11 Top Pistol Caliber Carbine Choices

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Marlin 1894 in .44 Magnum. Credit: marlinfirearms.com

The pistol caliber carbine is one of the best, most versatile firearm platforms there is. You get the increased accuracy and terminal performance of a long gun with reduced recoil of handgun rounds.

This made the Winchester Model 1873 the “Gun That Won The West,” chambering pistol calibers like .32-30, .38-40 and .44-40, which were also popular handgun rounds. Law enforcement and others could put the same round in their revolver and their rifle.

Today’s pistol caliber carbines are vastly different, as semi-automatic rifles have taken the place of the lever gun and bolt-action rifle. Today’s semi-automatic carbines fire pistol rounds as well, with 9mm carbine models being wildly popular.

The pistol caliber carbine is also one of the absolute best home defense guns there is. You get better terminal performance than a pistol with greater accuracy and easier shooting. A “gets it done” round like 9mm becomes far more effective; a hard-hitter like .44 Magnum starts to creep into rifle territory.

So, what are some great places to start? Have a look at the following.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Ruger PC Carbine. Credit: Ruger.com

The Ruger PC Carbine is getting tons of press and lots of interest, and for some great reasons. The PC Carbine comes with iron sights, but also has a Picatinny rail in case you want to mount a red dot or other optic.

The 16.12-inch barrel gives the 9mm (or .40 S&W) round more zing and a flatter trajectory at longer ranges. The barrel is fluted and has a threaded muzzle, in case you want to attach a suppressor.

The rifle can accept both Ruger and GLOCK magazines, though the latter requires you attach a compatible magazine well. For $649 MSRP, it’s a solid value.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

PSA AR-9 pistol. Credit: palmettostatearmory.com

A great many manufacturers also make AR-15 platform rifles chambered for 9mm and other pistol rounds. Design details depend a lot on who makes it; some will accept GLOCK magazines, some don’t.

Popular models include those by Palmetto State Armory and CMMG, among others. If you like the AR platform but don’t want to start spending rifle ammunition money, it’s a great option. Costs and features – say if you want M-LOK furniture or other features – depends on who makes it, of course. You can spend a little or a lot.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Marlin 1894 in .44 Magnum. Credit: marlinfirearms.com

Of course, sometimes the old ways are still best, and if you want a bit more punch, the lever-action rifles come good again. Today’s carbines have more zip than the old flying ashtray of the .44-40, as .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum have come to the fore.

Models such as the Marlin 1894 and Winchester 1892 as well as from some other companies push modern revolver loads at 300 additional feet per second over handgun velocities, turning a potent handheld round into a respectable rifle round at close ranges. Plenty of deer and hog hunters swear by a .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum from a carbine inside 200 yards if accurately placed.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

CZ Scorpion EVO 3. Credit: cz-usa.com

If you want to get even more tactical, the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 carbine is feature-packed and at a non bank-busting price (starting at $999). The base model features a folding stock, faux-suppressor (though it can be removed and a real one attached) a full-length Picatinny rail for your favorite red dot or other optic, and M-LOK furniture.

The standard model has a 16.2-inch barrel, but a pistol model with an 7.75-inch barrel is available too, though sans stock (or it would need to be classified as an SBR). The Scorpion is notable for having ambidextrous controls, and the charging handle can be swapped to either side as needed.

If you don’t mind dumping a bit more cash into the venture, there are some excellent up-market examples.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

KRISS Vector. Credit: kriss-usa.com

The semi-auto KRISS Vector system pistol-caliber carbines are based on their similar submachine gun models. The Vector features a 16- to 18-inch barrel, depending on the model, and are equipped with fixed or adjustable AR-15 stock. The safety switch is ambidextrous, though the charging handle is not. The Vector features a 13-inch Picatinny rail on the top of the receiver for use with the optics of your choice or iron sights if you choose.

They accept KRISS AND GLOCK magazines as well, so that’s a bonus. If you want to add a 33-round GLOCK magazine, you totally can.

However, it has a party piece, in that the Vector can be used with conversion kits. Since the barrel is part of the lower receiver, you can swap out the 9mm lower for any other caliber you want, including .45 ACP, .40 S&W, .357 Sig and 10mm. That would make it tactical AND practical! MSRP is around $1500 for entry level models.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

SIG SAUER MPX PCC. Credit: sigsauer.com

Another up-market pistol caliber carbine is the SIG SAUER MPX PCC, an AR-style carbine in 9mm. It has a lot of the features you’d expect; ambi controls, adjustable folding stock, a floating M-LOK handguard, fully railed receiver, single-stage Timney trigger and a recoil compensator on a 16-in barrel. It’s great for 3-gun, plinker or as a home defense gun. Basically, it’s an AR-15 in 9mm, ready for optics and for a workout on the range.

