Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle



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Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle- The Ruger® PC Carbine™ is a well-balanced, fast-handling weapon that delivers rapid fire with readily available 9x19mm ammunition. The carbine is adaptable, with interchangeable magazine wells, for use with either GLOCK® pistol magazines, or Ruger SR9, Security-9, and Ruger American pistol magazines. The receiver is CNC-milled from a 7075-T6 aluminum billet and Type III hard-coat anodized for maximum durability; and, the receiver comes with an integrated Picatinny rail. The durable, glass-filled nylon synthetic stock has a forward mounted accessory rail, proprietary texturing on the grip surfaces, and a rubber buttpad with spacers to adjust length of pull (includes three 1/2″ spacers). The PC Carbine takes down quickly for storage or transport, by pushing a recessed lever and twisting the barreled fore-end from the receiver and pulling them apart. The heavy-contour barrel features fluting for faster heat dispersion, and a threaded muzzle (1/2″–28) for attaching aftermarket suppressors (includes thread protector). The rear aperture sight adjusts for windage and elevation, and the front post is protected by wings on both sides. The dead blow action features a multi-piece bolt assembly that reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise for enhanced fire control. Operation of the Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle is similar to the Ruger 10/22®, having the charging handle and cross-bolt safety in the same location, and the bolt stop and take-down latch working similar as well. The light, crisp trigger also uses 10/22 trigger components. Ships with one SR-Series pistol magazine and hex wrenches.

Well-balanced and fast-handling
Interchangeable magazine wells
Uses either GLOCK or Ruger magazines
Aluminum, CNC-milled receiver
Glass-filled nylon synthetic stock
Forward mounted accessory rail
Integrated Picatinny rail
Fluted, threaded barrel
Takes down quickly
Rear aperture sight
Protected front sight post
The Ruger PC Carbine is effectively a slightly larger Ruger 10/22 takedown that shoots 9mm. Now that I’ve had it for a couple years, what do I think about it? Read on in our Ruger PC Carbine review to find out.

The Ruger 10/22 is one of those firearms that every American should have – they’re a ton of fun, simple, and there are a plethora of accessories. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

It is a direct blowback action (it doesn’t lock like most firearms) and comes in many different models.

One of the latest is a take-down option that makes it easy to remove and re-install the barrel and front handguard.

Why am I talking about a Ruger 10/22 in a Ruger PC Carbine review?

Well, it’s quite possibly the easiest way to explain what the Ruger PC Carbine is and help explain some of its design history.

Previously, Ruger offered a “Police Carbine” up until 2007 that was a dead-ringer for the 10/22 (you could easily mistake it from across the room) and which fired 9mm or .40 S&W pistol cartridges.

In late 2017, Ruger announced that they were bringing back the pistol caliber carbine in a newer design, with the new take-down barrel system, and it would include a threaded barrel and it could take Glock magazines!

Effectively, the Ruger PC Carbine is a slightly larger 10/22 takedown that is chambered in 9mm.

Upon seeing the announcement, I knew I had to have one because I was positive an accessory would eventually make it to market that would make this Ruger PC Carbine that much cooler. More on this below.

After I told him that I was really starting to like the PC Carbine, and knowing that I think that most guns should have a purpose, he asked, “So, what’s a 9mm carbine really for? When would you use it besides a trip to the range?”

It was a great question namely because I couldn’t answer it.

I mumbled through, “well, for a survival gun it could be handy to have a rifle that broke in half for compact storage and that shot the same ammo and used the same mags as your pistol.” But as I heard myself saying that I realized that such a “red dawn” rifle probably shouldn’t be in a relatively weak pistol caliber. Also, it’s pretty heavy for what it is and it really isn’t that small when broken down.

If I wanted light and small, there are surely better firearms for the task. If I wanted something suitable in a survival scenario, surely I’d want a proper rifle caliber. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

Ok, so maybe it isn’t really a great “backpacking” rifle nor is it a great “end of the world” rifle. So… the question remained… what’s it for? And whatever you could use it for, is there something other than a 9mm carbine that is more suitable?

As we shot some video for this review and were generally having fun shooting the gun (it really is a lot of fun to shoot), it finally hit me what a 9mm carbine, in general, is great for…

Suppressed sub-sonic shooting!

Sure, it’s fun to plink with it. But so are other guns.

Sure, it breaks down to be more compact. But other guns are smaller (and lighter).

Where a 9mm carbine really shines is when you are shooting it with a silencer and you are shooting subsonic ammo (my favorite is 150gr Sellier & Bellot – partly because they send me some every so often and partly because I’ve never had an issue with it and when you’re capping a bullet’s speed, heavier is better).

