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One New Owner's Range Report

''FJC'' (Frank) on the Rohrbaugh Forum has just aquired his R9 (at last), October 22nd 2004. He has written a well detailed and lengthy report which might be of interest for others to read. It follows in its entirety but has had been re-formatted a bit. Thank you Frank.

I've only had my R9s for a little over 24 hours so far, but here's my first review with a range report. No pictures as of yet, I didn't have time to set up the camera. Soon, I hope!

Initial impressions:

Taking the R9s out of it's nice little black plastic case, the first thing I noticed was that this pistol is SOLID. It just feels like one solid piece of steel - no rattles, nothing loose-feeling, it's just SOLID. It did feel heavier than I expected, but I think that was just an illusion caused by how rock solid it felt. The finish is impeccable, there's not a blemish anywhere on it. The action of the slide is smooth as glass, and feels as high-quality as any $2000+ custom 1911 pistol I've ever tried.

I will state, though, that the slot milled into the top of the rear sight is slightly off-center, a bit to the left of the pistol. This is identical-looking to another person's R9s that was shown on I also viewed another R9s that my dealer owns, which was also cut slight off-center in exactly the same way. Rohrbaugh apparently needs to check the settings on their CNC machine.

The pistol came with two magazines, an instruction manual, and a spare recoil spring (Rohrbaugh recommends it be changed every 500 rounds, so it's nice they included a spare). The magazines appear to be very high quality, with the Rohrbaugh logo nicely engraved on the floorplate.

The trigger is simply amazing, very smooth and relatively light feeling. It does "stack" somewhat, with the trigger pull becoming progressively heavier (but not extensively so) in the last part of the pull. The break at the end is clean. It rivals the DA pull on some of my pistols that have had trigger action jobs - then again, for the price, it should have a hand-tuned, polished feel!

Magazine insertion is a bit trickier than I expected, as with the heel release one needs to angle the magazine in slightly to help push the magazine catch to the rear. I'll admit this is the first pistol I've owned with a heel release, so maybe it's just my inexperience. With only a bit of practice I found I was able to insert magazines fairly quickly, though certainly not as fast as on a side-release based pistol.

Range Report:

Usually when I get a new pistol, the first thing I do upon getting it home is field strip it , clean off all of the factory lube/grease, give it a thorough cleaning, and lube it myself (usually using FP-10 on moving parts, and TW-25B grease on the rails). With most new pistols you simply don't know how long they've sat on a dealer's shelf, and often such pistols are shipped with more of a preservative grease than a functional one (SIG pistols often ship with a thick, brown, sticky grease, for example).

However, on a couple (and really, only a couple) of owners have run into some malfunctions that the factory has claimed are due to improper lubrication (either the wrong lube, or not enough). Most of the comments have claimed that not enough lubrication was the issue, though it is interesting to note that the manual specifically states that the R9 should only be LIGHTLY lubricated, and even warns against over-lubrication. As a result, I decided to fire the R9 while it was still lubed from the factory. And, heck, I new from my dealer that this pistol had only shipped from Rohrbaugh three days ago!

Off I went to my nearby indoor range. I took 150 rounds of standard-pressure 9mm with me - 100 rounds of 115gr Speer Gold Dot, and 50 rounds of Winchester White Box. Another comment from the factory is that the Rohrbaugh R9 is a very tight-fitting, precision pocket pistol, and that failing to keep it clean can result in malfunctions. The Rohrbaughs recommend cleaning after 50-80 rounds to avoid problems. My goal with 150 rounds was to see just how quickly I'd run into problems.

I started off with the Gold Dots, as those are my planned carry round. I must say that hand-chambering a round in the R9 is a joy - I've never had a pistol that felt sooo butter-smooth when hand chambering. My Kel-Tec P-3AT is very difficult to hand chamber due to the stiff spring, and often will only partially chamber, requiring an extra push on the slide to get the pistol fully into battery.

I set up a simple target with some 2" Shoot N'c dots, and did some careful slow-fire shots to see just where they'd land, and to get a feel for aiming. At 7 yards I found I was able to keep all rounds easily within a 2" group during careful slow fire offhand. I was able to shrink that to 1.5" at 10 yards when I braced against the table at the range and fired shots as carefully as I could.

Recoil was quite stout, with visible muzzle flash with the Gold Dots. It was, however, quite controllable. I do think that this pistol could be improved by the addition of checkering on the front of the grip. I may have to pick up some of the 3M grip tape and see if that improves the grip, though I hate to do that to such a beautiful piece of functional art.

After 50 rounds I switched to a silhouette target, my plan now being to test more rapidly firing. I set the target at 7 yards. I put 30 rounds into the target, firing fairly rapidly (my indoor range doesn't allow rapid-fire, so I kept it to slightly less than one round per second). All rounds landed on the target, most of them in the orange center-of-mass area. By now my right hand was getting a bit tired and slightly shaky from the recoil. I decided, though, to try some one-handed firing. I loaded up six more Gold Dots, and commenced firing. Muzzle flip was, as expected, much more pronounced one-handed. On the second shot (number 81 for the day), I experienced a failure to feed. The round was still in the magazine, with the nose jammed against the bottom of the feed ramp, and the rear of the slide pressing into the rear of the round. The nose of the round was down slightly in the magazine. A slight pull back on the slide allowed the magazine spring to pop the nose up into the proper position - releasing the slide then fed the round normally. This did not appear to me to be a failure due to the gun being dirty (though by the time the pistol did appear to be very dirty). I blame this failure on limp-wristing, as I definitely felt my hand/wrist were sore and tired. Eighty rounds gave my hand a bit of a beating - but another thing to point out is between the first 50 rounds and these I also fired 120 full .45 ACP loads out of a SIG P245 compact that I also took to the range to function test.