It’s not inexpensive. Expect to pay $1600+.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

H&K USC. Credit: heckler-koch.com

Speaking of German brands that cost a pretty penny, an interesting gun you might find on the used market is the H&K USC in .45 ACP. Unfortunately, it was discontinued in 2013 so you’ll have to find a previously owned model, but it still makes a great home defense gun or big-bore plinker.

Barrel length is 16 inches and its simple blowback operating system and iron-tough components make it an investment-grade piece. Treat it right, and it runs for life.

If you’d rather have something simple, reliable but also cost-effective, there are some great options out there.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Courtesy KelTec

The KelTec SUB2000 is a good, affordable choice, available in 9mm and .40 S&W. The SUB2000 can be folded for easy storage or transport, and has some decent features for a carbine that costs only $500 in MSRP. A railed M-LOK handgaurd, a telescoping stock and a 16.25-inch barrel make for easy shooting, and it takes a wide variety of popular pistol magazines.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Beretta CX4. Credit: Beretta.com

The Beretta CX4 Storm, with an MSRP of $699, uses Beretta double-stack magazines so capacity isn’t terrifically limited. The PX4 Storm has swappable controls, so it can be run by right- or left-handed shooters. A railed receiver if you want an optic is there, along with iron sights and a cold-hammer forged 16.6-inch barrel. You can choose models made for use with PX4, 8000 or 90-series magazines, in .40 S&W, 9mm or – more rarely – in 9x21mm IMI.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Hi Point 10mm Carbine. Credit: Hi-PointFirearms.com

Say what you want, but Hi Point makes reliablemcarbines, in 9mm, .40, .45 ACP, oddly enough .380 ACP, and 10mm. They’re inexpensive, with MSRPs coming in under $400 in some models. Along with a railed receiver and included adjustable sights, you also get an adjustable stock and some choices of finish including camo patterns. Again, say what you want, but a lot of owners report that they’re tanks that go bang every time.

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Auto Ordnance M1 Carbine. credit: Kahrfirearmsgroup.com

Then again, some people like something a little different. Something classic. Solid. Some want the feel of walnut and blued steel, and as it happens, a few different companies still produce the venerable M1 Carbine.

Best-known among them is AutoOrdnance. These semi-automatic carbines still shoot .30 Carbine rounds, basically a hot 7.62mm pistol round, and are a proven implement of personal defense at close range. You get iron sights, an 18-inch barrel, a 15-round magazine and not much else.

It’s an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Bare-bones models start around $1,000, and you better learn how to keep it greased (along with a good supply of magazine springs) to get the most out of it. With that said, it’s still an American Classic.

Any additional models you felt were left off the list? Angry that I spoiled “Game Of Thrones” by telling you that Jon Sn…just kidding! Sound off in the comments!

comments

  1. avatar Lee Allen says:

    I’m really glad you included the High Point. I know their pistols get hammered by a lot of folks but the carbines are great. I started with a .45 to partner with my XDS 45. I liked it so well that a couple years later when I added a 9mm pistol to my collection I also grabbed the 9mm High Point. I love both carbines. They go bang every time with any ammo and they shoot tight groups at carbine ranges.

    The price points at our local gun shows makes them so affordable.

    1. avatar guest says:

      Man that Sig looks terrible.

      1. avatar Juice says:

        The shorter barreled, collapsing stock versions of the MPX/MCX look miles better at the cost of a little velocity.

    2. avatar Swarf says:

      Hi Point gets hammered everywhere, and then they do a torture test and they run and run and run.

      Hi Point hate is elitist snobbery at it’s sniffiest. “Ugh. How dare someone make a reliable handgun that the poors can afford.”

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I really hate when you and I agree on something.

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          Yeah, it kinda hurts, JWM… 🙂

          A Hi Point carbine is a perfect knock-about truck gun, where you don’t care if it gets battered and dinged-up behind the seat or even stolen.

