OK, so I'm a sucker. Sold my Kimber to a friend this winter looking to get a good, decent first pistol. He took to the 1911 like a rabid dog to a pork chop so I felt compelled to make him a deal on it. Thought I would be happy with just my Glocks to keep me company. Not that Glocks don't make me happy, but the more and more I dwelled on it, I really just missed having a 1911 in the safe.
First off, lets get this out of the way….Let me tell you what the Regent R100 1911 is probably NOT…
- It’s probably NOT the pistol you will see gracing the cover of every gun rag next month….
- It’s probably NOT the pistol that Nutnfancy or Hikock45 will be profiling on YouTube anytime soon…
- It’s probably NOT going to be on the list of “must have” pistols on anyone’s web site…
- It’s probably NOT the pistol everyone is going to be raving about on the gun boards….
Probably NOT….but maybe it could be….
John Moses Browning’s 1911 is THE American pistol. Forget the Colt .45 or Navy Revolver, the 1911 is more iconic in many ways than those will ever be. This is especially true since the 1911 has lived its entire lifetime in they age of photography where its use by good and bad guys has caught the public's attention. Even to a non-gun type person they would recognize the general shape and outline of the pistol and reply "a .45" if asked what it was. When you think of the pistol that our nation has relied upon, you think of the 1911.
The basis appeal of the 1911 is based on the powerful .45 ACP cartridge that it launches and the reliability that most people take for granted with it. The single stack design of the pistol along with the grip angle make a very comfortable pistol for most people to hold. Its relative thin profile makes it easy to carry for a full size metal pistol weighing close to 40 ounces. Its not without is issues, it does have its reputation for being a pistol that tinkering is needed in order to run smoothly, it is heavy (but that may be useful when you run out of ammo and have to use it as a club), its single action design with the “cocked and locked” carry is intimidating to some shooters and the single stack design does mean you must reload often. Despite these shortcomings, the 1911 remains one of the most popular pistols to own and shoot 100 years after its adoption.
The 1911 design surrounds us....and that is not a bad thing.
As most people are aware, the 1911 was adopted to replace the .38 cartridge which was found to be lacking after US involvement in the Philippines at the turn of the century. Stories of Moro warriors charging after being hit multiple times with the .38 round (hardball ammo mind you...hmmmm, sounds familiar to stories told of the 9mm in round nose configuration) abounded and the Army decided that a bigger round would be needed. The 1911 design was an improvement of earlier Browning designs and won the pistol competition over other competing models hands down. Its also rumored that the Army, ripe with officers from the Calvary (which was one of the first “elite” type of units in the Army), that it also wanted a round capable of humanely dispatching a lame horse in the field if need be, something the .38 was questionable I guess. Its first baptism of fire was with the American Punative Expeditionary Force excursion into Mexico to track down Pancho Villa after his attacks on Columbus, Texas in 1916. The pistol got rave reviews by the troops which was not lost on the Expedition's commander, one General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing.
The US' entry in WW1 was directly responsible for the Mexican expeditions return to the US and redeployment overseas and the experience with the 1911 in the dusty and difficult terrain of Mexico was not forgotten by Pershing. He directed that every man in the US Expeditionary Force in Europe would be issued one as a sidearm. Think about it, trench warfare in close combat with an enemy...your primary weapon is a 44" bolt action rifle with 5 rounds..a 7 shot, semi-auto pistol in .45 seems pretty hand to have around. In fact, the demand was so high for them that Smith & Wesson was called on to provide revolvers chambered in .45 ACP (issued with "moon clips" to function with the rimless cartridge) to help make up the difference in manufacturing shortage. The pistol was revised in 1924 with the "-A1" designation to include a shortened trigger, relief cuts in the frame just aft of the trigger, an arched mainspring housing and some other minor changes not noticed by the casual observer.
Unless you live under a rock, work for the Brady Campaign or didn't read my previous two paragraphs, you know that this year is the 100th anniversary of the adoption of John M. Browning's pistol as the Model 1911 .45 ACP by the US Army. As such there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the "classic" 1911 design recently and less of the "bells and whistles" models so often encountered with options and features absent on the original design. Remington, Ruger, Springfield, Para and others all produce a "GI" style gun that many desire to have. I mean after all, both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and other smaller conflicts were all fought by this country with a standard 1911/1911-A1 style pistol so why the big need to change it, right?
The basic and humble 1911-A1 even saved Private Ryan...
