Black Rain's Ion 9

The Future Of Pistol-Caliber Carbines?
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“Menacing.” It’s the right word — menacing. It’s a hoplophobe’s nightmare.

The Ion 9 semi-auto pistol by Black Rain Ordnance is so scary it cannot be shipped to 10 states and six American territorial possessions.

Its sexy-looking, ventilated fore grip has Picatinny bases for front and rear sight mounting. It also has Picatinny bases on the fore grip’s left and right sides for accessories, such as a tactical light, a laser, and — oh, I don’t know — maybe a beer opener.


What Is It?

Of course, the aforementioned fore grip might also keep the shooter’s hand from sizzling like crispy bacon while holding a hot barrel — if you happened to fire it fast and often enough to heat things up.

It looks as if it could be a submachine gun — but it’s not. Even worse, it looks as if it could be a dreaded “black gun” — but it’s not.

The test gun has a handsome, earth-toned, non-reflective, olive finish — not black. Okay, okay, the Magpul MOE pistol grip is black, as is the EOTech Holosight mounted on the test gun.

A first glance at a familiar-looking side profile suggests it might be an AR15 — but it’s not that either. The adjustable arm brace resembles an AR15’s 6-position collapsible buttstock — but it’s not, it’s an “arm brace.”

The Black Rain Ordnance Ion 9 is just a semi-auto pistol chambered for 9mm Parabellum.

What? Wait! Did I just say the Ion 9 is not an AR15? If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck — you’re tellin’ me it’s not a duck?!?



Well, What The Heck Is It Then?

The Ion 9 is a 9mm semi-auto pistol with an arm brace for stability when fired with one hand. It has a patented side-charging, non-reciprocating, blowback action on an upper receiver, mated to a dedicated billet lower.

The paired upper and lower receivers share several AR15-type characteristics. This includes a pivoting safety, magazine release and buffer tube. Also, AR15-style fore and aft pivot pins secure the upper to the lower.


Ready on the left side: A non-reciprocating charging handle is a blessing
for those who forget to keep their thumb out of the way!

Vive La Difference

The differences are significant, including the patented blowback action, which features a non-reciprocating charging handle on the left side of the upper receiver. This replaces a T-handle located at the rear end of the receiver to draw back a bolt carrier as found on an AR15.

Let me take a moment to sing the virtues of a “non-reciprocating charging handle.” Many semi-auto (and full auto) firearms have a charging/operating lever which slams to the rear at blurring speed every time it fires. If a carelessly placed body part — say your thumb — should interfere with this rearward travel, said thumb will find itself split to the bone, accompanied by a copious gush of blood. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

So, if you shoot a firearm with a reciprocating handle such as I’ve described, be careful — be very careful — all your body parts are placed properly before firing.
Of course, the BRO Ion 9’s non-reciprocating charging handle will not bite you like those so you can be as careless as you like.

On the lower receiver, the Ion 9’s magazine well is designed to accept a GLOCK-style, double stack magazine. The well is beveled for quicker reloading in a tense situation. The Ion 9 comes with a 30-round magazine — which is transparent so you can see at a glance how many rounds remain.

So, neither the operating system nor various components are characteristic of an AR15. It means the Black Rain Ion 9 might look like a duck, but a duck, it ain’t.
Now we’ve established the Black Rain Ordnance Ion 9 is — a blowback 9mm semi-auto pistol equipped with an arm brace — let’s take a closer look.


The business end: Threaded for a suppressor, naturally. A futuristic blend of 9mm
SMG and AR, the Ion 9 is eye-catching, compact and efficient.

The Ion 9 comes with a Velcro arm brace. It accepts 30-round GLOCK magazines
although Stan preferred a shorter one for shooting off the bench.

Materials, Dimensions, Performance

The BRO upper and lower receiver set are “billet” manufactured from 7075 T6 aluminum. The billet method begins with a piece of extruded aluminum bar stock which is CNC machined to the finished dimensions. The receiver is then color anodized for the final finish.

The BRO billet receiver has sharp flats and angles. This produces quite an attractive appearance readily distinguishable from the rounded contours of forged or cast receivers.

An 8.75″ barrel is encased in a 10″ MLOK hybrid fore grip. The Ion 9’s overall length is 26″ and it weighs just over 6.5 lbs.

At the range I discovered several interesting things about the BRO Ion 9. First, it’s pretty accurate as pistols go. I fired a 5-shot group at 25 yards from a shooting table with Fiocchi 124-gr. FMJ ammo measuring a scant 2″. The EOTech Holosight provided a precise aiming point at this distance, but I had to substitute a shorter GLOCK magazine for the long 30-round mag, which interfered with my shooting rest.

Incidentally, the 30-round magazine requires a good deal of force to press rounds into place as the magazine fills up. A lever-type magazine loading tool makes this chore a lot easier.

Unseasonable rains shortened my accuracy testing, but the Ion 9 functioned flawlessly with several defense loads tipped with expanding bullets of varying weights.


The ventilated fore grip is “Picatinny-railed” for a plethora of sights, lights and lasers.
It’ll also serve as a heat shield should you get into a high-volume shooting session.

Defensive Applications

I was a bit disappointed with the arm brace, which is designed to fit around the shooter’s forearm. A webbing and Velcro strap is supposed to secure it, but I found it difficult and time-consuming to cinch in place around my fairly large forearm.

Once the arm brace was in place, I found it nearly impossible to align my eye with the Holosight and would have to resort to point fire. Neither fact is acceptable if you are about to confront an intruder in your home. In this situation, seconds — and accuracy — count.

What worked for me was a modified two-handed, Weaver stance. I assumed a cheek weld against the arm brace with my left hand on the pistol grip (I’m a lefty) and my support hand on the ventilated fore grip.

In a home defense situation, you should bear this in mind: A defensive firearm might be used by a woman who has limited physical strength (and might also be only marginally familiar with guns). In this case a short, one-hand firearm (a pistol) is too easy to point in an unsafe direction. Also, an intruder might find it too easy to disarm a person who has lesser strength.

In contrast, the BRO Ion 9 allows the shooter to grip the firearm firmly with both hands, making it difficult for an intruder to disarm him/her — and it’s long enough an inexperienced person is less likely to forget where it’s pointed.

In my book, this factor makes the Ion 9 a fine choice for home defense. It’s also a hoot to shoot! The MSRP is $1,259 to $1,999.

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