Nordic Components Pistol Caliber Carbine: Gun Review

Pistol caliber carbines are all the rage these days, and for obvious reasons. They’re fun to shoot, the ammo is inexpensive, there are competition divisions just for them, and they often share the same magazines as your favorite pistol. As long as it’s a GLOCK. That is, until now . . .

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Not content to pigeon-hole buyers into running Gaston’s gat, Nordic Components has completely blown the doors off the PCC magazine compatibility world with their NCPCC. As the photo above shows, the NCPCC employs interchangeable magazine wells — $149 each — to provide compatibility with many of the most common 9mm pistols on the market.

Okay, okay, at the time of this writing they only have GLOCK and Smith & Wesson M&P magwells available, but they’re going to release GLOCK Competition (flared magwell), 2011 Competition, SIG P320, Beretta 92, SIG 226/228, and CZ 75 versions soon. I’m sure more will follow, should the NCPCC prove popular.

Taking a step back to look at the NCPCC as a whole, it’s a gorgeous gun. It oozes readily-apparent quality. Machining is flawless, finish is even and consistent and parts fit is flawless. Now, at an MSRP of $1,599 it really should be flawless, but it’s nice to report that the NCPCC walks the walk.

One of the first things I noticed was the unique looking bolt carrier peeking through the ejection port. While 9mm ARs always run a special bolt, this shiny piece of sculpted metal really stood out.

It’s a polished, stainless steel job with a larger extractor than most 9mm AR bolts use.

Additionally, it’s a solid design. There are no weights pinned into the back of the unit as there are with the vast majority of other brands’ PCC bolts. On the plus side, it’s one piece and it’s rock solid. On the downside, the solid center means it isn’t compatible with the JP Silent Captured Spring system or the CapArms Silent Shuttle System.

Not that those systems are necessary here. The NCPCC comes with Nordic Components’ own 9mm buffer, which is an extra heavy, stainless steel affair with a nice overtravel bumper on it. The action is smooth and pretty quiet.

Upper and lower receivers are Nordic’s own, and are machined from 7075 billet aluminum and hard coat anodized. Note how the NC15 upper flows right into the handguard.

A Magpul MOE grip is one of the few non-Nordic Components-made parts along with some of the small parts like the “Mil-spec” controls (bolt catch, safety, charging handle), buffer tube assembly, fire control group, and presumably various springs, detents, and pins.

The other big, non-Nordic-made component is the Mission First Tactical BMS stock. It’s a great choice for a pistol caliber carbine, offering six adjustment stops and extremely light weight with few frills. I really like this stock.

Up front, Nordic Components’ NC-3 freefloat M-LOK handguard provides all the accessory mounting real estate you could ever need or want. It’s 15.5 inches long for your C-clamping pleasure, and its slim diameter feels really great in the hand.

Even up front-ier is an NC PCC flash hider or compensator. Underneath it, on the end of the 16″ 1:10 twist barrel, are 1/2-28 threads and a generous shoulder for mounting a suppressor.

The magazine release (which is part of the magwell) is where you’d expect, though the 7075 aluminum lever is nicely oversized and serrated for non-slip grip.

As you can see inside the bottom right corner of each magazine well, the mag catch varies in size and shape to work with the given pistol mag. The catch could also go through the front of the magwell and latch into the front center or front left corner of a magazine depending on where its slot or flange is located.

Now to the big question: Yes, the NCPCC locks back on empty. An effective last round bolt hold-open lever is integrated into the left side wall of the lower receiver. The pivot pin holds it in place at the front, so, when the follower pushes up on the tab, it lifts up the rear of the lever and activates the Mil-spec bolt catch.

Though this lever worked with both the GLOCK and M&P magazines, I expect other versions will ship with other magazine wells should their mags not be compatible.

Swapping magwells couldn’t be simpler or faster. Just push or pull out the single, captured cross-pin and the magazine well comes free. Slide the new one into place on the hook at the bottom front of the receiver, then push the pin back in. Done and done. Time spent: under 10 seconds.

Both the GLOCK and M&P magwells fit their charges perfectly. Magazines locked in place smoothly, rounds fed and ejected flawlessly, and the bolt locked back on empty without fail. While the M&P mags ejected out the bottom with authority, the stupid plastic-covered GLOCK mags didn’t quite drop free.

Fit between receiver and magazine well is so good that it’s hard to even notice they’re separate parts. Once installed, the magwell is rock solid.

