The R9 is a simple and elegant design. The influences of John Moses Browning and Gaston Glock are readily apparent. The Rohrbaugh simplifies these earlier design implimentations even further. I like that. Simplicity with function is engineering elegance, a brass ring that few attain.
Many fawn over Mr. Glock's low parts count and ultra reliable design. Others will tell you that John Moses Browning was sent down from the heavens to teach man how to make guns right. The R9 is not a copy of anything, of course, but it does give a nod to some of the best design concepts of past firearms designers.
The R9 is evolution, not revolution, a sumptuous departure from the plastic and steel masses. Whereas I can read through the slide-dustcover gap in my Glocks, I couldn't find a gap to measure on the R9.
Disassembly is simple and straight forward. With the slide slightly pulled to the rear, a dissassembly pin is visible through a small port in the slide, it is simply pushed through a larger port, on the opposite side, with a brass punch. Again, elegance in simplicity, compare this one pin to the corresponding slidestop, spring and screw of a Kahr or the Glock spring loaded part. Both are solid designs, but the Rohrbaugh answers the engineering challenge of barrel and slide retention and dissassembly with two machined holes and a simple, uncomplicated pin. The pin is retained by the slide when in battery, it is brilliant in it's simplicity and effectiveness with a parts count of ONE pin that does double duty as the barrel pivot.
I've seen some say they have trouble taking the R9 apart. I found it a 3 second effort and quite easy. Here is how I recommend you do it. Procure a brass punch that fits in the smaller of the two slide holes, in a pinch a paper clip would work, but brass won't scratch your finish.
With the firearm unloaded and double checked as unloaded, place it in your left palm so that the depression in the backstrap rests in the web of your thumb. Wrap your fingers over the slide in front of the rear sight (if you have sights) with the outside of your first finger pressed against the rear sight near the first knuckle (closest to your wrist). Your remaining fingers will wrap over the slide near the ejection port for additional purchase.
Now press the frame forward with your thumb as you pull back on the slide with your fingers in a simple gripping motion.
After about 1/4" of rearward slide movement you will see the pin which you can push out of it's slot with the brass punch, catching the pin in your left palm. Release and remove the slide assembly. This same slide retraction technique is taught for dissassembling Glocks. It's easy and fast and retains control of the parts at all times.
Reassembly is probably the weakest part of the R9 design, it requires at least two tools (three if you removed the grip panel to clean the trigger assembly) one to compress and place the recoil spring (the manual recommends channel locks) and the brass punch used in diassembly.
To be honest, the channel locks would not be necessary if the slide tolerances were a bit looser, but since the guide rod is too tight a fit to go through it's hole in the slide when cocked at an angle, you must compress the assembly with the channel locks and release it when it is parallel to the barrel and aligned with it's hole in the slide and seat on the barrel lug.
I was critical of this assembly procedure at first, but I decided to time a field strip and reassembly and found I could do it, unrushed, in about 15 seconds.
Remember this is a self-defence pocket pistol, you won't be performing field expedient repairs or cleaning it in a foxhole. Requiring a couple of tools isn't a big deal.
As an exercise I came up with several methods to reassemble the pistol, with improvised tools, that were successful, but at the risk of scratching the finish on the parts. It's possible, but I just don't see the need for a firearm in this niche.
Overall the R9 oozes quality inside and out. The stout barrel with it's thick conical crown, impressed me, as did the finely polished feed ramp. The inside of the slide had some machine marks in areas that did not require precise fit, but all bearing surfaces are finely fitted and finished.
Wear marks were noted at the rear of the aluminum frame at the slide bearing surface, and also inside the slide where parts are designed to bear on each other. No unusual wear locations were noted, but the aluminum finish does seem to take a beating in bearing spots and I can see that the greatest wear will occur at the rear of the frame rails, at least initially.
Unless the R9 can be designed to field strip and clean itself, I really can't find complaint. It's a marvel of simplicity and beautifully designed and fitted. Any change I would make would require compromise of some sort. It's fine the way it is.