Thoughts on the Pistol Caliber Carbine

There has been a resurgence in the popularity of the pistol caliber carbine(PCC).  PCC’s can be a whole lot of fun, and still hold a place as a fighting weapon.  Yet these guns are in a sort of odd place.  There are some cheap ones that are hit or miss, some expensive ones that are mostly purchased for the novelty or nostalgia (UZI, MP5), and other oddball options.

Pros:

  • cheap ammo
  • low recoil
  • easy to suppress
  • higher capacity than a pistol
  • easier to shoot than a pistol
  • better sight and optics options than a pistol
 Cons:
  • more expensive than a pistol
  • not concealable like a pistol
  • rifle size and weight with out a rifles performance
  • generally more costly than a pistol

Many people and groups have moved from the SMG and PCC to carbines and Short Barreled Rifles.  Smaller rifles give better terminal ballistics and vastly increased range.

Questions you need to ask are:
  • What price are you willing to pay?
  • What caliber do you want?
  • Do you want something small, or are you will to have something rifle sized? (Barrel Length)
  • Do you want a proper stock, or is the arm brace sufficient?

There are four common configurations of PCCs.

First is a 16 inch barreled rifle with stock.  Be it a .357 level action, or a Hi-Point carbine, these rifles are purchased just like any other rifle.   This is the most common, and the most practical version of the PCC.  Easy to purchase and use.  Only real downside to a rifle sized firearm in a pistol caliber is the barrel length.  Often, pistol cartridges gain little from a 16+ inch barrel, so a standard rifle ends up being larger than what would be ideal.

Face it, a Thompson is more of a rifle than a carbine.

The second common configuration is that of a large pistol.  For example the Tec-9s or semi auto MAC-10s.  These are purchased and sold just like a pistol.   Larger examples can be found in the MP5K and Scorpion EVO 3 pistols.  These are fun, but tend to be the least useful configuration.  They are larger and heavier than a full sized pistol, and can be large enough to make them awkward to shoot.

As cool as this is, it isn’t exactly a practical pistol.

 

Now, there is a better third option.  With the advent of the various forms of arm braces, we see these large pistol firearms gain a great deal of utility with an arm brace.

These arm braces have added a great deal of utility to these huge pistols.

Fourth major option is to go with a short barreled rifle.  This is often considered the best way to go, but unlike the previous options you end up with a multitude of various downsides.  There is a long waiting time while the ATF processes your paperwork.  Then you should keep a copy of that paperwork with you(not the original).  Not to mention issues like not being able to lend it to people or limitations on traveling between states, etc.  Despite all of that, I would still recommend going this route if you intend to use a pistol caliber carbine a good bit.  16 inch barrels are rather unnecessary in pistol cartridges, and it is well worth having a functional stock.  That said, the cost and time involvement to get a SBR makes it not right for most.

I personally use a Colt 6991 9mm upper on a SBR lower.

 

2 thoughts on “Thoughts on the Pistol Caliber Carbine”

  1. Totally agree. PCCs only make sense in a suppressed SBR context, preferably when run as light and short as possible. Whenever I see a 16″ PCC, I just shake my head… no point whatsoever. I think it’s hard to even justify a PCC at anything > 7.5″ barrel length… you can get perfectly serviceable “real” rifles at 10-11″.

    1. According to Ballistics by the Inch, .357 peaks out around 16″ of barrel length, depending on the load:
      http://ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

      Semi-auto cartridges like 9mm and 10mm seem to reach a point of diminishing returns at around 10″, but results vary quite a bit by load.

      One factor that is under-emphasized in “tactical” circles is noise profile. A PCC is going to have much less report indoors than an SBR, or even a 16″ carbine firing 5.56 or another rifle cartridge. If you’re unwilling to do the paperwork for a can, a PCC can be a great option for getting the capacity and ease-of-use of a carbine without blowing out your eardrums if you ever have to use it.

      -John M.

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