I fired the rest of the magazine one-handed, as well as a second magazine full, being careful to keep a good, solid grip on the pistol and my wrist locked. I had no additional failures. I finished up the Gold Dot ammo - I had now gone 100 rounds, with only the one failure.

At this point the pistol was absolutely filthy, as well as my hand. The R9 seems to expell a lot of grime during firing. All I had left was a box of 50 rounds of Winchester White Box . The recoil from the WWB didn't seem much less than that of the Gold Dots. I continued my semi-rapid-fire at the silhouette target, with a few head shots thrown in as well. At round number 143, I had a failure to feed - this time, the empty case was jammed horizontally between the slide and the top of the chamber hood. The next round was partially fed into the chamber. I was able to simply grasp the empty case with my left hand fingers and pull - it popped out and the slide continued forward, feeding the round successfully. This struck me as possibly being a failure caused by how absolutely filthy the pistol was by this point (the factory grease oozing out of the rear of the slide rails looked like mud). I continued firing, and at round 147 I had another identical failure, though the case was further down and I was unable to simply pull it out - I had to retract the slide and do the "flipping" motion to expel it. The final three rounds fired without incident.

Now, 3 failures in 150 rounds is nothing to brag about - however, I do truely feel that the first failure was due to limp-wristing, and the second two were due to the pistol needing a good cleaning and relube. I honestly think that if instead of firing 150 rounds in one session I had broken it into 3 sessions of 50 rounds, with a cleaning in between sessions, I would have only seen the one limp-wristing failure.

At the end of the session I noted that I had fired 100 rounds into the silhouette target, 99 of which were hits that would have ruined any bad guy's day (alas, one of my head shots hit just under the ear, as you'll see once I get the pictures taken). A few shots showed some odd paper rips, which had me concerned that I was seeing some keyholing - however, I saw the exact same paper rips while testing the SIG P245 .45 ACP with factory loads, so I think it was just the type of paper used for the targets.

Disassembly, Cleaning, and Re-assembly:

Once back home, I wiped down the exterior of the R9s, and prepared to disassemble it for cleaning. As others have stated, this is not the easiest pistol to disassemble. The slide must be retracted a small amount (approximately 1/4 inch) to line up the disassembly holes on the slide with a pin on the frame - that pin must then be pushed out with a pin punch. The trick is to find something that can be inserted in the ejection port to hold the slide back just EXACTLY the right amount. After much experimentation, I found I could use a plastic scraping tool I use for cleaning (others have found a plastic tapered chop-stick can be inserted to just the right depth). I pushed out the pin and the slide came off easily. The factory ships the R9 with a good amount of SuperLube on it, which has the appearance of clear vaseline. After 150 rounds, this looked more like that gray liquid steel goop.

Cleaning went quickly and easily. I lubed the pistol with my grease of choice, TW-25B, applying a thin coat to the barrel "bushing" area, and the contact surfaces inside the slide and top of the frame. I applied it more liberally on the barrel lockup areas and the rails. I will state, though, that I was unable to get either of the included magazines disassembled. They have the common dimple on the bottom that must be pushed prior to sliding off the floorplate. After pushing that in, I was only able to get the floorplate to move about 1/8th of an inch, even when pushing so hard on the floorplate with a pin punch that i was seriously in fear of damaging the magazine.

Reassembly didn't qo quickly or easily.

The R9 uses a double-spring recoil system, with a separate steel cap. By far the hardest part of reassembly for me was getting the darned recoil system back in place (and trust me, "darn" was by far NOT the most significant expletive I used during this time). The problem I had was that the end of the recoil guide rod just wouldn't line up properly with both the cap AND the retaining hole in the end of the slide. The difficulty came in that it was hard to get it lined up when having to insert it at a slight angle, since the barrel was in place. After a good five minutes of screwing around with it I took a different approach - I removed the barrel, and inserted the recoil system. Now, to get the barrel back into place, I had to push the spring system in quite a bit to give the barrel room to clear it. That worked quite well - the barrel dropped into place, and the recoil system seated against the barrel lug as it was designed to do. Now I simply put the slide back on the frame, used the plastic scraper again to line up the holes, and pushed the pin back into place. Reassembly was complete. Whew. At least I know some "tricks" now, so it'll be easier next time.


I'm very pleased so far with this pistol. It's small, it's slim, it's powerful, it's lightweight. After cleaning it all up I loaded it and carried it most of the afternoon while running errands. It was incredibly unobtrusive in my RJ Hedley pocket holster. With my S&W 340PD, there would be a significant bulge in that pocket, but with the R9s you could hardly tell anything was in my pocket, due to the slim profile.

Disassembly and reassembly could be easier, but I'm willing to put up with that slight hassle (a dedicated tool to position the slide would do wonders for improving this). Is it worth the high price? It is in my opinion, and after all it will likely replace my 340pd and my Kel-tec P-3AT, so I can recoup quite a bit of the cost by selling those two pistols.

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