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Ruger PC Carbine Review

Ruger PC Carbine Review
Ruger’s PC carbine is a handy 9mm piece with interchangeable magazine wells, threaded muzzle, fluted barrel and a number of nice features. (Photo by Laura Fortier)

Ruger’s 9mm PC carbine packs a number of interesting features into a relatively conventional pistol caliber carbine. The most important of these, in my humble opinion, is the modular magazine well. Ruger’s 9mm PC carbine can be fed using not only Ruger SR-Series and Security-9 magazines, but also common Glock 19/17 9mm magazines. Feeding from Glock magazines is a big plus in my book. You can also buy a separate third magazine well which allows it to feed from Ruger American Pistol magazines. Personally, I like having the ability to use Glock pattern 33-round stick magazines and 50-round drums. I believe this is a major selling point which will endear it to many Glock owners.

Ruger PC Carbine
Have a need for a pistol caliber carbine which feeds from Glock mags and breaks down for easy storage? If so you may want to consider Ruger’s PC carbine. (Photo by Laura Fortier)

Another feature many will appreciate is its ability to split neatly into two halves. Yes, Ruger’s new design incorporates a simple take-down feature. Its rapid tool-less disassembly allows it to be easily stored, even when space is at a premium. As take-down rifles require less space than a traditional rifle, they have long been popular as ‘survival’ guns. Ruger’s PC carbine can be discreetly stored in a pack or large messenger bag. The design is easy to use and based on the proven system introduced in 2012 on their 10/22 take-down model. So out of the gate the new Ruger has a couple of nice features.

The heart of the PC carbine is its interesting blow-back operating system. It features a three-piece bolt consisting of a “carrier”, bolt face and tungsten dead-blow weight. The bolt is machined from heat treated, chrome-moly steel to ensure strength, structural integrity and durability. The tungsten dead-blow weight, in conjunction with a simple buffer, helps to reduce felt recoil at one end of its travel, and bolt bounce at the other. It also increases dwell time for the magazine to present the next round in the feeding cycle. In addition, the extra mass also aids stripping a round from the magazine if the action is badly fouled or dirty.

Ruger PC Carbine
Developed by Todd Wilkinson and Frank Sanders, Ruger’s PC carbine is a blowback design utilizing a 3-piece bolt with a tungsten dead-blow weight. (Photo by Laura Fortier)

The bolt rides inside a beefy receiver with an integral MIL-STD 1913 rail machined into the top. Gone is Ruger’s proprietary scope mounting system. Adopting the 1913 rail allows the end-user to easily mount a host of magnified or non-magnified optics. The design also features a removable reciprocating charging handle. This comes mounted to the right of the bolt, but is easily switched to the left if so desired. The upper receiver is bolted into a traditional looking durable black polymer stock. Examining it you’ll find a familiar looking fire control group. The PC carbine uses a trigger group based upon the well proven 10/22 design. 10/22 inspired features include a simple but effective cross-bolt safety and manually operated bolt-catch.

The stock features a short magazine well with a reversible magazine release. The push-button design is factory installed on the left side of the carbine, but is easily removed and mounted onto the right side if you so desire. An easily removable magazine adapter readily converts the PC carbine to feed from different style magazines. Swapping magazine adapters requires the action to be unbolted from the stock, but it is not a difficult procedure. The adapter is lifted out through the top of the stock, and then the model of choice slid in and snapped into place.

Ruger PC Carbine
The PC carbine features easily installed magazine wells allowing use of not only Ruger but also Glock G17/19 magazines. (Photo by Laura Fortier)

The butt features three removable ½-inch spacers allowing the length of pull to vary from 12.6 to 14.1 inches. So it is easily configured to properly fit both large and small. With all the spacers installed the carbine’s overall length measures 34.3 inches. I found the stock’s wrist to be nicely sized and shaped to properly index my medium size hand within comfortable reach of the trigger. Both the wrist and fore-end are nicely textured to provide a secure grip, even with cold, sweaty or grimy hands. A short 1913 rail section is located at the front 6’Oclock position on the fore-end allowing easy installation of a bipod, white light or other accessory. Sling swivel studs are also factory installed on the butt and fore-end.

