Although the Remington RP9 was just recently introduced, its story actually begins 35 years ago.
The worldwide handgun market changed dramatically in 1982, when the Glock 17 hit the market. There had never been anything like it and, love it or hate the Glock, it changed the way we regard handguns.
Today the double-stack, high-capacity, striker-fired, polymer frame, semi-auto handgun rules the market. Inexpensive to produce, incredibly durable and very reliable, these guns dominate the defensive handgun market.
It took a while for any viable competition for the Glock to hit the market, and there were some disastrous attempts, but today any manufacturer who has a presence in the handgun market has a polymer, striker fired handgun in their catalog. If they don’t, they soon will, as these guns are hitting the market with increasing regularity.
Remington was a huge player in the handgun market for many years. For whatever reason, they drifted away from the category, until by the 1990s the only “handgun” they offered was the bolt-action XP-100, which was chambered for many centerfire rifle cartridges and was popular with some big-game hunters. With the hysteria of the Clinton war on handguns, Remington dropped the XP-100 in 1998.
Twelve years later Remington stepped back into the handgun market with their R1 1911 handgun. It soon gained a reputation as an affordable and dependable pistol. I have one; it’s become my go-to full size 1911.
The R51 compact 9mm came next, and to say it had a "rough launch" is the epitome of understatement. The future for that pistol is still a bit murky. That was followed by the RM380 pocket pistol (see a gun test here), which I understand is doing fine.
In 2016 Remington decided to finally enter the plastic, striker-fired handgun market. This new gun is called the RP9, which stands for Remington Polymer 9mm. The RP9 holds 18+1 rounds, which is "one up" on the Glock. This is a full size handgun with a 4.5-inch barrel, but at 26.4 ounces it is light enough to carry all day.
The grip design on the RP9 is efficiently engineered, and it’s smaller than those on many polymer handguns. It’s a feature that anybody with smaller hands will welcome. One complaint I have had over the years with a lot of striker-fired handguns is with their large grips. With the forward starting position of a striker-fired trigger, I have trouble positioning my finger correctly on many of them. I can only imagine how people with small hands must struggle with them.
The grip on the RP9 solves the problem. It also is at a more familiar angle than the Glock for many shooters. The Glock uses a grip angle that’s different from just about any other handgun, which is fine if you only shoot Glocks. But those of us who shoot a lot of handguns find it confuses the muscle memory when switching back and forth. That’s not an issue with the RP9.
The RP9 has a removable backstrap and comes with three different sizes, so you custom-fit the grip to your hand size and preference. Remington says that these backstraps allow the RP9 to fit 95 percent of the shooters out there, and I can’t find any argument in that.
The trigger guard is undercut to allow your hand to fit higher and position it closer to the bore. This is a common aftermarket modification to the Glock, but is done by Remington at the factory. The design allows a high hold, with your hand close to the bore, which aids in controlling the handgun when recoiling for faster shooting.
The massive stainless steel slide has angled sides, so it’s wider at the bottom than the top, like a pyramid, giving this gun an interesting look from the front or back. It has a black PVD finish, which is tough and good looking. It’s also resistant to weather and sweat.
The slide has serrations both front and back for gripping. These are well-defined cuts with good gripping surface. The front serrations work well for those who like to use the under-the-gun grip with thumb and forefinger to do a press check.
There is a large external extractor and a standing ejector. Both are rugged, which aids in dependability.
As a lefty, I like that the slide release is ambidextrous. The magazine release is reversible, so this is a fully ambidextrous handgun, something all us “gifted” lefties should appreciate.
There is a “loaded cartridge” window in the rear of the barrel so you can visually confirm that the gun is loaded as well.
The sights are three white dots. They are said to be drift-adjustable for windage, but I could not budge mine, even with a sight pusher. I’m not sure if I just got a gun with extra-tight sights or if they are glued into place. The rear sight has a “fighting surface” on the front that allows the slide to be manipulated one-handed by catching the front edge of the sight with a boot, belt or other object. An integrated accessory rail on the frame beneath the barrel allows you to add a laser sight, or a light.
The recoil spring is captured on the guide rod, which makes this an easy gun to field strip for cleaning. Simply lock the slide back, unlock the lever on the left side and return the gun to battery. Pull the trigger and that releases the slide to pull it off the front. The spring and guide rod assembly can easily be removed and the barrel slid out, all faster than the time it took you to read this.
The trigger uses the ubiquitous center lever safety as is seen on most striker-fired guns these days. It pulls at 5 pounds, 12 ounces, which is pretty typical for a striker-fired gun. It breaks predictably with just a little bit of over travel. It has a relatively short travel for a striker-fired gun, and other than being a little heavy, it is one of the better factory triggers I have seen on this class of handgun. When the trigger is combined with the smaller grip, I find the RP9 to be one of the more user-friendly guns in this category.
The Shooting Experience
The full-size gun with the heavy slide dampens recoil. It’s one of the easiest shooting polymer 9mm handguns I have tried.
The RP9 is not the most accurate gun I have tested, but it’s far from the worst either (see my range results below). Much more important for a defensive handgun is reliability, and so far my experience is that this gun has run without a single issue. I have shot several different factory loads as well as handloads through the RP9, and it just keeps running and running.
All in all, this latest entry into the polymer frame, striker-fired wars has really gotten my attention. It’s very user friendly and very reliable. Those are important points with any handgun. One other important point is price, and with an MSRP of just $489, the “street price” on this gun is going to get the attention of a lot of shooters.
Drift-adjustable fixed, three white dot (non-adjustable on test model)
Polymer, integral to frame
Stainless steel, finished with a matte black PVD DLC coating
Spare magazine, two extra grip inserts, gun lock, owner's manual
Accuracy and Ballistic Results
All shots fired from a sandbag rest. Average group size determined by results of three, five-shot groups at 25 yards. Velocity measured with an Oehler 35P Chronograph, with the first screen 15 feet from muzzle.