The Boberg begins with a simple premise: Change the way you load the gun.

Armsmaker and inventor Arne Boberg’s semi-autos use a reverse-feeding magazine that loads rounds from the back—nose first and nose down. The slide extracts a fresh round from the back of the magazine, moving the cartridge to a lifter that positions it to be gripped by the slide’s dual extractors. The round is then pushed directly into the rotating barrel breech as the slide closes. This design eliminates the need for a feed ramp, thus the Boberg’s 3.75-inch barrel is as flush at the breech as it is at the muzzle, and up to 1 inch longer than normal for the relative size of the slide and frame.

The Boberg operates on an entirely different principle than most semi-autos. When it is fired, the barrel moves back in unison with the slide about 0.125 inches and then begins to rotate counter-clockwise 23 degrees before unlocking from the slide, which then continues its rearwards travel. The barrel remains parallel to the slide rather than tilting down as in traditional short-recoil designs, and thus the Boberg barrel never leaves horizontal alignment.

Boberg XR45-S, XR45-S, boberg, boberg arms
Rounds are extracted from the back of the magazine and positioned for direct feeding into the breech as the slide closes.

When inserted into the grip, the magazine in a Boberg sits under the barrel breech rather than behind it like other semi-autos. By placing the rounds beneath the barrel breech, the frame and slide can be shortened proportionately. A rear-feeding magazine is the only way to do this in a semi-auto pistol.

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In weight and balance, the .45 ACP model feels like a smaller-caliber handgun, with a center of balance that falls perfectly into the hand with the little finger tucked under the magazine. Internally, this is very different gun and it has specific maintenance requirements, including 22 lubrication points during cleaning and a special (supplied and available) moly-based anti-seize lubricant that needs to be applied to the gun’s removable locking block during routine cleaning.

On The Range

Boberg XR45-S, XR45-S, boberg, boberg arms

The XR45-S is comparatively narrow for a .45 ACP, and your hand really wraps around the grips. The very deep arch of the backstrap allows 1.25 inches of the frame and slide to rest over the web of your hand, so it really does allow a solid grasp. Average trigger pull on my test gun was 6.25 pounds as measured on a Lyman trigger-pull gauge.

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Test ammunition consisted of Federal Premium 230-grain Hydra-Shok JHP, Sig Sauer 200-grain Elite Performance JHP and Barnes TAC-XPD 185-grain +P. Since the XR45-S is designed for +P ammo (and can also fire .45 Super), personal defense ammo was the choice all around. The Barnes 185-grain load is specifically designed for higher velocity and reduced recoil, and clocked 845 feet per second (fps). Sig Sauer cleared the traps at 858 fps, which was the fastest, and the heavy 230-grain Federal Premium flew at 800 fps. Law Enforcement Targets’ IPSC competition silhouettes were set up at a measured distance of 15 yards and all tests were conducted using a Weaver stance and a two-handed hold.

The XR45-S has dovetailed, interchangeable front and rear white-dot sights that were easy to acquire. With the pistol’s comparatively reduced recoil, they were also very easy to reacquire for follow-up shots. Trigger pull felt very smooth with no stacking and a quick reset, making the XR45-S easy to shoot consistently. If a handgun can show a decided preference for one brand of ammunition over another, the Boberg has a taste for Sig Sauer’s 200-grain JHP, which consistently printed five-round groups averaging 1.75 inches. Barnes 185-grain +P came next with one failure to feed out of 50 rounds and an impressive 1.75-inch best group, with three overlapping. Also with one failure to feed, Federal Premium had the widest spread with a best five-round group of 3.25 inches.

Ultra-Compact .45

Boberg XR45-S, XR45-S, boberg, boberg arms

From a design perspective, the Boberg has a lot more going on inside than most semi-autos. The XR45-S has definite pluses such as its light trigger pull, noticeably reduced recoil with .45 ACP defensive ammunition (even +P rounds), ease of disassembly for cleaning, fast handling and accuracy.

Overall, the Boberg is a very impressive handgun in its design and operation. It is smaller than any other semi-auto .45 ACP on the market, lightweight, accurate and a worthy contender in today’s subcompact .45 ACP marketplace.

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