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What Happened to Boberg Arms?

We examine the Boberg Arms series of pistols to see how this unique design came about and, ultimately, what happened to it...

    The Boberg Arms series of pistols never made the splash they should have.

    Boberg XR9-S (Photo: Swatmag)

    I can’t help but feel if released today, they would be an instant hit and something we couldn’t shut up about — especially if they were micro compacts with Sig Sauer P365 levels of capacity.

    Back in 2011, Boberg Arms did something truly innovative — but that’s not where the story truly starts…

    Boberg Arms Begins

    In 2003, Arne Boberg sought to produce a truly unique pistol. He aimed to create a smaller pistol without sacrificing barrel length.

    noisy cricket
    The XR9-S definitely gives off Noisy Cricket vibes.

    How did he accomplish this?

    Well, he made it a bullpup.

    Bullpup designs have been used to shrink rifles and shotguns without reducing barrel length, so why couldn’t the same be applied to a handgun? Specifically, a handgun designed for concealed carry.

    From 2003 to 2011, Arne Boberg worked to perfect the bullpup pistol with a unique feeding design that placed the chamber behind the trigger.

    This required a special magazine with the rounds loaded from the rear, giving the projectiles the appearance of diving nose first into the magazine.

    The rounds are inserted nose-first into the rear of the magazine. (Photo: Swatmag)

    During development, Boberg sought meetings with Kimber and Magnum Research to produce the gun, but his calls were never returned…so he did it himself.

    He started his own company and began producing and shipping pistols. It was a small operation that shipped out guns in small batches.

    Boberg Arms Pistols

    Boberg Arms produced three different pistols. The first is the XR-9S, a 9mm, subcompact pistol. Then the XR45-S, a .45 ACP subcompact variant, and the XR9-L, a 9mm variant with a longer 4.2-inch barrel.

    The gun was odd in function but efficient.

    When the slide was pulled to the rear, a round of ammunition was extracted from the rear of the magazine. When the slide went forward, the motion pushed the cartridge into the chamber.

    A cutaway rendering of the Boberg extracting the round from the rear of the magazine. (Photo: Personaldefenseworld)

    The magazines, as mentioned, were odd as well. Rounds loaded backward, basically, and there was no follower, just a spring.

    Outside of its bullpup layout and oddball magazine, the Boberg Arms XR9 featured a rotating barrel assembly much like the Beretta PX4 Storm series.

    This rotating barrel helped reduce recoil, according to many, and that’s certainly something you’d want on a small gun.

    The Boberg XR9-L is exceedingly small for a gun with a 4.2-inch barrel. (Photo: Calibremag)

    The bullpup layout trimmed inches off the design without sacrificing barrel length and therefore retained velocity and controllability.

    For comparison, the S model featured a 3.35-inch barrel with an overall length of 5.51 inches. The Sig P365 offers a 3.1-inch barrel with an overall length of 5.8 inches.

    Heck, the L model with a 4.2-inch barrel was only 5.95 inches long and offered a substantially longer barrel. That’s a pretty solid tradeoff.

    So What Happened?

    Well, the XR9 and XR45 series pistols had some issues.

    The unique backward feeding design was hell on ammo. Ammo manufacturers don’t produce ammo with this odd design in place.

    A malfunction on the XR9-S caused by the bullet being separated from the case. (Photo: Gunsamerica)

    A lot of force was placed on the projectile, and the lack of an aggressive crimp sometimes resulted in the bullet unseating from the cartridge case and causing malfunctions. Boberg kept a list of ammo that worked well with the gun to help avoid these issues.

    The magazines would also occasionally have the springs depart the magazine and sit above the feed lips. Although Boberg was a very small company, Arne Boberg reportedly responded quickly and politely to customer issues.

    Despite this, he was just one man with a small company. Sadly, in 2016 Boberg Arms closed its doors. Well…kind of.

    The Boberg XR9-S rebranded as the Bond Arms Bullpup 9. (Photo: Americanrifleman)

    Boberg sold the gun design to Bond Arms in 2016, who seemed to have worked out some of the kinks.

    They still warn of the crimp issues, but most reviews of the Bond Arms Bullpup say it doesn’t seem to be a major issue anymore.

    However, Bond Arms does maintain a list of ammunition that works best with the gun, much like Boberg did.

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    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

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    Final Thoughts

    Real innovation rarely happens in today’s market. This isn’t the fault of anyone in particular, but there are limits on what can be done with the materials at hand, and a fickle market dictates much of the direction of gun design.

    The Boberg XR9-S (3.35-inch barrel) next to a Glock 43 (3.39-inch barrel). (Photo: Luckygunner)

    However, the Boberg and the Bond Arms Bullpup certainly took an approach that we are unlikely to see replicated anytime soon.

    These guns give an extraordinary peek into what crazy engineering can achieve, and It’s good to see them still sticking around.

    Do you have any experience with the Boberg or Bond Arms Bullpup? Let us know your thoughts on these guns below! Looking for a more conventional pocket pistol? Check out our article on the 8 Best Pocket Pistols for Concealed Carry.

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    2 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar

      I was on the original waiting list... got the email my number was up, but by then some early users were mentioning the issues... I was concerned about recalls and getting parts... I wanted it for edc and not as an investment because of it's uniqueness... it wasn't an inexpensive gun to begin with... I decided I'd wait, and passed on the opportunity...

      September 6, 2022 12:22 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      William J Stephens

      What a shame. The Boberg design seems to be well thought out, considering the engineering was done by one man. Looking at the cutaway, I can see where the magazine could actually hold another two rounds with a little modification. I do question things like the trigger. How did it feel? How about a maintenance takedown? Easy? Hard? Very interesting piece of engineering. I would hate to see it go.

      August 21, 2022 8:08 pm
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