B-List film and television star of the 70’s and 80’s, the Wilkinson Arms Linda is back in current production as a carbine. It may be undeniably retro, but it still looks scary enough to have been specifically named on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D) 2013 AWB wishlist. While the Linda 9mm Carbine wasn’t very assaulty in my hands, it did shoot straight, fast, and soft, and the current models bring welcome (albeit certainly not to Feinstein) modern improvements.

Always sure to get the antis’ knickers in a bunch is a barrel shroud (is that the shoulder thing that goes up?) reminiscent of the M1919 machine gun, a pistol grip, and 18- and 31-round capacity magazine-clips.

New for the modern era of Linda Carbines is the addition of 1/2-28 muzzle threads. This allows for the easy installation of a compensator, flash hider, or sound suppressor. Assault Weapons Ban aficionados may now need a safe space.

Further increasing the effectiveness of the platform is an optional Picatinny top rail. Actually, the Linda has always had an integral rail machined into the top of the extruded aluminum receiver, but it was Weaver style and lacked any recoil slots. When Wilkinson Arms asked me if I wanted slots or not, I was quite conflicted. Stick with the classic, retro look or up the utility factor?

Ultimately, though the nice speed skater lady with the big hair and bad trigger discipline and slot-less Linda looks decidedly cool, I decided on the slots for your benefit, o’ reader, to improve the validity of my accuracy testing through the use of an optic. Clearly the recoil slots on my sample were machined after the receiver was powdercoated, whereas they’d be more incognito were they cut ahead of time and coated black to match (which is Wilkinson’s standard practice).

With the modern touches covered, we’re back to retro goodness. The Linda Carbine, or LE-3 as it’s now designated, is a straight-blowback action, low-frills 9mm carbine.

If you’re thinking it looks like an SBR, you aren’t alone. Most of the people I showed the Linda to thought the barrel was way shorter than 16″. Unlike a Sten or M3 Grease Gun or many other WWII (or otherwise “old school”) pistol caliber carbines of this general look and feel, though, the Linda’s magazine inserts through the pistol grip (rather than way ahead of it) and this is where the action begins.

It’s a short, sweet action, too. The 1.32 pound bolt only cycles rearwards a couple of inches, which is plenty to eject a spent 9mm case, allow the magazine to lift the next round into position, then chamber that round into the legal-length barrel. A rubber pad acts as a recoil stop at the end of the bolt’s travel.

Dent at top is damage incurred in shipping.

While the modern Wilkinson Arms now offers the Linda with an AR-15 stock or an underfolder stock, both with an accessory rail section in place of the wood forend seen here, the decision to me was clear. The wood just looks so good! It seems “right” for the gun. It’s really nicely-figured wood, too.

In fact, the number one thing I would change about this Linda, if I could, would be swapping the plastic grips for matching wood ones. The grip seen above is comprised of three pieces — rear cap and two side grip panels — and I can’t help but think the entire look and feel of the carbine would be complete were it wood instead. I should say, though, that the grip is surprisingly comfortable given the somewhat unique look of the angles involved.

While the simple tubular stock could have started life as part of a coffee table, I dig it. Nothing else would look so good on this gun. Wood screws to hold the wood “recoil pad” on? Yes, please. Sign me up.

On the other side of the stock, it mounts to the receiver in a simple, functional manner: slot, tab, and one bolt to lock it all down. Originally the Linda was designed as a pistol, and with that in mind the stock looks surprisingly at-home on the receiver once installed.

This might be a good time to mention that there’s a sling stud on the barrel shroud, but no sling attachment point whatsoever anywhere rear of that. I suppose one of those universal slings that wraps around the end of the stock could work here, but it would block the view of my nicely-figured wood. While we’ll see later that the Linda is quite accurate, I don’t foresee anyone mounting a bipod to it.

In less time than I had anticipated, the Linda was stripped down completely. In fact, it was accomplished without the owner’s manual and was pretty straightforward. My only gripe here is that you’ll need four different hex wrench sizes to break down the Linda to this point. The overall theme is simplicity and large, solid parts.

Even the trigger mechanism is quite simple and is housed entirely in the aluminum grip frame. Hammer-fired, as you can see.