So, a basic 1911 was what I was in the mood for this time. I have had a few 1911’s that had some bells and whistles added to them and for the most part they are not needed. Forward serrations, beavertail grips, fiber optic sights, tactical rails, extended safeties or any of the other common customizations found on 1911’s don’t have diddly squat to do with launching that round at its target at the intended range that the pistol was designed for. Simple and basic (and cheap!) was what I was going for on this 1911!
I started to look at 1911’s with a goal of spending less that $500 on a base pistol and accessories. I had a trade in I was willing to part with so my out of pocket would be less than that, but for the sake of principal for this endeavor I wanted the $500 limit. This price limit automatically cut out some of the common “bargain” 1911 choices such as the Springfield GI or Taurus 1911’s. I was strongly considering tracking down an ATI Commander sized 1911 after reading a lot of good posts about them on the We The Armed forums and had actually started shopping for one when another budget gun caught my eye. In one of the gun mags that frequents my house I found an add for an attractive black and stainless 1911 from a company I had never heard from, Regent. Some web research told me that the company was under the umbrella of Umarex, a company known for its AIRSOFT products. Yeah, that’s right, airsoft. The pistol itself if manufactured in Turkey, which is OK in my book since my experience with the Stoeger Cougar 8000 a few years ago. Turks can make some good guns, or at least they have the ability to do so when they want to. Long story short, the lack of ATI’s in stock, a sub $500 price tag and some decent curiosity on my part meant the Regent R100 1911 followed me home one afternoon….
So lets talk about it already, shall we?
The Regent R100 1911 is a 1911-A1 style single action, recoil operated, semi-automatic pistol firing a .45 ACP cartridge fed via a singly stack magazine system. It utilizes a short recoil operating system in which the barrel and slide travel to the rear as a group for a short distance until chamber pressure is dropped enough for the barrel to unlock from the slide via a barrel link to complete the unloading, ejecting, cocking, stripping, chambering and locking process for the next shot. OK, we all pretty much know that....
The pistol itself is very attractive. The black finish and steel barrel work well with black Hogue grips (which are a hyped bonus apparently) and the understated "Regent" etched on the side of the frame to present a very business like, yet attractive, appearance. Being only a slightly modified version of the 1911-A1 design you will not find fancy slide serrations (or any on the front), a rail on the dust cover under the barrel, a beveled magazine well, beavertail safety (more on this later), or any checkering anywhere on the pistol that it shouldn't be normally. You do get a lowered (but not flared) ejection port that does not seem to beat ejected brass up so reloading with this pistol is an option. The extractor is the traditional internal design and also traditional is the short guide rod assembly in the mainspring. I do not think a full length rod offers any major drawbacks to a 1911 or makes it more complex really (unless you are talking one of those Springfield 2 piece jobs that requires a separate tool to take down) but the truth is the simple short rod works just as well, as two world wars and countless other confrontations attest to. It has a traditional grip safety and hammer, although the hammer is slightly flared for better purchase if thumbed back manually, which almost never the case with this pistol per the accepted manual of arms.
The fit of the pistol is pretty damn good. I had heard and seen pics of the incredible slide to frame fit of the budget ATI 1911's and if my pistol is any indication of Regents products, the R100 is slightly below, or at, this high level of workmanship. The pistol fits fairly tight together (despite what the clerk at the store tried to show me compared to another - more expensive - 1911 he was trying to get me to buy, certainly a tighter fit than any of my Glocks! The only exception was the grip safety which rattles considerably. The barrel is hammer forged as is also the slide. The barrel does not have a integral feel ramp but it does appear to be slightly throated and polished. The frame is investment cast and internal components appear to me almost exclusively made by MIM (Metal Injected Molding). I was going to explain these two processes in this post, but have decided to put them off for a entire separate post all together. Needless to say, in my opinion both investment casting and MIM parts should be "good enough" for most shooters needs.
The finish on the other hand may be an issue in the future. I have put maybe slightly over 300 rounds through this pistol and the black finish on the underside of the slide where it meets the frame shows some significant wear already. The rest of the slide seems well enough, but its not like I have been pulling this in and out of holsters or tossing it around in the back of a truck or anything. I know that is somewhat normal, but it still bears notice and observation in the future.
