fairly common for a new cop just out of the academy to carry a
big pistol off duty or a new concealed carry license holder to
carry his favorite 1911-type pistol or his Model 29 Smith
& Wesson. With the young cops, financial considerations sometimes
enter into the equation. When I started working for the local sheriff’s
department while I was a junior in college I could only afford
the Colt Official Police with 5” barrel I carried on
duty; hence, it was my off duty gun as well.
A secondary job at J.C. Penny during the Christmas
rush earned me the money to buy a used Chiefs Special Smith
& Wesson, which became my off duty gun. For attending classes I soon found that the Chief stuck
in the pocket of my khakis was far more comfortable for off duty
didn’t know about pocket holsters in those days, so it did
pick up a lot of scratches from keys and coins, but it kept
working just fine. On duty, it rode in my left jacket pocket in cold weather
and my left trousers pocket in warm weather.
with more and more "Shall Issue" states and more and
more concealed carry licenses, many who work in professions
where an exposed belt gun might attract too much attention are
discovering the appeal of pocket guns.
For many years, pocket autos were primarily in .25, .32,
or .380 chamberings and competed with the J-frame Smith &
Wesson .38 Special revolvers. More recently, however, some manufacturers have responded
to the need for a pocket pistol in a serious caliber.
The Kahr PM9 and the Kel-Tec
9mm are a couple of the best known examples.
The Rohrbaugh R9S Stealth which I am gong to
discuss here is another excellent 9mm pocket auto.
Note that the “Stealth” refers to the Diamond Black
size, the Rohrbaugh beats the competition in virtually every dimension. Overall
length is only 5 1/8 inches, height 4 inches, and thickness .85 inches. Weight
with magazine but no cartridges is slightly over 14 ounces.
And, the Rohrbaugh is designed as a pocket pistol.
The R9 is sightless which removes one possible snag,
though I actually prefer the R9S...”S” for sights.
Since I now carry all pocket pistols in a pocket holster,
the rudimentary sights on the “S” model aren’t likely to snag. Other
features which make it a desirable pocket pistol
include the bottom magazine release which make the inadvertent
dumping of the magazine by hitting a button virtually
the Rohrbaugh is a DA-only, there is no safety to snag and the
hammer is flush with the slide. There is no slide stop either, and the trigger guard is
well rounded. Overall, the R9S is very sleek and well designed for
of pocket carry, at the same time I ordered the R9S, I ordered
one of the excellent Milt Sparks pocket holsters in
sharkskin. Even if one carries the pistol in the same pocket with
changes or keys, the sharkskin protects the gun and holds up to
a lifetime of usage. Since I do plan to use the Rohrbaugh
primarily as a support side gun, I ordered a left hand pocket
holster. I’ll talk more about that later.
The R9S is compact and without protrusions so that it can go
into and out of a pocket readily. If it doesn’t shoot, though, none of this is important
so as soon as possible after my Rohrbaugh came in I headed for
the range. The
Rohrbaughs are designed for standard velocity 9x19mm ammo, no +P nor +P+ loads. I had some Winchester 115 grain Silvertips, some Black
Hills 115 grain FMC, and some CCI Blazer 115 grain
FMC, all of which are standard velocity so I packed up 100
rounds of Black Hills and 50 rounds of each of the others.
mentioned earlier that I had ordered a left pocket holster from
Milt Sparks for the Rohrbaugh since I plan to use it primarily
as a support side gun. When I am carrying my belt gun, these days a Lightweight
Springfield Operator, the Rohrbaugh can function as a second
gun. I also sometimes carry an HK
P2000SK as a strong side gun in my right pocket when I do not
wear a belt gun. The P2000SK has good night
sights and I feel comfortable using it out to 25 yards.
Having the Rohrbaugh on the left side as a backup to it
makes sense as well since I don’t normally carry a spare
magazine for the P2000SK since it holds 10+1 rounds.
I know some of you are thinking that I carry a lot of
iron in my pockets, but when I carry two pocket guns it is
normally in a pair of Woolrich Elite trousers which are
very well designed for pocket carry. The pockets are big enough for the HK and there are also
enough extra pockets that I can carry my knife, keys, coins,
cell phone, etc. easily without having to use the pockets which
carry the pistol or pistols.
the Rohrbaugh is a DA-only without any external safeties, it
lends itself especially well to support side use for me.
That doesn’t mean I don’t think it would make an
excellent concealment primary arm.
It would and many use it that way. I may well get a right side pocket holster and use it
that way myself. For purposes of testing, though, I fired about half the
rounds from the Rohrbaugh left-handed and half right-handed.
This also allowed me to test that I was gripping it
tightly enough to prevent “limp wrist” malfunctions .It functioned flawlessly in either hand and when tilted
and even when fired upside down. Firing at odd angles is a way to test if a gun will
function should it be necessary to engage from nonstandard
firing positions. I trained with a Russian special police unit one time
that practiced rolling across the ground and firing from their
back looking toward their target with the gun upside down.