          Correction – I would be pissed if it got stolen, but only for an hour or two, tops… 😉

        2. avatar Flincher says:

          Truth be told, Hi Points don’t even rise to the level where one must be a snob to diss them. In fact I wish Hi Point apologists would quit playing the snob card because it over rates Hi Point and dilutes the importance of true snobbery. Hi Point owners, stop being so smug just because we all hate your gun. It gets old. Grow up, get a Glock, and join the good life.

        3. avatar Aven says:

          Spoken like a true gun snob.

    3. avatar Bad Hat Harry says:

      I agree, the Hi Point carbines are very underrated by the snobs. They now have 20 round mags available.

    4. avatar Gliderguy says:

      This article dug pretty deep but missed the Aero Survival Rifle, available in the common calibers plus 10mm, .357 Sig, and 460 ROWLAND.
      https://www.tnwfirearms.com/product-p/asrx-cplt-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx.htm

  2. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Rocking the 9mm ARs here. Love mine super cheap to reload for (I’m at $3/box or less for 9mm) and I can shoot it at indoor ranges around here that don’t allow rifle calibers. What more is there to ask really?

  3. avatar Rocketman says:

    How about Kahr (formerly Auto-Ordinance) Model 1927 carbine in .45 acp? Heavy but gets the job done and best yet doubles as a boat anchor.

  4. avatar Bing Crosshair says:

    The CX-4 Storm will take the 20 round magazine so that’s a viable option. I shot the Beretta and the Ruger and think both are great range carbines. They’re fun to shoot and both take apart for easy storage, transport, and cleaning. I can’t wait for the Ruger in 45 acp or 10 mm.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      Takes standard 30-round magazines, too…..

    2. avatar RyGuy says:

      Yeah I was surprised it didn’t receive a mention. Fun and well made PCC in my opinion.

  5. avatar Huntmaster says:

    Missed the Ruger 77 bolt actions in 357 mag /44 mag.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      Too bad they don’t make it anymore.

    2. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

      And the Ruger 44 mag semi auto carbine. Great gun.

  6. avatar daveinwyo says:

    Thanks for including the Hi-Point. As above, this is a tank. They also have a great warranty. Great truck gun in 9mm.
    On the other hand my 1974 Ruger .44 carbine is sweet. Real walnut not stained ash wood. If I had a complaint it would be the low round count at 5. My wife loves this gun, shoots it with no recoil issues.

  7. avatar Knute says:

    “You get the increased accuracy and terminal performance of a long gun”???
    Oh come now, Mr. Hoober. You think you can find somebody who’s going to buy that a longer barrel turns a 9mm into a .308?
    Wouldn’t “the longer barrel and the stock of the PCC will give one increased range, power, and accuracy, and reduced recoil, over a pistol in the same chambering.”, have been just as good a sales pitch and much more accurate?

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      No. They give the “terminal performance a long gun.” The long gun being the pistol caliber Carbine. No one said anything about .308.

      1. avatar JW says:

        “You get the increased accuracy and terminal performance of a l̶o̶n̶g̶ ̶g̶u̶n̶ long barreled pistol, with reduced recoil of handgun rounds.”

        There – fixed it for you 🙂

        1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

          There! JW understands. No way does any PCC have the terminal performance of a real rifle chambered rifle. No matter how fancy the words get twisted around.

      2. avatar Juice says:

        Since the article is referring to the benefits of a pistol caliber carbine, I think by your logic “the terminal performance of a long gun” circularly compares a PCC to itself, or else some theoretical handgun with a 16+ inch barrel. In this instance and most others, “long gun” likely means a rifle in a higher pressure loading.

    2. avatar Juice says:

      A 55gr .223 has about 1050 ft-lbs of muzzle energy from a 16″ barrel. A 125gr .357 mag is the same energy at that length. From 7.5″ barrels, the .223 falls to 650 ft-lbs while the .357 is still up around 900. A Rifle is a Rifle and a Pistol is a Pistol for sure, but magnum PCCs are better than you might think. Thank you to ballisticsbytheinch.com

      On the other hand, pistol length ARs are very good at making a lot of fire and noise. My SBR is 12″, and I wouldn’t go any shorter than 10.5″.

