I don't *get* PCC rifles


May 1, 2013
I know this is gonna get some flak, I don't really care. It is more for discussion. But I don't really understand the point of pistol caliber carbines/rifles.

Handguns, in both form factor and caliber, are a compromise. You carry a handgun because carrying a rifle is too cumbersome, obvious, and possibly illegal depending on where. A 5.56 AR strapped to my shoulder is a lot more comforting than a 9mm carried IWB. A 9mm handgun that is concealed is more acceptable to the populace as a whole. But the 9mm is a compromise to carrying a rifle. I forget who said the line but a handgun is to shoot your way to your rifle. And that is how I treated my M9 sidearm all the time I was in the military. It was to get me to my rifle.

PCCs are the size of rifles. And nearly the weight of rifles. So if you are going to carry something that big, why carry it in an anemic/pistol caliber? Specifically PCCs such as ARs in 9mm, Ruger PC and LC carbines, Henry Homesteader etc. I have fired them. They make okay range toys to me, but from a utilitarian standpoint they don't make much sense. If I am going to carry a rifle, I want a rifle caliber. Discuss
If you can justify a 5.56, why not a .308? Why not a .300Mag? Why not a .458? Recoil? Blast? Weight? Same concept. Everything is a compromise to one degree or another. A PCC bridges the gap and fills those roles where something that is easier to hit with than a handgun, which also translates to a greater effective range, but without the noise, recoil, blast or weight of a rifle, might be preferable. No, a 5.56 doesn't have much recoil but the muzzle blast can and will cause permanent hearing damage and disorientation if fired in an enclosed space. A 9mm or .45ACP carbine, or even better an SBR or braced pistol, might be a much better choice for home defense. Shorter, lighter and quieter than a rifle but easier to hit with than a handgun.


I love my 1.5" but I sure as hell don't want to shoot it indoors without hearing protection.


For field use, I normally have little use for a rifle cartridge. I hunt my own property where 100yds is a long shot, most are well under. Why do I need with a .308 or .30-06 class rifle cartridge? It's more noise, recoil and range than I need. I can carry a 5-6lb .44 or .45 levergun that will do everything I need it to with less noise, less recoil and compatibility with pistol suppressors if need be.


Same concept as a braced .300Blk AR with supers or subs. Subs cover 100yds just fine with almost no noise or recoil.

Pistol caliber lever guns sure are fun
As is my Ruger PC9. IMG_0574.jpeg

I’ve been shooting .45 Colt, .357 and .44 caliber lever guns since the early 1990’s. Like my .22 LR and WMR rifles are to my rimfire pistols and revolvers; all of my PCC’s are great companions to their centerfire caliber mates.

Guns that aren’t “working” guns are, IMHO, supposed to be fun and recreational. That sums up PCC’s in a nutshell. I spent nearly 32 years with one (or more) guns strapped on every day at work, so having a pistol caliber rifle to occasionally take out on off times and mow down an attacking herd of scaled down critter silhouettes was (and still is) a hoot.

Plus, a semi-auto PCC can do serious double duty as a home-farm defensive arm. Easy to teach new or intimidated shooters with, easy to aim, with easy to handle recoil one carries 10-15-up to 33 rounds or more in a magazine, and with blast that is much easier on the eyes/ears than any rifle round. (Done enough indoor shooting solo and in stacks with 5.56 M4/AR-15’s to last me the rest of my life, thank you.) Suppressed, where legal, is even kinder on the eyes/ears.


Uber reliable Glock magazines for my PC9 are next to the gun, ready to go with Win 124 gr +P SXT rounds. I do not feel underarmed with it in the least.

Give one a whirl. They certainly are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I bet after an hour or so pinging plates and dueling trees as fast as you can pull the trigger you juuuuust might get hooked. ;)

Stay safe.
There's a convenience factor, too. Here's my post from another thread:

I have a Ruger PCC with a MagPul backpacker stock and Glock magazine adapter. It goes in this case:


In the top pocket, I keep a Glock 26. In the bottom pocket, I keep half a dozen G26 magazines and a box of 9mm hollowpoints. The carbine itself has two magazines: one in the magwell and one in the MagPul stock's storage compartment. The G26 has a mag in it. So that's a pistol, a carbine, 9 magazines, and 50 rounds of ammo -- 140 rounds if all the mags were loaded, but I don't keep them that way -- in one little bag that could easily fit under the seat or in the spare-tire compartment of either of my vehicles.
But I don't really understand the point of pistol caliber carbines/rifles.
I am totally with you, brother.

