I was meandering around online, looking at dimensions on “pocket pistols” — handguns that are, with relative comfort, suitable to concealed carry even when not wearing a jacket. In the process, I stumbled across a prototype for a new semi-auto pistol from Boberg Engineering, the XR9.
The Boberg site describes it as “the world’s most powerful 9mm pocket-sized pistol”. The claim seems to be well-founded, surprisingly. It uses a feed mechanism that looks like it was borrowed from machine gun design, which allows the chamber for the weapon to sit directly above the magazine rather than a full cartridge-length (or more) ahead of the magazine. The round is extracted from the magazine by being pulled backward when the slide pulls back, where it pops up in line with the chamber, then is pushed forward into the chamber by slide when it slides back into place.
As a result of all that, the XR9 can fit a longer barrel into a smaller overall weapon length. A longer barrel means more powder burns before the round exits the weapon, providing more time for it to accelerate — producing a higher muzzle velocity. Thus, the “most powerful 9mm pocket-sized pistol”. It is, in essence, the first bullpup-configuration 9mm pocket pistol.
This configuration grants significant size benefits. The Rohrbaugh R9 is basically the smallest 9mm auto available — until the actual release date of the XR9, of course. In order to cram a 9mm into such a small package, with a 5.2 inch length overall, Rohrbaugh made the thing with a 2.9 inch barrel. While the standard XR9 is 5.8 inches long overall (0.6 inches longer than the Rohrbaugh), Boberg is talking about two smaller models: the Shorty and the Micro, both 4.99 inches long with a 3.3 inch barrel (the difference between them is grip size and magazine capacity). This results in something 0.21 inches shorter than the Rohrbaugh R9, but with a barrel 0.4 inches longer.
Overall length of the XR9 Micro and Short will even be a smidgen less than that of the Kel-Tec P3AT, a .380 ACP pocket pistol (though even the Micro will be a smidgen thicker and taller than the P3AT). Because of the longer effective barrel length and the larger caliber, the XR9 will deliver roughly twice the energy of the P3AT, which translates into a lot more stopping power. If you’re the type that winces at the notion of carrying a .380 or a .32, but you need a pocket pistol, it looks like the Boberg may be the hardware you need.
It’s also a sleek, beautiful piece of hardware, judging by the prototypes.
I signed up for email updates from Boberg Engineering, and this is what they had to say:
The XR9S (Shorty) will be released first with likely shipments starting in July. Our new website, BobergArms.com will go live in about 5 weeks and will be accepting pre-orders. You will be notified of this event. We will be offering these pistols at an introductory price of $849.
Thanks for your interest!
Unfortunately, I don’t think I can justify $849 for one of these things by July, but I’m glad it won’t cost as much as the Rohrbaugh R9 — which tends to run upwards of $1100. The Kel-Tec P3AT (.380) and P32 (.32) are much cheaper at around $350ish. Still, I really would like to get my hands on an XR9 or XR9S.