They felt it was a good drill.
A friend of mine who trains women in self defense with
handguns often has them lie on the ground and practice kicking
and spinning to keep an assailant away while drawing their empty
weapon/red gun. He then has them practice engaging targets from odd
angles while on the ground. I guess my point is that shooting the
Rohrbaugh from odd angles tested reliability for practical
purposes as well.
I had fired a couple of magazines, which hold 6 rounds by the
way, at plates to become accustomed to the double action pull
and recoil for the R9S, I set up a silhouette target at 10 yards
and shooting with a two-hand hold fired seven rounds as fast as
possible. All rounds went into center of mass covering about 5
inches, though a bit to the right.
After that drill, I tried presenting the gun from my
pocket left-handed and firing one-handed at 7 yards.
The group wasn’t great, but all were in the
chest/stomach area of the silhouette, though once again a bit
double action pull was good and was smooth enough that it did
not cause me to jerk off shots. The sights are very rudimentary but certainly make aimed
fire easier than with the R9 version which does not have sights.
I have been using a Seecamp .32 auto for many
years and have gotten relatively good at using it out to 10
yards without sights, but I still do prefer sights in case I
have to use the pistol at longer ranges.
was 100 % with the R9S.That was for a total of around 150 rounds.
I think the good-sized ejection port is an aid to reliability. Since
this is a real double action pistol rather than a pre-cocked
design, should one get a hard primer, a second pull of the
trigger will give a second hit.
Recoil was definitely noticeable even with standard
velocity 9mm loads. A friend who was shooting with
me and I both found that the grips which are smooth except for
the Rohrbaugh logo which is textured had a tendency to shift in
the hand when firing quickly. I think if they were more textured
they would not have shifted as much.
On the other hand, roughened grips might well have
abraded the hands in recoil.
friend Tim who was with me wanted to shoot the R9S to see
just how accurately it could be used.
At 10 yards he managed to get a 5-shot 10 yard group of
just over an inch using Black Hills Blue Box 115 grain FMC reloads. At
50 feet, he put five rounds into about 5-6 inches.
My 5-shot 50 foot group was closer to 7 inches. The Rohrbaugh is a close quarters weapon, but if
necessary it can be used to reach out to at least 50 feet.
I have seen police officers who carried a 2” Smith
& Wesson J-frame qualify at 25 yards with the very basic
fixed sights on those snubbies so I think with practice one
could shoot the Rohrbaugh at longer range. I tried shooting it at plates at 15, 25 and 35 yards and
was hitting quite well at 15 yards and about half the time at
the longer ranges. I think that I will put a couple of dots of white enamel
on the sights which should help me acquire them more readily.
have not disassembled the Rohrbaugh yet because I want to keep
shooting it without cleaning it until I’ve put 300+ rounds
through it to see if it will function reliably that entire time
without cleaning. Disassembly is fairly easy, however.
One just has to drop the magazine, clear the pistol, then
hold the slide back while pushing out the cross pin. The slide/barrel group may then be slid from the rails
and the barrel removed for cleaning. The disassembly and maintenance booklet that comes with
the gun shows the points where the R9S should be lubricated.
Speaking of the barrel, it is flared/belled at the muzzle
to aid in tight lockup when the slide is closed.
Normally, this system enhances accuracy on compact pistols. The
dual recoil spring system uses a captive inner spring
and a larger outer spring. A metal collar holds this outer spring in place.
Rohrbaugh recommends replacing this spring every 500
Rohrbaugh is a craftsman who has done a great job on the
out to create a pocket pistol which could be a real companion,
one that would be along when a larger pistol would not. I decided a long time ago that the best
custom combat pistol in the world wasn’t much good if it was
at home in the safe. The best combat pistol is one that’s there when you
need it. The
R9S is compact enough and light enough that it is easy to have
it there when you need it. That's the great gift Karl Rohrbaugh has given the
American LEO (Law Enforcement Officer) or concealed carry licensee. I
specifically mention these two groups because they
carry a gun with them. The
Rohrbaugh can also serve as a home defense gun, but that’s a
niche where size is not normally an issue.
The Rohrbaugh R9S’s niche is in the pocket ready to
defend its owner if needed.
are actually four versions of the Rohrbaugh available.
The R9 or R9S stealth with Diamond Black slide or the R9
or R9S in stainless steel. Retail price for an R9S Stealth like the one I covered in
this article is $1195.The Rohrbaugh is not cheap in price and it is certainly
not cheap in construction--no make that craftsmanship.
The Rohrbaugh is carefully made in a small shop in New
York State to exacting standards. With a Rohrbaugh one gets a very high quality pistol
which will serve a lifetime as a companion defense weapon.
Got something to say about this article? Want to agree (or
disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to the GUNBlast Feedback Page.