By Luis Valdes
Americans of the 20th Century grew up on stories of Mountain Men, Cowboys, Outlaws, and Rugged Heroes in the wilds. The popularity of TV westerns in the 50s and 60s solidified the popularity of the pistol caliber carbine and revolver combo and by the 80s and 90s. The semi auto carbine and pistol was here to stay due to the action flicks of the era.
Guns like the MP5, Thompson, and Uzi all showed the popularity and potential of the pistol caliber SMG. But there was that one issue that all these guns suffered from. The magazines weren’t compatible with pistols. But the industry came to the rescue. Guns like the Marlin Camp Carbine, Ruger Police Carbine, and others.
Then the industry changed and suddenly, pistol caliber carbine companion guns weren’t in vogue anymore. The SBR AR-15 became the new go to gun.
But the fans of the companion guns never gave up. When Ruger and Marlin ceased production of their guns. Three others stepped up to the plate. Kel-Tec, Beretta, and Hi-Point. I grew up fascinated with PCCs and loved the idea of sharing magazines between guns and ammo. For me as a kid, it started with a Ruger Single Six and a Winchester 94/22. I loved the idea of my revolver and lever action being able to shoot .22 Magnum. As I grew older, I played with the Marlin Camp 9 and Ruger PC 40. Great guns and wished they still made them.
The Beretta CX4 came out and as a Beretta 92 owner. I loved it except for the price. The Hi-Ppint while affordable, put me off since their guns only worked with their pistols. But Kel-Tec hit the nail straight on the head. Make a gun work with different mags. The Glock was hugely popular and they made the SUB-9 and later the the SUB-2000 work with them along with the other popular period pistols. The S&W 3rd Gens, Sig P22x guns, and of course the Beretta 92/96 line.
I of course snagged a SUB-2000 in .40 S&W that is compatible with Glock mags.
And now I also have a Ruger PC9, which in my humble opinion. They got it right. What is funny is back when the original Ruger Police Carbine was made, Lone Wolf modified a couple to work off Glock mags. And ever since then, those guns were always in demand. Ruger learned from that did it right.
I believe we’re in a second renaissance regarding companion guns. Between Kel-Tec, Ruger, all the AR builds, and others. Including the still continued popularity of the lever actions. I see them continuing to be developed and sold.
To me personally, the companion gun was and is part of fabric that makes up American Gun Culture. It hearkens back to the idea of being a Cowboy on his Horse.