When I saw the bobtail frame — normally only seen on high-end 1911s — of the Remington R1 Ultralight Executive, I knew I had to try it. I regret not trying a Remington 1911 earlier because if the R1 is at all representative, then I have been missing out on what is now an extensive line of fine — and well-priced — examples of John Browning’s genius.

Designed to Deliver

Remington did its homework regarding what makes an ideal, ultralight 1911. Making it a .45 was a great start — a number of competitors make ultralight 1911s in 9mm. There is nothing wrong with a 9mm 1911. In fact, 9mm offers some advantages over a .45 ACP 1911: It holds one additional round of ammunition, and the felt recoil is lighter (although muzzle blast, especially with +P loads, is greater). Despite these advantages, a 9mm is still not a .45 and, regardless of what the FBI ballistic experts say, a pistol bullet with a larger entry wound is not equal to one with a smaller entry wound, especially when talking about modern, high-velocity .45s.

Then there’s the aluminum frame. As I’ve gotten older, carrying a pistol on my hip for hours on end has gotten harder. I don’t mind packing a heavy revolver or auto for a few hours. However, when I’m in the cruiser for 10 hours, heavy guns get tiresome. The R1 is 28 ounces — almost 10 ounces less than a full-sized all-steel 1911— yet weighs enough for decent control of full-power .45 ACP defensive loads.

Full-Sized Fit

But that’s only part of the good news. The frame is Commander-sized, which means it has a full-length grip with full seven-round magazine capacity (eight if you purchase aftermarket magazines). Two blued seven-rounders are included.

As I mentioned, the rear of the frame is “bobbed,” or as Remington calls it, “rounded.” This is a very important feature for a compact concealed carry gun. First, it emulates the original arched mainspring housing of the 1911A1 pistol, which is about as good as it gets for natural pointability. It also eliminates the sharp edges of 1911s with flat mainspring housings and corners that dig into the back of the hand.

R1 Ultralight Executive
Caliber .45 ACP
Capacity 7+1
Trigger Pull 3.5-5 pounds
Barrel Length 3.5 inches
Weight 28 ounces
Finish Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)
MSRP $1,250

Stylish and Controllable

A fine-checkered frontstrap ensures a good grasp even when hands are wet. The frame and slide both have a matte-black PVD finish, making the parts unrecognizable as aluminum. The extended beavertail safety is equipped with a “memory” bump.

The black, three-hole adjustable skeletonized trigger pulls at 3.5 to 5 pounds. The grips are gray/black striped G10. The hammer, also black, is of the skeletonized oval style. All in all, the Ultralight Executive is extremely well set up for a solid grip and control.

A manual safety, located only on the left side of the frame, is grooved and extended. It is easily manipulated with the shooting-hand thumb and clicks solidly with no excess play. The slide release is standard size, but that can be adjusted with an aftermarket part.

The bushingless 3.5-inch barrel is match-grade, with the chamber marked “.45 ACP” and “Match” to attest to caliber and quality. The slide has wide, angled, modern-style rear grooves.

For sights, the drift-adjustable rear sight features a prominent “U” rather than a square-shaped notch. On each side of the “U” is a smaller tritium dot. The smaller size and lack of white outline help eliminate any “mis-identification” issues that could occur, as the front sight is a tritium dot surrounded by a white outline.

Putting the Ultralight Executive Through the Paces

Due to the weather (major snowfall), my first test of the Ultralight Executive was short and to the point — checking that it is accurate and goes “boom” at the right times. Remington furnished a supply of ammo: UMC practice ammo (185-grain flat-nose FMJ loaded to 1015 feet per second) and, for defensive purposes, the new 230-grain Golden Saber “Black Belt.” These enhanced loads, designed for law enforcement but available to any law-abiding citizen, travel at 875 feet per second from a 5-inch barrel.

I alternated magazines, firing the UMC first. The rounds were delivered dead-center from 25 feet, and the flat points fed without a bobble. Recoil was controllable and pain-free; nothing pinched or banged against the hand. The 230-grain Black Belt was the same — recoil was easily controlled (despite the gun’s light weight), the rounds were dead center, and function was flawless. The trigger break was light and crisp, without take-up or overtravel.

I really like the Remington R1 Ultralight Executive. This is an exceptional pistol, built like a custom .45, with a factory-model price tag. MSRP is $1,250. If you are looking for a lightweight, compact and shootable 1911 .45, make sure you look at this Remington first.


Remington: Remington.com

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.