On the range the NCPCC was a joy to shoot. Its smooth action, soft recoil, and nearly non-existent blast and concussion make it a perfect rifle for any shooter. While it was at TTAG HQ no fewer than three first-time (or near as dammit) shooters got behind the NCPCC as their ballistic hors d’oeurve, and found it easy and unintimidating.

Experienced shooters immediately recognized the quality fit and finish and the rifle’s nice balance. With the slim, lightweight handguard, fairly light barrel, and lightweight stock, the NCPCC is quick and nimble. In every way it feels like a top-of-the-line AR-15. It looks the high-end part, too.

Not a single beat was missed, regardless of ammo or magazine choice. Over the course of a few hundred rounds, including hollow points and reloads varying in weight from 90 grain to 147 grain, the NCPCC fed, fired, and ejected it all. And locked back on empty.

100-yard target

On accuracy I did something a bit odd. After shooting a few cloverleaf groups — all five holes touching — at 25 yards, I backed off to a full 100 yards in breezy conditions and shot a handful of groups just like the ~4-inch one seen above. For a 9×19, this thing’s a relatively straight shooter.

Overall, the Nordic Components Pistol Caliber Carbine is a fantastic rifle. It’s well-sorted and nicely balanced. Its quality is readily apparent, and it backs that up with unquestionable reliability and plenty of accuracy to clean house at a PCC competition.

While the NCPCC sure ain’t inexpensive, there’s a lot of potential utility in the ability to quickly and easily swap magazine wells. While the NCPCC sure ain’t inexpensive, it’s worlds from cheap. Though, especially at this price, I’d appreciate an upgraded trigger.

Specifications: Nordic Components Pistol Caliber Carbine

Caliber: 9×19
Magazine Compatibility: GLOCK and M&P magwells available now. GLOCK Competition (flared magwell), 2011 Competition, SIG P320, Beretta 92, SIG 226/228, and CZ 75 coming soon.
Barrel: 16″ nitrided barrel with 1:10 RH twist and 1/2-28 muzzle threads
Receivers: 7075 billet aluminum, hard coat anodized
Trigger: Mil-spec AR-15 trigger
Sights: none
Handguard: NC-3 15.5″ M-LOK slim guard with full top rail
Overall Length: 32.875″ to 36″
Weight: 6 lbs, 11 oz
MSRP: $1,599

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Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
Straight blowback actions tend to be simple and reliable, and the NCPCC is no exception. It’s also well-tuned with appropriate bolt and buffer weights.

Accuracy * * * *
Better than your average pistol caliber carbine, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. I can’t help but feel there’s an ammo choice out there that would really shine in this thing, though.

Quality * * * * *
Top notch. Materials, machining, fit, finish, and assembly are all exactly as you’d hope.

On The Range * * * *
The NCPCC is soft-shooting, nimble, and well-balanced. It’s an extremely pleasant gun to shoot. I’m dinging it a star because, at this price point, the Mil-spec trigger is a poke in the eye. Additionally, an upgraded safety selector would be appreciated, and maybe a set of iron sights.

Overall * * * *
Nordic’s PCC is a high-quality, well-sorted firearm with a big bonus in the utility department thanks to its interchangeable magazine wells. However, it comes at a price.

comments

  1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    It still drives me nuts that the last 2 or 3 inches of that barrel are doing nothing good except keeping it from being a SBR. A pet peeve I suppose.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      #RepealTheNFA

      Also, your comment made me realize that I forgot to mention Nordic Components also sells the PCC in 8.5″ pistol and 8.5″ factory SBR versions, plus a CA approved version AND as a stripped lower receiver: https://nordiccomp.com/product-category/firearms/9mm/

      1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

        $399 for a stripped lower PCC? Must have come from Wilson Combat and be made of unobtanium.

        As much as I’d like to use M&P and M92 mags, I’ll stick to my New Frontier glock lowers for that stupid price.

    2. avatar Jomo says:

      2 or 3?! There’s a good 10 inches of useless metal on the end of that gun! It drives me to distraction!

      1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        I said 2 or 3 because with some loads there is a very modest velocity gain after 13″. Not enough to be useful, but I just wanted to be precise. Those 8.5″ options sound like what the weapon should be – maximized for it’s niche. I have a 10.5″ AR that could be argued is a PCC (.338 Spectre) and I am very satisfied with it. I really can’t even think much past 100 yards anyway.

        1. avatar jwtaylor says:

          That Spectre is a great round on the pigs, especially if you are going subsonic at night. If you are going to slow, you have to go heavy. Plus, you can use your 9mm can with it.

