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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Pistol Caliber Carbine: the gun tactical hobbyists love to hate - www.GrantCunningham.com www.GrantCunningham.com

For some time I’ve championed the pistol caliber carbine (PCC) as a home and family defense tool. Every time I mention the things, however, I get emails and Facebook messages from the hobbyists who can’t see the forest for the trees.

They’re almost boringly similar: “Why put up with the size and weight of a rifle just to shoot a pistol round?” “If you’re going to the trouble, it’s stupid not to have the power.” Why all the hate?

What is a PCC?

The pistol caliber carbine is, as its name implies, a short, light, handy rifle that shoots what is normally considered a pistol round. Pistol caliber carbines are commonly chambered in 9mm and .45ACP, but you can also find them in .40S&W and they’ve also been produced in 10mm Auto.

When most people think of a ‘carbine’ they often think of autoloading rifles. The term was used to describe short rifles long before autoloading actions became available, and thus you can also find lever-action carbines chambered in revolver cartridges such as the .38 Special/.357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt.

The ‘pistol caliber’ portion of the term is open to a little discussion. The famous .30 Carbine round, for instance, isn’t a handgun round (though handguns have been made in that chambering), but it’s also definitely not a rifle round. I consider the M1 Carbine to be part of the PCC family because its performance is very similar to others in the category.

Why the PCC?

As a home defense arm the PCC has a number of advantages over a handgun. To start, it has significantly greater precision capabilities than a pistol; the long sight radius and four points of body contact make the PCC much easier to shoot than any handgun. It’s usable out to distances that would require great skill with a handgun, and the PCC makes precision shots at closer distances almost child’s play.

The PCC is almost ridiculously easy to shoot. Except in the heaviest calibers, recoil is as close to non-existent as you get in an effective self defense caliber. Muzzle rise, likewise, is nearly absent. These two qualities make for a gun which almost anyone, regardless of skill, can keep on target in rapid fire.

If you have a concealed carry handgun you can get a PCC which uses the same ammunition, making logistics a little easier. The effectiveness of modern defensive handgun ammunition, coupled with the ease of putting multiple rounds into the target, makes the PCC a truly formidable defensive tool.

As a “pool” weapon, one which is likely to be used by several members of a family whose skill and dedication to shooting varies wildly, the PCC is almost ideal. No matter who is shooting, the PCC makes putting rapid, multiple, accurate rounds on target easy to do.

Why not a rifle?

This is where the tactical hobbyists start to go off the rails. They look at the PCC and see not its attributes, but only that it’s a “weaker” version of the rifles they love. To them, it makes no sense to have a rifle with less power. How valid is the point of view?

Let’s take a rifle in .223/5.56mm, which is by far the most popular chambering in carbine-sized rifles. Compared to a PCC, the rifle is going to have more recoil and significantly more muzzle blast. It’s more difficult to shoot and significantly more intimidating, and for those who aren’t “gun people” that intimidation factor makes the difference between a gun that’s fun to shoot and one which they avoid shooting.

The rifle magazines are larger and harder to manipulate; the ammunition is bigger and more expensive. It’s also one more purchase that has to be researched and remembered. This sounds silly to you and me, because we’re used to buying several different calibers. For the average person, the one who’s not a shooter or hobbyist, those are very real downsides.

What about effectiveness? Isn’t the rifle significantly more effective on a per-shot basis? That’s a good argument, but it all comes down to rounds on target. If someone is able to shoot the PCC better than they can a rifle (and, frankly, most people fall into that category) they’re likely to have a higher hit percentage. To paraphrase the old saying, a hit with a PCC is still better than a miss with a rifle!

The bottom line

What it comes down to is this: the PCC is an easier defensive firearm to live with for someone who’s not an avid shooter. Frankly, even for those of us who are experienced shooters, the PCC is a fun gun that can also be used as an effective self defense tool. At this stage of life I’ve lost track of how many thousands of rounds of rifle ammunition I’ve shot; it’s certainly measured in hundreds instead of tens. Even so, I like shooting the PCC more!

The hobbyist’s criticisms of the PCC as a defensive arm come down to a refusal to acknowledge that the average home defender probably isn’t, and never will be, an avid shooter. Saddling him or her with a gun that’s hard to shoot doesn’t make them safer. Our skill set is not theirs, and it’s irresponsible to give advice which ignores this reality.

That’s why I’ll continue to recommend the PCC to those whose capabilities it fits, and recommend the rifle to those whose capabilities are greater. No matter how many hobbyists get mad at me!

– Grant
 

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I do think that a pistol caliber carbine can make a very potent home defense weapon. Certainly easier to shoot accurately at any distance than a handgun, and much easier for many to handle than a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun. But I don't own one.

I have looked at PCCs but the choices are limited and most all I have seen cost more than a good entry level AR. I am not sure that I agree that a carbine chambered in 5.56 x 45mm or .223 Remington is that "intimidating" for most people to shoot, and a 10 or 20 round AR magazine is not that heavy or bulky to deal with. And an AR carbine with an adjustable stock can certainly be effectively used by multiple family members of different sizes. But ARs are certainly loud, and I would hate to have to discharge one indoors without ear protection.
 

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What is a Tactical Hobbyist for us older folks ?? My only hobby shooting is with .22lr's . I have not done any run and gun events in years and never did take that to seriously . Just pure fun .

Our handguns and rifles are for hunting or defensive needs and a we shoot accordingly . I don't care if traditional handgun or rifle cartridges are used so long as common sense is used when shooting . I'll leave the 1000 yard shooting with a 9mm up to the TV guys .