Before even leaving my FFL, I was pleasantly surprised by the decent trigger pull on the Linda. As the general look and feel of the gun (and of the trigger itself) says “WWII battle carbine” to me, I was prepared for the worst. Far from the worst, though, the trigger pull is smooth and consistent and the break is fairly crisp.

Well, the Dvorak TriggerScan shows that its travel isn’t perfectly smooth, but it’s smoother than a GLOCK trigger and much shorter from touch to bang (Linda in bold vs. factory stock GLOCK 22 chart here). It felt lighter than its as-measured ~6.4 lbs and, while it’s far from a match trigger, it exceeded expectations with the exception of a meek reset click near the front of its travel.

I began my range time shooting the Linda with its removable iron sights — a peep rear and a blade front. Perfectly serviceable, and I thought they couldn’t get simpler until I noticed that the rear sight post was actually stamped and bent up from the same piece of sheet metal that the body is made from. For some reason I find this entirely hilarious, and I love it.

The sights were right on target and I have no complaints, though were this my rifle I’d probably paint the tip of the front blade white or orange or install a brass bead to make it stand out more. Of interesting note is that the height may be some sort of standard that I’m not aware of, as they actually co-witnessed perfectly through the hole in the Primary Arms 2.5x prism sight‘s mount.

That optic was installed (and was not re-zeroed) to keep me on target for 5-shot accuracy groups, which I chose to do at the indoor range to escape the snow and the absurdly cold weather. Considering the average group size was under 3/4 of an inch, I now wish I had shot the Linda at farther than 25 yards. Suffice it to say, though, that she’s a straight shooter, possibly favoring the lighter and/or faster rounds.

The addition of a suppressor opened things up a little, which is not what I’m used to seeing. An inch at 25 yards, though, is still quite accurate. Especially for something that — and I don’t mean this negatively as it’s part of the appeal and charm — looks like it was built from furniture and plumbing parts.

On the plus side, the Linda suppressed extremely well. It was significantly quieter than I anticipated; expecting something more along the lines of a 9mm AR-15 conversion. Much like the CZ Scorpion Evo, I attribute this to a very heavy bolt. All of that mass delays the opening of the action and allows the pressure to drop more completely than on other straight-blowback firearms.

With CapArms 147 grain subsonic ammo, the Linda was shoot-in-your-basement (don’t do this) quiet, very light on gas blowback, and oh so smooth. Pew pew — actually, more like “clink, clink” as the bolt closed against the barrel — was achieved. It remained fairly nicely balanced and continued feeling nimble and handy.

While at the indoor range I asked a couple of their employees to test drive the Linda. Keith, despite being a modern plastic fantastic gun kind of a guy, was still not wont to touch another man’s wood and chose to go full Chris Costa grip on Linda’s shroud instead. I admit this hadn’t occurred to me — just as holding it by, you know, the handguard hadn’t occurred to him — so I’m glad he did it and, in so doing, brought even more modern flavor to a retro gun.

The consensus among all who shot it lined up right with mine. Wilkinson Arms’ Linda is a soft-shooting, handy, accurate little carbine with retro-cool looks and a decent trigger.

On the downside, the tiny little cross-bolt safety leaves something to be desired. It was annoyingly sticky from the factory, but after taking the gun apart and doing some cleaning and lubing it felt great. That didn’t resolve the fact that it’s physically too small and/or too hidden up under the overhang of the receiver to be easily accessed, though. Of course, I suppose the receiver also protects it from accidental bumps.

Likewise, the magazine release was a bit sticky and magazines fit somewhat snugly in the frame — don’t expect them to drop free. This could be another, albeit admittedly subtle, area in which to modernize the Linda.

The standard left-side charging handle (knob) is easy to grab and operate, but Wilkinson Arms also offers extended options. As is the case on most guns of this sort, the bolt does not lock back on empty. There is also no mechanism by which to manually lock the bolt to the rear. Adding either or both of these functionalities could be another area in which to subtly bring the Linda up to modern standards.

After all of my shooting, the Linda was good and dirty. The grease applied to the parts at the factory definitely attracted carbon and other gunk, but she never stopped running. Other than a few short cycles on the very first magazine fired — the ~12° F weather and choice of grease for lube didn’t help — there were no functional hiccups. Simplicity has its advantages, and I’d put money on a straight-blowback action running longer than just about anything else.