      1. avatar Knute says:

        I wouldn’t even go down to 10.5 inch barrel in a 5.56. I’d go lower than that for a .300 BLK(.300 Whisper) though. I shot a few mags through an actual Vietnam era XM177(10.5 inch) at an IPSC match back in about ’78. Fun, but just way too loud for the ballistics one gets. SS109 wasn’t out yet, so they were 53 grain FMJs, and I was warned and had on both ear plugs and muffs, and although it didn’t make my ears ring through both layers of protection, I could feel the blast slam my chest hard enough to be uncomfortable. It also threw a fireball big enough to blind(it was after the match at dusk).
        I think Uncle was correct for once. The 5.56 shouldn’t be any shorter than 14.5 inch. .300 BLK(or Whisper to give the credit where its due) is another matter entirely. It does way better in short barrels. I like my lever action 16 inch .45 Colt, but when I want a semi-auto carbine I choose the .300 BLK instead. I like the 5.56 too, but in 16 or 20 inch form. My favorite AR is a 20 inch, skinny barrel SP1 with the carrying handle and the simple, flip over 100/200 yard peep. I’m old school, but only sometimes. When high tech gives me an advantage, I’ll take it, but when it doesn’t do anything for me(other than look “tacticool”) I leave it.

  8. avatar merlin says:

    my favorite combo is my ruger redhawk revolver 5.5 inch bbl., and my winchester ’92 trapper.
    both in .45 colt.
    i can shoot the heaviest loads and the lightest loads … for any game in north america … and much of the rest of the world.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I am with you there. My Winchester is 24″ long and can hold up to 13 rounds in the tube. Effective terminal performance at over 100 yards, and a wide choice of projectiles for handloading. The only thing bad about it is that it is one of the later nanny guns with a rebounding hammer and a horrendous trigger pull. I eliminated the rebounding hammer (a fairly simple task) but reducing the trigger pull requires a reduced power spring–which no one makes. I’d bet the original style leaf spring that Browning used has a better pull, and I’ve wondered if I could replace the guts with Rossi parts (Rossi uses the original design.)

      1. avatar Knute(ken) says:

        That’s my favorite PCC also. A 16″ levergun in .45Colt. I have a long standing disagreement with my bestest shooting bud. He has one too, but with a 24 inch barrel. His points are; more velocity and more magazine capacity. I can see those, but for me the light and handy is more valuable than the extra ballistics and capacity. For him its the other way around.
        But we both understand, different strokes for different folks, makes for different opinions. That’s why we’re still buds.

    2. avatar Jordie says:

      20 years ahead of this story. Winchester 94 carbine in .45 Colt and a Ruger Black Hawk in .45 Colt. Loaded with high pressure rounds brings it on par with .44Mag. Got the whole kit off the second hand case. Works good.

      1. avatar allan bullen says:

        also the author called the 44 40 a “flying ashtray” and then praised the 357. What an idiot. 44 40 standard loading is a 200 grain at 1180 fps for over a hundred years. That’s out of a revolver. As in a revolver made in the late 1800s.

        1. avatar Van says:

          Agreed. I have a lever 44-40 (Rossi) that is easily loaded up to 2000fps.

  9. avatar Kris says:

    Agree on the Hi-Point. My 9mm is great fun and functions flawlessly. My Rossi 357/38 is fun also, it’s a little rough feeding the 357’s but loves 38’s. Another one not mentioned here is the TNW Aero Survival Rifle (ASR). I have one in 45 Auto, but they come in all the popular pistol calibers and use Glock mags. They’re well made, accurate enough, and are modular for switching calibers without having to buy a new gun.

  10. avatar Draven says:

    The Sig MPX is… more like an AR-18 in 9mm.

  11. avatar Ves1 says:

    What about the FiveSeven? 5.7 X 28

  12. avatar Ves1 says:

    What about the FiveSeven?

    5.7 X 28 – great, flat shooting, light weight in regard to ammo, can go out to 300 yd, pistol can carry 20+1 and can be “neutralizing”!

  13. avatar J says:

    Pistol caliber carbines are fun, shoot farther, more accurate than a pistol. Pistol caliber carbines in 9mm have a great place. PSA makes a few good rifles uppers and full rifles to have fun with. Please do a review on some of the magazine blocks for Pistol caliber carbines in 9mm that are out there. Would like to know more about them. I have seen a new brand of 9mm block that accepts your SIG P320 magazines, but can not remember the manufacturer.

  14. avatar enuf says:

    Always liked the idea of a pistol caliber carbine. In the past I only owned them in cowboy era caliber, as in a lever gun and a SAA. Of course the lever gun was an original 1889 Marlin.

    The new break-down Ruger PC Carbine has my interest. Already have a pile of Ruger SR9 magazines to fit one. Pretty much just waiting on a sale price out of Cabela’s or Bass Pro to use my Club Card points on one. Figure by the time that price comes around, the model will have matured a little too. Maybe at a year old.

