1974 vs. 2018 Ruger Pistol Caliber Carbines Comparison [Video]

ruger carbines

Ruger’s new PC Carbine, reviewed here, is proving to be quite the hit. The market is eating up pistol caliber carbines — PCCs — these days. They even have their own division in a couple of competitive shooting associations. But Ruger’s no Jonny-come-lately. They’ve been making PCCs for almost 60 years . . .

After reviewing the 2018 PC Carbine, my grandfather sent me his early-to-mid 70’s (estimated 1974) Model 44. I figured I’d see how this semi-automatic, .44 Magnum job compares to the company’s current offering, so I took them both to the range.

It probably won’t surprise many when I say that it compares extremely well. With few exceptions, since this gun was designed in 1960 there has been minimal advance in firearms technology. New materials and finishes, sure, but today’s guns are more similar to those of the 60’s than even internal combustion engines are to their counterparts of a half century ago.

In many ways it’s the same gun. Size and feel are similar. Trigger shape and location, trigger guard, cross-bolt safety, and bolt-mounted charging handle/knob are all nearly identical.

Due to its .44 Mag chambering, the M44 is the more complicated firearm. It’s a gas-operated, rotating bolt design whereas the 9mm PC Carbine is a straight blowback.

Of course, the PC Carbine is a take-down and the Model 44 isn’t. Can’t be.

For one, its gas system would become significantly more complicated to facilitate a take-down design. Additionally, the M44 is fed via a tubular magazine that runs up through the forend, much like a lever gun or a shotgun. Rounds are pushed up through the loading gate / lifter and into the four-round magazine tube.

While it’s more cumbersome and slower to load than the pistol magazine-fed PC Carbine, it’s also more complicated. Again, the older gun is much more involved and mechanically complex than the newer gun.

It’s also very rewarding to shoot. The feel of that rotating bolt unlocking and the slower action cycling is mechanically satisfying. The push of a .44 Magnum cartridge feels great out of a carbine with a delayed semi-auto system. The Model 44 is accurate, fun, and pleasant to shoot. It’s a hell of a gun for deer or hog hunting, including or especially in states with straight-walled cartridge laws.

But it isn’t threaded for a suppressor. And it isn’t a takedown. Its varnished wood stock scratches and dents easily and isn’t as ergonomic as the newer PC Carbine’s. This gun makes a better choice for carrying in a backpack, having fun on the range, shooting in competition, or for home defense.

There’s room in my safe for both, though the Model 44 is likely going in for barrel threading surgery soon.

Ammo for this review provided by Freedom Munitions. Visit www.FreedomMunitions.com and use coupon code “TTAG” for 5% off site-wide on dozens of brands of ammunition, accessories, parts, optics, and more.

comments

  1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    The older Ruger .44 Carbine has been a deer-killing machine in the midwest for some time now. It works and works well. The trigger is a little rough, but a ‘smith can smooth that up.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      If only Ruger made a .44 Magnum carbine today — and with a seven or eight round tube magazine. Now THAT would be a FANTASTIC home defense firearm. It would be short, light, and maneuverable. And eight (seven + one) or nine (eight + one) rounds of .44 Magnum should be plenty for all but the most dire of home invasions.

      Note that a carbine with a 16-inch barrel would launch 180 grain hollowpoints with a muzzle velocity on the order of 2,000 fps which is 1,600 ft-lbs. energy at the muzzle! No one, I repeat, NO ONE is going to be operational after absorbing to center mass a 180 grain hollowpoint bullet striking them at 2,000 fps.

      (I shot stout .44 Magnum 180 grain hollowpoints out of a 22 inch rifle barrel and chronographed them at 2,200 fps!)

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        I agree wholeheartedly. It would make a heck of a home-defense carbine. They’re compact, easy to handle, the bolt is easy to rack, the LOP is short enough for most women to handle it quite nicely (but a bit small for large men). The .44 Carbine was a real champ of a PCC before “PCC” was a “thing.”

        They’re easy for a gunsmith to work on. The internals were pretty nicely finished (unlike lots of cheap guns today) and the whole package just “worked.”

