I really enjoy pistol caliber carbines. I’ve owned AR-pattern carbines, a Beretta CX4, a CZ Scorpion EVO, and now the Ruger PC Carbine. I really enjoyed all of them, but I think I’ve found a new favorite in the PC Carbine for several reasons.
First, a little background. Ruger made several pistol caliber carbines from 1996 to 2006 that they called the PC9 and the PC4 – the PC9 was a 9mm, and the PC4 was a .40 S&W. When they were discontinued, Ruger cited low demand. However, as I’m sure most of you are aware at this point, PCCs have made quite the comeback in the shooting world, even having their own classifications in both USPSA and IDPA for competition shooters.
PCCs are sort of a specialty weapon to me. They fill a role in between a full rifle and a pistol, allowing the shooter to reach out farther than they would be able to with a pistol without having to worry about the logistics of two different types of ammunition. In the case of many PCCs, you don’t even have to worry about different magazines, as a significant number of PCCs use Glock magazines. You aren’t going to get the performance of a rifle bullet, but at shorter distances (<100 yards), the convenience may outweigh the lesser ballistic performance.
Ruger has taken this specialty designation to a higher level. The PC Carbine follows in the footsteps of their popular 10/22 takedown models. With a simple pull of a lever and a twist, it comes apart for easy transportation (and concealment). To me, this makes it convenient for very specific defensive uses such as church security teams or law enforcement operations that won’t allow for transport of a full size rifle or the hassle of dealing with an SBR (for non-LE or LE that are required to use their own guns).
I mentioned that the PC Carbine takes Glock magazines, which is perfect for me since my duty and off-duty carry guns are Glocks. It can accept Ruger American and SR9 magazines through interchangeable magazine wells, although mine only shipped with Glock and SR9 magazine wells. Changing the magazine well is simple and takes 5 minutes or less.
The magazine release is low-profile and has slight fencing to prevent accidental activation. It can be switched from right to left to fit your preference. I left my magazine release on the left side, as I can’t reach it with my right hand anyway. It does take some practice to get used to activating it, especially if you’re used to an AR-style release.
The charging handle is attached directly to the bolt, so it reciprocates. It’s adequate to get a finger on for manipulation and like the magazine release, it can be switched from right to left. I’ll probably end up switching mine over to the left to simplify manipulations.
The safety is a standard rifle push-button safety. For a righty, it’s fairly easy to work. I usually push it off with my trigger finger, then reach around the front of the trigger guard to place it back on. For a lefty, you’ll probably have to do the opposite. It’s functional, but definitely not a selling point of the gun.
The bolt catch is centrally located in front of the trigger guard, and should be easy to work for both right and left handed shooters. It’s only a catch, though, not a release, so all of your magazine changes will involve working the charging handle. I’m neutral on its overall function. It works, it doesn’t impede function, there you go.
As I said before, a PCC is a closer range weapon, and the sights on the gun make this pretty obvious. It has a large ghost ring rear sight with a protected front post. I definitely wouldn’t plan on making a lot of precision shots with these sights, but then again, they weren’t really designed for that. They are easy to pick up quickly, though, and that’s a solid point in their favor. To adjust the rear sight, you need hex keys, so it’s not as simple as an AR sight. The hex keys are included, but please don’t leave them at home when you head out to the range because your Gerber won’t help you here.
One neat feature that I like is if you choose to mount a sight roughly the size of an Aimpoint T-1 on your receiver like I did, the rail and sights work together to give you a lower 1/3 cowitness. On the (possibly) negative side, there are some concerns that mounting the sight on the receiver, then taking the gun apart and reassembling it could cause a loss of zero. I’m not aware of anyone that has actually done long-term tests on this, but it is theoretically possible. For that reason, there are multiple aftermarket accessories that allow you to remove one or both sights to move your optic up onto the barrel. Moving the optic to the barrel should prevent any theoretical zero shift from removing and replacing the barrel, but you’ll have to go aftermarket for that. I plan on reviewing some of those options in later posts.
Ruger advertises their barrel as:
- Cold hammer-forged, chrome-moly steel barrel with ultra-precise rifling provides exceptional accuracy and longevity. The heavy contour barrel provides consistent accuracy, while barrel fluting sheds unnecessary weight and allows for quick handling.
- Threaded barrel with included thread protector allows for use of standard muzzle accessories.
I didn’t really get the chance to test the accuracy of the carbine since I didn’t have a sled available to lash it down. I can say that to at least 50 yards, you’ll have no problems making solid hits on a man-sized (or IDPA/USPSA-sized) target. Having the threaded barrel is nice since it allows you to add a 1/2×28 threaded compensator or flash suppressor. Or, if you’re way cooler than I am, you can add a sound suppressor.
The best feature of the barrel is that you can easily take it down and reassemble it in a matter of seconds. No more long-gun bags (and the associated curious looks) when you’re carrying your carbine. Lock the bolt to the rear, pull a lever underneath the barrel, and twist. The barrel unlocks and you’re ready to go. To assemble, lock the bolt back, insert the barrel, and twist until you feel it lock.
The furniture on my specific model is the most basic rifle stock Ruger offers. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s functional. It does have a small Picatinny section up front that would allow you to mount a flashlight or other accessory, but if you truly intend to use it for defensive work, you’ll probably want to invest in an aftermarket handguard or similar. Alternatively, Ruger now offers factory models with MLOK handguards included as well as folding stocks. Definitely something to think about if you’re debating what model you want.
The trigger is definitely an improvement over both an AR9 trigger and the Scorpion trigger. With very little grit and an average pull weight of 4 lbs. 10 oz., it’s pleasant to shoot. There are aftermarket triggers available, but the stock trigger is more than serviceable if you don’t want to pony up the significant cost for a full custom trigger.
Overall, I really like this gun. Its biggest pitfall (for the base model) is the lack of ability to accept popular defensive accessories such as lights. Thankfully, much like the Scorpion, a small cottage industry has sprung up to support the PC Carbine. Ruger has also introduced multiple other models that remedy this issue.
I’ll be profiling some of these accessories in later articles, as well as my final chosen setup.
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