Overall the Wilkinson Arms Linda 9mm Carbine is a ton of fun to look at and a ton of fun to shoot. Not only fun, actually, as it’s a perfectly viable, reliable, accurate firearm that would serve the user well in home- or self-defense scenarios and more.

Wilkinson Arms has done a nice job bringing it at least partially into the modern era with the addition of a threaded barrel and a Picatinny rail(s). However, it still suffers from some relics of its old school design such as less-than-ideal controls and a “hand-painted pipe fittings” aesthetic, but of course the latter explains a lot of its appeal, too. If it had a matching wood grip, I’d be completely thrilled to send them $799 for one. Even without that touch, it’s undeniably cool.

Specifications: Wilkinson Arms Linda 9mm Carbine

Chambering: 9×19
Magazine Capacity: 31-round magazine included, 18- and 31- round magazines available separately ($32 or less each)
Build: Extruded aluminum alloy upper receiver, aluminum lower receiver, tubular steel fixed stock, wood foregrip and buttplate, steel bolt
Finish: Black powdercoat on receivers and stock. Barrel and bolt are blued. Shroud and barrel nut are anodized. Future models may be Ceracoated.
Trigger Mech: Hammer-fired single action
Sights: Metal, fixed. Peep rear, blade front.
Barrel Length: 16 in. Threaded 1/2-28 as standard, but also available without threads.
Overall Length: 32 in
Weight: 6 lbs, 1 oz
MSRP: $799

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Accuracy * * * * *
Impressive.

Reliability * * * * 
Aside from three hiccups where the bolt didn’t cycle sufficiently far rearwards during the first magazine (of weak, 115 grain reloads in 12 degree weather, mind you), the Linda ran flawlessly whether suppressed or not and kept on ticking even after it was well gunked up.

Ergonomics * * 
The safety and mag release leave something to be desired, and the overall package is quite compact (length of pull, location of the handguard). The charging handle is in a decent location on the left side instead of on the top or the right side. Overall it’s great by 70’s standards but probably just short of average today. Very comfortable to shoot, though, with its soft recoil and nimble handling.

Customize This * * *
Wilkinson Arms does offer different stocks, one of which is an adapter for an AR-15 stock. It has a rail for an optic — some versions also have an accessory rail — and the iron sights are easily removable. It’s threaded for a suppressor or other muzzle device. There’s no aftermarket for the Linda Carbine, though.

Overall * * * * 
The Wilkinson Arms Linda 9mm Carbine is a hoot to shoot. It’s fun, reliable, accurate, and very quiet when suppressed. It also looks awesome in a retro, kitschy sort of a way. Overall, it’s just plain cool.

The 147 grain subsonic 9mm ammunition for this review was provided by CapArms. Their sponsorship of most of TTAG’s review-related ammo needs is a huge help, allowing us to review more guns and more gear more thoroughly.

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51 Responses to Gun Review: Wilkinson Arms Linda 9mm Carbine

  1. Very nice review. Love to have one, if there weren’t a bunch of other, non-firearm associated ways to spend close to a grand higher on the priority list right now.

  2. Prices are getting better on these pistol caliber carbines. If PCC re-imaginings are the big thing, someone call Ruger and have them bring back the PC9.

    • That would be a good one as would the Marlin Camp Carbine and the Ruger Model 44 carbine and quite a few others. My grandpa actually has an M44 that I keep harassing him to give to me. .44 Mag in a semi-auto carbine sounds great. I’ll definitely be threading the muzzle for use with my Liberty Cosmic. It would actually make a sweet SBR haha

      • Wasn’t in the 60s or 70s when the gun was designed. Reworking it to take some modern, common pistol mag would be cool, sure, but not a small undertaking. At least they’re fairly affordable.

        • I have two of the J&R Engineering M-68 carbines I refurbished which are the “father” of the M-80 and Terry Carbines – the “sister” to the Terry is the Linda. All use the same magazine except that the M-68s have a European mag catch at the bottom of the grip so the lock up is different. You can modify Browning Hi-Power magazines to work but you must use an extended magazine like a 20 or 30 round after market as a standard 13rd is not long enough to reach the top of the grip assembly. I have also heard that Ruger P-85 extended magazines will also work but have not tried them.

