February 19, 2020
Recognizing the increasing popularity of competition shooting, more than a few gun manufacturers have been making handguns for these endeavors. Two companies not known for focusing on this segment are taking it one step further, producing “factory custom” 1911s purpose-built for competition. Ruger’s is called the SR1911 Competition, and Remington has come out with the 1911 R1 Tomasie Custom.
Ruger SR1911 Competition
Let’s take a look at both, starting with Ruger. While Doug Koenig’s name isn’t in the title of the SR1911 Competition, it’s all over the pistol—literally, since it’s written on both sides of the slide. Koenig is one of the winningest handgun competitors in history, with more than 70 national and world titles across many different disciplines, including the Bianchi Cup and USPSA/IDPA.
Koenig joined Ruger a few years ago, and when the company approached him about a pistol for its new Custom Shop, his only request was that if Ruger was going to do build one, the designers needed to do it right. I think they have.
While Ruger just announced a .45 ACP version of this pistol, the original model was in 9mm and will be far more popular among competition shooters, so we’ll be reviewing it.
I believe Koenig was the first professional shooter who started shooting 9mm at major USPSA/IPSC matches, which had been dominated by the .40 S&W. He showed a willingness to lose more points for non-center hits by shooting the less powerful 9mm (Minor Power Factor instead of Major) for the trade-off of higher capacity and lower recoil. Now everybody is following in his footsteps, and 9mm 1911s are the hot “new” thing in USPSA’s Single Stack division.
The SR1911 Competition is a full-size, all-steel 1911 with a five-inch barrel. It has a standard bushing barrel with a full-length stainless steel recoil spring guide rod. Both the slide and frame are stainless steel, with a nitride finish that has been brushed off the side of the slide for a nice two-tone appearance. You’ll see chevron-shaped checkering on the slide, front and back, with “KOENIG” etched on both sides.
Unlike many pistols that claim it but are wrong, the frame of the SR1911 Competition sports a truly undercut trigger guard, with 25-lpi checkering on the frontstrap and mainspring housing. It wears Hogue Piranha G10 grips with just the right amount of grip, and the end result is a pistol that just won’t move in your hand—period.
If the trigger looks a little funky, you haven’t been paying attention to competition trends. Flat-faced triggers are preferred by many shooters because they feel the same no matter where on the bow you place your finger.
The fire-control group is the heart of any 1911, and paired with the flat trigger is a Koenig Shooting Sports low-mass hammer and competition sear, a Cylinder & Slide disconnector, and a hand-tuned sear spring. The result is a crisp trigger pull that came in at an even four pounds.
The front sight has a green fiber-optic insert. The rear sight is Ruger’s copy of the famed, fully adjustable BoMar BMCS, and it’s a robust sight. The top of the slide features wide serrations between the front and the rear sights, adding style plus glare reduction.
The barrel has a fully supported chamber, fitted barrel lug and a target crown. The barrel, slide and frame are all hand-fit as befits a gun coming from a custom shop, and the result is a pistol that is tight, smooth cycling and accurate.
Many people, me included, believe TechWell makes the best magazine wells for single-stack 1911s, and the Ruger comes with one right from the factory. If you want to compete in certain divisions where a magazine well isn’t legal, the well is held in place by the grips and is easy to remove. The magazine well opening in the frame itself is nicely beveled.
The thumb safety is extended and ambidextrous, and the beavertail is mounted to an Ed Brown-pattern cut on the frame, which means it puts your hand as high as possible on the gun. It’s also worth noting that this 1911, as do all Ruger 1911s, has a plunger tube that’s integral to the frame, so it can’t become unstaked.
The pistol ships with a waterproof hard case, two 10-round magazines, challenge coin, cleaning cloth, polymer bushing wrench, cable lock and a Ruger Custom Shop Certificate of Authenticity. That’s a lot more than you get with a standard SR1911, but then again, the Custom Shop Koenig SR1911 costs about twice as much as the average SR1911.
Ruger SR1911 Competition Specs
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 10+1
- Barrel: 5 in.
- Weight: 41 oz.
- Slide/Frame: stainless steel
- Finish: black nitride
- Grips: Hogue Piranha G10
- Mag Well: TechWell
- Rear Sights: Ruger adjustable
- Front Sights: green fiber optic
- Trigger Pull: 4.0 lbs.
- Price: $2,499
Remington R1 Tomasie Custom
Several years ago, Remington acquired Para USA (formerly Para Ordnance) and its designs—including Para’s original wide-bodied, high-capacity 1911. Remington also took in Travis Tomasie, a USPSA national champion and former U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit member who spent a lot of time shooting Para-framed pistols in competition. The R1 Tomasie Custom is one of those wide-bodied high-cap 1911s, built to Tomasie’s specifications.
The Para-Ordnance was one of the first—if not the first—factory-built high-capacity 1911s, and it was the lone metal-frame gun of the group. The others from STI and SV had polymer grip modules attached to stainless steel rail assemblies on which the slide rode.
