By Jacob Gottfredson, GUNS Magazine
The world is bursting at the seams with technology and advances in almost every field of endeavor. Is it any wonder that along comes a guy named Arne Boberg who spends years trying to solve the problem of handgun concealment while retaining the power of longer barreled pistols? Did he get it right?
As explained in a letter in the box with the pistol, “Arne Boberg saw a need for a small, more powerful firearm. He noticed that many manufacturers were taking their larger guns and cutting them down to make them smaller. Seeing that this made the firearms lose power and reliability, Boberg recognized that small firearms needed to be reinvented, not just repackaged.” Also, according to the letter, Arne spent several years developing the patented XRTM reverse-feeding mechanism.
Indeed, Boberg’s pistol is certainly an anomaly in the modern pistol genre. The one I am evaluating is designated the XR9-S. On the body of the pistol are the words, “Serial number S01199, 9mm Luger, Boberg Arms Corp., White Bear Lake, MN, USA.” Several models are available to include the “S” version for “Shorty” and the “L” version for “Long” in either all black, 2-tone or platinum. The long version also includes a rail to accept lights and/or laser devices.
I disassembled the pistol and sat there looking at it in wonder. I’m an engineer, but I have no idea how Arne figured this out. He had to keep the pistol small, yet keep the barrel is relatively normal in length—3.35 inches—somewhat longer than most pistols of its size.
Note that it is a full inch or more shorter than some of its competitors, is almost as light as the Ruger and has a barrel about as long as the Glock, which is much longer in overall length.
The grip/magazine is located under the breech, but still feels extremely comfortable in my hand. At first glance, it appears a bit odd, as though the grip had been misplaced. I found it exceedingly easy to fieldstrip, but I was a bit confused when trying to put it back together. A trip to the supplied manual fixed that. It is extremely easy to disassemble and assemble quickly. The parts are very well machined, and after taking it apart, I suspect quality control is watched closely. The pistol is double-action-only and the magazine holds seven rounds.
So how did Arne keep the overall length of the pistol so small and still keep the barrel long? He used a tong setup to extract a round from the magazine. It does that from the rearward position of the slide. Instead of the round being pushed from the magazine like most conventional pistols, the new round is extracted backward from the magazine. The tong, as I call it, has a slot on either side of it. The slot is pushed into the rim of the 9mm case. The tong then extracts the cartridge from the magazine and the slide carries it forward. The spent case is extracted a split second prior to that. Amazing!
What this system did was allow Arne to fashion a smaller O/A-length pistol while keeping the barrel as long as larger pistols. The gun was also made strong enough to allow shooting +P 9mm ammo. People poo-poo the 7+1 ammo amount, but it is difficult to develop a pistol small enough to conceal easily holding more rounds that is as slim. One of the major problems on a concealment pistol is grip length, which is why the Glock 26, 27 and the Ruger LD9 and others are so popular. Of course you can carry extended magazines as backup, but in the carry position, the shorter magazine is easier to conceal.
A right side view shows the extractor and a portion of the barrel. The sights
have tritium dots on the rear and the front blade. The slide is made from
billet stainless steel, the frame from billet 7075-T6 aluminum.
The Boberg XR9-S, though small in Jacob’s hands, shoots and reacts well.
It had a bit of a jump, as would be imagined for such a 9mm, but
Jacob could not fault the concept or performance.
I took the pistol to the range. Looking at the magazine, I thought loading ammo would be difficult. It was easy, but I found myself wanting to put the magazine in backwards. A few times at it, however, and it became second nature. Since the pistol pulls the case from the magazine, while others push the round from the magazine, it can be a bit confusing at first. A couple of friends showed up, and when I dissembled the pistol these guys, both engineers, were fascinated by how the piece functions.
Next, shooting the Boberg