I’ve known it’s good for this but it wasn’t until I was challenged on it did I think about it for a while that it really rang true. I love 300 Blackout, but 9mm carbines are cheaper to shoot and if I’m limiting myself to pistol power (sub-sonic 300 BLK is effectively a pointy 45 AUTO), might as well have the same ammo that I can shoot in my pistol.

Ok, I can finally justify the “need” for a 9mm carbine, now let’s finally get into THIS 9mm carbine, the Ruger PC Carbine.

I own and tested the standard rifle version – there is also a chassis version available. As far as I’m concerned, the chassis version is stupid. There, I said it. Don’t get the chassis version.
If you’re looking for a 9mm carbine with “AR-like” features, get a Sig MPX or a CZ Scorpion. Where the standard rifle version of the Ruger PC Carbine really shines is in its simplicity and clean-ish lines.

The chassis version adds an AR-like handguard that looks like it doesn’t belong with a barrel towards the top end (it looks weird). It also adds a pistol grip that isn’t conducive to the cross-block safety style nor position and you have to move your hand anyway to operate the bolt catch.

If you’re looking to add a light to the front, Ruger already thought of that and cleverly included a picatinny rail section at the front of the stock. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

The standard rifle version, however, is MUCH more familiar (it’s like a grown-up 10/22, remember?) and I think it’s easier to use. Of course, it helps that it doesn’t look obnoxious like the chassis version. 🙂

Another reason to save your money and get the standard version instead is one of the main (maybe the main) reasons I bought the PC Carbine….. I knew Magpul was surely going to make a backpacker stock for it.

The Magpul backpacker X-22 stock for the Ruger 10/22 takedown is an awesome upgrade. It allows the barrel and forend to be stored in and along with the buttstock, it provides extra storage, allows you to mount M-Lok accessories to the forend, and provides QD sockets for a sling. Super cool.

As soon as I saw the PC Carbine from Ruger, I immediately thought of the backpacker stock and how awesome it would be in a slightly bigger version for the 9mm big brother. I figured that Magpul couldn’t miss this opportunity so I bought a PC Carbine and waited.

Low and behold, Magpul has announced that they’re making a backpacker stock for the PC Carbine and it should arrive Fall 2020.

I’m definitely getting one and I think you should consider it too – if you are, then this is another reason to not get the chassis version. 🙂

I love the simplicity of the Ruger PC Carbine in the standard rifle version. It has clean lines and its no-frills design makes it more enjoyable for me to shoot. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

The charging handle can be moved to the left side (unlike the 10/22) – this is a neat feature and it is where my charging handle is. For me, it just makes more sense to load a mag and release the bolt with my left hand.

I like the sights. I know that many others don’t like the short sight radius but I understand why the rear sight is so forward on the barrel – it is because it is a take-down rifle! If the barrel doesn’t perfectly align from one installation to the next (it won’t), it doesn’t matter because having both sights on the barrel means that they’ll still align with wherever the barrel is pointing. Also, Ruger put quality sights here and didn’t skimp.

I also really like the last-round bolt hold open feature. I can’t remember it ever failing to hold the bolt open after the last round in the magazine was fired. I also like the picatinny rail on the forend (it’s a nice touch) and the factory threaded barrel.

In fact, now that I have 9mm carbines figured out, no 9mm rifle should ever come without a threaded barrel.

I also love that Ruger was willing to allow another company’s magazines to work in their firearm. It comes from the factory working with Ruger mags but they ship the Ruger PC Carbine with an adapter to use Glock magazines! This feature and the hope of a Magpul backpacker stock are what helped sell me on purchasing my own.

Of course, what I think I love most is that it is a TON of fun to shoot and it is very quiet with my Sig SRD-9 silencer attached. I expected a direct blowback action to be a bit louder than a locking action due to some of the noise coming out of the action but the Ruger is still quiet – perhaps it is because of the very heavy bolt weight?

The Ruger PC Carbine is heavy – noticeably heavier than other 9mm carbines. In general, heavier is not ideal but it is even more of an issue when the firearm takes down for easy storage in a backpack for hiking – heavy is not good.

Now, I get that the bolt needs to be heavy in order to retard the system enough to make it function. Got it. However, some weight could surely be saved elsewhere without adding too much cost.

Another thing I’m not fond of?… the magazine release. The only way to release the old magazine is to hit the button with your left thumb and strip the magazine form the gun prior to inserting a new one. I understand why it works the way it does out of simplicity and, honestly, there’s not really a better option to have it release with the trigger finger due to the 10/22-ish design. However, it’s still a bit of a “hmmm, not ideal but it works” situation. Also, as a “non-tactical” gun (in design and use) I’m not sure quick mag changes are really a big deal.