For a long time those polymer guns were considered to be superior because they were lighter. However, competition being competition, people began realizing heavier guns generally have less recoil, and so now we have come full circle. Companies known for making polymer-framed high-capacity 1911s are now making steel-framed guns that are bigger and heavier than the original Para, which chugs along under the Remington name now.
The R1 Tomasie Custom is chambered in .40 S&W and comes with two 18-round magazines. It has a five-inch bull barrel inside a slide with some lightening cuts. The slide has a triangular profile with a flat top and flat-bottomed checkering front and rear. The front sight has a red fiber-optic insert, and the rear is made by LPA and is all steel and fully adjustable.
Lockup between the bull barrel and the slide/frame is impressively tight, and it takes a bit of effort to rack the slide. It will ease up after a few extended practice sessions.
Why lightening cuts on a gun meant for competition? More weight generally means less recoil, but it depends where the weight is. If it’s in a reciprocating part, it usually means increased recoil. Reducing the weight of the moving slide means reduced recoil and muzzle rise and faster follow-up shots.
Remington kept its firing pin safety in this competition gun, and the hammer spring is impressively strong. Neither of these factors results in a light trigger pull, so I was shocked that the trigger pull came in at 3.75 pounds. The trigger is a three-hole adjustable model, and the hammer is a lightened speed model.
Of all the high-capacity 1911s, the Para frame has always been the widest, so Remington has wisely equipped the Tomasie Custom with slim G10 Operator grips from VZ Grips. There is 25-lpi checkering on the front and the back of the frame to keep your hand in place.
At the bottom of the frame you’ll see a huge mag well. The body of the mag well is aluminum, but the inside is white. This is because the magazine well has a replaceable Delrin insert, something that’s been pretty common on competition pistols for a while. Delrin is not only slicker than aluminum, but also after you’ve gouged and dented and just generally beat the snot out of it practicing your reloads, you can simply replace the Delrin insert without having to buy an entirely new mag well or frame.
You’ll see some top professional shooters using 5.4- and even six-inch high-cap 1911s. Some of the pros go with the longer guns because they are heavier for less recoil and have longer sight radii for easier, faster aiming. Not everyone feels this is necessary, though, and the circuit is still filled with “standard” five-inch guns, and I think Remington and Tomasie—and Ruger—went the smart route with the traditional Government length 1911.
The Tomasie Custom is not as tweaked or polished as some of the similar 1911s you’ll see on the competition circuit, but those are full-house custom guns from small shops and cost twice what the Tomasie does—if not more. In fact, the R1 Tomasie’s $1,650 price tag is downright cheap compared to most double-stack competition 1911s.
I’ve already mentioned the advantage with the 9mm, but why is the Tomasie gun in .40? In Limited division, where 9mm Major is not legal and high-capacity guns rule the roost, the 1911s winning championships are the guns chambered in .40 S&W because they simply hold more rounds than a .45. The Remington Tomasie Custom is designed and meant to play in that field, while the Ruger is aimed at the single-stack crowd, which now favors the 9mm.
Remington R1 Tomasie Custom Specs
- Caliber: .40 S&W
- Capacity: 18+1
- Barrel: 5 in.
- Weight: 45 oz.
- Slide/Frame: carbon steel
- Finish: PVD
- Grips: VZ G10 operator
- Mag Well: aluminum w/Delrin insert
- Rear Sights: LPA adjustable
- Front Sights: red fiber optic
- Trigger Pull: 3.75 lbs.
- Price: $1,650
I did test a few defensive loads in both pistols, since it is conceivable someone would want to buy one of these as a carry gun, and either would certainly work for home defense. Accuracy was good, as you can see in the accompanying chart.
Much of my shooting was done with competition-specific ammo, particularly Federal Syntech Action Pistol, which is specifically loaded to make the Power Factors competition shooters must meet depending on their divisions.
The Ruger is a full-size, full-weight competition pistol, deliberately chambered in a lightly recoiling cartridge, with a great trigger. To say it was a joy to shoot would be an understatement.
At my club, we had a double plate rack set up on my first range trip with this pistol, and running the racks back to back showed me just how soft-shooting the Koenig 1911 was. The front sight barely lifted off the plates. When I shifted to the USPSA cardboard targets I’d set up to practice my transitions, the double- taps were just as smooth and quick.
The Remington Tomasie has a bit stouter recoil than the Ruger simply because it’s chambered in .40 and not 9mm. But again, it’s a purpose-built competition gun meant to be as soft-shooting as possible. You’ve heard the recoil of .40s can be harsh? That’s true for pocket guns but not in this broad-shouldered specimen.
I practiced shooting on the move with the Tomasie, and I liked how its bright front sight tracked easily and its weight helped keep it steady—or as steady as you can get while shooting on the move, which is one of the hardest things to do. One thing to note: The back of the big magazine well will change your grip angle on the gun, which is not a problem, just something to get used to.
Both the Ruger and Remington are big, heavy guns, purpose-built for competition. Both have great triggers, sights, controls and low recoil. Depending on which sport and which division you intend to pursue, one of these guns will meet your needs without having to fork over the cash a true custom gun will cost you.