Review: Rost Martin RM1C Pistol

A new handgun from a brand-new, American manufacturer is always newsworthy, and Rost Martin’s first model is an outstanding debut.

posted on June 19, 2024
Rost Martin RM1C

For centuries, the Austro-Hungarian Empire sprawled across what humorist P.J. O’Rourke referred to as “the cellulite thigh of Europe,” the rugged Southeastern quadrant of the continent. Serving as a bulwark against the expansionist dreams of the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian realms were the home of some of the most innovative arms makers, especially in the early days of repeating cartridge arms. It is from the stew of this declining empire that we got names like CZ, Mannlicher and Steyr.

Several important pistols in our current marketplace have come from constituent states of this now vanished ancient regime. Most notably was a polymer-frame, striker-fired pistol from Austria that hit our shores in the mid-1980s and was sold for (at the time) a relative pittance, arriving in the buyer’s hands in a funky Tupperware-like container. As we all know, the Glock has gone from a budget-priced curiosity to a market-dominating titan in the intervening decades.

Not quite a decade and a half after the Glock’s introduction to the U.S. market came a pistol from another former province of Austria-Hungary, this time Croatia. It was the HS2000 (“HS” standing for Hrvatski Samokres, or “Croatian Pistol”) and was sold through a small importer in Tennessee for a ridiculously low price backed by almost no advertising—other than word-of-mouth—before getting scooped up by Springfield Armory of Geneseo, IL, and being re-branded as the XD. The product has been improved over the years, to say nothing of the costs of the advertising campaigns and warranty-support programs, but the end result is that the XD is no longer the way-below-market-value deal that the HS had been.

Rost Martin RM1C features
Deeply contoured, the top rear of the grip frame allows a high hold and good control • The rear sight dispenses with dots, the large U-notch being sufficient to achieve alignment with the front post and its dot • Beveled angles make the trigger guard visually distinctive • Generous and reliable adequately describe the double-stack magazines • Front cocking serrations give owners the option of manipulating the slide from different hand positions. They are sizable and easy to use, even with wet hands • Grooves in the topstrap break up reflected glare on the sighting plane, a nice touch one might not expect in a gun at such a consumer-friendly price point.

Fast-forward to the present day and to another former satrapy of the Habsburg monarchy, this time Slovenia, at the northern tip of the Adriatic, hard up against the border with Italy. When the synthetic state of Yugoslavia tore apart under centrifugal forces in the 1990s, Slovenia was the first to successfully bail on the union and managed to get out of the resulting fracas with only a week or so’s fighting and minimal damage. As a member of the European Union and NATO, Slovenia has its own small-arms manufacturer in Arex Defense, which produces the Rex Delta line of pistols, and it was these pistols which served as the basis for the initial offering from the newest manufacturer of duty/carry semi-automatics in the U.S., Rost Martin of Dallas, TX.

It may have been inspired by the European Rex Delta, but the new RM1C is all-American. While “Rost Martin” might sound like the name of a fine old Euro arms maker, it’s actually an amalgam of family names from the company’s founders, Chris and Stefany Toomer. He’s a former USMC officer and she grew up in the gun-making biz as the daughter of Springfield Armory CEO Dennis Reese. You can see, therefore, that they know what is called for in a rugged and reliable handgun.

The RM1C ships in an attractive two-piece cardboard box with a semigloss black finish. Lift off the lid and the pistol is nested in a form-fitted foam cutoff. If you lift out the pistol and the layer of foam that cradled it, you’ll find another layer of foam with a cutout holding the usual accessories, including two additional backstraps, a Trijicon RMR-compatible optics plate and a comprehensive instructive manual printed in two colors on glossy paper. This doesn’t feel like a budget production.

Examining the pistol itself, it’s right in that Glock G19 Goldilocks-size category: 15-shot magazine and a barrel length right about 4 inches (3.9, if we’re being fussy). This gives you a full-length grip and useful sight radius and ballistics without requiring Herculean efforts to carry concealed.

Rost Martin RM1C features
If you can safely disassemble a typical modern, striker-fired pistol, you’ll have no trouble taking down the RM1C • MRDS-ready, the new pistol’s slide is pre-cut to mount an optic • Above the trigger guard is a stippled landing area for the support-hand thumb (or trigger finger, for southpaws). The deep undercut of the trigger guard saves your knuckle from harm.

The slide has a beveled “Tri-Top” contour that’s flat on top with glare-reducing serrations running fore and aft along the sighting plane. The sights are dovetail-mounted and feature a white dot up front and a plain black serrated rear with a wide, U-shaped notch that allows ample light on either side of the front blade.

The sighting plane is only interrupted by the square-sectioned window at the rear of the chamber hood that serves as a loaded-chamber indicator, and the screws securing the cover plate for the optics cutout. (Remove the screws and cover plate and attach the optic plate with the provided screws and then mount the RMR/RMR-compatible optic with the—also provided, hallelujah—optics screws of correct length and thread pitch to match the plate.)