        2. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

          JWT – Maker 300gr subsonics and 165gr low supersonic bullets have gone a long way to making the gun what it set out to be. Both bullets are accurate and expand beautifully at the velocities they reach the target at. The Outlaw State 290s are good for more subsonic penetration as they expand a little less. Expensive and finicky magazines are it’s greatest weak point in my experience.

        3. avatar Snatchums says:

          A 10mm auto PCC can take full advantage of a 16″ barrel can’t it?

          I realize that counters a lot of the intent of such a weapon: cheap ammo, but seems like that would be a really good all-around round if coming out of a pistol size barrel is enough to deal with bears.

      2. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        The key to extracting the most juice out of pistol caliber carbine (or a lever gun chambered for a revolver cartridge) is to use a powder that burns slow enough to accelerate the bullet all the way down the barrel. The difference in muzzle velocity between powders can be significant.

        Look through the published load data and find the slowest powders on the list. Disregard the velocity data because it’s based on a 4 inch barrel. Work up some loads, run them over the chronograph and have fun! Keep in mind, such loads will give you mostly noise and flash if you run them through a pistol or revolver.

  2. But…pistols work, and no NFA required.

    1. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Pistol caliber carbines have been around for well over a hundred years. Most of the time, I don’t really get it, but It’s not a new trend and it’s not going to stop. In something like a 9X19, I think the applications are pretty limited, but bump that up to 10mm or a very hot 45ACP+P and it makes a lot more sense to me.
      A 10mm with a 10″ tube and a can, to match a G20 would be a pretty good truck/carry combo for my lifestyle.
      Now that I say that…
      I guess it’s off to QC10 and Lone Wolf for some project parts for me.
      Who makes a good 10mm can?

      1. Holding out for the Honey Badger in 300blk.

        1. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Holding out for the Honey Badger in 300blk.”

          Honey Badger don’t care how long *you* have to wait.

          (Eww! Nasty!)

        2. Honey badger don’t give a fuck.
          He’s a honey badger!

      2. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

        I keep an expanded .45 230gr HST on my desk because it is so beautiful, and this article made me think that it might be nice to be able deliver it out to 100yds. My 300gr Makers are probably better, especially at distance, but they are not as pretty.

        1. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

          Jeremy S. – The only complaint I have about my Korth .357, the price having already been paid, is that there are no HSTs available for it. That is a fairly significant complaint for me. A beautiful gun deserves a beautiful bullet.

        2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          There is HST in .38 Special now (we posted a press release maybe 6 weeks ago, and currently have a few boxes in for testing). Maybe if it sells well Federal will expand the line into .357.

        3. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

          Jeremy S. – I read that release but had forgotten about it. Those were the uncircumcised cartridges:-)

      3. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        My Liberty Cosmic is pretty freakin’ great on 10mm. It’s shockingly quiet on 9mm as well. Ostensibly it’s a .45 ACP pistol can, but it’s actually rated for up to .458 SOCOM! It isn’t rated hearing safe on .458 (maybe in subsonic ammo on longer barrel lengths) but the fact that, as usual, Liberty has overbuilt the can so much that it can handle .458 S, .450 BM, 5.56, 300 BLK supersonic full auto, certain .308 even, 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel, etc, is ridiculous. And it’s still only 9.5 ounces sans whatever mount you put on.

        A couple weeks ago I was shooting .460 Rowland through it with a Lone Wolf conversion upper on my G20 lower.

        BTW — 10mm isn’t the best on a straight blowback action. It’s a bit hot for that. I’d be running the heaviest freakin’ recoil system possible. Though, the MechTech CCU I reviewed a few years ago did great and showed zero signs of case bulge.

  3. avatar former water walker says:

    1600bucks for a PCC? I’ll pass. The JR is half or less. Not to mention Keltec or even HiPoint…yeah I realize this is a specialized competition thingy.

    1. avatar Nigel the expat says:

      Or build up your own from parts you select (New Frontier/QC10 lowers, etc.) for a hellova lot less than that. And have exactly what you want.

      Without the ability to swap mags wells of course.

    2. avatar Anon in CT says:

      The JR was a nice attempt, but it’s just not great. You should not need to remove hex screws and a castle nut to field strip a weapon for cleaning. Just no.

      And yes, I have one. And since it’s a pre-2013 CT grandfathered weapon I guess I am keeping it since I cannot replace it with something better.

  4. avatar Zeke says:

    Been a while since I’ve had much interest in adding another AR-type to my collection, but that may have just changed. I’ve got so many Beretta 92 mags, I could easily spare a half-dozen or so for duty with this thing. I like this a lot!

