In fact, pistol caliber carbines have jumped in popularity in recent years, with the dominant flavor being 9mm. While not really a brand new idea, the latest surge in these guns has been nothing short of huge. Winchester figured out this angle way back in 1873 with its lever action carbine designed to fire the same rounds as the Peacemaker pistol. To the old guard or more appropriately the gun curmudgeons, the question most often heard is “Why?” While a snarky “why not” sometimes slips my lips, it is worthy of a little discussion and look at how a 9mm AR15 can be a good choice over other options.
Benefits of a 9mm AR15
A major benefit of having a PCC is the ability to share ammo and even magazines with a handgun. This is especially true for the Glock owners of the world. The ability for PCCs to run Glock mags has become almost an unofficial manufacturing standard in the industry. From EDC 15 and 17 round mags to the more enjoyable 30 round models, you are free from having to keep and maintain different mags.
PCCs are also cheaper to feed than their 5.56 big brothers. The average price of 9mm right now is about .15 cents per round compared to the average .20-plus cents per round for rifle ammo. This translates to lower operating costs, which trickles down to more trigger time. Few shooters claim a downside to getting more trigger time on any gun! On that same idea regarding training, the PCC is much easier to run compared to rifle caliber guns. This is helpful for beginners because there is not much recoil. AR15s aren’t known to have harsh recoil to begin with but the PCC is even lighter. The average carbine generates about 3.7 foot pounds of recoil into the shooter. When we change it to 9mm, it drops down to less than half of that. That allows us much less fatigue and greater muzzle control.
Another benefit near and dear to my heart is the 9mm’s superior ability to be suppressed. This is true because of the power of the round and even the availability of much less expensive subsonic ammo. I try to suppress everything ranging from my handguns and rifle to my toothbrush. It simply makes for a more pleasant shooting and ultimately preserves hearing. While it may seem like a cool add-on, a suppressor can have a long lasting preserving effect on your hearing. This really rings true if you, like me, spend a great deal of time behind a gun.
Another often discussed and even argued point is the application of the PCC as a home defense weapon. The PCC makes a good choice for home defense because it bridges the gap between a rifle and handgun. While the additional 230 fps average increase in velocity is not earth shattering, it is an increase none the less.
The goal is significant penetration into an adversary and adding a little speed to the round helps accomplish that. It is also much easier to achieve higher levels of accuracy with a rifle when compared to a handgun. PPCs also provide a greater sight radius and a more stable platform when using iron sights. Many folks even put an optic and light on their PCCs, which work in harmony to provide a gun capable of putting an entire magazine in a space smaller than a palm (if not smaller) when shooting at speed. This is our ultimate goal in defensive shooting. Combine all of this with its low recoil, ease of operation and ability to fire quickly and you have a formidable weapon to protect your home.
Other Pistol Chambered Carbines
Manufacturers also chamber PCCs in a variety of other rounds including .40 S&W as well as .45 ACP. However, I believe this gun shines in 9mm. I vividly remember being on Bill Wilson’s private range and getting the opportunity to run his new AR9. What started out as a friendly day on the range turned into an exciting shot timer driven affair that got me time on his newest creation. We would do a stage with a certain handgun, run to the next stage with another blaster then end up at the steel range running the PCC.
With a variety of targets sitting from 25 to over 100 yards, the little 9mm AR15 rifle drove hyper-accurate shots on every press of the trigger. I’ve spent some time on submachine guns before this, but my experience at the Wilson range started a new respect and appreciation for the 9mm PCC. There is no “one gun for everyone” but I encourage every serious shooter out there to consider having a well-made 9mm Pistol Caliber Carbine in their collection.