The Ruger PC Carbine reminds us that Ruger is always tuned in to market trends and is ready to meet the demand with performance priced guns that challenge costlier options. We’ll have a look at the 9mm Ruger PC Carbine and see if Ruger has hit the mark again.
May You Live in Interesting Times
No one can say life is dull lately. When times get interesting, folks necessarily get to reassessing their preparedness for unexpected situations. A pistol caliber carbine checks a lot of those boxes.
PCCs are generally light, maneuverable and use relatively inexpensive and easily found ammunition in pistol calibers. Although most are already modest in overall length, the Ruger PC Carbine adds a takedown design to make it even easier to transport.
Once separated, you can fit the halves of the Ruger PC9 in a backpack or duffel and take it wherever you need to go. Let’s hope you never have to bug out, but if you do, a takedown carbine is the ultimate bugout rifle.
Pistol Caliber Carbines Are Back
They say if you wait long enough everything comes back into style again. Although there are a lot of trends that I’d prefer never to see again (do you hear me 1980s?), pistol caliber carbines aren’t one of them.
Back in the late 19th century, PCCs were everywhere. Thousands of cowboys and cowboy wannabees carried a wheel gun and a lever action carbine chambered in the same pistol caliber. Often using cartridges like the .44-40, this let the gun slingers of the old west share precious ammo among both their close-in and standoff weapons.
If you had a Colt Frontier and a Winchester 1873 lever gun shooting .44-40, you were good to go.
The new Ruger PC Carbine is not Ruger’s first bite at the PCC apple. Back in the early Sixties, Ruger release the Model 44 “Deerstalker” in .44 Magnum. It sold for over two decades as a light, close range “deer” rifle but was ultimately dropped from the catalog.
Determined to try it again, they came out with the (M1 Cabine-ish looking) Ruger Deerfield Carbine, also chambered in .44 Magnum in 2000. This effort didn’t fare particularly well and Ruger discontinued it after just six years.
A few years before the Deerfield Carbine was coming and going, Ruger introduced a different carbine with an altogether different market in mind – the Ruger Police Carbine.
Ruger produced two variants, the PC9 (9mm) and the PC4 (.40 caliber) from 1996 to 2006. These were solid rifles, and were meant to be a compliment to a Ruger branded police sidearm.
Not a bad idea really, but perhaps just bad timing. Police departments were already stepping up to AR pattern rifles. Civilians, who were not purchasing with plentiful tax dollars, were opting for less expensive options.
The New Ruger PC Carbine
Fast forward a few years and the pistol caliber carbine market started to heat up. We saw the very good Beretta CX-4, the Keltec SUB-2000 and eventually the CZ Scorpion and other more esoteric PCCs released. Ruger saw it coming and came up with a new design, the Ruger PC Carbine.
Although outwardly similar in appearance to its Police Carbine, it’s quite a different animal.
The new Ruger PC Carbine is a takedown design. It is able to broken down into two assemblies just by pushing a releasing lock under the forestock, twisting the barrel about 20 degrees then separating it from the receiver.
This leaves you with two sections, each less than 21” in length. Which means you can stow it away pretty much anywhere. Backpack, bugout bag, under your seat – most any place.
The second big change is with magazine compatibility. From the factory the Ruger PC Carbine comes with two magwell adapters supporting both Ruger SR Series pistol magazines and… Glock mags!
If that’s not enough (and did I mention Glock mags?) you can add an additional magwell that is compatible with Ruger American pistol magazines. But why would you want to, because, well… Glock right?
By the way, both the magazine release and the reciprocating charging handle are reversible.
PC Carbine Action
The new Ruger operates using a direct blowback action with a twist known as “dead-blow” action. Ruger added a moving tungsten weight inside the already substantial steel bolt. The additional mass slows and restricts the bolt’s travel rearwards. When traveling forward on closing the bolt, the weight delivers a secondary and slightly delayed impact.
The intent here is to soften the impact and reduce the felt recoil of the action. Does it work? Without having an identical gun without said option it’s hard to compare apples to apples. I’ll just take Ruger’s word for it. PC carbines do have a little kick but it’s 9mm we’re talking about. It is very, very manageable.
The Carbine’s barrel is heavy, fluted and has a matte black finish. The fluting keeps the overall weight of the barrel down and also increases the surface area for cooling. Even though I ran through ammo at a pretty aggressive rate when testing the barrel never got uncomfortably warm. The rifle balances well and is not at all front heavy.
The bolt is very easy to operate and it travels slightly less than two inches. There is a thin metal bolt “lock” just in front of the trigger guard. That lock needs to be pressed to hold the bolt open if an empty magazine is not inserted in the magwell when the bolt is pulled back.
Not a big deal, but it’s a little awkward to operate. Otherwise the bolt does (almost always) lock back on an empty magazine.
