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Discussion Starter · #1 ·


The R9s is almost precisely the size of the Protec-25 (CZ 45) clone that I had in the early '90s (about .8" across, 5.2" long, 4" high), but it's chambered for a full-bore 9x19. You can't use +P or +P+ ammo, but, hey, it's pretty handy nevertheless. The short (3") barrel certainly robs some performance (my Silvertips - they're what the gun's designer carries, so that's good enough for me - average 1060 fps out of the shorter bbl as opposed to 1165 out of a 4" tube), but the gun still provides a terrific amount of power for such a teensy package.

Rohrbaugh's pistols are incredibly well made. Their techs are jewelers, and the level of finish is better than on any pistol (out of dozens and dozens) that I've ever owned. Accordingly, clean up is a breeze - the briefest wipe-down with a solvent-saturated patch takes the crud of a hundred and fifty rounds off. Because the gun is so tightly fitted (seriously, like a P210 or better), the crud build-up can be an issue. The factory recommends a wipe-down every 50 rounds to keep it functioning properly. I've noticed that function does seem to deteriorate (misfeeds begin to occur) around the 75th round if I don't clean the gun.

I initially had real difficulty getting my R9s to work for me. It worked flawlessly for everyone else, so I knew it was just me. It turned out that my oddly shaped hands (I have a decent amount of meat on the ball of my thumb and the heel of my hand, but very thin palms) combined with my front-to-back Weaver grip and the gun's narrow (.8"!) gripframe were allowing the gun to slip around a bit too much. When I adopt an Isoceles grip (score another point for Andy Stanford in the ongoing Weaver-vs.-Iso debate) with lateral (right-to-left) compression of the gripframe, the gun works flawlessly. (I had this same problem with the thin Kel-Tec P32 . . . thanks to my friend's son, Matt, for remembering this and thereby solving the problems I had been having. :) )

Rapid fire, I easily keep all seven shots (six in the mag, one up the spout) in a 8" pie plate at 10 yards. Slow fire, the pistol will shoot a group of around 1.5" (or, at least, that's what I'll shoot with it) at the same distance. (I've tried it with a variety of ammo, and get about the same results - my gun doesn't seem to like Blazer Brass, but who care?) Keyholing has been reported with some guns and some bullet weights. It's weird: In the first 100 rounds, I got some clear keyholes and some partial ones. In the last 250 rounds, I haven't had any. Not one. Very odd, but maybe it was just a question of polishing in the bullet leade . . . the consensus is that the keyholes are caused by the slightly longer bullet leade in the barrel before the rifling starts - apparenly this is part of the design to allow such a high pressure cartridge in such a tiny pistol).

The trigger pull is long and amazingly smooth. I haven't measured it, but I'd guess it to be somewhat under 10 pounds. The gun's recoil is not sharp and considerably less than that of a +P 158-grain .38 spl out of an all-steel J-frame snub. As mentioned earlier, the shooter's grip on the pistol can definitely affect function, although it seems to be a lot less of a problem for those with thicker hands.

Slide bite is nil - the gun is well-designed to prevent it. The gun points better for me than any pistol I've used. Excellent design. Karl Rohrbaugh told me that he spent a lot of time whittling on a wooden model of the gripframe during design - he mounted a laser pointer on top to determine the best angle for pointing. The mag retention is via a European-style heel release . . . exactly what I want on a pocket gun (can't tell you how many times I found my Kel-Tec P32 sitting in my pocket with the mag disengaged).

While the R9s (the model I have) comes with sights, the R9 (same price) does not. Karl Rohrbaugh's pistol is an R9. He says that he considers his pistol to be a modern repeating derringer and told me that, like Larry Seecamp, he feels that a shooter should be able to hit with his pistol at its intended distances without reference to the sights. The Rohrbaugh points a darn lot better than any Seecamp I've shot, though. I went ahead and got my pistol with the sights because they're unobtrusive and - well, why not?

By the way, Karl Rohrbaugh mentioned that there are two future models soon to be announced. His senior tech told me what they would be (think different calibers) but swore me to secrecy. I think one of the new models will cause some excitement . . .

You may notice that I've talked about Karl Rohrbaugh quite a lot. The reason for this is that I've talked to him quite a few times. When I was having problems figuring out why the gun was working for everyone but me, I called and talked to the factory several times. Karl and his senior tech took my calls, and spent probably almost two hours on the phone with me over a couple of weeks (they were both flabbergasted that the gun wasn't working for me, and were determined to figure out the problem). This level of service blew me away - if you have a problem with your Glock, Gaston is not going to call you back ten minutes after you left a message with the company secretary (and then spend a half hour on the phone with you). Like I said, it just blows me away.

