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Preview: Remington RP9 – An Exercise in Compromise

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

Remington’s reboot of its pistol division has been nothing if not colorful. The R51 won’t win awards for reliability, but it was an ambitious project that sought to update the historic Pedersen action and bring a pistol to market with an unmistakable charm. The tiny RM380 translated a winning combination of reliability, unique features, and a dash of boutique allure to a much larger audience in the pocket pistol market.

But, the Remington RP9 looks and feels like something you get when a board of directors tells its executives to tell its managers to tell its engineers that the company needs to produce a line of polymer striker-fired pistols. Because profits. We’re not saying the RP9 is uninspired; rather that its designers’ inspiration appears in the wrong places.

The action is a striker-fired affair using a stainless steel chassis module more-or-less similar to the SIG P250/P320 family. We’ll explain why we used the “more-or-less” qualifier down below.

The elephant in the room is the size of the gun. The components are conspicuously large and overbuilt for the 9mm role. The reason, Remington tells us, is the RP9 and the forthcoming .45 ACP-chambered RP45 will use the same grip housing and share the same slide dimensions.

It’s an idea that must’ve sounded great in a boardroom. Can you hear it? “One holster mold for both guns; the holster guys will love us!” and “Think of the money we’ll save on manufacturing!” Heck, we’ll wager Remington’s product team was excited at the prospect of tackling such an ambitious project.

While parts commonality appeals to bean counters, Remington still had to come up with a way to attract attention at the gun store counter.

According to Mike Keeney, Remington’s director of handgun development, the company knew it was entering a crowded polystriker market and saw three areas where it could differentiate the RP series from its competitors: trigger, grip ergonomics, and magazine capacity.

rp9-handgun rp9-pistol

“We wanted a trigger that was going to have a crisp break on it and really feel good to the end-user,” said Keeney. To get there, Remington’s engineers used a fully cocked striker mechanism (as opposed to the partially cocked striker found on a Glock pistol). The difference in feel is akin to the way a double action feels compared to a single action. Pulling the RP9’s trigger just drops the sear, while the trigger pull in a partially cocked striker configuration does double duty, pulling the striker back before letting the sear surfaces disengage.

The benefit of the fully cocked striker is the single-action feel; the tradeoff is the slightly reduced safety margin when it comes to inertia-driven negligent discharges (NDs). However, the RP9 does feature a negative sear angle, and the plethora of fully cocked striker-fired guns on the market (Springfield XD series, anyone?) tell us it’s a plenty safe way of doing things.

While we’re talking about the trigger and safety, we’ll mention Remington’s trigger bar moves forward when the trigger’s pulled. Combine this with the trigger safety tab and you have a system that has to move in opposition to work, adding further margin against an inertia-driven ND. There’s also a plunger safety in the striker channel in case things get really exciting. In this regard, the engineers seem to have covered all the bases.

When it comes to the grip, Keeny said the engineers worked hard on the feel. By the numbers, it’s not the thinnest, but it’s pretty short, front to back. This reduces the reach for the trigger finger and gives a great feeling of control over the pistol. The grip isn’t a complex shape. It’s smooth, without finger grooves, which typically fit about 50 percent of the population and leave the rest to feel unloved, and has a gentle palm bulge in the small-sized backstrap. The undercut trigger guard and beaver tail further enhance the feeling of control by offering a highly choked-up grip.

“The platform lends itself very well to customization,” says Jeremy Keys, lead design engineer, “if you want to add grip tape or stippling, you’ve even got style lines to help guide changes in stippling texture.”

The RP9 comes with three interchangeable backstraps to size the pistol to hands ranging from dainty to almost-mongo. Remington says the RP9 will accommodate 95 percent of all shooters; we began fact checking this claim and made it through approximately 0.0000000002 percent of the shooting public and realized we had better things to do.


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