At the front of the receiver you’ll find a cold hammer-forged chrome-moly barrel. This measures 16.1 inches in length and features a heavy profile. It is fluted to reduce weight. Rifling twist is one turn in ten inches allowing use with a wide range of bullet weights. As a nod to the times we live in, the muzzle sports 1/2"x28 threads allowing easy mounting of a sound suppressor, flash suppressor or muzzle brake. A thread protector is included. Sights consist of a non-adjustable protected front blade and a fully adjustable rear aperture mounted to the barrel.

Ruger PC Carbine
Ruger designed their PC carbine for tool-less take-down for easy packing and stowage. (Photo by Laura Fortier)

Splitting the PC carbine in half for storage is very easy. First, make sure the rifle is empty. Next, lock the bolt back. Then push forward on the barrel release lever, hidden beneath the fore-end, while twisting the barrel assembly clockwise. Once it’s unlocked, the barrel can be pulled straight out of the receiver. After you’ve done it once, you’ll have no problem doing it again. The procedure is very simple, straight-forward and quick to accomplish. Better still, reinstalling the barrel takes even less time. You simply lock the bolt back, insert the barrel into the action and press it into the receiver while twisting until it locks.

Ruger PC Carbine
The PC carbine stores easily in a pack until needed, it can be easily reassembled in a matter of seconds without tools. (Photo by Laura Fortier)

Accuracy from the bench at 50 and 100 yards proved to be quite good for a 9mm carbine. Running it through some drills I found the Ruger to be easy to hit with. Recoil is mild and the carbine handles fairly well but has more weight than I like hanging out front. I found the cross-bolt safety easy to manipulate and had no issues activating the magazine release. Glock magazines inserted easily and dropped free with the push of a button. With a micro red dot sight and sling, but without magazine, the PC carbine weighed in at 7.4 pounds. Add a loaded 33-round stick mag and it’s starting to get a bit porky in my humble opinion.

Ruger PC Carbine
Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups fired from a rest at 50 and 100 yards. Velocity figures are 10-shot averages recorded with a LabRadar Doppler chronograph at an ambient temperature of 0 degrees F at 1,030 feet above Sea Level.

The big negative for all pistol caliber carbines is their lack of terminal performance and poor exterior ballistics of the 9x19mm Parabellum cartridge compared to any true rifle cartridge. While a pistol caliber carbine is much easier to shoot than a handgun, you have similar performance. So you get all the bulk of a true rifle, with almost none of its advantages. A carbine chambered for a true rifle cartridge will offer a dramatic step up in performance across the board. This is one reason why pistol caliber carbines and submachine guns fell out of favor with law enforcement, and many departments transitioned over to AR-15s.

My thoughts? Ruger’s new Pistol Caliber carbine is an interesting design with some nice features. It’s accurate, easy to use and reliable. Many will love the take-down feature. I love the ability to use Glock magazines, especially the 33-round stick mags. It can serve as a nice compliment to a Ruger or Glock pistol it shares magazines with. Is it perfect? No, I really don’t like the barrel profile and wish they come out with a lighter one. I’d also like to see other stock options, such as a side-folder. While the 9mm Parabellum is king, other caliber choices would be appreciated. Say, 10mm. I’d also like to see the magazine release shrouded a bit better to prevent accidental release. If Ruger’s new PC carbine strikes your fancy MSRP is $649.

Ruger PC Carbine Specs:

  • Caliber: 9x19mm Parabellum
  • Operation: Blowback from closed bolt
  • Barrel Length: 16.1 inches, cold hammer-forged
  • Rifling: 1 in 10-inch twist, six groove
  • Trigger: Single-Action
  • Feed: Detachable Ruger or Glock box magazines
  • Overall Length: 34.3 inches
  • Weight: 6.8 pounds
  • Sights: Protected front blade and fully adjustable aperture rear
  • Length of Pull: 12.6 to 14.1 via three .5-inch spacers
  • Finish: Type III hardcoat anodized
  • MSRP: $649
  • Manufacturer: Ruger, 336-949-5200,

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