The Ruger PC Carbine trigger rocks. There is almost no take-up at all and the trigger breaks nicely right around 3 ½ pounds. The total travel is only about a quarter of an inch.
For a very competitively priced rifle Ruger scored big time on the trigger. In fact, right out of the box it is way better than the CZ Scorpion PCC which costs twice as much as the Ruger.
It Comes with Sights
If my eyes were what they used to be I might say the stock sights on the Ruger PCC were pretty good. But, unfortunately they’re not (my eyes that is). The Ruger gives you a rear ghost ring rear sight, which is adjustable for both windage and elevation.
Once loosened, the adjustment slides freely in the dovetail, so do take note of where you started. There is no threaded adjustment here. Move it a little, then tighten it up.
The front site is a protected fixed blade. Both sights are mounted on the barrel assembly itself so there’s no chance of them being off even a little from breaking down and re-assembling the rifle. The slight downside here is that you are offered a necessarily shorter sight radius.
Like I said, if your eyesight is sharp this is a perfectly good sight arrangement. If not, Ruger gave you more than ample real estate on the machined aluminum top rail to mount any type of optic you choose. A pistol caliber carbine is not a long distance shooter so to me it cries out for a red dot sight or a low power scope.
Failing that I see there are aftermarket fiber optic front sights for the Ruger which I think would be a worthy replacement for the stock post.
Ruger PC9 Accessories
There is also a short accessory rail molded underneath the front of the forestock for mounting a weapon light or laser. Despite a fairly conventional profile, Ruger hasn’t forgotten some “tactical” touches. Did I mention it’s all black?
The Ruger PC Carbine stock is adjustable for length of pull by adding or removing a combination of three included spacers. This allows you to adjust the stock’s length by about 1.25”.
Ruger has now released almost twenty different models for the PC Carbine. Some are state specific models like the one we tested. The most striking variations are the models with free-float handguards and adjustable stocks. Some state specific models may forgo the threaded barrel.
We did not have one of those to play with but I do want to make the point that these are not just cosmetic changes. By that I mean you cannot change major parts between the models. The free-float handguard will not fit on a non-free-float rifle and vice-versa.
If you want to pimp out your rifle, there are several third party manufacturers who have already stepped in to make items like backward compatible free floats available. However, they’re not inexpensive. I would recommend if you’re leaning that way, get the model that best suits you up front.
Small items like extended charging handles and magazine releases are no big deal to add. The bigger items are probably cheaper if you just buy the model that already has them.
Take it to the Range
For my range trip I decided to go bone stock and leave the optics for another time. No doubt my targets suffered some but that’s on me, not the rifle. I grabbed a half dozen varieties of 115 Grain and 124 Grain FMJ including some steel case and mixed and matched my way through the stack.
This is a fun rifle to shoot. Fun because it’s compact and easy to handle. Fun because it just works beautifully. While another shooter on my line was cursing, shaking and banging on his AK because it was balking like an angry mule, I fed the Ruger magazine after (Glock) magazine of mixed fare with nary a hiccup.
OK, it wasn’t flawless. But my two issues weren’t anything to write home about. Out of all the mags I fed the Ruger, I had exactly one occurrence where the bolt did not lock back on an empty magazine. It is entirely possible that was my fault because of the second (not the rifle’s fault) issue.
Off a rest, I have a tendency to wrap my hand around the front of the magwell like a foregrip. On the Ruger PC Carbine that’s a bad move because of the magazine release’s location at the top of the well. My hand accidently pushed the mag release twice, dropping the magazine on the deck. Totally my fault. And very possibly the cause of “failure” number one.
That’s it. No jams, no FTF, no FTE. Boring, but in a fun way.
At fifty yards my targets were just OK but again, not the Carbine’s fault. My shots grouped pretty well horizontally but the black front blade just doesn’t give me enough contrast so my elevation suffered. I walked it up and down over good 6-8” range. That’s on me.
Even so, if all my shots are inside of a pie plate size target with iron sights with zero failures I’m happy. Now give me a red dot and we’ll be in business.
You can’t go wrong
If you’re looking for a utility, back of the truck, bugout bag carbine that eats anything, the Ruger PC Carbine has got to be a solid contender. You get reliable shooting with inexpensive and easy to find ammo. Yes, that works.
I don’t think we’re at the zombie apocalypse yet, but then again I haven’t watched the news today. Like I said, we live in interesting times. Be prepared.
Specs as tested:
|• Stock: Black Synthetic|
• Capacity: 10 (or whatever you put in it)
• Barrel Length: 16.12”
• Overall Length: 34.37”
• Front Sight: Protected Blade
• Rear Sight: Adjustable Ghost ring
|• Length of Pull: 12.62” – 14.12”|
• Receiver: Aluminum Alloy
• Barrel Twist: 1:10 RH
• Grooves: 6
• Weight: 6.8 lb.
• MSRP: $649.00