Gun Digest

Handgun Review: Boberg XR9-S

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Boberg XR9-S Review.

The Boberg XR9-S looks kind of funny. The ejection port is situated rearward and the magazine looks backwards. But when you understand how it works, you realize this thing is the ideal concealed carry handgun.

Boberg XR9 Review

Unusual on first glance but the rearward ejection port and the magazine position allow the XR9-S to be smaller than other pistols of similar calibers.

The pistol uses a pair of tongs (seriously, that’s what they’re called) to pull the top round from the mag, move it up in place behind the chamber, and that’s where the slide starts to move forward to push it into the chamber.

A clever extension across the ejection port keeps the cartridge from popping completely out, and when the slide closes, the tongs drop back down to grasp another round from the magazine.

Here’s the beauty of this design: since the chamber is right on top of the magazine, a full 3-inch barrel can be mounted with the overall length much shorter than comparably chambered and barreled pistols.

For example, this pistol closely approximates a Kahr CW9 type of firearm in chambering, barrel length and capacity, but is just a hair lighter.

Yet it is so much shorter in length and height it’s kind of frightening, being only 5.1 inches long. Placed next to a Glock 26, you would swear it’s a .380 if you knew no better.

It is thin, just under an inch wide, and just over 4 inches in height. Even so, short people with skinny fingers can still actually get all three fingers on the grip below the trigger guard. It’s truly amazing how much difference getting your pinky finger on the grip can be.

Its mass is reassuring, aiding in recoil control, and doesn’t feel like a steel slide atop a weightless frame like many polymer-framed pistols exhibit.

Note the location of the ejection port. It’s over the magazine, not in front of it, while the muzzle actually sits above the front of the trigger guard. for a truly compact, ingenious design.

Daintily fingered folks should have no problem controlling the XR9-S because of this. It’s double action only, but the pull is extremely smooth, repeatable, with a long reset and decent weight for safety considerations.

The gunsmith in me has to make the following observations. It appears really complicated when you first look at it, but it really isn’t so much.

There are around 50 parts in the entire gun, which isn’t bad. Generally, the fewer parts you have the better for maintenance’s sake, and after sticking my fingers in it, I found that it’s not overly complicated or difficult to service.

Its appearance at first glance (and knowing how it feeds) leads one to assume a certain case of Teutonically inspired over-engineering might be involved, but I was pleased to see that this was not so.

Recoil mitigation is also consciously present by means of semi-flexible plastic grips, which are wrapped around the machined aluminum frame, a rotating barrel housed within a stainless steel slide, a rear buffer and a couple other harder to describe things that I can’t remember cause I was distracted trying to contain my drool with one hand, while keeping the product free from contamination with the other. (Hey man, I can only do two things at one time.)

My only complaint is that because of the design with the barrel set back, there is no traditional slide stop. The slide can be easily locked back manually using the takedown lever, but some purist 1911 trolls will likely take exception to the absence of the last round lock back. On a deep conceal pistol, which this qualifies to be in my opinion, it’s not that big a deal.

Care and Feeding

I should note that the means of feeding has resulted in a new failure type, not experienced by other common auto pistols.

If the cartridges do not have a strong bullet crimp, the bullet will remain in the magazine when the tongs pull the case from the magazine for feeding.

Fortunately, this situation is limited to a few cheap ammo types and that information is included with the manual and also on the web site at

Decent self-defense ammo, like that used by just about every serious shooter carrying a pistol, will not be a problem.

I test fired with Winchester white box FMJ and Federal Hydra-Shoks and had no issues. I tested only for self-defense accuracy. I set the target to 7 yards and fired with only my strong hand in a not quite rushed five-shot string, in very, very subdued lighting. I believe it to be fully acceptable in the accuracy department.

Holsters are available, and I would advise against, using the cheap $10 sheath type one-size fits most numbered holsters.

Those no-retention, thin polyester sheaths rely on longer projecting barrels and belt tension to hold the pistol securely, and the setback barrel on the XR9-S will not work so well with those.

There are over 20 holster makers fitting leather and Kydex for the XR9 series and one of those quality products should be obtained.

Boberg Arms is just barely keeping up with demand, and as of this writing, the XR9-S is only available through the manufacturer and a few approved dealers. The MSRP starts at $995.

This article appeared in the March 25, 2013 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.

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