Controls and sights
The controls are straight from a 1911, standard trigger, magazine release, slide stop and safety. I must admit that while I see the point in extended controls, these work just fine for me. Matter of fact I like the standard safety with its smallish appearance. In my mind its less likely to be knocked to the "off/fire" position while on the belt or be pushed to the "on/safe" position while firing like some of the larger "paddle" designs may be. Also, if you are a Southpaw this 1911 only has the safety on the left side for right handed shooters, as per the original design (don't you know you are supposed to train yourselves to shoot right handed!). The trigger is the GI "short" style which is a bit different for me, but it can be "easily" replaced if need be (probably won't though). The standard slide stop is good enough for a defensive pistol. I have gotten into the habit of using an over the top "C" grip to rack my slide whenever I load, so having the ability to easily let it fly forward with an extended lever is not a huge issue for me. For those IDPA types that like that, again, its easily replaced. The magazine release is nothing new for a 1911 or worth much of note for reviewing, but again an extended one could be added if wished.
All controls worked correctly and positively in my testing of this pistol.
The sights lie above the vestigial bumps on my P-3AT and well below a 3 dot arrangement on any other pistol I have owned. My former Kimber had simple black black sights, but they were also superior to these. These are classic GI sights, small and unobtrusive. The sights on this pistol are a real chore for my aging eyes to use. The rear sight is a very small notch and the front ramp is equally as small. The ramp must be carefully lined up in the rear for a proper picture and takes some concentration. The rear sight is dovetailed using a GI style cut and the front sight is pinned in place. This makes upgrading them somewhat tricky as most 1911 sights available are cut for a a different sized rear and also a dovetailed front. There are options available though. Most appealing to me (too keep the basic premise for this pistol) is an enhanced GI style sight available for around $30 that utilizes the same basic rear sight but with a slightly wider and deeper notch to make aligning the front sight easier and a serrated surface to keep glare down. The front sight I will just apply some orange sight paint to make it easier to pick up.
The 1911 has a "traditional" external safety (it started the tradition by the way), grip safety and also an internal "series" 80 firing pin safety that prevents the firing pin from being allowed to fully go forward to contact the primer in the round until the trigger if fully pulled toward the rear. I don't particularity care for them, while necessary by design in a Glock, the 1911 should never be carried with a round in the chamber without the pistol already having the manual safety engaged and grip safety engaged until ready to fire. In addition, as the Ruger SR1911 touts in its literature, a lightweight firing pin and heavy firing pin spring provide enough protection against accidental discharges if the pistol is dropped chambered from normal heights.
There are no magazine disconnects, witness holes, loaded chamber indicators or key lock safeties on the pistol. An chain lock is provided with the pistol where applicable by law.
The magazine that comes with it is a "ACT-Mag" magazine, steel and of good quality. I had no trouble loading or shooting with it. I also bought a couple of Kimber 8 round mags and had no issues with them either. I will note again that the magazine well on the R100 is not beveled and inserting mags will take a bit of concentration to get used to. You could either have it beveled or add one of those grip extension mag wells to it if you wish.
Ah, shooting a 1911, nothing really compares in my book. The one thing that stands out in my book about shooting this pistol is that the trigger...well, it sucks compared to my other guns. It is just heavy and gritty and makes me work for each round down range to go where I want it. Its not like I expected much out of a GI style gun (and really, it was better than some other old 1911's that I have shot) but it is a noticeable distraction to shooting it. Not making excuses, but I think a better trigger (and shooter!) would show what this pistol is really capable of in terms of accuracy from the barrel. Hopefully, the trigger will smooth out if not lighten up with continued use as the metal parts wear against and smooth each other out. If not I could replace some parts (ugh) or send it out for a custom trigger job (another ugh). Or I could just accept it for what it is and shoot it as I adjust to it (no so ugh).
I seem to keep hitting low and to the left with it, which is supposedly a sign that I am anticipating the shot and "pushing" the trigger right before let off. I don't know, I think maybe the trigger has a bit to do with this as well. Either way, if I continue to hit low (an I am using a GI center hold on the target as I was taught) I can fix that my lightly filing down the front sight until my groups come up. Filing the front sight? Yep, GI weapons (1911, M1, M1 carbine) used to be purposely issues with high front sights that a soldier would file down to me their particular rifles trajectory and their sight picture. With today's plastic and already painted dot sights this fact has been lost on most people. Either way, I have some more range work to do with this pistol before its ready to be a "on standby" defensive piece, for now its a range toy.
Recoil is what you expect from an all steel and alloy 1911 and .45 combo, noticeable but not harsh. Too much for you? Stick to 9mm..
