View Full Version : Pistol Caliber Carbines: my opinion

Edmund Rowe
January 3, 1999, 07:08 PM
In response to Douglas in CT about a pistol caliber carbine (PCC) vs. a .223 rifle for a Really Bad Day (RBD)...

In my biased opinion, I think a PCC is a Good Thing (tm) if and only if you absolutely positively will never have enough $$$ for a centerfire rifle caliber long arm and its ammunition.

In my experience:
-PCCs are magnificent to hit with out to 25 or 35 yards, much easier than with a handgun.
-Past this range band, a rifle-caliber rifle hits much harder and with much less problems of bullet drop and such. There may be other mechanisms at work here but PCC groups definitely open up drastically at this point.
-The Marlin Camp Carbine in particular is not designed for serious social use.
-The Ruger PCC is supposedly designed for serious use, but costs so much I'd recommend a Mini-14 before getting this thing
-The Kel-Tec Sub-9 is one of the best PCC designs I have ever shot, but its still overpriced in my opinion.
-For indoor use, some tests at Mesa Arizona PD and Gunsite showed a 9mm JHP actually is a greater danger to bystanders through walls than .223
-IMHO there is much more psychological effect from the BOOM of a .223 or .308 or 7.62x39 than the pop from a PCC. Not that we rely on the sound to carry the day, but I've seen carbine classes with PCCs mixed in with the .223s.
-Saw a female student at one carbine class with a PCC. If I was guessing I'd say her boyfriend thought she couldn't handle an AR-15. Instructor let her shoot his AR for a while and she did just fine with it.
-Finally, there is IMHO way more wallop from the .223/.308/7.62x39/whatever real centerfire rifle calibers than from 9mm/.40 S+W/.45 ACP.

Douglas in CT, did I answer your question?


Rich Lucibella
January 3, 1999, 08:02 PM
Comprehensive, articlate and sensible as always. I'd like to say that you stole the words right out of my mouth, but I don't think I could *ever* be as succinct.

January 3, 1999, 08:24 PM
In response to a pistol caliber carbine AND a lever action rifle, how about the Marlin 1894's in .44 magnum or .357 magnum? I have one in .44 and love it! I'd rely on it for shots out to about 100 yards and it gives an OK rate of fire. I do have a .44 handgun thus it makes a good pair. Perhaps the .357 combos would make more sense but .44 was chosen as a hunting caliber. Comments!?!?
Plainsman :)

Michael Carlin
January 3, 1999, 10:23 PM
Mr. Rowe,

You hit the nail on the head, why a PCC when you can have a similar sized AR15 in 5.56 NATO?

But if you must, then 10 be da ONE!
Glock 20 and a MP5/10 makes a nice combo, or Delta Elite and TSMG (M1 preferably) in 10mm.

I really like the 10mm. (But in a carbine I really like a rifle cartridge better, unless I am specifically looking for a submachinegun. If so make mine a 10mm!

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


[This message has been edited by Michael Carlin (edited 01-03-99).]

4V50 Gary
January 3, 1999, 11:29 PM
Well put Edmund!

The pistol caliber carbine is an answer in search of a question. It has neither the penetrative capability of a short .223 caliber rifle (Mini14, M4, Sig552), nor the full automatic feature of a SMG.

It may appeal to the police administrator who lacks the huevos to issue a real rifle/carbine despite a strong likelihood of the front line officers engaging BGs beyond handgun ranges (let's arbitrarily say past 25 yards for the normal LEO).

Departments which allow only Ruger made 9mm or 40 S&W caliber pistols would be likely candidates for the Ruger Carbine. Not to say that departments which authorizes only Ruger pistols have no huevos. Rather, that a dept. which authorizes only Ruger pistols and has no huevos to issues a rifle, are good candidates for the Ruger Carbine if there is a need for longer than 25 yard distance shooting. For the avg. LEO, the hit probability of a (head sized) target at 75 yards is better with a Ruger Carbine fitted with a Busnell HoloSight than with the Ruger pistol.

For the rest, the Pistol Caliber Carbines appeals to those of us who, as individuals, can't legally hold title/possess a SMG or, like Plainsman, just wanna have fun.

BTW Plainsman, I've got the same setup (straight stock pre-82 Marlin 1894 and Ruger Vaquero 4 5/8" bbl or S&W M29 in 6 1/2") in 44 Mag too.

Mike - MP5 in 10mm along with a 10mm Glock is a wonderful combination. HK says the MP5/10 will go out to 225 yards - or was that 275 yards? Now, if you've some frags to go with them for housecleaning. Shudder...shades of Stalingrad.

Douglas in CT
January 4, 1999, 04:47 AM
Thank you for answering my simple(ton) question with such aplomb. I guess I'll be buying an AR-15 and .223 ammo. :) :)

4V50 Gary,
Love that phrasing!
" A question in search of an answer". :) :)

Edmund Rowe
January 4, 1999, 07:09 PM
4V50 Gary: your first line is a quote I'll have to remember

Plainsmen: oops I forgot about lever actions in my discussion. Doom on me. OK, my favorite there is a .44 Magnum Rossi 1892 action because I think the '92 is smoother to manipulate than the '94 design. A Lever-Action Pistol Caliber Carbine (LAPCC?) I think is a great balance in cost versus performance, provided again you will never have enough $$$ for a centerfire RIFLE.