  15. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Plenty of deer and hog hunters swear by a .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum from a carbine inside 200 yards if accurately placed.

    I think 200 yards is a stretch for .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum out of a carbine. Something along the lines of 100 to 150 yards would be the maximum range.

    Speaking from personal experience, I will say that .44 Magnum out of carbine/rifle barrels is wildly effective on deer, and probably anything else in North America inside of 100 yards.

  16. avatar tdiinva says:

    I would like to see someone produce an AR in 30 caliber carbine. It is probably the optimum personal defense round. The M1 Carbine has about the same muzzle energy as an M4 although the barrel is 3.5″ longer.

  17. avatar former water walker says:

    I agree there’s a lot to like in PC carbines. Mebbe down the line I’ll get a Hipoint 10mm or a Rossi 357…so many guns-not enuf dough!

  18. avatar CCDWGUY says:

    I have a Beretta Cx4 Storm in 9mm. It’s my go to under the bed gun if things get ugly. Accurate as heck, minimal recoil and can take 30 round mags. Fun to shoot for for practice and I don’t think it has ever failed. Also I’m left handed and it is pretty much ambi though I would like to be able to move the slide release to the right and not the left side of the gun.

  19. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Marlin .44 mag lever action. No need to look further.

  20. avatar Mike B., Texas says:

    I have a Marlin 1894 ss carbine in .44 mag. and it has never let me down. I’ve killed whitetails at 125 yards, Turkey, pigs, coyotes and Bobcats with it. Never shot anything but Winchester 240 gr. soft points in it. Very accurate. I’m 66 and still shoot it with open sights. Oh and three coyotes were running shots at 75 yards.

  21. avatar Anymouse says:

    .30 Carbine isn’t a pistol caliber. Oddly enough, it’s actually a carbine round. If we’re including wimpy rifle rounds, why not .22LR, Bee, Hornet, 5.56, etc.

  22. avatar barnbwt says:

    USC (really?) and the KRISS but not the P90 or a homebuild 9mm tube gun (or semi-auto conversion of a parts kit)?

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      Or even MP5 for that matter? Did a bot generate this list, or something?

      1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

        I just don’t think carbine when I think MP-5. I automatically toss it in the sub-gun and PDW category.

        Same with the long-barrel Uzis…

  23. avatar ConelRad says:

    No roller delayed blow back! Mp5 clones are the best pistol carbines!

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      I know, right? Also, I thought Beretta canned the CX4 years ago (luckily this does not appear to be the case; good little carbines)

  24. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

    For me, without full auto, they have nothing over rifles with modestly powered rifle cartridges. Also I agree with other commenters here and suggest that Sam is the only person I know of that considers “.30 CARBINE” to be a pistol cartridge.

    1. avatar Bad Hat Harry says:

      PCCs have a few advantages for indoor self defense use in semi auto, less muzzle flash, less noise, and they tend to be smaller and easier to maneuver indoors than a full size rifle.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Pistol caliber carbines have orders of magnitude less noise than rifles.

        One shot with an AR-10 (chambered in .308 Winchester) indoors and you are guaranteed to suffer near total hearing loss temporarily and quite likely an appreciable amount of hearing loss permanently. One shot with a pistol caliber carbine indoors and you will have mild ringing in one ear that will go away within minutes/hours and likely zero permanent hearing loss.

        For home defense, I will take a pistol caliber carbine over a rifle EVERY time.

        1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

          I fired a .38 in a garage once. My ears range for two days and more than likely took damage. It was a snub though. I do get your point though. In my house my Five-Seven with a suppressor is my primary gun. My .338 Specter SBR is in the closet without it’s suppressor on. One could argue that .338 Specter is in between an intermediate cartridge and a pistol cartridge. Pistol case (10mm magnum) with a 300gr rifle bullet. So I may have to admit to kinda having a PCC after all:-)

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Vic Nighthorse,

          The long barrel of a carbine greatly reduces the blast, especially compared to a snubbie revolver. I was at training one time and was able to compare .45 ACP in a handgun versus .45 ACP in a carbine. The noise reduction of the carbine compared to the pistol was astounding. (And neither one had a suppressor.)

        3. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

          I grasp effects of the uncorking pressure. That is why my first AR was in 7.62×39 (and fairly long barreled) back in ’92 or so before there were lots of choices cartridge-wise. The lower uncorking pressure of the 7.62×39 made for a more tolerable gun if one didn’t have hearing protection on. That was very important to be back then because I had already damaged my ears with an M16.