        1. avatar =BCE56= says:

          I like the idea of a carbine in a handgun caliber. The rimmed case probably best for the tube fedcarbine, 10 mm seems suitable for a mag fed semiauto. A Win Trapper in .357 Mag is what I settled on.
          There are other options: Marlin and Rossi leverguns, and semiautos and bolt guns in various calibers.
          https://www.rangerpointprecision.com/marlin-custom-shop-leveractions

          I don’t have a .30 Carbine handgun. Yet.
          But I wouldn’t overlook an M1 Carbine either.

      2. avatar VerendusAudeo says:

        The Ruger Deerfield was magazine fed. It only ever had a four round rotary magazine, but if they made a 10 or 15 round magazine and chambered it in .45 Colt and .357 Magnum in addition to the .44 Magnum offering, they could make serious bank selling it as a brush gun or home defense gun.

        1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          Probably better off just moving away from rimmed cartridges and choosing something like .458 SOCOM or .50 AE or whatever else, though, eh? Unless you go tube mag and have plenty of length. I’d think a rotary mag holding .44 mag would be way too big after a certain capacity (which is probably beyond like 5 rnds).

        2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Why fool around with some boo-teek cartridge like a .458 SOCOM or .50 AE, when you have the 10mm?

          Rimmed cartridges serve a purpose in a gun like this: They headspace – always. You can have a sloppy chamber to allow for more dirt and fouling, and your cartridge will always headspace – because a rimmed cartridge headspaces on the rim. If you have a bit of slop in the chamber to allow for fouling, then if the brass was crimped pretty hard (even a hard taper crimp), you might not get the cartridge to headspace in a generous chamber, and the cartridge is hanging onto the extractor as a means of keeping it up against the bolt.

        3. avatar Art out West says:

          Magazine fed versions in .44mag, .357mag, .45Colt, or even 10mm would be great!
          Loads of gun guys have revolvers in .357,44,45, (and leverguns) and would love a semiauto magazine fed carbine in the same caliber.

          .50AE and .458 are far less common.

      3. avatar Erik says:

        7 or 8 round magazines? I’m thinking 15 and 30s. How awesome would 30 rounds of 44 magnum be? Wow.

      4. avatar Timur says:

        If you got 2200 fps out of that rifle you were dangerously overpressure. No factory ammo comes close to those velocities http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/44mag.html . If you are using a shoulder fired weapon for HD the big advantage is that you can use something capable of penetrating IIIa soft body armor while remaining within safe factory pressure specs. At safe pressures 44 may not penetrate soft armor. If you could push a 180 grain bullet 2200 fps it would penetrate IIIa armor, but it would also kick more than an AK47. An AK47 can also handle the pressure, goes right through IIIa armor, and holds 30+1, so why not just use an AK instead of holding a little bomb against your cheek and squeezing the trigger? Why try to make a 44 go that fast?

    2. avatar Tom Shaw says:

      Off Topic! Sig P320 new problems after voluntary trigger updgrade. Guns & Gadgets from U Tube reporting trigger assembly splitting, further durability problems with feeding. Department of Defense/ Pentagon testing results. Sig promises to fix problems for military. Called Sig yesterday on issues and denied claims, indicated no such problems.

  2. avatar 33Charlemagne says:

    If I were going to get a 44Magnum carbine I would go for either an 1892 Winchester or an 1894 Marlin rather than the Ruger M44 (if they were still being made) because of the greater magazine capacity.

    1. avatar Moltar says:

      “Why not both?”
      -Zoidberg

      1. avatar Jeff O. says:

        I have a 1982 Rossi clone, super-duper fun.

        But I’d love .44 Magnum in a semi-auto.

        It’s fun to shoot out of a carbine.

  3. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

    I like the idea of pcc’s for older folks and those that can’t handle recoil well. I can still do my 12 ga. comfortably. Once that becomes a problem I will switch to a pcc for a house gun.

    Ammo would be a lot cheaper for practice with the 9mm.

  4. avatar strych9 says:

    Hrrrrrmph. Now I kinda want a .44mag carbine. Lol.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Ha! Right? Sorry 🙁

    2. avatar Lance F says:

      Now? My list just grew a little longer. Ruger #1, Henry big boy, and now an M44. All in.44 of course.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        My first thing to do was get most of my full size rifle stuff in order (bought and placed in a safe). Now that I’ve completed that task I have a bit of freedom for funzies stuff like a .44mag carbine.