Now, I do have a Marlin 1894 in .357/.38, but that almost makes sense. It's an effective round in both handguns and long guns. Same for the .44 Mag/.44 SPL.

There may come a day when I want a long gun and a handgun that share the same cartridges (it certainly made sense in the Old West days).

But currently, when we can own sweet ARs with relatively low-cost .223/5.56mm for example, bullets that don't over-penetrate through building walls (or human torsos), why would we need to use less-effective, over-penetrative 9mm firing carbines?
I kind of go back and forth on the issue of PCCs. Initially I really liked them! When I got my Beretta CX-4 Carbine I really loved it for lots of reasons. I could get cheap and reliable 20- and 30-round mags, it was very short in OAL, very easy to shoot well, pretty quiet compared to any rifle and (importantly) I could shoot it on the indoor range at my LGS. At the time I really had nowhere to shoot a "real" rifle. The Storm wasn't exactly "light" but lighter than most 5.56 carbines. Most of the tests I'd seen showed the 16" barrel picked up around 300 fps over a 4" tube (based on brand, weight, etc). So it gave me more "punch" vs a handgun while being much easier to shoot well especially at speed.

But back then it seems like the modern AR boom hadn't really taken hold. The Storm came out during the bad old days of the Bush/Clinton AWB ban and there weren't so many clones like we have now. And maybe more importantly, Level IV armor was almost unheard of in civilians hands due to the scarcity and high cost.

At the moment the pendulum has swung over the rifle carbine for me. You can now get Level IV ceramic/PE armor for $150 a plate now and Level IIIa stuff being around $100, and whether it's realistic or not "on the street" I do figure I have to at least consider that a home invader might be wearing armor. So now I generally rely on carbines in 5.56 or .300 Blackout for home defense. A little heavier than my old Storm but I'm not humping it around all day.

Of course, not all firearms are "weapons" and they needn't all have some tactical niche. A PCC, particularly in 9mm, is much cheaper to shoot and maybe most importantly a lot of fun! And while I keep most of my guns for ostensibly practical reasons at the end of the day fun is reason enough!
A Winchester ‘73 or ‘92 is a quintessential lever gun. Shove some of those stubby cartridges into the loading gate, work the butter-smooth action and let her rip. Just enough report, just enough recoil and just enough thump (at least to 75 yards). A light rifle, almost petite in the hands and in a good looking package. I get them as I own one of each in .45 Colt. Someone else may not get them and that is OK. I get a .243, a 6.5, a .308 as I own them also - different animal for sure and also great fun. They are all enjoyable to me.
Opinions vary on this one. Being a hunter first, setups like the Ruger PCC are nothing more than a range toy. The energy and range are dismal as there are better options. You might see a 200 fps advantage over a 9mm handgun. However, a carbine in .357 or .44 Mag really wakes up those cartridges. Seeing as much as a 500 fps gain over a revolver, they are a worthy contender as a hunting iron.
I don't really understand the point of pistol caliber carbines/rifles.

They make okay range toys to me, but from a utilitarian standpoint they don't make much sense. If I am going to carry a rifle, I want a rifle caliber. Discuss
I don’t get it either except for the lower cost of ammo. That said, looking forward to the responses.
Firearm is simply force extender. Instead of knife/sword stabs, spear extends ability to stab from longer distances and arrows even further. Bullets are essentially modern day arrowheads that travel much faster and farther.

Pistol Caliber Carbines are force extender for handguns with higher capacity that make poking holes on target easier for most shooters, like leveraction is force extender for revolvers, especially in same caliber.

This is how our family "evolved" into PCCs ... due to harsh realities of city life.

When we lived in metropolitan city before retirement around 2008-2014 that experienced frequent home invasions by multiple armed gang bangers, often overwhelming even armed occupants with handguns (And raping/killing them even when occupants cooperated due to gang initiations); since I often worked away from home/office for week-long government survey work, I equipped my wife with multiple Glocks and .223 AR15, later in .300 BLK (She would carry two pistols on person in and around the house during my absence) as vacant house across the street was squatted by parolees from prisons and she was threatened by parolees with weekly arrests by multiple patrol cars (Yes, they don't stop committing crime just because they did time in prison and going back to prison is not a deterrent) and as many as 2-3 families often squatted the house. Hearing mag dumps and gun fights around the area during the night was sometimes common occurrence.