          The gun is VERY accurate and although the trigger is great for target shooting, I do not like the fire control group design (disconnect, connector, etc.) as if it gets out of spec, there are issues with reset and with the trigger. The most common problem is that the plastic feed ramp breaks BUT this is on old models which are almost 50 years old so if you are buying a used older variant, don’t let this scare you as they are making new parts (I bought up the last few feed ramps from Gun Parts Corp.). Another issue with old ones are broken sear arms but like I said, this is an older gun problem mainly on the M-68 so this can be easily rectified with better material which they may have done.

          If they can address the issue of making the magazines drop free and a few enhancements to the mag catch button, etc. this would be a serious gun for LE or any home defense as overall the quality is very good. I have seen other owners of the M-68 and M-80 take off the for-end and sights and add P-Rail stock which is VERY easy to do with the simple bolt-in sights and for-end. Drill and tap the sides of the receiver and you can add P-Rails there as well – piece of cake with the square tube receiver of the M-68 and M-80 but should not be a big deal on a Linda.

          I remember the Terry Carbines well back in the late 1970s/early 1980s and if you ever can find the December 1982 episode of the 20/20 news program which is entitled “Heavy Metal” hosted by Geraldo Rivera, at one point they interview an executive from Wilkinson Arms at SHOT Show who is showing the “new” Linda pistol (I recorded it back then on VHS and still have the tape).

          Anyway, if they can get an experienced company in marketing/advertising so that they can compete with the big boys, I think that it can do well. Also, another grip assembly to use Beretta 90 series, S&W 5900 series, or Glock magazines would also be a step in the right direction although their magazines are reasonable cost wise.

    • Quite a few other 9my carbines on the market use proprietary mags, Taurus CT9, CZ Scorpion, Sig MPX, and Hi-Point 995 just to name a few. We’ve priced our magazines competitively and offer discounts for quantities.

  3. The underfolder on their website looks kind of cool, too, but that AR-15 stock adapter…no. Just no. For one, it mounts the stock at an angle, and AR stocks are all designed to be mounted on a straight-line buffer tube, so the ergonomics are going to be all out of whack. But more importantly, it just looks so, so wrong.

    • We offer different stocks to accommodate different tastes. The AR stock is mounted at an angle to allow for use of the stock sights, it’s actually quite comfortable and since the Linda doesn’t use a buffer in the buffer tube, we’re able to mount it at an angle just like the tubular stock.

      • Don’t get me wrong, I get why the stock mimics the standard stock’s angle, and I’m sure it will sell. Lots of tacticool guys out there who want to make everything into a sort-of-AR. It’s just not my cup of tea. I really like the retro look of the standard stock.

        I feel the same way about “tactical” shotguns with an AR stock and pistol grip: it might work, but to my eye, they’re ugly as hell.

  4. Thanks for the great review Jeremy! It was quite comprehensive and well-written. It felt right to have an Idaho gun reviewed in Idaho. The fact you also spent a fair bit of time shooting suppressed is definitely a big plus for readers. I’ll address a few things for anyone who’s interested and also feel free to reach out via email, phone, text:

    1. The shrouds are threaded for sling studs and the under folder/AR stocks have sling attachment points, the tubular stock does not although a sling stud could be easily attached to the wood “recoil pad” or wrapped around the tube itself.

    2. We’re happy to accommodate customer requests. For example in Jeremy’s case we built up the more classic model with a receiver with recoil stops. We’re also happy to build rifles with different stock/foregrip combinations, extended charging handles, etc. We will also build SBR’s and pistols upon request.

    3. We will offer Cerakote as an option for the receivers. Contact us for more details!

    • That’s awesome! Apologies, I should have mentioned Wilkinson’s willingness to do custom work in the review itself somewhere.

      If I were to install a rear sling point myself I’d probably put a thread-in QD socket into the recoil pad. Likely doing it through the metal bracket that the wood mounts on so the socket is threaded into the metal as well as the wood and is flush with the front of the bracket. Something along the lines of this fantastic photoshop 😉 (or perhaps below the tube instead of above it)

    • Patrick,

      I want to offer my accolades for threading the barrels. I believe the Linda carbine could be an ideal home defense firearm and being able to add a suppressor to it is like adding the whipped cream and cherry on top of an ice cream sundae.