      2. avatar Art out West says:

        Funny, but my M44 is chambered in 7.62X54R. 😁 I didn’t know Ivan made a .44mag version .

  5. avatar Kendahl says:

    The PC Carbine may be the better gun but, if you offered either one to me, I’d take the 44.

  6. avatar Shwiggie says:

    My Daddy killed a lot of deer with his Ruger .44 carbine. Now I want to take it out and put a few rounds through it for old times’ sake.

    As for the newer PCC, I already have a CZ Scorpion, but I heard Ruger’s new one takes Glock mags…. 😛

  7. avatar Marty says:

    Interesting, didn’t know there were straight walled cartridge restrictions in some states. Must be the states in the east.
    I once owned a Ruger 44 carbine. Loved it, but like other weapons of my past, traded it off and am sorry I did. I do own a ruger camp carbine in 9mm which uses the original Ruger pistol 15 round mags. Fun gun to shoot and very accurate out to about 100 yards. Also have a Winchester Trapper in 44 mag which was made here in the good ol USA. Tiny carbine with a saddle ring but a great short range deer weapon.

  8. avatar Jackass Jim says:

    One is a .44 Magnum.
    One is not.

    1. avatar Big John says:

      You are correct one is a 44 mag. That said the 44 mag.has more positives than neg. It’s more suited for hunting , functional as well as portability and protection. The 9m/my comes up short here. Composition stock ? Take-down + & – ? , power ? Fun factor + protection + & – ?

  9. avatar Oh noes says:

    I just looked at ruger 77/357, five rounds of 357 for just shy of $1,000. pound sand! I can buy a lever rifle that holds 10-12 rounds of .357mag.
    HEY RUGER offer a detachable 10 round rifle, stop the PC pussyfoot shuffle.
    I want a SHTF carbine in .357 🙁 thats affordable 500-800 $$

    1. avatar Dav says:

      Have the 77/357 and it is a fantastic rifle. Accurate beyond belief and the extra power a .357 gets from the rifle is very surprising; will keep up to a 30/30 out to 100 to 150 yards depending on the load. Actually sell for around $700, which is not cheap but neither is the gun; stainless steel with a synthetic stock that is hollow to keep matches, bandages, etc in. Have a Redfield 2-7×33 scope on it; accurate to 1/4 inch @ 50 yards. Goes well with my numerous Ruger .357 handguns.

  10. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    My deerslayer is probably one of my favorite rifles. It packs a nice punch.

  11. avatar RandallOfLegend says:

    44 magnum Supressor? Sounds like an expensive custom can.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Most .45 ACP pistol suppressors will handle .44 Mag on a carbine without issue.

  12. avatar bobinmi says:

    If someone would have found a way to put a high capacity mag on the deer slayer it would have been the perfect thumper.

    1. avatar Paul B. says:

      Agreed–I like the AR platform, but I wish someone would make an updated M1 carbine in a more capable cartridge. Something like the Ruger 44 carbine chambered in .44 Auto mag with detachable box magazines (10 rounders available for our brothers and sisters in places like CA, HI, etc) would be great.

      1. avatar Big John says:

        I had an M1 carbine many years ago chambered for the 375 Shannon, it was quite powerful (no cronograph in those days] the cartridge was a shortened 30-06 with a caliber length neck topped off with 225 gr. Cast .375 dia. This was in the days prior to Rugers Deerstalker. I am really sorry I sold it. I have spesifictions if anyone knows a gunsmith that would like to build me one.

  13. avatar J says:

    Please help save our 2nd Amendment rights. Please pass the first link to others so we can get this petition sent to the White House.

    Oppose Gun Control and Weapons Ban Legislation

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/oppose-gun-control-and-weapons-ban-legislation

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      I’m not trying to be an ass but I know this will come across that way…sorry…

      I think these petitions hurt more than that help. We feel like we’ve done our part by signing them, but nobody looks at these and they don’t do anything or mean anything whatsoever. The only easy thing to do that makes a difference is contacting your representatives via phone and email, and many have web forms on their sites that make it even simpler. They see that stuff. We have fewer people doing those things now, though, because they’re doing these petitions instead and it’s a black hole. All at the expense of doing the stuff that works.