Why did we move to such crime ridden southern CA city when we lived in low crime northern CA mountain town before? Because both of my parents and wife's mother came down with multiple bouts of stage 3-4 cancer ... Yeah, life happens ... And we all die. (Why we should "Live Life" now ;))

In response, wife and I installed welded fence in concrete around the house and got three guard dogs with full access to fenced yards and backyard patio/yard around the pool ... CA law requires pools to be fenced and we reconfigured the fencing so dogs could access the entire backyard).

During the "Great Shortage" of 2012-2013 when price of 22LR went to over $5 for 50 round box with daily limits, since I was able to reload 9mm for about the same cost, getting AR based PCCs in 9mm became "no brainer" as much cheaper training/practice for .223/.300 BLK ARs. Since we switched to 40S&W Glock 22/23/27 (From Glock 17/19/26) with 40-9mm conversion barrels for cheaper practice, I also got Just Right carbine with 9mm/40S&W/45ACP caliber conversions with Glock magwells (We also had M&P 40/45).

Ruger PCC are nothing more than a range toy.
I disagree.

Since I shot USPSA matches with 40S&W barrels and practiced with 9mm conversion barrels, we had a lot of Glock magazines (including grandfathered "legal" large capacity magazines); and in a snap, 9mm bullets shot from longer barrel PCCs would approach .357 Mag velocities and 40S&W bullets approached 10mm velocities, sufficient for defensive use. And PCCs joined the home armory next to .223/.300 BLK ARs.

So for people who may be in similar situations, 30/33 round capacity PCCs to compliment their Glock/M&P pistols is a very viable option for defensive use. For those that can have suppressed SBR/braced pistols, even better.

And for discreet portability in backpacks, there are take down models of Ruger PC carbine including this Back Packer model (Just Right carbine becomes take down model with use of take down tube ... Jump to 3:15 minute of video for fast/easy demo) - https://ruger.com/products/pcCarbine/models.html


And with 9mm/22LR uppers on our AR15s using Endo Mag or AR22 magazines/CMMG 22LR conversion bolts, .223 ARs become PCCs for "same manual of arms" shooting drills using same triggers, especially close range point shooting drills that use up A LOT of ammunition.

So PCCs definitely have applications for defensive use and training/practice purposes.
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I have two PCCs; an Extar EP-9 9mm and a Henry Black lever-action in .45 Colt. Both are "working" guns in that they have specific roles. The EP-9 is IMHO, the best tool for home defense due to 32-round capacity, light, laser, and single-point sling.

The Henry is my ATV/camping/hiking carbine. It has roughly twice the capacity of a similarly sized rifle in .30-30 or .45-70 and has plenty of power for defense against predators.

IMG_20190424_162338315 (2).jpg

IMG_20210223_175237113 (1).jpg
Granted that, for the size and form factor, you could carry a rifle just as easily as a PCC.

To use an (admittedly imperfect) analogy... if you ask why you would drive a motorcycle over a car, then you may not "get" a motorcycle. If you see what a motorcycle brings over a bicycle, then maybe you will "get" a motorcycle.

The car may be faster, safer, better equipped for more situations, etc. But the motorcycle may be all you need to get where you're trying to go and do what you're trying to do.
First off... I agree that a rifle is the best option.

1. It's a more stable platform as you have 4 points of contact. 2.
2. They are generally easier to shoot more accurately.
3. With AR & AK styled ones, you have great magazine capacity.
4. The biggie... You have a more powerful caliber.
That said, a PCC makes sense as a trainer when you consider the cost of 9mm ball ammo.
I have a couple carbines in pistol calibers, but not semi-autos. Mine are lever guns. They can be used for hunting due to the laws in my state.
I have also done them up with red dots and lights so they will function as defensive weapons if need be.
Unlike ammo meant for modern semi-auto pistols, both .357 mag & .44 mag gain a good amount of velocity and power when fired out of a carbine.
While this doesn't quite put them into "rifle caliber" territory, they do hit much harder than a typical PCC.
I mainly got them because they were takedown models, and can travel with me should I go to places unfriendly to ARs & AKs.
However, they are also extremely fun guns to shoot owing to the "every boy is a cowboy on the inside" theory.
.357 on log.JPG

3 on log.JPG
The short barreled lever guns in 44 and 357 mag have always filled a role in close range hunting but it took me a while to come around to the semi-auto's. I tried this Smith and I really like it. It comes with two 23 round 9mm magazines and one 17 round mag. There is a place in the stock to store spare mags giving me a total of 64 rounds onboard.