    • Patrick,

      Can you operate the Linda carbine without the shoulder stock attached? If so, does the carbine still satisfy whatever minimum length requirement the ATF wants to enforce? Is it still a “rifle” without the shoulder stock?

      • ATF minimum length for this purpose is, for whatever reason, with the firearm in its longest configuration. So for example an AK-47 with a folding stock can be under the 26″ OAL minimum requirement and be able to fire and NOT be considered an SBR because the measurement that counts is with the stock fully extended. Same for an AR with an adjustable stock, etc etc. So in this case, the OAL measurement is with the stock attached even though, yes, it can be fired without it on.

  5. I have an identically configured gun (with the addition of an extended charging handle) and my experience was much the same. My trigger was a little worse, being 7-1/2# and a couple sticky spots. I also had a few short feeds right at the beginning. The accuracy is definitely fantastic. I want to try making a new stock and forend to customize mine a bit more.

  6. Great quick review, and who doesn’t like a 9mm PCC? Everyone should have at least 3. The magazine in the pistol grip is a good design element for keeping the overall length down…that architecture should be in more PCCs. It would be nice if the ergonomics on the Linda were a bit more up to date, like a new stock that folds or telescopes, and a slimmer pistol grip. Maybe some M-Lok slots on the shroud too for a light or sling/bipod attachment. That raw aluminum on the picatinny rail has to go away, as does the obnoxiously oversized white font.

  7. …ok – I went and performed some Google-Fu before asking this question and wasn’t able to find an answer within three pages of Fu returns.

    What, pray tell, are “recoil slots”?

    • The horizontal slots cut into a rail in which the recoil lugs of an optic or accessory index into. Keeps the item from sliding on the rail due to the recoil of the gun. If you Google Fu Weaver vs. Picatinny you’ll see the difference (basically that the MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny rail standardized the placement and spacing of the recoil slots).

      …not actually certain “recoil slot” is an official/technical term or anything though. So probably my mistake for just describing the concept colloquially…

      EDIT: looked at the actual MIL-STD-1913 drawings and they’re referred to as “recoil grooves”

      • OK – well, that makes sense. Thanks for responding.

        I just never thought of them as “recoil” slots, but the “grooves that things lock into”.

        *8)

  8. I love that carbine … and would really love to buy one. Alas, I cannot justify $800 for a simple pistol caliber carbine in 9 mm Parabellum.

  9. Yeah that is cool. Alas I could never justify 800lbucks for this. I did have a Keltec Sub 2000 which was great but much less $.

  10. Good review.
    Does the bolt lock back on an empty mag? Doesn’t appear to in the video. Is it even possible to lock it back?

    • No, and no. I mentioned while shooting it that a mechanism by which the charging handle could be pushed into or pulled out of the receiver in order to lock the bolt to the rear would be a quality addition, but it didn’t make it into the final cut of the video. It SHOULD be in the review, though, so I’m going to make a quick edit to add that note. Thank you for bringing it up. Definite oversight in the “cover the function” part of the review checklist.

  11. That is pretty sweet. I agree with the reviewer, wood grips would be very nice. I see you have a folding stock version as well.

    • ” Where did you get that coat?? : )”

      Yeah, Jeremy looks like that character in ‘The Untouchables’.

      (Or my grandmother when she needed a shave…)

      *snicker*

      • LOL. Actually, it was my grandfather’s coat and he used to wear it around Manhattan during the winter hahaha. When he “retired” out to the Palm Springs area he gave it to me as he figured he wouldn’t need it much in the desert 😉

        To be honest, I don’t wear it out in public anywhere near as much as he did haha. In fact, since I’m moving to Texas in February I just gave it to my FFL as a Christmas present (awesome photo here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BOYUESVAVSE/)

        BTW it’s fake fur (synthetic).

  12. Thanks for the great review, and to Wilkinson for chiming in with clarifications.

    Looks like a lot of fun, but I have some big caliber guns I need to sell so I can feed my new passion, 6.5×55 tack driving.

  13. yes. stennish, anyone? tired of looking for a pps43.
    and to me, the mag in the grip sets this a bar above the other pccs.

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