The Ruger PC Carbine is extremely reliable (I’ve yet to have a malfunction), reasonably accurate (I’m plinking things with iron sights), and pretty darn quiet with the right silencer and ammo. It is also fairly affordable compared to other options and it is a ton of fun. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

If you want a “non-tactical” 9mm carbine that’s reliable and a lot of fun to shoot, you really should check this one out.

Review: Ruger PC Carbine
It’s been more than two decades since Ruger introduced its PC9 and PC4 carbines in 9mm Luger and .40 Smith & Wesson, respectively. The goal then was to offer law enforcement a pistol/carbine pairing—a PC9, say, that would take the same magazine and ammo as the P-series semiauto handguns Ruger hoped officers would cotton to. It didn’t quite work out that way, and the carbines were discontinued in 2006.

Fast forward to late 2017, when Ruger introduced its new PC Carbine (that’s Pistol Caliber Carbine, not Politically Correct Carbine). What has changed? Certainly Ruger isn’t thinking police officers are going to toss their AR-15/M4-based carbines in the trash can and replace them with PC Carbines.

No, and it doesn’t need to think that way because pistol-caliber carbines are hot among the general shooting public right now. They’re a great choice for personal/home defense, and if you’ve ever fired one you know how effective (and fun) they are. And pistol-caliber carbine is the fastest growing division in the action shooting sports.

So Ruger’s timing is spot-on, as is this new design. For one thing, it’s a takedown, which increases its utility because it can be stored and transported easily. But the real genius is found in the gun’s magazine well, which can be changed to handle Ruger or Glock magazines. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle
The PC ships from the factory with a Ruger SR9 mag well installed and a 17-round SR9 magazine in the box, but with the furnished 5/32 hex wrench and less than five minutes of your time, you can install the supplied Glock mag well in its place. (Ruger does not provide a Glock magazine, just the well.) Simply loosen the carbine’s takedown screws, separate receiver from stock and swap out the mag wells. It’s super easy.

Why is this significant? Even if you’re not much of a handgunner, you’re likely aware Glock is one of the—if not the—most popular semiauto handguns in the world, and Ruger’s decision to offer this option works on two levels.

One, if you own a Glock, you can run the same magazines in your pistol and your PC Carbine. If you’re like me and don’t own a Glock, it still works because you can find Glock magazines everywhere, and they’re relatively inexpensive. I picked up a 15-round Magpul Glock PMag for $15 at a local sporting goods store, and if you live in a non-restrictive state, you can buy “big stick” mags with capacities in the 30-round neighborhood.

Certainly there’s nothing wrong with the SR9 magazine. The one that came with my carbine ran without a hitch over several hundred rounds. But SR9 magazines (and Ruger Security-9 magazines, which also work in the SR9 mag well) sell for $40 apiece at You can buy a mag well to accept Ruger American pistol magazines for $30, too, but its magazines also sell for $40. I did check the internet for other sources and found some of these magazines for a few bucks less, but availability was spotty.

I guess it boils down to this: If you own an SR9, Security-9 or American pistol, it would make sense to have the same magazines to run in both pistol and carbine; if you don’t, Glock magazines tend to be cheaper and more widely available—with greater capacity, depending on where you live. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

Ruger gives you other options on the PC Carbine as well. The magazine release, which is located at the forward portion of the mag well, can be swapped to either side. It comes from the factory set up for left-side operation, which works fine for me. But if you want it on the other side, separate the receiver from the stock, unscrew the mag release cap, disassemble the release unit, move the release stud to the other side and reassemble. Takes only a couple minutes.

The charging handle can be switched, too. With the receiver out of the stock, unscrew the charging handle and move it to the other side. The person at the factory who assembled my sample must’ve had their Wheaties that day because it took quite a bit of effort to break loose the charging handle cap screw, but after I did, the operation was a cinch. Ruger recommends checking the torque on this part every 1,000 rounds and every time it’s moved from one side to the other.

While I view a lot of today’s “high speed” rifle techniques with suspicion, I found I really like having the charging handle on the left side instead of the right-side position as it comes from the factory. With my right hand maintaining a firing grip, I can strip out an empty mag, insert a fresh one and charge the rifle—all with my left hand. It’s quick and instinctive.

Length of pull is adjustable as well, courtesy of stock spacers. It comes with one installed and two additional spacers in the box. Remove the recoil pad to add or subtract spacers.

