Long guns chambering cartridges suitable for handguns have had a long history in the United States. Self-contained, metallic cartridges had only been around a few years when in 1873 Winchester came out with their Model 73 rifle and carbine that chambered a .44 caliber center-fire cartridge appropriately called the .44 WCF (.44-40) Winchester. The Model 73 was a success and Colt, noting the length of the .44 WCF was about the same as that of the .45 Colt, came out with a version of the Single Action Army revolver in this chambering that was christened the Colt Frontier Six Shooter. Now one could pack a side arm and a long gun that chambered the same cartridge—a real advantage when all you could carry was what would fit in your saddle bags or on your belt. Colt and Winchester would do the same with the .38-40 and .32-20 cartridges and later Winchester updated their line with the Model 92 that took the same 3 loads.

At the turn of the 20th Century semi-automatic pistols were introduced and one of the first long guns firing a pistol caliber was the Italian Villar-Perosa machine gun of WWI that chambered the 9mm Glisenti round. By the end of the Great War sub-machine guns in pistol calibers were being produced, the most notable was the Thompson in .45 ACP. The mid-30’s saw the bolt-action, Spanish Destroyer Carbine in 9mm Largo being used by the Guardia Civil in Spain. Pistol caliber carbines became increasingly popular for several reasons. They had less recoil than full-size rifles or shotguns, plus you could do the “cowboy thing” and again have a handgun and long gun that chambered the same ammo. Pistol cartridges are also generally less expensive so you get more “bang for the buck.” Makers of popular sub-machine guns also made semi-auto versions with legal length (16”) barrels to entice commercial sales. Thus today many pistol-caliber carbines look like an MP-5, UZI, Thompson, etc. Select-fire carbines like the AR-15 were also produced in calibers like 9mm Luger for agencies who wanted a less powerful round in a patrol carbine.

Thureon Defense, a Wisconsin-based manufacturer, introduced an AR-looking pistol-caliber carbine in 2010. Initially it was offered in 9mm (9×19 NATO) but can now be had in .357 SIG, .40 S&W, 10mm and .45 ACP as the GA Model that uses Glock pistol magazines. An SA Model is also available that chambers 9mm NATO and .45 ACP, but uses UZI-type magazines. The action is a blowback in operation, firing from a closed bolt; and the bolt assembly extends rearward to act on what in a regular AR rifle is the buffer spring nestled inside the buttstock tube. Moving parts are kept to a minimum and total parts count is fairly low, with major components robust in size. I liked the concept and thought the quality and construction a step or two above what I’d seen on other moderately priced pistol-caliber carbines.

Gun Details

The carbine tested was in 9mm NATO and came with two 33-round Glock magazines. It appears that the GA Model version I had in my possession seemed a collaboration with Magpul, makers of all kinds of accessories and parts for AR’s and other firearms. Starting from the rear, my carbine had a Magpul MOE (Magpul Original Equipment) adjustable-length carbine stock; the pistol grip appears to be a standard MOE with textured side-panels and serrated front- and backstraps. On the bottom rail of the handguard was a Magpul AFG (Angled Fore-Grip), plus the handguard side-rails had short, low-profile rail covers. On the integral upper receiver rail was attached a flip-up Magpul MBUS (Magpul Backup Sight) Gen II fully adjustable peep sight and on the top handguard rail, near the muzzle was an MBUS flip-up front sight. All of the Magpul accessory parts were in “Dark Earth” which contrasted nicely with the matte black finish on all metal surfaces of the carbine.

My sample had a lot of factory-installed options as well, including an octagonal aluminum handguard that replaces the standard round, vented type and allows the mounting of lights, lasers, etc. Other standard features are the upper and lower receiver, which is milled from aluminum bar stock and the aforementioned integral Picatinny rail on the receiver upper that can be fitted with open iron sights. A black “skeleton” butt-stock and black AR-style pistol grip are standard, plus the trigger components are AR-15 based, along with the safety. The magazine release is located approximately in the same place where that part is found on the AR, but the charging handle is on the left side of the receiver and the bolt knob also acts as the bolt catch when it is retracted fully to the rear and pushed in to engage a notch in the receiver. Takedown is also much the same as an AR, with two large, captive pins holding the upper and lower receiver sections together. Once separated, the bolt assembly is easily removed—I would direct your attention to the owner’s instruction material. Frequent cleaning is encouraged as blowback operated weapons are inherently dirty.

Pages: 1 2
Show Comments
  • 9mmMax

    My Thureon 9mm carbine has broke 3 firing pins in 1000 rds.

  • Rosco

    Mine broke too was promised a new bolt and pin 2 was ago, haven’t received it yet. Don’t think I’ll be able to use it for home defense as is it not reliable.