The slide’s snout is beveled at the front to aid in holstering and the sides are devoid of the exotic styling cuts that make so many current pistols look like they’d lost a fight with a CNC machine. There are four pairs of broad, angled grasping grooves out front and another set of six abaft the ejection port. The RM1C’s extractor is internal and, somewhat unusually now, self-tensioned, rather than being the short-pivoting style utilizing a separate extractor spring.

Moving down to the frame, you get true ambidextrous slide releases and magazine releases, and the controls are exactly mirrored on each side, unlike some pistols that expect southpaws to have extra-long or double-jointed thumbs relative to their right-handed kin. There are textured panels on either side of the grip as well as on the frontstrap and backstrap. There are also matching oblong pads of this texture etched on the sides of the frame to provide a tactile reference point for the trigger finger when not shooting (and for the support-side thumb while on the gas).

The trigger guard is large enough to accommodate a gloved digit and has a vertical front with tactile serrations on the forward face if you’re one of those people who likes to hook a finger there. That bluff vertical front is important because, combined with the three-slot Picatinny-type accessory rail on the dustcover, it allows the user to mount not only Glock G19-size lights like the Streamlight TLR-7, but also full-size duty-type lights, such as the SureFire X300U. For a new pistol without a ton of holsters available for it yet, that means you can just pop that SureFire on there and grab a PHLster Floodlight holster and you’re good to go.

The trigger itself has a steel shoe with a flat face and a drop-safety tab in the center of said face.

While unlikely to be mistaken for a Hammerli target pistol, the trigger on the test gun broke at a consistent 5 pounds after a short, albeit slightly crunchy, takeup. The break itself was actually pretty crisp for a striker-fired gun, with minimal overtravel, aided no doubt by the overtravel stop molded into the frame at the bottom rear of the trigger guard.

Rost Martin RM1C features
The small, red cocking indicator is visible when the pistol is in the holster or when the gun is up and the sights are settling on the target • A multi-slot rail means the RM1C can mount a variety of devices • Though everything is utilitarian, the beveling and cuts give the RM1C a handsome appearance • Backstrap inserts offer a custom fit.

The pistol ships with a pair of magazines: One 15-rounder with a flush-fit floorplate and the other fitted with an extended floorplate giving it a 17-round capacity.  Both floorplates have finger cutouts to assist in clearing gnarly double-feed malfunctions (although I never had to do so). The mag tubes are nicely finished, smooth and with a full array of numbered witness holes on the rear of the body.

Rost Martin RM1C specsDisassembly of the RM1C is easy. Release a little tension on the latch by retracting the slide a hair, pull the takedown latch downward on both sides to decouple it from the slide assembly, run the slide forward a hair and then lift it vertically off the frame. On the upside—and it’s quite a large upside in my opinion—there’s no need to pull the trigger at any point in the field-stripping process, nor does any fishing around in the pistol’s guts to release the disconnector need to be done. Just pull, pull, pop and you’re done. On the downside, this could theoretically be done with a magazine in the pistol. Always practice safe gun-handling and visually and tactilely ensure the pistol is unloaded before field-stripping, regardless of whether a trigger press is required or not.

I mounted a Swampfox Justice red-dot optic on the test pistol and subjected it to 450 rounds of assorted ammunition over the course of multiple range sessions and was impressed with both the reliability and shootability of the RM1C. Despite being treated with the sort of benign neglect that would be experienced by a range rental (in other words, I glopped some Lucas Oil on the frame rails at the start of the test and then didn’t clean it until the very end of the test), the pistol didn’t once fail to go through the full and complete cycle of operations.

Whether shooting underpowered, budget 115-grain ball ammo that barely cracked the sound barrier or 124-grain +P Speer Gold Dot hollowpoints, the Rost Martin chugged right along without a malfunction. After the full 450 rounds, the mount was still snug and the dot had held zero, too.

Considering that the MSRP of the RM1C is only $459, significantly undercutting similarly featured competitors from Glock and SIG Sauer, that’s impressive. The fact that the pistol comes with the full panoply of modern features—like an optics cut and fully ambidextrous controls—rather than making you feel like you’re driving a budget rent-a-car is a bonus.

Rost Martin RM1C shooting results

Are there complaints? Sure, because there’s always a nit to pick. One issue is that mounting an optic takes the iron sights out of play. They’re just not tall enough to be visible in the window of the optic. I know modern optics are reliable, but I want my iron sights available just in case. It’s 2024 and new pistols should now have direct-mounted optics that sit low enough to use the normie-height irons rather than needing to fit suppressor-height backups, but I’ll cut Rost Martin slack on this one since its pistol was based off an existing design, meaning certain geometries in the slide couldn’t be altered. It’s a remarkable thing to bring any new gun to the consumer market, but especially one that—if not cutting edge—is not too far from it, right from the outset.

Besides, let’s get back to that price: You’re getting a BMW experience on a bargain budget here. If you handed someone who didn’t know anything about firearm brand names an RM1C and, say, a SIG Sauer P365XL and asked them which was more expensive, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell.

If the new RM1C succeeds and Rost Martin fleshes out its lineup with duty-size, subcompact and long-slide offerings and its prices do that whole inevitable inflation thing, you’ll be able to say you got one when they were still inexpensive.

Rost Martin RM1C


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