    2. avatar Knute(ken) says:

      No, I think the .30 carbine is a pistol cartridge too. So that’s two of us at least. It makes a hell of a lot better gun as an automag 2 than as a carbine.
      I can see that it worked better for logistics troops in WW2 than the 1911, but its not 1945 any more. There are so much better choices in carbines now. And virtually every one of them is lots better than the .30 carbine.

      1. avatar Mike. says:

        The 30 carbine was/is an excellent home defense round, although 5.56 and 300 BLK are now better.
        9mm carbines are nice, but budget ARs are cheaper.
        So is a 9mm carbine safe on the ears indoors without suppressor? How does 9mm compare noise wise against 300Blk?

        30 carbine was not only used by rear troops. Many SF used it. It was also used by The RUC.
        Marlin should bring back the camp 9.

        How about a clip on flashlight mount for lever guns, turn you deer/cowboy gun into a viable home defense weapon

  25. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    The author exaggerates the utility of the PCC. You’ll get minimal increase in muzzle velocity vs. a pistol unless you load the rounds with slower burning pwder. What you really wind up with is all the terminal performance of a pistol round without the easy portability of a pistol. Pistol bullets lack the aerodynamics and velocity to compete with rifle bullets for accuracy at distance. In a rifle, the recoil of .357 Magnum is hard to distinguish from .223 Rem. If you need a rifle, grab a rifle. Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.

    PCCs are cheaper to feed than rifles so they offer more plinking fun at the range for your dollar. That’s about it.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      “What you really wind up with is all the terminal performance of a pistol round without the easy portability of a pistol.”

      You gain the ability to land those shots accurately (and repeatedly) at 100 yards or so, compared to a pistol…

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        True enough. Now what are you shooting at? If it’s a deer, I want better terminal performance. If it’s a ground hog, I want more precision. Either way, I want a rifle.

        1. avatar TexTed says:

          Spot on. PCCs are range toys, but they pale in comparison to a real rifle.

        2. avatar Knute(ken) says:

          Yeah, but the lever action PCC still has a place in my heart. It’s shaped so nice for easy carry through thick brush. Rides a lot nicer on horseback than any other rifle too. But in a semi auto I’d rather have a .300BLK(whisper) with a sub 10″ barrel and a brace. Now we’re talking portable! And in a better than pistol chambering too, even though it’s not a real rifle cartridge either. But as an intermediate chambering, it’s still a lot better than the .30 carbine. More power, more energy, more range, more accuracy. More of everything. Except weight and size. Less of those. I don’t see any upside to the .30 carbine. Unless it happens to be what one likes and it’s there.
          They’re all good guns. Every gun is a good one. Some are just better than others. Even the .30 carbine is still a fun range toy. I just see better choices in every category of what one might want to use it for. But if that happens to be what’s handy, it will get the job done too. It did in the 1940s, and it still will. It’s just that now, for almost any job, there are other guns that will do the job better.

        3. avatar OldProf49 says:

          ‘40’s ‘50’s & ‘60’s. I’ve talked to a few Vietnam vets who liked the 30 carbine. These were guys who had experienced first hand the early jamming problems of the M16. They claimed the M1 carbine was much more reliable.

    2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Curtis in IL,

      How much velocity increase you see depends on the caliber and bullet weight.

      Let’s compare commercial loads between 4-inch barrels and 16-inch barrels in .40 S&W. With 180 grain bullets you increase muzzle velocity from about 990 fps to 1090 fps which I agree is an unimportant increase in velocity. On the other hand, with 135 grain bullets you increase muzzle velocity from about 1,370 fps to 1,670 fps. That is a 300 fps increase in velocity and jump up from 567 foot-pounds energy to 840 foot-pounds energy at the muzzle. Needless to say, a 135 grain bullet impacting an attacker at 1,670 fps is going to be quite devastating and debilitating.

      Personally, I like the velocity increase in .44 Magnum with a long barrel. Now let’s compare Federal 240 grain Hydra-Shok jacketed hollow points from a 4-inch barrel revolver and a 20-inch barrel lever-action carbine/rifle. Velocity jumps from about 1,100 fps to 1,600 fps at the muzzle, an increase of 500 fps! And muzzle energy more than doubles from 645 foot-pounds to 1,364 foot-pounds!

