Pistol-caliber carbines are all the rage right now in the firearms industry. Many companies are starting to build a variety of different models in just about every popular handgun chambering. Which begs the question I’ve heard a lot: Why does anyone need a pistol-caliber carbine?
The answer is pretty simple. First off, these weapons are easy to use for home defense, but their versatility and light recoil make them great for range plinking, too. And you can use the same inexpensive ammo — sometimes even the same magazines — between your carbine and handgun. A lot of pistol-caliber carbines take Glock and Ruger magazines that work in some of today’s most popular concealed-carry sidearms. But maybe the best reason is that shooting such a weapon is fun. These guns are an absolute blast to shoot.
This brings us to the Ruger PC Carbine, which covers all of those bases while offering more than competitors on the market. Ruger has been making pistol-caliber carbines for over 60 years, so it didn’t take much for the company to build the ultimate 9mm platform.
The Ruger PC Carbine looks and functions a lot like the classic Ruger 10/22 but in 9mm. What really sets this carbine apart from the competition is the takedown feature, which is similar to that seen on the 10/22 Takedown. With no tools at all, you can take the Ruger PC Carbine down into two pieces in a matter of seconds.
Simply lock the bolt to the rear, then pull forward on the release latch underneath the handguard and twist the front half about 45 degrees clockwise if you’re looking down the rifle. Then, pull the two halves — the barrel/forend and receiver/stock — apart. It’s that easy! It requires no tools or gunsmithing knowledge to take this gun apart. Reassembly is more or less the opposite, except you don’t have to touch the release latch. Just insert the barrel into the receiver at the correct orientation and twist to lock it in place.
In my opinion, this is really one of the best features of this gun. You can easily stow the PC Carbine in a backpack, small case or the backseat of a vehicle. Disassembled, the carbine is small enough to fit in my truck’s center console. It’ll also fit in the storage compartments of most quads or side-by-sides.
The takedown feature is unique and innovative, but Ruger didn’t stop there. The company decided to give shooters choices on their magazines as well. The firearm comes with an adapter that fits inside the magazine well and accepts Glock magazines. Yep, that’s right. Without the adapter, the Ruger accepts both Ruger SR series and Security-9 magazines, and the company includes a 17-round SR9 magazine (10-rounders are also available for restricted states).
Both Ruger and Glock magazines functioned flawlessly during my testing and locked the bolt open after firing the last round. This is partially because the carbine utilizes a “dead-blow” action. The bolt is held forward by inertia and spring pressure. A custom tungsten dead-blow weight shortens the bolt travel and reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise.
The 16.12-inch barrel comes with 1/2×28-tpi muzzle threading so shooters can install suppressors and other devices. A short Picatinny rail is molded into the front of the handguard for lights, lasers or a bipod, and the top of the 7075-aluminum receiver sports another rail for optics. There’s a replaceable sling swivel stud up front as well, and a molded-in stud in the buttstock.
The rear ghost-ring sight is adjustable for elevation and windage. The entire sight is also easy to remove from the barrel to allow for additional optic clearance if you’re running a larger scope. Up front is a serrated blade-style sight with serrations to reduce glare. Both sights are mounted on the barrel forward of the receiver. This reduces the sight radius but ensures consistency during takedown and reassembly. The rear sight must be loosened with an Allen wrench, moved along a slide and then re-tightened in order to adjust it. The fact that it is so easy to just throw a red dot on top makes the iron sights mostly redundant.
The charging handle is easy to switch to the other side, just like the magazine release button. Ruger made most of the components easily adjustable or ambidextrous so the user can customize the carbine. This brings us to the trigger, which closely resembles that of the 10/22, making it very easily customizable. However, the trigger feels very smooth, so I had no complaints with it right out of the box anyway. The factory trigger is great with a crisp break at about 3.5 pounds. That break is followed by a short, crisp reset. It’s a fantastic trigger.
I really wanted to test this carbine’s capabilities so, I allowed multiple people to shoot it. And let me just say that everyone who touched the PC Carbine shot it very well. On average, out of eight different shooters, we all created very tight 1-inch groups at 30 yards with just iron sights. And I was only running A-1 Premium’s 115-grain reloads for the initial testing.
Since the groups were so good, I removed the barrel and reinstalled it, then I reshot the same five-shot groups. The accuracy wasn’t affected, proving to me that once this rifle is zeroed in, it stays that way even after it’s taken apart. I then started running a variety of ammunition through the Ruger, including loads from Aguila, Federal Premium, Hornady, HSM, Precision Delta, Sig Sauer and Wilson Combat. The Ruger PC Carbine functioned flawlessly. It fed, fired and ejected reliably, smoothly and consistently no matter the ammo. It never suffered any stoppage for any reason, and the bolt always locked back after firing the last round. So, I think it’s fair to say the PC Carbine is an extremely reliable platform.
I shot it at a few different distances ranging from 50 yards down to 10 yards. The performance didn’t change much. I lost a little accuracy while firing off-hand at 40 and 50 yards, but I was still on target. I just couldn’t create super-tight groups like I could from 10 to 30 yards. Also, I did notice a slight increase in accuracy with heavier rounds, however. Also, the recoil was extremely light and manageable. I was so comfortable with the rifle that I even let my 4-year-old son shoot it. This marked his first time firing something larger than a .22-caliber rifle. The PC Carbine was a little large for him, but it’s still a great option for him to grow into.
Ruger knocked it out of the park with this new PC Carbine. And the company managed to make one of the best carbines on the market extremely affordable with an MSRP of just $649. With a much lower street price, it undercuts much of the competition while beating more features and performance.
The PC Carbine makes an incredible home-defense firearm and an absolute beast in a compact, takedown, reliable, ambidextrous, accurate little carbine with an incredible trigger and swappable mag wells. The only real issue: The PC Carbine is so damn fun to shoot that, if you aren’t careful, you can easily blow through several boxes of 9mm ammo before you know it.
Ruger PC Carbine
- Caliber: 9mm
- Barrel: 16.12 inches
- OA Length: 34.37 inches
- Weight: 6.8 pounds (empty)
- Stock: Synthetic
- Sights: Blade front, ghost-ring rear
- Action: Semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 17+1
- MSRP: $649
For more information about the Ruger PC Carbine, please visit ruger.com.
This article was originally published in Personal Defense World 2019. To order a copy, please visit outdoorgroupstore.com.