So much focus has been placed on the AR platform. It’s a fantastic system. It’s reliable, compact, powerful and plentiful. I think however that there is another choice in the defensive carbine game.
Pistol caliber carbines (PCC) seem to be overlooked a fair amount for one reason or another, I’m not really sure why frankly. The value of putting a pistol caliber round through a 16″ barrel with a long sight radius is extremely high. Terminal ballistics are improved, accuracy is greatly improved and ease of shooting is outstanding. A great resource to check is Ballistics By The Inch, they have painstakingly gone through a huge swath of pistol ammunition and testing its performance in various barrel lengths. On the average for a 9mm cartridge, the velocity is increased by 200fps and muzzle energy is increased by at least 100ft-lb. That’s an incredible increase in power from a pistol round! Straight walled cartridges feed very reliably in the available carbines as well. While these handy carbines are very useful, they are limited on range. The AR platform is easily effective out to 500yds or more depending on the operator. The PCC is good for 100yds in my humble opinion. The round will most certainly travel further and will travel with more than enough energy to do damage at great distances but I’m talking about effective range. The range at which the round is still going to do what it was designed to do.
There are quite a few more available options for PCC’s than there were a few years ago. There are AR platform PCC’s which (depending on maker) can be spotty with reliability depending on brand and use a myriad of different stick style magazines and tend to be on the heavy side, the JRC carbine is a nice and well thought out option that uses Glock magazines and has been reviewed here. It is offered in 9mm, .40S&W and .45 ACP. Hi-Point has produced a PCC for years and is reliable and incredibly affordable though it has a face only a mother could love, their customer service and warranty is second to none though. Beretta has a very nice and expensive carbine. Hi-Point’s carbine is also available in the big 3 pistol calibers and uses proprietary 9-10rnd magazines. The futuristic CX4 uses a few different Beretta pistol magazines as options and with the aid of an adapter can be swapped out at will. Lone Wolf is now producing a PCC and components to manufacture your own that utilizes Glock magazines like the JRC Carbine but is all AR platform. I haven’t had the opportunity to get my hands on one but it looks incredibly promising with it’s only detractor being cost. The Kel-Tec Sub2000 is an incredible choice as well. The carbine sports a polymer receiver and the ability to fold in half for easy storage makes it really stand out. The lightweight Kel-Tec has models that accept Glock, Beretta and Smith & Wesson model 59 magazines. (The Model 59 mags work in their P-11 handgun as well) and is available in 9mm or .40 S&W.
There are more models coming to market these days as the awareness of how useful a PCC can be is increasing. The ability to share ammunition and possibly magazines is really excellent. These abilities simplify ammunition purchasing and storage and gear choices such as magazine pouches. These carbines allow for so much more accuracy than the pistols that shoot the same round and are easier to shoot than a handgun as well. Those looking for a home defense option would be well served with a pistol caliber carbine. With the right ammunition, these are more than adequate as woods guns and can be used to take small to medium game to put food on the table. For those of you that are reloaders, the straight walled pistol cartridges are easier to reload as well. Brass and projectiles are plentiful for handgun ammunition. These useful little carbines are absolutely worth purchasing and integrating into your systems.
There are a few more options to consider. The Ruger PC9, though no longer made, takes P-series mags (including after-market 32-rounders) and is just as reliable as all the P series. Though a little heavy, it is practically indestructible, being originally built for police work. The Calico is also an option, and its 100 round capacity is hard to ignore. It has some ergonomics issues and is a bit more picky about ammo than the PC9, but still worth considering.