just hammering them all day long, without any malfunctions (at least that I witnessed or heard of). (I actually saw a Glock break during that week, of all things; but who knows what kind of shape it was in when it got there.)

    The adjustable trigger on the R1 is quite good. Remington advertises it as a “match trigger,” but for this shooter of DA/SA guns and striker fired pistols just about any decent 1911 trigger feels “match” to me. So I can’t really say more than that it felt like a really good 1911 trigger.

    The grip panels are both a blessing and a curse. The curse part is that they’re going to eat into your hands and leave imprints, but the blessing is that you can really keep the gun under control with them.

    The red fiber optic front sight and Novak rear sites are very much to my liking; I’ve never had any problems finding the sights or getting the gun on target in varied light conditions.

    I’ve had no problems with mags or ejection, so nothing to report, there.

    The extra serrations on the slide are nice, but I have large hands and a firm grip so I don’t really need them.

    As for accuracy, I’ve been shooting a LaRue free-standing steel with it and have no problems keeping it in the A-zone from as far as 20 yards away. At one point I took the gun out to a friend’s range up in Wisconsin and was bouncing a small rubber cube target around the range with it. I was able to control it and keep it on the steel, and I found I could ring┬ásteel at about 80 yards with it fairly consistently. So despite this being a lightweight .45, it’s very controllable and accurate.


    As TFB reported last year, these are basically the well-loved Para Ordnance 1911’s with a Remington roll mark. Whatever your twitch is with Team Green, people seem to love the R1 — I rarely read anything bad about them from someone who actually owns one.

    And like the other satisfied customers who give this gun five stars at places like Bud’s, I don’t think it’s really possible for me to fault the R1 for anything. This is a really great pistol for the money, and I’d absolutely recommend it as a first (and even last) 1911. Indeed, the Commander size is my favorite 1911 format, and this is such a great little gun for the price that I’ve taken to recommending these to first-time 1911 buyers. It is amazing to me that you can score a 1911 of this quality for considerably less than the $850.00 MSRP. At the price this gun typically goes for, it’s a steal.