And what gun today doesn’t come with a threaded muzzle? The PC Carbine I tested is threaded 1/2×28, and the provided thread protector is separated from the barrel by an O-ring. If you’re going to replace the thread protector with a muzzle device, you need to remove the O-ring so the muzzle device aligns properly against the shoulder of the barrel.

I already mentioned this is a takedown, and it’s the same design Ruger uses on the popular 10/22 Takedown. With the bolt locked to the rear, simply push forward on the takedown button and twist the fore-end to separate the two main components.

Actually, this is one of several 10/22 design features found on the PC Carbine. The fire-control system is based on the 10/22’s, although it’s not an exact replica. It features a target hammer and Ruger’s BX disconnect. It also incorporates a unique sear that ensures the hammer will not fall if the gun is dropped, and the firing pin (which has to be different, of course) has a bulbous tail to prevent it from binding in its tunnel. However, the crossbolt safety and bolt hold-back lever will be familiar to any 10/22 owner.

As a 9mm carbine, the gun operates via direct blowback, but here Ruger has tweaked the system, creating what it calls a dead-blow action. A 9.4-ounce tungsten weight inside the 10.2-ounce bolt (weight when stripped of its parts) slows and shortens bolt travel to the rear, and on the forward travel it delivers a secondary blow—think how a dead-blow hammer spreads out impact force—to close the bolt. The goal of this design is to create a softer-shooting gun. More on this in a bit. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

The reason I’m able to give you these weights is because the gun is easy to disassemble for a thorough action cleaning. Drift out the trigger pins to remove that assembly (Ruger doesn’t recommend taking the trigger group apart), then pull the buffer and its recoil spring to access the rest of the bolt parts.

If the gun’s internals don’t interest you, you’ll still find plenty to like. The stock is made of glass-filled nylon, and there’s nicely tacky “stippling” on the stock’s wrist and the short, slim fore-end. The fore-end tip features a molded-in three-slot accessory rail for installing a light or laser—which is not a bad idea if you’re thinking of using this gun for home defense. There are sling swivel studs fore and aft.

Up top you’ll find an optics rail integral with the receiver, which is CNC-machined from a 7075-T6 aluminum billet. The chrome-moly steel 16-inch fluted barrel sports a fully adjustable ghost ring rear sight and a protected wing front sight. At the media event where the PC Carbine was introduced, we ran Gunsite Academy’s famed Scrambler course with the iron sights, and they worked great.

It’s hard to beat ghost rings when it comes to irons, so hats off to Ruger for going this route instead of buckhorns or something similarly hard to see and shoot. However, when I received my sample I immediately slapped a reflex sight—Nikon’s new Spur—on it because I think it’s the perfect match for a gun like this. And it did not disappoint. I was able to get what I consider great 50-yard groups (see the accompanying chart) with the carbine/sight combination, and the three-m.o.a. dot made hitting targets at speed on my MGM steel plate rack a breeze. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle

Full confession: I don’t have a ton of time behind pistol-caliber carbines, and it’s always slightly surprising to me how much recoil the 9mm generates. Now, it’s a level of recoil pretty much any shooter can handle, and the soft rubber recoil pad makes it comfortable, but there’s certainly a bit of snap when the gun fires.

I think if you’re going the home-defense route, any authorized person in your house should be able to shoot it well as is—and enjoy practicing with it. But the PC Carbine would be a dream with a suppressor aboard. And if I were looking at this more as a fun gun or competition rifle, a compensator would tame muzzle rise, which isn’t bad to begin with, and really speed up target transitions.

But it’s fine just as it comes out of the box. It’s light, handy and shoots well. Broken down, it would make a great take-along defense rifle for camping, vacationing and so forth. I think it’s an ideal home-defense gun because it’s easier to hit with than a pistol and less cumbersome than an AR.

I’m loading up mine with 135-grain Hornady Critical Duty ammo, which shot well in my carbine and generates more than 370 ft.-lbs. of energy—thanks to the increased velocity you get from the PC Carbine’s 16-inch barrel over a pistol barrel with most loads. Further, the Critical Duty ammo is designed to meet FBI specs for performance through barriers like heavy denim, dry wall and plywood. Ruger PC Carbine Semi-Auto Rifle
That’s the serious side of the equation. On the fun side of the ledger, 9mm ammo is relatively cheap and certainly plentiful. Grab a couple boxes of hardball and head to the range. Actually, a couple boxes won’t do the trick because you’ll have such a blast shooting the PC Carbine you’ll quickly burn through a couple hundred rounds.


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