  14. avatar 44man says:

    Don’t desroy the historical value of the Ruger 44 carbine by threading the barrel please!

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Please….shoot the hell out of it and live like you wanna live.

      Somebody else will get the collector value of my guns.

      Plus, it just drives up the value of all the safe queens.

      1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

        Yeah, this thing has no historic value. It’s old, not historic. They made a zillion and they’re readily available on Gunbroker for like $400 to $700. It also has no sentimental value to my grandfather. It’s a mass-production, off-the-shelf gun. Really no different than if he gifted me an old hammer or other tool or pots and pans or whatever.

        IMHO

        1. avatar Jeff O. says:

          Could probably figure out a way to extend the tube magazine as well.

          That’d be a hoot!

        2. avatar Jeremy S. says:

          That occurred to me! But it would likely need either a new stock or not caring about the tube sticking out the front of the existing stock haha.

        3. avatar Specialist38 says:

          I will trade you some old hammers and a frying pan for that Ruger…..just sayin.

          Might thrown in a pair of shoes…..

  15. avatar ironicatbest says:

    Kick me in the ass twice for trading my 44 for a 336, I didn’t see any improvement over the killed deer between the 44 over the 30-30, actually within 50 yards I think the .44 was better

  16. avatar Specialist38 says:

    While i prefer lever guns… the 44 carbine was a good piece and relatively easy to top off with ammo.

    The 2nd gen 44 (with a magazine), was an abomination.

    Would like to see a pump like the Timnerwolf and bottom loading ala pump shotgun.

    The loading gate need not be stiff as most lever guns.

  17. avatar SurfGW says:

    If Ruger made a lever action .357 model 96/357 in stainless, it would fly off the shelf in places like California

    1. avatar BIG JOHN says:

      Chamber it for .357max. This in that handy bolt gun (77/357max) would be awesome and powerful,plus the ability to use 38 spl, 357 mag, & 357 max. !!! WOW KICK BUTT.

      1. avatar Jeff K says:

        Sign me up for one, that would be a super combination.

  18. avatar jimmy james says:

    Love my old M44. It’s a keeper despite it’s affinity for 300 grain bullets. I also bought a 77/44 a couple years ago. I want a 77/357 but not paying $800. Ruger’s prices on their little carbines including the 308 Scout are just ridiculous. I think I can get a Scout made on a model 7 action with a custom bbl for that kinda money…well an action and bbl anyway.

  19. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    Those Ruger 44s were great rifles. Hard hitting, accurate, and good looking like a 10/22s big brother. If Ruger were to try to put them back into production the operators would want to operate with a folding stock, rails, and a 30 round magazine (even though its pretty hard to make a high capacity magazine for rimmed cartridges). We’d end up with a .44 mag AR. On another note, when are we actually going to see those 9mm takedown carbines in stores? I really want one but I’m reminded of the old software term “vaporware”.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Well, you can backorder via Brownell’s (see “PC Carbine” hyperlinked text in the first few words of the article). They’ve been catching up every couple weeks then going back on backorder.

      1. avatar Jeff K says:

        Can pre-order @ Sportsmansoutdoorsuperstore.com for $530 shipped. They actually had some at first, but of course vanished.

  20. avatar Quasimofo says:

    Whoa whoa whoa! There are good pistol caliber carbine designs that aren’t based on shoehorning themselves into the AR platform? And don’t MSRP at $1K+? Am I taking crazy pills?

    /sarc

    1. avatar Mickey says:

      The marlin camp gun was another Pistol caliber carbine. In 9mm and.45 ACP it used S&W pistol mags, so you could find 20 & 30 round mags as well as the 15 rpumders, that’s for the 9 anyway!
      Google it. Marlin Camp Gun.

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I know! It’s like there were actual guns before we had AR’s, Glocks and gun-bunnies!

      Who woulda thunk it, right?

  21. avatar Rimfire says:

    .44 is a Midwest deer pill no doubt. I traded my model 94 for a new Winchester 1892 in this caliber and absolutely love it! Great gun, great caliber! Now I want that Ruger too!. Give it a tube mag like on the lever guns and we’re good.

  22. avatar ROBERT A LOZOWSKI says:

    Would like to see it clambered in 44 mag or even 454. Not deer hunting with a 9mm.