I have to say I'm not going for a shoot a 9mm or 40 or 45 carbine if a 223 / 5.56 is handy for me . But I can see the point of owning a light short weapon too as that's what My wife wanted and she wanted to stay with a 9mm for it .

WE have two AR's . I have a 16inch 223 wylde AR with a 2.5-10x42mm 30mm tube scope . I like and know that power level far better than say a 1-6 or 8 . Wife has a 10.5 inch 9mm pistol with a never to be shouldered sig brace ! and wanted a primary arms md-ads on it with a higher base so flip up sights are in the lower third of the lens and it also has a green laser and light on it . Both started out as aero precision uppers and lowers .

My wife and I must not be recoil sensitive . Nether of us can feel any of difference between a my wifes little 9mm AR pistol and my 223 wylde carbine except the weight difference .

Both are enjoyable to shoot and both run reliably and fit of our needs well .

For basic defensive needs both my wife and I would go for our handguns first as that's what we have the far more trigger time with and there always with in arms reach .
 

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I'm a huge fan of the PCC. I noticed they have actually added divisions specifically for them in IDPA and USPSA due to their rising popularity.

Two guys actually ran them at the last IDPA match I attended. I was a bit surprised looking at the overall scores when I saw the top PCC shooter that day actually was sixth in the overall scoring. I would have thought that the carbine would have had a real advantage over a handgun but it appears that wasn't the case that day.

Might have to pick one up myself and run it in some matches and see if I do better with it than a handgun.
 

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Thanx for sharing. My favorite PCC is my Henry Big Boy chambered in 357 mag, really makes that round sing, bringing out the full potential of the round with the added barrel length.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That's a great analogy, 7.62 and I should have thought of it myself as I have pretty extensive experience with both platforms you mentioned.
 

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I like the idea of a PCC for home defense vs. rifle calibers in a setting that is very urban or neighborhood.

In a scenario with the need for a home defense weapon, the additional ammunition in the weapon, accuracy...........and less potential collateral damage from rifle calibers penetrating beyond the home being fired in and into surrounding homes has a lot of appeal.

A rifle caliber, fired with only 1 exterior wall to exit (non-brick), likely ends up in another house in the neighborhood.
 

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The beauty of a pistol caliber carbine is the low cost of ammo that allows for more practice! The same ammo goes a bit faster through the longer barrel of a carbine which yields better energy and shoots a slightly better trajectory.

A recent review of the MPX-C has SIG V Crown JHP 124 gr chronographed at a velocity of 1379 fps. That give muzzle energy of 524 foot pounds. A look at SIG's published data has that round going 1165 fps which produces 374 ft lbs of energy. So the difference between a pistol and a carbine adds 40% more muzzle energy with the 13.3 inch barrel of the carbine. (I'm not counting the barrel length of the pinned and welded flash hider.)

Bill
 

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recently built a quarter circle 10 7.5" pistol in 9mm with a glock mag lower. fun gun but not running 100% yet. firing pin and spring issues coupled with the fact that i have only shot about 200 rounds through it. lots of fun espcially with the KA Shockwave blade pistol brace.
 

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Since we are practicing thread necromancy, I have been giving some consideration to getting one of these. Just have not been able to talk myself into it. Might be doing some horse trading this weekend for something in the 45 ACP category.

I think, from what I have read, it is one of the better rounds to shoot in a PCC with a can and subsonic ammo....but I have no practical knowledge.

This may just be a way for me to burn through a lot of 45 ACP ammo...like I need that!
 

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Agreed! On another forum I once posed the question about the MP5 as a home defense weapon system and was essentially booed to scorn. I still hold to the belief, however.
 

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Anybody who does CQB or room clearing for a living will pick an Mp5 or similar over a rifle caliber sbr every time.
I could totally see that being true. I mean, I love my 300 BO AR Pistol, but think I would much prefer a PCC for that.
 

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My preferred HD weapon is my CZ Evo Scorpion. She is still waiting on her can to get out of prison, she doesn't like having to share for now. I suppose if the threat arose, I would just prefer that I have something to grab and constantly give thought to having things strategically placed. I can't imagine that all people that have put the MP5 to use were doing so because they didn't have options, they chose it for a reason.
 

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Since this thread was initially posted, I went out and bought a pistol caliber carbine, a Hi-Point (gasp) in 9mm.

It was inexpensive ($240 NIB), fairly crude in design and manufacture, rather ugly, and somewhat heavy.

It is also lots of fun to shoot and quite surprisingly accurate. The biggest drawback to it are the magazines. You are largely limited to Hi-Point magazines which have only a ten round capacity, although Red Ball makes a 20 round magazine for it that looks pretty weird and sticks way out, but seems to work.
 

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I love my PCCs....blast to shoot, smaller, lighter & cheaper to shoot
 

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Picked up my first PCC a couple of weeks ago. I love it. For me it is a great marriage--9mm and 16in barrel. So easy to shoot. Want to try it in Steel Challenge. Didn't really have the desire for a pistol version--maybe a bonafide SSB--but don't really care at this time to go through the paperwork--so the 9mm MPX is perfect.
 

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That's very nice SpiritFox.

Well with all this discussion it looks like I may have a chance to pick up a 45 ACP PCC tomorrow in a trade.

I will see how I like it I guess.
 

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I got a PCC last year and love it. It's just fun to shoot and as someone mentioned, a lot cheaper to shoot. I've since changed out optics but here she is right after I first got her.
I run the 30 round Glock mags through her.
 
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