Review: Remington RP9

Review: Remington RP9


When it comes to new compact and subcompact pistols, you can find them offered in a variety of operating systems, from double-action- only to single action to striker-fired. However, when you're talking about new full-size pistol designs, these days it's rare to see anything that isn't a striker-fired operating system. So I'm not sure why many people were surprised when Remington—one of the oldest names in American firearms—announced a brand new striker-fired pistol, the RP9.

The 9mm RP9 is actually the first pistol available in Remington's new RP series of pistols. By the time you read this the RP9 should have been followed up by a .45 ACP RP45. For as much attention as the RP9's 18+1 capacity is getting, the 15+1 capacity of the .45 ACP RP45 is getting even more. But capacity doesn't come easy, and the RP9 is a big gun.

The RP9 is a completely new design, a striker-fired pistol with a polymer frame and interchangeable backstraps. There is some talk this pistol was designed with an eye toward capturing the U.S. Military's Modular Handgun System contract, but there's no official confirmation from Remington on that.

The polymer frame is not the serialized part on the RP9. The serialized part, and therefore legally the "firearm," is the removable stainless steel chassis inside the frame—much like what you see with the SIG Sauer P320 and other pistols vying for the MHS contract. The serial number on the chassis can be seen through a rectangular cutout in the polymer.

While there is already talk of Remington following up this full-size pistol with a compact version of the RP, the company has started with what most people will consider a duty-size gun. The RP9 has a 4.5-inch barrel, is nearly eight inches long and just over 5.5 inches tall. Empty weight is 26.4 ounces, which is on par for other pistols of this type, and is of course rated for +P ammunition.

The barrel is stainless steel, and both it and the slide have a corrosion-resistant PVD coating. The pistol is made in Remington's facility in Huntsville, Alabama.

I saw photos of the RP9 before I ever saw one in person, and I can tell you that, to me, it looks exactly the same in person—which sometimes is not the case. To me, it looks like the love child of a Walther PPQ and a Smith & Wesson M&P. The slide looks like a stretched version of what you'll see on a Walther PPQ, and, to a lesser extent, looks like a stretched S&W M&P. The grip angle is similar to an M&P or a 1911.

The frame encloses an aluminum chassis, and the spring is captured. The total number of working parts in the gun is as few as you'll find on the market. Simple is good.

The aggressive slide serrations really work, and I like the fact that they are at both ends of the slide. The pistol sports the ubiquitous three-dot sights. Both front and rear sights are dovetailed into the slide and provide a good sight picture. The rear sight has a vertical face on the front, what Remington calls a "fighting surface," and it allows the shooter to work the slide one-handed by hooking the rear sight on a hard surface.

For as big as this pistol is dimensionally, the grip is rather slender. In addition to that, it has a short trigger reach. The RP9 has interchangeable backstraps, but none of them affect the web of the hand area and therefore do not affect trigger reach. I think this is a mistake because it won't help shooters who want a bigger grip or a longer stretch to the trigger.

The backstraps are polymer and are vertically grooved. Three (S, M and L) are provided with the gun, but there is not a huge difference in size between them, and as I mentioned none of them affect trigger reach.

The backstraps and the frame itself are lightly textured, as is the front and underside of the trigger guard. I wish the texturing was more aggressive. It's too early to say for sure, but I wouldn't be surprised if Remington offers replacement polymer grip frames. If you decide to stipple the frame and screw up, since the frame is not the serialized part you haven't trashed the "gun" but only an easily replaceable plastic part.

One thing I was pleased to see was the beveled magazine well. This is a small thing, but it calls to the competition shooter in me. Honestly, with a pistol that has an 18+1 capacity if you need to reload during a gunfight you're either doing something horribly wrong or have found yourself in the middle of a national media event, but any advantage perceived or real is worth it.

The trigger itself is polymer, with the familiar safety lever in its face. The trigger pull on my sample was nice. It had a crisp 5.25-pound break, although the specs from Remington call for a trigger pull between 5.5 and 7.0 pounds. The reset is loud and very tactile. When pulling the trigger in dry-fire, the sound of the released striker is more metallic and decisive than I've come to expect from striker-fired pistols.

My only complaint about the trigger pull was that after the striker was released there was a substantial amount of overtravel, about an eighth of an inch.