      The really devastating load in a carbine: PMC .44 Magnum 180 grain jacketed hollowpoints which I chronographed around 2,000 fps (1,600 foot-pounds energy) at the muzzle!!!

      1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

        “depends on the caliber and bullet weight.”

        And POWDER.
        Handgun ammo is designed for handgun barrel lengths. The potential for increased velocity in a longer barrel is reliant on a powder that continues to produce pressure all the way down. My own chronograph testing has revealed significant differences between powders, and with the right choice (typically slower burning pistol powders), I can get much better performance with my own loads than either a fast burning powder or factory ammo.

        If you want to make that .44 Magnum to come screaming out of a long barrel, do some experimenting with a chronograph. The results might surprise you.

        1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          Curtis in IL,

          Oh, absolutely. Powder selection plays a huge role.

          Unfortunately, I do not hand load. I just do not have the space for a bench (even a very small bench) and related equipment.

          I would love to see the results of someone optimizing powder selection for maximum muzzle velocity coming out of a 20-inch rifle barrel on both .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum, with both light and medium bullet weights. (That means 125 grain and 158 grain bullets for .357 Magnum — and 180 grain and 240 grain bullets for .44 Magnum.)

          The longer barrel (longer propellant burn time) plus the sealed chamber (no combustion gases escaping between the tiny cylinder and barrel gap of a revolver) will produce significantly higher velocities. My question: how much higher? Factory loads already show a 500 feet-per-second increase in velocity (at least in .44 Magnum). Would optimized propellant selection produce closer to a 700 feet-per-second increase? Or more???

  26. avatar Charlie says:

    The Uzi is another pistol caliber carbine worth considering. Cons are:

    1. Stock is difficult to deploy and retract.
    2. It’s built like a rock, but also heavy as one.
    3. No provision for optics.
    4. No last round hold open.

    Other than that it’s good equipment, and very compact.

    Charlie

    1. avatar RJ Oetting says:

      I enjoy the article, but I would like to point out that the 32-20, 38-40,and the 44-40 were first rifle cartridges not pistol and adopted by colt in their pistols later and the Winchester name for the cartridges are 32 wcf, 38 wcf,and 44 wcf I see this mistake all the time.

  27. avatar Aven says:

    My Hi-Point 9mm has been accurate and dead reliable in the year I have had it. Best $269.99 rifle I have ever bought. The 995 TS looks much better than the earlier models.

  28. Where do I get me one of them 32-30’s?

  29. avatar Rustybore says:

    Many years ago I had something from Marlin, a CAMP 9 CARBINE. It took some kind of popular at the time handgun magazine, I forget which. The gun was great fun, not sure why I got rid of it!

    Today I have a High Point 10mm. So you can add me to the list of fans of these things. Its ugly and kind of klunky, but works well, is a blast to shoot, and one of my favorite (and least pricey) guns.

    1. avatar A. Daniels says:

      The 9mm Marlin Camp Carbine took S&W Model 59-series magazines.

  30. avatar possum, destroyer of arachnids says:

    Reliablemcarbine”s from HiPoint, Ohkay. If I had the money it’d be a Marlin lever in .44mag

  31. avatar TexTed says:

    PCCs are the worst of all worlds. You get the lousy terminal performance of a handgun round saddled with the disadvantages of a long gun. Seriously, they’re stupid. If you’re going to use a long gun for home defense, why in the living hell would you choose a suck-ass 9mm PCC instead of a 12-gauge or 20-gauge shotgun????

    The only PCCs worth a runny dump are those chambered in magnum revolver cartridges, specifically .357 or .44 magnum or .454 Casull. THOSE give you real rifle performance out of a long barrel. The regular pistol calibers (9mm, .40, .45 etc) get barely noticeable performance increases from long barrels, and not one of them comes within a hundred miles of a good 12-gauge.

  32. avatar Chris Dumm says:

    I thought I was a pushover for pistol-caliber carbines because I have three of them. And then I saw Joe Grine’s gun room.

    He owns damn-near *every* PCC in this article, except the Kriss, Sub-2000 and Hi-Point. But he also has a Sterling, a semi-auto MP-5,and a since-discontinued Taurus 9mm.

    The Marlin levers are solid, accurate and just plain beautiful, and they’re the handiest civilian defensive firepower you can own in states like CA and NJ.

  33. avatar Ed says:

    They also missed the Henry Repeating Arms Big Boy Carbines in .357 Mag/.38 special, .44 Mag/.44 special. and Just Right Carbines which have take down versions.

