While polymer pistol production has been proceeding apace across the industry, Remington had been busy pushing their R1 line. And why not? Remington’s been producing 1911’s for the U.S. Government since World War I; selling that history is easier than pushing another plastic fantastic. That was then, this is now. Remington has joined the GLOCKs, Springfields, Smiths, FNs and Walthers of the world with the new polymer-framed striker-fired RP9. Right answer?
The first thing you notice about the new gun: its styling. When I opened the box I thought someone at the gun shop swapped a new RP9 with a Walther PPQ M2 Everything about Big Green’s black gun screams “European import.” American handguns tend to feature more sharp edges and clean corners (e.g., the Smith & Wesson M&P or the FN FNS-9). Remington designed the RP9 with a more substantial slide with smooth edges and softer curves. It’s less Kate Moss, more Kim Kardashian.
The RP9’s slide’s smooth and perfectly rounded edges give it significant hand appeal and make it easy to insert and remove the gun from a holster. The serrations on the slide’s front and back are aggressive enough to provide a good grip, but not so much that they ruin the style or make it uncomfortable to handle or carry.
Again, it’s all very familiar. Mind you, setting out to be a value-priced American-made Walther PPQ is a good thing, not a bad thing. The PPQ is a fine gun, well-loved by a number of the TTAG writers for its crisp trigger and not-a-GLOCK ergos. But by my calculations the PPQ has some serious issues. Which Remington has addressed.
High on the list of things I don’t like about the PPQ or the H&K VP9 (which RF thinks more closely resembles the RP9): finger grooves. Just about every European handgun — from H&K, Walther and even GLOCK to a small yet annoying extent — has grooves on their grips. They’re designed to increase the average shooter’s comfort.
Those are the key words: “average shooter.” My meaty paws are significantly larger than the average bear’s. For me, getting in the groove makes the guns uncomfortable to shoot. Remington Americanized that part of the design with a straight-sided grip that better fits the hands of every shooter — not just the average pistolero.
The RP9 comes complete with interchangeable backstraps to make the palm swell fit your hand’s dimensions. The slim grip’s sides are textured just enough to provide some extra adhesion, but not so aggressively they degrade comfort. The mag release is equally well-judged; the all metal 18-round magazines drop free with ease. The magazine’s baseplate sits just proud of the magazine well, providing tactile reassurance that the mag is properly seated when slammed home.
One of the biggest concerns new shooters have about semi-autos: slide bite. The RP9’s exaggerated beavertail naturally guides your hand to perfectly placement and makes sure that the slide won’t take a chunk out of the webbing of the shooter’s hand. I’ve got nothing but happy feeling about those design choices.
Polymer-framed striker-fired pistols tend to fall into two groups: higher-priced guns with excellent triggers (e.g., the Walther PPQ, SIG SAUER P320) and value-priced guns with lousy triggers (e.g., S&W M&P9, GLOCK 17). The four-and-a-half bills RP9 trigger is deliciously crisp and sparklingly clean. The trigger has a touch of take-up but it breaks like a proverbial glass rod, with very little over travel. The RP9’s flat trigger blade offers a safe space for your trigger finger to do its thing.
That said, the tactical trigger reset is longer than a Donald Trump rally speech. To reset it you have to release the go-pedal nearly halfway. That’s a common issue with striker-fired handguns; the trigger pulls the striker back to the full-cock position before releasing it. The Remington RP9 may not have the best trigger in this class, but it’s smooth and certainly on the upper end of the scale.
Unlike the extended slide lock lever found on the H&K VP9 and similar Euro-style models, the RP9 uses the small flat slide lock more common on American designs like the SIG SAUER P320 and FNS-9. If you intend on using the RP9’s lock lever to release the slide — a technique shunned by many gun gurus — you won’t be pleased. If you accept their recommendation and place your hand over the slide to “slingshot” it closed (gross motor skills uber alles), the Remington RP9 gets it right.
The RP9’s takedown lever is a big improvement on handguns requiring owners to hold down two tabs on either side of the gun (GLOCK, I’m looking at you). Like Gaston’s gat and most of the recent entries into the pantheon of polymer pistols, the RP9 sports an under-barrel Picatinny rail for lights and lasers.
I’m one of the first to complain about high bore axis on handguns like the P320 or the PPQ. The higher the barrel sits above the gun’s frame, the harder it is to conceal the pistol. And the goofier it looks. So I’m complaining. That said, there are plenty of handguns (e.g., the double decker bus-like Springfield XD) with a high bore axis. And let’s not forget that a low bore axis means less mass in the slide. The increased mass of the RP9’s slide absorbs some of the gun’s recoil and makes the shooting experience much more enjoyable.
Other things I like: the chunky external extractor on the side of the gun that doubles as a loaded chamber indicator. The RP9’s sights are big and clear, adjustable for windage. They can be drifted out for aftermarket replacements if, for example, you want taller sights to see over a suppressor.
To put the RP9 through its paces, I took Remington’s box-fresh blaster to a private shooting event. Dozens of shooters put hundreds of rounds through the gun. Despite a deliberate lack of lubrication, there were zero malfunctions. Everyone who shot the gun considered it one of the softest-recoiling and smoothest-firing firearms they’ve handled. The combination of the RP9’s terrific trigger, ergonomically excellent grip dimensions and (relatively) heavy slide helped make it a solid hit with both experienced and newbie shooters.
On the downside, there’s a little bit of play in the slide. The RP9 doesn’t seem to be as precisely machined as it could be, resulting in some minor wobblyness where the slide mounts to the frame. It doesn’t seem to impact accuracy, but a couple of shooters mentioned loosey-goosiness when returning the gun. Personally I’m not offended; this ain’t no thousand dollar 1911.
So where does the RP9 fit in in the crowded polymer-framed striker-fired handgun market? Its ergonomics are better than the Walther PPQ M2’s (for big-mitted me). Its styling is better than the H&K VP9’s. Its trigger is better than the GLOCK 17’s. The bottom line? The Remington RP9 is $200 cheaper than the PPQ or the VP9 and over $100 cheaper than a GLOCK 17. At a hair under $400 realistic retail, the RP9 is a bargain.
Specifications: Remington RP9
Overall length: 7.91″
MSRP: $489 (found online for $399.99)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style * * * *
Remington has been on a roll recently with stylized firearms that look good and actually function. I’d put the R51 Gen 2 in that category, along with their V3 shotgun. The RP9 looks as good as any of the European imports with an American twist.
Customization * * *
The RP9 is your basic customizable polymer pistol. The sights drift out, the backstrap is removable, the undersnout Picatinny rail beckons the lights and laser crowd.
Reliability * * * * *
Over 500 different rounds with dozens of different shooters — not a single issue. Didn’t clean or lube it once.
Accuracy * * * * *
The gun shoots as accurately as I can.
Overall * * * *
If the Remington RP9 cost as much as the rest of the plastic fantastic firearms competing for striker-fired fame and fortune, it would earn three stars. It’s not perfect, but considering the price, the RP9’s four stars all the way. A surprisingly solid, sensible choice.