The slide stop/release is ambidextrous and has a low profile. The magazine release is steel, serrated and shaped a bit like a teardrop. It is also reversible.

The magazines are steel with polymer base pads, and two 18-round magazines are provided with the pistol. The index holes on the back of the magazine are all numbered. It holds 18 rounds, yet still has deep grooves in the sides of this magazine body.

The first time I took this pistol apart I was surprised. First, there is a surprising amount of meat to the slide; it is one heavy slab of metal. The walls of the slide at its base are thick, and the competition shooter in me wonders just how much weight could be shaved off of it without affecting strength. Ounces, I'm sure.

Remington does not recommend disassembling the frame/trigger components at all, but after eyeballing this pistol I figured out that by simply popping out the pin in the frame just forward of the takedown lever I could remove the internal chassis—although removing the takedown lever first makes it a lot easier.

However, I found out the hard way that when it is removed from the frame some of the pins in the chassis like to migrate, and some parts (like the ejector) can fall off if you're not careful. Which is probably why Remington doesn't recommend removing it.

When it comes to disassembly, you will have to pull the trigger to get the slide off the frame. The takedown lever crossbar puts a little pressure on what looks like a silver wire, and this spring puts tension on the pin that holds the steel chassis inside the frame.

Just eyeball this simple setup before you decide to take anything apart so you'll be able to reassemble it easily. Also, be aware the ejector at the rear of the frame pivots upward a bit, so during reassembly make sure it is all the way down or you won't be able to get the slide back on.

The frame of the RP9 is light even before you pull out the steel chassis, and it contains few parts. The owner's manual lists 34 parts listed for the RP9, a total that includes the magazine and backstrap. That's as short a parts list as you'll find on the market today, which I'm in favor of because simple is good, and simplicity generally equals reliability.

Bore height off the hand in the RP9 is pretty high, similar to what you'll find in a Springfield Armory XD/XDM. Between that and the weight of the slide you'll get a little more muzzle rise than in some competing designs, but you get less recoil back into the web of your hand. The frame features a full tactical rail for lights or lasers.

This pistol was rolled out at a big media event. Our editor was there, and he ran a lot of rounds through the RP9 and didn't report any issues or observe any issues on the firing line.

I couldn't find any reports of problems with this pistol online. But when I hit the range with my RP9 sample, I got a bit of a surprise. With two types of ammo (SIG Elite FMJ and Black Hills TAC-XP) the bullet profile was such that the bullets pushed the slide stop up and repeatedly locked the slide back with ammo still in the magazine. This happened with both of the provided magazines.

Also, the follower of one of my magazines occasionally popped up over the slide stop as the last round was fired. The slide wouldn't lock back, and I'd have to strip the magazine out of the gun by hand. I can't say whether my slide stop is a little out of spec or these are just two small design bugs in a brand new pistol, but the pistol ran just fine with all other types of ammo.

This is a full-size gun chambered in 9mm, so recoil was soft and controllable. Knocking down plate racks and hammering action-pistol targets was just plain fun. Between the long, sight radius and the good trigger I was able to shoot up to the pistol's potential when it came time for accuracy testing off sandbags. As the barrel is a full 4.5 inches long you'll get fast-as-advertised velocities out of your ammo.

As much as I might sometimes want to, I never get to review new pistols in a vacuum. Even if I'm invited to a super-secret product rollout, there are other gun writers there. And considering we get paid for our opinions….well, let's just say there aren't a lot of quiet, shy people in this business. Whether I want to or not, I always get an idea of what other writers think about this or that gun before I ever complete a review. It was no different with the RP9.

I didn't hear or read any substantive complaints about this pistol, and no one had any issues with reliability, which is by far the most important characteristic of any pistol. No, the complaints about this pistol were from those who simply couldn't get excited about yet another striker-fired pistol or those who felt Remington is just plain late to the party.

Manufacturers introducing existing-design guns into crowded marketplaces is certainly nothing new, so who's to say the RP9 is "one gun too many on the market" or that it's even late to the party? Not me. The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned.

Initially, I heard that the suggested retail on the RP9 would be $599, but when Remington announced the actual price of the RP9 would be just $489, that really made me pay attention. Remington might not be the first company to the market with a striker-fired 9mm, but with pricing that aggressive, it seems intent on making a big splash with it.

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