The Kahr polymer PM9 is virtually the same size as the aluminum-framed Rohrbaugh (the Kahr is a little thicker, and a teensy bit longer, and weighs a bit more). I opted for the Rohrbaugh because it has second-strike capabilty (I haven't needed it yet, though, in about 350 rounds) and because the PM9 feels bigger to me. Also, the 200-round break-in business with the Kahr put me off (I feel like a company should deliver a working gun out of the box - what am I, on their payroll to put the last touches on the gun to get it working?). As I said, my Rohrbaugh worked flawlessly out of the box . . . but I wound up spending a fair amount of time figuring out why it wasn't working for me and my weird grip - so I spent the same 200 rounds figuring out how to work the gun anyway. Most folks (with normal hands) wouldn't have the issue I had (and, if you find that you do, just be sure to get a lot of lateral pressure on the gripframe, and it'll take care of it).

The R9s retails for about $900-950. The wait time is about a year from the factory, but I got mine in one day from an outfit in Arkansas for about $850 (plus shipping). (Mine is actually my tenth anniversary present from my wife - she's a sweetie!) The Rohrbaugh pistol comes in a logo'd plastic hard case with two mags (really high-quality) and an extra Wolff recoil spring. (Rohrbaugh recommends changing out the recoil spring after 250 rounds of shooting. I went a bit longer than that with no problems whatsoever, but why endanger your $1k pistol over a $4 part . . . .)
 
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I wanted one of these, once, and I sort of still do. However, after recently trying a Glock 30, I have begun to question whether it's something I really need.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I think the Rohrbaughs are best suited for folks who can't be made and who must have a gun on them in all dress modes. The G30 is a great gun for a lot of people, but it (and the slimmer G36 I used to have) is still too big for pocket carry in dress slacks. I found that I could fairly easily conceal the G36 in a SmartCarry when standing, but that it would bulge somewhat oddly when sitting.

For me, the closest competitors to the R9s would be the PM9 mentioned in my review and the Sc/Al J-frame .38/.357s. The Rohrbaugh is considerably smaller than a J-frame, but not as light. It does, however, carry two more rounds of approximately the same practical power, and it reloads a bit faster (for me - I've never been a speedmaster with a speedloader). It also can be shot a lot quicker because the recoil is less noticeable in the little semiauto. I would not be surprised at all to learn that the PM9 could be shot quicker still, though, with its striker action.

Anyway, like you said, it's certainly not something that everyone needs. I like the ability to carry without anyone the wiser even when I'm wearing lightweight dress clothing here in the southwest, so I was intrigued by it. I was fortunate that my wife got it for me for the anniversary gift (I got her a ring, by the way).
 
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Well, let me explain my situation. I'm actually very tall, and as such, have exceptionally deep pockets. Out of curiosity, I asked a local dealer if I could try to slip a Glock 30 he had in a display case into my jeans pocket.

To my surprise, the gun not only went in, but went deep enough down that it was completely covered. I had little difficulty removing it from the pocket, and I imagine that I could make it even easier, with a proper pocket holster. Since printing isn't that big a deal around here, I decided that I'm going to get a G30, and try it in a homemade pocket holster that I'm working on the design for. The idea is simple, really: I'm going to make it square the shape of the gun off, so it doesn't print like a gun, anymore.

I carry a Bible in the other pocket, already, and I also carry a Cell Phone, a lighter, and lots of other such things in other pockets. The way I see it, with so many other square-ish bulges around my waist, only a gun person would guess that the big bulge in my pocket's not just a day-planner, or a palm-pilot, or some such.

Just looking, right now, I can see a gun-shaped bulge in that very pocket that is brought on by the shape of my Cell Phone sitting next to my knife, at an odd angle. Nobody has ever called me on those bulges before, so I'm guessing I'll be able to just go about my business, without being accosted.

As for the R9, I can see where it has its place. Smaller individuals who want a "defensive-caliber" pocket gun have really found their salvation in this one. Personally, I define any caliber as defensive, once you make up your mind to use it for that purpose, but many consider 9mm the benchmark, so whatever.

One thing that I'm wondering about, though, is whether the R9 is going to set off a big game of "How'd they do that?" If it does, then I think we're about to see Kel-Tec, Kahr, NAA, and all the other "pocket rocketeers" start doing some really interesting things.

Kel-Tec going all-out, and trying to make a P32-sized 9mm comes very quickly to my mind.

