Pistol Caliber Carbines
I want to start off by saying I like PCCs. I’ve built a few and also have some solid stock setups, all with high round counts. In this post I want to focus on realistically stacking up the Ruger PC Carbine next to AR9’s in the same price range via characteristics.
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A Different Animal
Accepting the fact that the PC Carbine is a different system than the AR15 is the first step in getting the most out of it. They are apples and oranges.
If you have trigger time on a 10/22 and like it, you’re going to be ahead of the curve on this. If you treat the PC Carbine the same as a 10/22 instead of trying to bubba it into a crappy pseudo AR, you’ll probably get more value from the system.
Questions to ask yourself before trying to make your PC Carbine an AR15:
- Would you try to make your M1A an AR-15?
- Would you try to make your SKS an AR15?
- Would you try to make your 10/22 an AR15?
- Would you try to make your M1 Carbine an AR15?
- Would you try to make your Mini 14 an AR15?
If this is what floats your boat, to each his own but, …I think you get the point. If you are that dead set on AR ergonomics, then you should probably go with an AR9 variant and also be ready to pay for it. Nothing wrong with that.
My 2 cents, the end result won’t be an AR15 and you will likely not be satisfied.
The Ruger PC Carbine is still one of the most affordable pistol caliber carbines on the market. You might actually find one in stock too (2021).
I suggest this rifle to first time gun buyers and say spend the rest on a flashlight and ammo. If you don’t like troubleshooting and don’t want to spend a ton of money on accessories, the PC Carbine is a great option.
If your first and only gun is a 10/22, you will feel right at home with the PC Carbine and require limited cost and training to become effective with a centerfire caliber.
If you want a solid AR9 ergo variant, you’ll probably want to look into something like a CMMG Banshee/Guard/Resolute, B&T, Sig MPX, Colt SMG, etc. All of which are awesome and EXPENSIVE firearms.
There are some awesome stock reliable AR9 variants on the market but, they also cost way more than the stock PC Carbine.
Fire Control Group (FCG)
There are not too many aftermarket fire control groups out there for the PC Carbine. I like mine stock.
IMHO: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
If the the ability to put an AR15 FCG in your lower is the reason you want an AR9 over the PC Carbine, you just added the cost of the new FCG (probably around $120) and likely reliability issues when you hit the higher round counts.
It makes me laugh when people compare AR9 builds to the PC Carbine and pretend it’s the same reliability out of the box. I’ve built a few myself and they aren’t always plug and play.
Guns jam and home builds often require tuning, large round counts to build confidence, troubleshooting and the labor of love getting it right.
How many of you have quarters in your AR9 buffer tube?
If you think I’m full of it on this one, go to your local USPSA chapter and watch a PCC match. PCC division is where competitors are very hard on their rifles and run very high round counts. Talk with any regular competitor about troubleshooting especially when switching out FCGs, BCGs, buffer systems, etc.
If you’re antisocial and think I’m full of it, Google: AR9 double feed, AR9 feed ramp, AR9 feeding issues, AR9 Buffer, AR9 Spacer. Fight Me.
The PC Carbine comes with very serviceable iron sights from the factory. Add $100 to your AR9 build if you didn’t factor in sights.
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If you weren’t planning on having irons on your AR9, add the cost of your optic.
I like guns that come with iron sights because optics are expensive and I have more than one gun.
The PC Carbine works with most stock low mounts included with most optics. With the AR9, get ready to buy an additional mount with most optics to get the right height. All said and done probably looking at adding at least $200 with the most economically friendly optics like Primary Arms.
Last Round Bolt Hold Open or LRBHO is a feature I like in my PCC setup. Is it necessary? Absolutely not. But, I like it.
An AR9 with a reliable LRBHO will be more expensive and often more picky than the Ruger PC Carbine.
The AR9 will typically have a more ergonomic mag release in most form factors than the stock PC Carbine. The there’s a reason the AR15 is one of the most popular rifles on the market. Ergonomically it gets a lot of things right.
However, if faster reloads are what you’re after with the PC Carbine, our Drop-in PC Carbine Mag Release should help with that.
Recoil impulse is where the PC Carbine really comes into it’s own in my opinion. If you’ve actually shot a blowback AR9, you know what I’m talking about. The dot bounces on your second shot.
The Ruger PC Carbine is extremely flat shooting for a gun of its type and price. Throw a compensator on end of your muzzle and it becomes even more manageable.
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The tungsten weights in the PC Carbine’s bolt carrier group probably have something to do with the lighter recoil impulse. Whatever they did, it works.
Unless you are ready to pony up over a grand for your AR9 build, I’d give the Ruger PC Carbine some serious consideration. Our PC Carbines have proven to be very reliable in our testing with Glock and Magpul magazines.
The PC Carbine is the winner if budget is a concern.
If you have the funds to throw at something like a CMMG Resolute 100 with the radial delayed blowback system, I’d probably take the AR9. Good luck finding one in stock right now 2021.
Brass Tax (circa 2021)
I’d expect to pay about $1,600 to get an AR9 set up on the low end. Rife + Optic/Irons + Optic Mount + Flashlight +Flashlight Mount. This isn’t mentioning the 500 round minimum I’d want to test a budget or home build AR9 to feel confident.
For the PC Carbine, I’d expect to pay about $1,000 to set it up with a serviceable flashlight (TLR7 or TLR8) and acceptable optic (Primary Arms). I’d feel confident in this system with a 200 round 100% reliable break in.
Howard has been in the firearms industry for about 10 years. Started at a big box store retail gun counter back in the day and is usually found behind the scenes on marketing and product shoots. Live fire videographer.