  34. “The pistol caliber carbine is one of the best, most versatile firearm platforms there is”
    I disagree. An AR has minimal recoil and all the advantages of a long gun.
    A handgun shoots pistol calibers and can be done one handed and is concealable.
    A shotgun is highly versatile because of the various shot available.
    The PCC is the one of the worst, least versatile firearms platforms there is.

  35. avatar OldProf49 says:

    First, the 30 carbine round was originally a rifle cartridge…sort of. The cartridge and the carbine were developed as an alternative to the 45 acp/M1911 pistol for some troops. They were also used by airborne infantry because they were handier than the M1 Garand, especially with the skeletonized wire stock. Ruger chambered it in their Blackhawk single action revolver, and I think Automag offered a pistol so chambered. So, a rifle cartridge that became a pistol cartridge….
    Second, and I know I’ll get flak for this, but what about the Kel Tec CMR30 and PMR30 in 22 magnum? Yes, I know the lowly rim fire is not on par with the center fire examples, but I’d still hate to get shot with one. Oh, and ammo is reasonable, especially for people who don’t load their own.
    Last, while I’m interested in the Ruger PCC in 9 mm, I agree with posts that favor the lever action carbine or rifle in either 357 or 44 magnum. Versatile, easy to shoot, rugged…what’s not to like? About a year ago I bought 300 rounds of 357 for my carbine on Armslist. I told the seller it was for my brown (as in not black) gun.

  36. avatar Holdfast says:

    M1 Carbine is not a pistol round.
    It’s 30 Carbine. And it is most awesome in the carbine.

    Run 110 gr soft point loads and you have a round capable of ending any threat within 100 yards of you.

  37. avatar BCE56 says:

    Though it is not strictly speaking a PCC, I’m very fond of my M1 Carbine. It handles like my 10-22.
    .30 M1 Carbine ammo is approximately equivalent to .357 Magnum from a carbine length barrel. (9mm is not far behind these.) .357 Mag is a good choice for PCCs especially if one carries a .357 sidearm. Likewise, .44 mag, 9mm, 10MM etc. New generation, fluted ammo looks promising in these applications.
    My favorite PCC is the .357 Trapper, though I wouldn’t mind a nice 1894 Marlin. (And I see Winchester is now cataloging 1892 leverguns.) These carbines are lightweight, dependable and accurate, and significantly increase the effective range of pistol cartridges.

    1. avatar OldProf49 says:

      Does anyone know of a lever action carbine chambered in a rimless cartridge? I’m thinking it wouldn’t work.
      Previously, I’ve compared the 30 carbine cartridge to the 357 magnum, but several posters have pointed out that 30 carbine ballistics are for a 110 gr. bullet, while 357 magnum numbers are usually for 125-158 gr. bullets. I haven’t read ballistics for a 110 gr. 357 from a 16” barrel, but it might be interesting.

      1. avatar BCE56 says:

        It can be done:
        https://www.rangerpointprecision.com/single-post/2015/05/09/Marlin-1894-Pistol-Caliber-Carbine-Conversions-10MM-40SW-45ACP-357SIG
        (Note RPP no longer offers conversion services but remains a good source for parts.)
        Compare ballistics here:
        http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/calibers.html

      2. avatar Mikemild13 says:

        35 Remington is rimless and Marlin has been making lever actions for them for many years.

  38. avatar Mark H says:

    As soon as Ruger builds the PC9 as a PC45, I’m in.

  39. avatar David Bradford says:

    I’m rather fond of my JRC (Just Right Carbine) Takedown in 9mm (Glock mag). They have versions in 9mm for Glock or M&P mags, .40S&W for Glock or M&P mags, .357Sig, .45ACP and 10mm for Glock mags only. They also have California compliant models, marine models, and pistol versions. Check them out at https://justrightcarbines.com/

    Since my carry pistols are 9mm and .45ACP, I plan on eventually picking up the .45ACP (easy DIY)conversion kit.

  40. avatar pat says:

    In pistol caliber carbines, particularly for SHTF, the 357/38 really shines. With 18″ barrel that pistol cartridge transforms into a true intermediate power rifle, equaling or exceeding 223 energy from muzzle to around 150 yards. Load up to deer killer or down (can also use .38) to small game (squirrel, rabbit, etc…). I’m REALLY eyeballing the Ruger 77 357/38.

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