Pistol-Caliber Carbine

With the recent addition of various pistol-caliber carbine divisions to the USPSA and Steel Challenge shooting sports, there is an increased interest in PCCs.  While there has always been a small group of proponents of PCC (for home defense or whatever), the addition of PCC divisions in well-known shooting sports (among shooters, at least) has caused a definite increase in both the availability of various-brand PCCs, and the number of buyers.

I had been wanting a PCC for a number of random reasons for several years, but I had never bought one because my reasons were random fun-type ones, with no particular priority or reason for existence other than “it would be fun to do…”  I had really initially wanted a PCC in .45acp that I could use as a suppressor host—think of that for a second.  A suppressed subsonic rifle with a 230 gr bullet where I could easily find a powder that was completely consumed within the barrel, where I could put either a red dot or a 4x scope on it…..just think of it!

But it wasn’t a priority because seriously, how often would I actually shoot that?  For what purpose?

But once USPSA and Steel Challenge said “hey, you can shoot a PCC too!” I decided that was sufficient reason for me to spend the money.  (I needed an excuse, it sounded good, there you go.)

I ended up buying a 9mm PCC (AR-style) that takes Glock magazines, put a microdot on it, added a $30 comp that is modeled on the Miculek comp, spent a little more on a Taylor Freelance +12 basepad to put on my 33-round magazines (I shoot Glock pistols, so I have tons of Glock magazines of various length) and threw in a aftermarket trigger that I had gotten off a prize table a couple of years ago and never used.

And it is amazingly fun to shoot.  There is no such thing as a difficult shot anymore.  With a pistol, sometimes you think to yourself “man, I don’t know how long it is going to take me to make that hit” but with a PCC, you have nothing of the sort.  It is simply “how fast can I do this” not “can I do this?”

PCC feels like cheating.  On almost every stage, I never have to reload.  I get to start with the carbine in my hands already.  I get to use a red dot.  It is a rifle, not a pistol.  My ammo will make minor without any issue even if I drop the powder to minuscule amounts.  There is no such thing as one-hand shooting (WHO or SHO).  Sure I might have to switch shoulders, but I’m using a dot.  Who cares?

I’m definitely a pistol guy, but I have to admit, if I want to have a completely fun match with no worries about pretty much anything, pulling out that PCC makes for a completely good time.

The PCC I’m running has had exactly TWO issues in the last 8000+ rounds.  One issue was my reload which had a huge gouge along one side of the bullet, so it didn’t feed.  That was my fault.  The other issue was a failure to feed due to a bad magazine.

I got into PCC for under $800.  (Granted, I already had magazines and an extra trigger, so that helped, but a couple of Glock mags isn’t much, and you don’t HAVE to put a better trigger into your gun.)

Palmetto State Armory makes a 9mm carbine, but they also sell separate uppers and lowers.  I happened to notice that 1) they had both uppers and lowers in stock, 2) all of their 9mm carbines were on sale, and 3) those particular lowers and uppers were additionally on sale.  And shipping was free.  I ended up picking up a lower and an upper for a total of about $500, shipped to my FFL.  I spent $169 for a Primary Arms Advanced Microdot, and happened to buy it when they had one of their periodic sales with 1) free shipping, and 2) a free Radical riser mount.  And then I found a muzzle brake/compensator (of a design that I liked in terms of gas redirection) for $30.

I already had plenty of Glock mags (both standard capacity, and 33-round), and I went on Shooters Connection and picked up two Taylor Freelance +12 baspads.  I can now fit 42 rounds in one mag, and 43 in the other, while still being able to reload with them.  I already have regular Glock mags with TTI basepads for 23 and 20 rounds, so I can run a stage with one mag, or if I have to reload, I can use mags that still hold a ton of ammo but are the size I’m used to using at a match. (And are weighted to drop free more easily.)

HIPERFIRE has been generous enough to donate some prizes once a year to one of our local multigun matches.  (We have three 3-Gun Nation Pro shooters who shoot with us, and their sponsors put together a serious prize table for our local club once a year, pretty much just because they feel like it.  It is really cool.)  I had gotten one of their 24C triggers a couple of years back, but had never put it into an AR.  So I grabbed that, threw it into my PCC, and went from there.  (Finding out how ridiculously good this trigger was makes me a little annoyed I hadn’t put it into one of my 3-gun rifles before!)

I have spent a total of slightly-under-$800 on my PCC.  (That’s less than most people spend to set up a Production rig for USPSA.)  And it has (and does) everything I need.

I’m not really a rifle shooter—I’m definitely pistol-centric.  And yet, with this simple, budget PCC, I’ve shot a GM match in the last two Level II Steel Challenge matches I’ve attended.  (Not merely some GM times on a couple of stages, but my total match score was above 95% of the SC peak times used for classification.  Twice.)  I’m not a national contender, and there are folks shooting who are MUCH better than I am with a carbine.  And yet….even a basic PCC is sufficient as a platform with which to do well, and have a seriously good time.

If you are interested in PCC, you don’t have to spend $1500 on something.  Sure, a JP PCC is fantastic.  If you can afford one, go for it, because they are really cool, and shoot really well.

But….you don’t have to do it that way.  Even if you don’t hit sales like I did, you can still easily get a full PCC setup for under $1000, and you’ll find that it is ridiculously fun to try.

Couple of comments:

  • The Primary Arms Advanced Microdot is excellent for this sort of thing.  I have several, and I love them.  Seriously, unless you have a ton of extra money lying around (if so, of course you are going to buy an Aimpoint) then you should buy the PA Microdot.
  • Lowers that take Glock mags means that 1) mags will always be available, 2) basepads for extended capacity are ALSO already available.
  • Opinions about comps for PCCs vary.  I can feel a difference in the muzzle movement of my PCC with my comp.  Your PCC might not need one.  For $30, you might as well find out.
  • Nothing is more annoying than a gun that won’t run.  Getting a PCC that is reliable is the most important thing, really.  Anything else can be fixed or improved.  I’ve had excellent luck with my PSA gun, as one data point.
  • Factory triggers tend to suck.  That doesn’t mean you can’t do well with them, but it is certainly true that if you are going to spend money on any one particular part, improving your PCC’s trigger is probably where you want to put it.  That HIPERFIRE trigger makes it REALLY easy to shoot well, for me.

I just recently shot our Zombie Match (we hold a charity match for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation every year) in the Psychopath division which allowed me to switch between guns on various stages, so I shot both my PCC and my handgun on the USPSA-like courses of fire.  I chose to use the PCC on 5 stages, and my G34 on the other two.  I ended up first out of 178 shooters, and in Psychopath division I actually had to shoot more targets than people in other divisions (there is no such thing as a no-shoot in Psychopath division!  Shoot ’em all!) and I still won by a fairly large margin.  That PCC makes shooting simple…

Shooting a PCC is just always a good time!

Do you already shoot a PCC?  What kind?  What issues have you had?  What do you like about it?  What mods have you done to it for performance purposes?  (Sure, cosmetic, too, but I like blank black guns, so my cosmetic aesthetic is a little different.)



1 thought on “Pistol-Caliber Carbine

  1. PCC is a blast. I have a JRC (Just right Carbine) 9mm that takes Glock mags. I put a PA microdot on it that I had around and a muzzle brake.
    The only issue I’ve had is some non Glock mags tend to come out once in a while.
    Primary Arms is a excellent red dot for the money.


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