  23. avatar Joe R. says:

    I was hoping the to PCCs were going to be compared to the tracked vehicle. Oh well. Good write up though.

  24. avatar Geno says:

    It ain’t no 44 mag ! Looks like a BB gun. The older guns still RULE.

  25. avatar skiff says:

    I fired my friends Ruger .44 carbine in a wooded area in back of my home in 1968. Little did we know that it was illegal to shoot within city limits in Woonsocket, RI.

  26. avatar Jean-Claude says:

    I can’t believe that Ruger doesn’t know how well a new .44 Magnum carbine would sell.

    C’mon, Ruger. Bring it back and sell every one you make. Guaranteed.

  27. avatar Mickey says:

    Over owned both and sold both, and regret selling both!
    The 60s 44 carbine has the exact outward dimensions as the Ruger 10-22 (except a slightly wider barrel) making it an extremely wieldy little brush gun. The 90 s police carbine was a great idea and I would have kept it except it was in .40 and not in themore plentiful 9mm. Now that I reload, I’m kicking myself! It was a polymer thing and very handy also. Fun to shoot and reasonably accurate. The only thing it lacks by today’s standards is a mounting rail which should be easy enough to fix.
    Ruger, if your listening, bring both back, if only long enough for me to replace them!

  28. avatar Mickey says:

    Ive owned both and sold both, and regret selling both!
    The 60s 44 carbine has the exact outward dimensions as the Ruger 10-22 (except a slightly wider barrel) making it an extremely wieldy little brush gun. The 90s Police Carbine was a great idea and I would have kept it except it was in .40 and not in the more plentiful 9mm. Now that I reload, I’m kicking myself! It was a polymer thing and very handy also. Fun to shoot and reasonably accurate. The only thing it lacks by today’s standards is a mounting rail which should be easy enough to fix.
    Ruger, if your listening, bring both back, if only long enough for me to replace them!

  29. avatar Pickle Rick says:

    Jeremy, You gonna do a side by side comparison of the original PC9 vs the new model?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      The ’90s Police Carbine one? Probably not, as I’m not sure how we’d get our hands on one. We’d have to bump into someone who owned one, probably. Though I suppose I can ping Ruger to see if they happen to have any on hand that they’d be willing to loan out.

      1. avatar Pickle Rick says:

        *Bump*

        I bought one new when I was 16. It was my first gun. Still have it in the box. If seriously interested maybe we can work something out.

  30. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Oh yea – threading that M44 for a suppressor means you’re going to lose your front sight. It’s the same problem as on the 10/22 – the front sight is sweated onto the barrel.

    Ruger solved this problem on the 10/22 with a barrel that has about 3/4″ of the barrel sticking forward of the front sight, with about 1/2″ that is already pre-threaded in 1/2-28 UNEF 3A.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Yeah. Or you mill the front half of the site away haha. I could also see cutting the barrel down to 16″ to get to a thicker OD prior to threading and re-crowning. I suppose I’d leave this up to the machinist, though if the sight is disappearing no matter what I’d just as soon cut 2.5″ off to make it handier.

  31. avatar piper says:

    Waiting on a 10mm Auto version for hunting.

  32. avatar Mikial says:

    Good article. Ruger has always made great carbines. And pistol caliber carbines have a lot of great applications.

    And good choice of ammo. I shoot a lot of Freedom Munitions ammo, both new and reman, and have easily gone through 10,000 rounds with no complaints. Good stuff and their brass credit program rocks.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Awesome! That TTAG coupon code will knock 5% off literally anything on the Freedom Munitions website, and they’re now carrying tons of other brands and calibers of ammo plus accessories and gun parts and other stuff, too. 🙂

  33. avatar Wally1 says:

    Agreed, I wish Ruger would make a .44 mag in lever action as well as a simple semi auto again. How about a Mini 14 chambered in .44 mag? I always wanted a Ruger 96, hard to find now.

  34. avatar Barrty says:

    How ’bout this carbine in .357 Maximum!

  35. avatar Naturalist says:

    I would take the .41 Magnum whose ballistics are superior compared to the .44 magnum over the .44 magnum every time.. In fact a modern hot loaded .45 colt will out perform the .44 magnum

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