Some people experience "slide bite" with the 1911 (or any other semi auto pistol with an exposed hammer) when they grip it too high causing skin to be pinched (bitten) between the hammer and the slide upon recoil. I did not experience this but the rear of the grip safety and hammer did start to rub on the "meat" of my hand and did cause some discomfort. Yeah, I know, cry you a river and grow the hell up. That's the nice thing about middle age, you start to get to the point where you can cry and get away with it as well as have some of the resources to actually change that shit. A beavertail safety and hammer will probably find their way onto the pistol. Wilson makes a value lined supposedly "drop in" grip safety and hammer that can be installed without any additional machining to the pistol, we will see.
Pics and Vids
The “out of the box experience”…yeah, boxes sit on shelf for the most part, but custom cut foam is a nice touch and shows the company takes the time to cover the little things….throw a bushing wrench in there for future guns guys..
The pistol has classic 1911-A1 styling, and I love that…the grips are Hogue rubber grips which is a much hyped “feature” of the pistol…they are nice, about $20 and not all that special, classic wood grips would be nice though…I have put these on 1911’s before, they work and they are better than the crappy plastic panels you might expect on a bargain pistol…
The business end of the R100, no front serrations (not missed), no rail under the dust cover (not missed) and no fancy front sight (missed!)
Plain old simple trigger, serrations on the front of the face of it help your finger get traction on the heavy pull that lies behind it…
Basic 1911 grip safety but the hammer is slightly flared…I have not gotten “bitten” between the hammer and the safety, but the hammer does bear down on the “meat” between my thumb and forefinger..this may be the one thing I change on the gun…and that tiny rear sight….
Looking for a beveled magazine well in a sub $500 1911…take a look elsewhere..
The ejection port is lowered but not flared like on some other 1911’s..ejected brass do not appear to be worse for wear despite this…
Can you see those really small sights on the rear of the slide there…you can?, that’s funny, I have a really hard time with it…but that slide to frame fit is pretty damn impressive..
Both the stock magazine (on the right) or the Kimber 8 round mag (on the left) have run flawlessly through six boxes of ammo.
The Simple and understated engraving on the slide is much appreciated after the Billboard sized stamping on the Taurus I used to have….
A few vids from yours truly...
So, to break it down lets take a look at the Good, the bad and the ugly on this pistol…
- Affordable price
- Quality construction across most of the pistol, good slide to frame fit, investment cast frame seems solid.
- Has functioned without error in its first 300 rounds.
- Simple design, and simple is good (would even be better without the series 80 safety)
- Hogue grips are a nice addition..
- Pistol appears to be capable of better accuracy, even with the trigger pull, than I can demonstrate with it..
- Hammer forged barrel
- Magazine is of good quality
- Standard GI safety (some may differ on this, but I think the more likely NOT to be flipped on by the shooter the better)
- Sloppy fit on the grip safety
- The sights are hard on my eyes
- Untested company in terms of it firearms…long term durability is a question mark…
- I doubt the necessity in real life of the series 80 safety
- Some people may be turned off by MIM internals.
- Not biting, but the hammer is rubbing my hand, possibly fixable with a drop in hammer and beavertail safety (around $70)
- Only 1 mag shipped with pistol, and no bushing wrench.
- Finish appears to be subject, wear marks already heavy on rails
- Trigger pull needs some work
If I was to rate this pistol against other 1911's available I would have to give it a "B" or maybe a "7.5/10" or "4 stars". Its a solid pistol and performer so far for me. Yes, its got some short coming in my book, but again, given the price its a pretty solid value for the money. Regent claims it gives you a solid starting point to build a custom pistol from and this is true. But after you factor in the costs of parts and such you may add to get it to a custom pistol config how much have you really saved (considering parts cost, labor, how much your time is worth, ect). As is, its a good solid pistol, but there are some others that can be had at or lower than what it retails for as well. Like I said in the beginning, its not the pistol people will be talking about...but it COULD Be. Maybe if Regent could offer a few bells and whistles at the same price point (they are offering a R200 model with a config more like a Taurus PT1911 but at a higher price point) like maybe that commander style hammer and grip safety (like ATI does) and just drop that series 80 safety I think a lot more people might take a look at it.
As it is, its a good looking, reliable and solid budget 1911, just one that does not have a whole lot to separate it from the pack. But it could.....
Regent Arms on the Web
R100 review from The Firearms Channel.com
Regent R100 video.
Regent R100 disassemble video.
Gunblast reviews the R100.