  5. avatar Anon in CT says:

    That is fantastic looking.

    I really need to get out of this state.

  6. avatar Ironhead says:

    I like the idea behind this.
    I would like to see one in 45 acp, 10 mm, .357 mag, or 44 mag.
    (I know im dreaming on the last 2, but hey a guy can dream right?)
    12 inch barrel in 10 mm with a supressor? Count me in. Once i no longer live in illinois.
    Sbr’s and cans are a big no no.

  7. avatar Ironhead says:

    Once i no longer live in illinois, one of these in 10 mm with a 12 inch barrel and a suppressor would most definitely be on my list.
    Even better would be a .357 or .44 mag (hey i can dream right?)

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      .357 and .44 are difficult because they’re rimmed cartridges. They don’t feed well from a box magazine, as the rims will often overlap and you get “rim lock”-induced feeding jams. This is a big part of why calibers like .458 SOCOM, .50 Beowulf, .338 Spectre, etc. were created.

  8. avatar Soylent Green says:

    I’m not sure I understand the point of the mag switch thing. I have a JP-GMR13 as my PCC of choice, which takes glock mags.

    30+ rd glock mags are cheap and ubiquitous. I feel as though 30+rd mags in any of the other guns are not (except maybe the Beretta because of the CX4, but maybe they are cheap but I don’t think their availability is like the glock 30+’s), and if you own one of the other guns it’s not very likely you have those mags as standard, unless maybe you own an open division of one of those guns (thinking mainly the STI. So you are buying new long mags regardless.

    I guess I could understand the shared mags thing in some sort of tactical construct. But I think if you’re in that deep you’d have no issue going out and picking up a glock pistol for compatibility.

    Yes I do understand I don’t have to use the full freedom capacity mags all the time, and could use the 20’s, 15’s or 10’s that come with most of the other guns it can have compatibility with. But I could also restrict my sexual activity to just missionary style, in the dark, under the covers…but it’s not nearly as much fun that way.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      If you compete with a 2011, Beretta, SIG, CZ, etc., this gives you the ability to run a PCC and use the same mags. You don’t have to use 30-round jobs or whatever, as the NCPCC will accept short ones as well (Glock 19 mags will work in the Glock magwell). If you switch pistols you can keep the same PCC and just swap the magwell, or if a 2011 is your competition gun but a Glock is your home defense (or bugout bag, etc) gun, you can switch magwells. Or two or more shooters could share the NCPCC at a match, even if they shoot different pistols.

      …I think it would add much more value to an SBR build, by the way. With the extra $200 for the stamp plus all of the paperwork and other hassles, the fact that the lower isn’t stuck accepting only a single type of magazine becomes an even bigger deal…

      There’s definitely something to be said for sharing not only the caliber, but the same magazines between pistol and long gun. Instead of being forced into your pistol choice because of what magazine the carbine takes, the idea here, I suppose, is that you can use the pistol you want and easily change the carbine to suit.

      1. avatar Soylent Green says:

        “You don’t have to use 30-round jobs…”

        For competition, yes, yes you do. You aren’t going to shoot a PCC match with the little shorty mags unless your state isn’t part of America, or you are a superhero and want some sort of handicap for the challenge.

        When I got my PCC, that it took glock mags, and I didn’t own, and still don’t own a glock, was of absolutely no consequence.

        I do not dispute your other points, though the JPGMR for same price comes with an absolutely great trigger.

  9. avatar tiger says:

    While nice tech with the mag well, can we droop the tacticool trend already? And there are other options that are not tied to Glock mags. Beretta and Kel tec come to mind. I’d love to see a updated Marlin Camp Carbine with a different mag over this.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      Hell yes to the Camp 9 coming back.

  10. avatar jimmy james says:

    If they don’t rock-n-roll I got no use for them. Might as well shoot a pistol. Have friends with the old 9mm AR’s. Boring! The reverse is much more fun. Rifle caliber pistols in AR/HK format. Goodness gracious Great Balls of fire, especially the PTR 91 308caliber pistol.

    1. avatar Steve P says:

      Exactly. Rifle caliber pistol trumps pistol caliber rifle.

    2. J J,
      When are getting together for a shoot?

  11. avatar JSW says:

    I stopped reading at $1599… for that, I can buy a real rifle and have money to buy all the reloading tools. Or just buy an MSR (which I really don’t need any more of).

  12. avatar bmg504 says:

    I would like to see it in .357sig.

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