I think that in ten years, we'll look at the R9 as having been valuable, not so much as a weapon, (though it seems like it will be plenty good at that, too) but as the gun that taught us just how small a "real" caliber's platforms could really get, and still retain quality.

I hope that in the next few years, we start to think of something the size of a Kahr as a clunker.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's funny - I've expressed similar hopes of a minimum-size paradigm shift brought on by the R9s (the way the ASP lead directly to the S&W 469/669 to the Glock 19, etc.) to my friends, and they all said I was nuts. I'm glad to hear you express similar thoughts.

Wouldn't a single-stack Kel-Tec be a great idea? There's really no reason they couldn't make it just a teensy bit bigger than the P3AT . . .

Anyway, always glad to hear someone else feels the way I do! :)
 
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People really need to get over their handgun machismo. The fact is that the whole purpose of the handgun is to be small!

If you show me one .45 that is 1.2" wide, five inches tall, and seven inches long, and another that is only three quarters of each of those dimensions, and both have similar levels of performance, then the smaller one is obviously better, from a civilian standpoint.

Far too many Tactical Teddies are foolishly arming themselves with guns several times the size of what they need. Don't get me wrong -- I believe that everyone should carry a gun that they like, but I believe that it should also be suited to their current conditions.

Tactical Teddy should feel free to arm himself with the USP he's so in love with, as long as he's in a situation that provides for a proper cover garment, like the dead of winter, but he needs to take his H&K fetish to the P7M8, if it's the middle of summer, and he's wearing a tank-top and shorts!
 

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Hi there Erich!

Beautiful picture of your new pistol! It does indeed look like it was assembled by jewelers!

It is a beautifully crafted pistol! I agree that it is the right size and power combination for those that have to carry a very powerful and concealable pistol. I am hoping that Kel Tec will unveil a single stack 9, as well as everyone else on the KTOG forum. However, I don't believe that it will even come close to the work of art that you own!

Most of us can't carry a larger pistol in our "real world" day to day lives everywhere and there is a growing niche for the single stack nines. I will be first in line to buy a Kel Tec should they produce a single stack nine pocket pistol.

What holster do you plan to use with your new R9s?

Again, thank you for the great picture of your new pistol!

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Chris,

Thanks again for your encouragment as I worked out how to get the R9s shooting well for me with my weird hands.

I realized last night that I'd forgotten to answer your PM question about the holster. You know, I haven't really decided. Right now I just have it in an old (and slightly too big) DeSantis Nemesis for a PPK that I used to own - it works, but it has no style.

Obviously, everyone is in love with Mr. Hedley's work, so that's an option (plus, he's a heck of a guy).


http://www.hedleyholsters.com/rohrbaugh.html

There's also Milt Sparks (I've got one of their holsters for my Hi-Power and like it a great deal).



http://www.miltsparks.com/

But, I've been looking at this Pocket Concealment Systems Blackbird as well . . .



http://www.pcsholsters.com/catalog_item_BRD.html

I'd be interested in hearing whether any of you gents have suggestions . . . I have something that works right now, so the couple of months to get a new one built is no skin off my nose. I'd like to order by the end of the week, though . . . :)
 
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I handled a Rohrbaugh at the NRA Convention in Houston and I have to agree, it is like a Swiss watch from days gone by. I don't think I've seen better workmanship -- functional engineering and machining, not just engraving or whatever -- on any pistol.

I sure agree on the single-stacks, too. Six or seven of 9 mm beats five of .38 special (what I carry now.)
 

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I like the Rohrbaugh and it seems practical, especially for someone like me. Being a student moving towards a degree, when I decide on a long term carry gun, I have to THINK long term. The R9s is a practical piece, a truly concealable, pocket pistol, in a very good caliber.

BUT and there is always a but, the R9s is simply too expensive. I've handled a couple of pieces and they're CERTAINLY worth every penny you have to pay in terms of quality. Unfortunately, for those of us on a tight handgunning budget the R9s is just out of reach. I believe this is why Kel-Tec and Kahr dominate and will continue to dominate the full-power, autoloading, pocket pistol market.

-Rob
 
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For the average college student, who can wear whatever he wants, and as such, can keep even a rather large pocket gun hidden, I see no reason not to go with the makarov for a pocket gun. It's a bit big, but it gives similar ballistic performance to the R9, though not entirely equal.

It's a bunch cheaper, though. I saw a Russian Mak for $200 just last week.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
:) There's truth in that.

When I was a college student, I carried either a 4" revolver or a full-sized semiauto . . . and a backup in the pocket (a little overgunned, considering). It's nice to be able to dress to hide your gear. :)
 
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