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Preview – Boberg XR9-S Torture Test

Photography by Shinnosuke Tanaka

Boberg’s Bullpup Belly Gun Doesn’t Just Survive, But Shines in Our 1,000-Round Challenge

While walking the aisles of SHOT Show 2014 with good friends from the entertainment industry, we took some time out from looking at suppressors, the latest AR-15s chambered in .300 BLK, and other cool stuff to see Boberg Arms’ latest pistols. Our friend, Larry, passed one over and asked, “What do you think?”

“It looks like the Noisy Cricket from Men in Black,” we replied, a bit skeptical. “What is it?”

“It’s all I carry anymore. In fact, I sold my Rohrbaugh to buy a second one, and it’s the last CCW piece that I’ll ever buy,” Larry said.

Coming from Larry, that was a ringing endorsement. He’s a longtime gun enthusiast who carries a concealed weapon (CCW) daily. The Boberg XR9-S looked interesting enough that we asked for a sample to review. We wanted to see what would make a fellow gun nut simply disavow all others, as this was no 1911 or Glock. In fact, the handgun appeared just like another new piece in the pocket 9 category, except that it was all steel and had magazines with rounds that looked like they were used in an infamous HK catalog (re: loaded backwards).

This writer would be proven wrong on two of those three counts.


A Bullpup Pistol Design
When the Boberg XR9-S arrived at our local gun shop for pick up, the manager said, “The guy who designed this is either an engineering genius or has way too much free time on his hands.”

The XR9-S is the shorter of the two 9mm pistols that Boberg produces. The principle is that a longer barrel can be squeezed in a shorter package due to the unique feeding mechanism. Rounds are stripped rearward from the magazine by two claws, which seize the rim of the cartridge then push the round forward into the chamber as the slide releases. The result is rather similar to a bullpup rifle in that the barrel can be longer while imparting a shorter overall length — in this case, a 3.35-inch barrel with a 5.1-inch overall length.

The pistol has the overall length of what might normally be a 2-inch barreled handgun, but provides the increased velocity and stability in flight of a 3.35-inch barrel. The lightweight slide makes the pistol extremely easy to load, despite the lack of a slide stop.

Speaking of economy of space, the barrel doesn’t tilt like you would expect on a Browning-style pistol. Boberg uses a rotating barrel design with a separate breech block. As the slide and barrel move rearward from recoil, the barrel hits the take-down lever and rotates in order to unlock from the slide. This means less space is needed for the action while it spreads the recoil impulse over a greater surface area.

Due to the rotating-barrel design, the recoil spring is not directly below the barrel as usually found on most pistols. Instead it is at the 7 o’clock position to the left side if you are looking from the chamber end toward the muzzle. The spring itself is very light and skinny; again, we are not lifting and tilting barrels and slides with it. It is almost reminiscent of one half of the dual recoil springs found on a Desert Eagle pistol, except scaled down to an appropriate level for 9mm.

The frame is constructed from aluminum, and the Platinum edition has a carbon steel slide with satin-finished hard chrome plating. The trigger, transfer bar, and all exposed parts are made from stainless steel.


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