It folds in half for easy transport. It comes with a carrying case, but it's too big. It easily fits into a small daypack


Since taking these photos I've mounted a dot sight on it. Does this at 100 yards.

There's several good reasons to get one of these things:
- very light recoil/blast, which can be especially helpful for kids, ladies, the physically limited. The low blast/flash signature is especially helpful if you may need to fire it indoors. I have fired 5.56 indoors without hearing protection due to necessity (more than 1 round), and I don't recommend it.
- logistical convenience- one of these firearms can use the same ammunition and maybe even the same magazines as your handgun
- think of them as a non NFA submachine gun, like a MP5, at least in terms of capability. The MP5 is a fine weapon for close combat, such as what will happen in a HD scenario- typically fast, violent, and at fairly close range. They are still used extensively by SWAT type units world-wide. Just because a PCC is AR based, or something like a Sig MPX or that other carbine Ruger makes VS a MP5 type, the effectiveness is going to be the same as that MP5. Is the 5.56 ballistically superior? Absolutely. Have specialized military units largely moved away from using weapons like the MP5 in favor of "better" options like 5.56 carbines? Most definitely. But these units don't deal with just kicking in the door of 1 trap house or trailer, and essentially are mission complete when that single structure is cleared. It is typical to be "in the stinky stuff" once we have passed through friendly lines, and possibly all the way to the objective. On the objective, we may be taking fire from adjacent buildings or other positions in the vicinity- heavy fire from an indeterminate number of enemy, who will be armed with belt fed machine guns, RPGs, and who knows what else. As a static defender in your own home in the US, these aren't typical threats to anticipate from the punks planning a smash and grab or something along those lines, with examples like Waco being an outlier- not to mention the fact that Waco was very poorly planned and executed, and served mostly as an example of how NOT to conduct a raid. Another key point is a raid is an offensive operation- home defense is not. And with the surprise nature of a home invasion, it is very likely the defender will not have the opportunity to kit up with tactical hearing protection or have a 5.56 weapon at the ready with a mounted suppressor.
- When would I prefer a 9mm SMG or similar over a 5.56 or similar in actual combat? Almost never, barring a need for a low profile concealable weapon or possibly as a scout swimmer. As a static home defender, I would prefer the "PCC" much more than a M4 or similar, and definitely prefer the 9mm carbine over a shotgun. The notable exceptions where I would want to upgrade to the 5.56 AR would be during a period of elevated threat, like major social unrest where I might need to defend from mob attack (rare and temporary events) or if I was under a constant elevated threat, like what people who live in isolated areas along our southern border live with daily.
Some of the jobs I have for them I want rifle accuracy even if I don't need the extra power, noise and recoil. Mrs. Morris doesn't even hear me shoot them but they get just as dead.


Bullets cost less and I use 3 gn charges instead of 24 and up grains. That equals closer to 2300 rounds per pound of powder vs 300.

That said, not everything is for everyone...
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Sometimes people forget that shooting is supposed to be fun!

I like them for several reasons:

Economical. I use my standard 9mm coated IDPA loads, run off my 650 at a couple 1000rds at a time
There's PCC matches
Due to the recoil (AR15 blow back) the recoil is more realistic than a .22LR trainer
IF needed they can be used for HD.
They don't screw up my AR500 tgts when doing CQB drills:



To me they are range toys but everyone is not me. I see them as a good thing for the shooting sports. The more shooters the better so if you want one, get after it.

The closest I come to owning one is a Rossi 92 in 357 and it's more a nostalgia thing for me. My SIL has two, Keltec and CMMG in 9mm and loves them. He's offered but I have never shot either. Just no interest on my part.
I would bet 95% of the guns we own are because we just like them or they are fun. This falls into both groups.

Also for the same reason the went with the M1 carbine, because shooting a hand gun well takes practice, perhaps everyone in your house will not practice like they should. Are you going to deny them the ability to defend themself? My wife can shoot well, but is pretty recoil sensitive, I have found that as I age I am getting more recoil sensitive. Having a 357 lever gun, or m1 carbine does help quite a bit.