Now, an interesting debate: is $250 spent on a Rossi '92 in .44 Magnum a better buy than a Winchester '94 in 30-30? You lose caliber commonality if that was important but gain the power of the 30-30 cartridge.

I'd lean towards the 30-30 but I'd have to research the total package cost of say, Rossi '92 and 1000 x .44 Mag compared to Winchester '94 and 1000 x 30-30.

Another note: after my first Urban Carbine class, I really felt like "Why would I ever use my handgun??" followed immediately by the answer "Only if you were dumb enough to set your rifle out of reach"


January 4, 1999, 08:15 PM
Just thought of another addition to this thread, the Ruger 77/44 and Ruger Carbine in .44 magnum! Now if the carbine was fed by a detachable magazine WOW!! :-0 (A semiauto .44 with a larger mag capacity would have me ducking FAST!! on the recieving end!!) The 77/44 is a bolt gun buuuuuuttttt....

I would say that really the pistol caliber carbine is NOT an answer looking for a question. They were THE thing in the old west, the cowboy had the six shooter and the lever gun in the same caliber to make hauling supplies easier! A sixgun and a LAPCC would give him say 12-18 shots and his pistol belt would hold another 20 rds. More than enough for a ride on the range.

Just got the brain rolling...
Plainsman :-)

January 4, 1999, 10:42 PM
Just my .02- I've got a Winchester Trapper in .45 Colt that I believe to be about the best home,camp,woods bumming, keep in the truck gun I've ever had. Light, quick, handy says it all. I wouldn't hesitate to take on any varmit, four or two legged type, with it. And it's plenty accurate out to 100 yards. Besides, the way the antis are going after semi-autos, the LAPCC just might prove to be the "assault rifle" of the future.

January 5, 1999, 12:09 PM
You're more right than you know. John Browning designed a lever and rod assembly to convert a lever action into full auto. I believe that he even got a patent on it. Winchester didn't take him up on it though.

January 5, 1999, 12:40 PM
Hooray Edmund!!!

What you said is what I wanted to say all those times I teased you about the Coanstant Carry Rifle Caliber Carbine!

I still don't think commonality of ammo is the overriding concern for carry. Lever guns in 44 are a lot better than no long arm. But not better than Browning Lever Rifle in .308 or a 30-30. In fact, I guess we could also consider the issue of a nice handy bolt gun being functionally as fast as a lever gun and we would have a new discussion about caliber, I think.

The Steyr Scout is an example, the Savage Scout is the other end of the price range.

Edmund, in your rifle classes how much difference is there between the shot to shot times of a comparably trained person with a bolt guna and a lever. Cooper says negligeble?


January 5, 1999, 02:49 PM
Please look at:


for discussion


Edmund Rowe
January 5, 1999, 11:25 PM
Okay, with all this PCC and LAPCC talk, everyone see my separate thread for what I love and recommend most.


January 14, 1999, 06:07 PM
Edmund: The Sub-9 has finally been zeroed in, and hitting at 125 meters is not a problem. It had nothing to do w/ ammo, it was the sight elevation.

I value PCC [b]if[b] they are compact and lightweight enough to have w/ you when a "real gun" is not. My Sub-9 weighs 4.5 lbs, and folds down to 16 inches. It is noticeably more compact than CAR-15 (note, MC :)), even extended.

January 15, 1999, 04:39 AM
I think the only value a PCC would have, would be if it had an intergrated can on it and you were using heavy sub-sonic rounds. Other than that you are probably better off with a centerfire rifle cartridge.

Edmund Rowe
January 15, 1999, 06:44 PM

Sounds like you found a good mission for your PCC: compact long arm power.

That said...(Bubba mode on)

Boy, weer gonna git you wun AR-15 an' then y'all fergit that thar PCC


January 16, 1999, 07:17 AM
You have all made some excellent points.
I concur in that I'd take a pistol, and assult rifle type (steyr AUG).
But, in the case of my most recent purchase I had no choice. The Calico was banned while the 5.56 version was being developed. In this particular case the carbine, by far, is superior to the pistol.
Now what should I buy next? So far I have: Steyr AUG, Calico m-900 CAR, Glock 26, and 19. Think I could use a shotgun, maybe the new moss. 9200? Any thought.



Michael Carlin
January 16, 1999, 09:52 AM
I don't recall where I saw it, but someone said that they thought that the use of a PCC by an entry team reduced the risk to the team.
Their use of SBA and subsonic 9mm would provide them with some fairly good protection if they were to "shoot through" the BG or the walls/doors. He implied that their fire discipline was not all that it could be.

By going this route the "SWAT" (using the term loosely here) could be more agressive and endanger themselves (each other) less.

Gee, I NEVER thought of that, did you?

Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship


4V50 Gary
January 16, 1999, 10:02 PM

Please assure me that this "SWAT" team isn't in Kalifornia. I'll sleep better knowing they're not.


Edmund Rowe
January 17, 1999, 01:22 AM
Shane: I'd get rifle and handgun training first. I didn't know how much difference professional training makes until '97, but it does make an enormous amount of difference.

Michael Carlin: I cannot tell if you are being sarcastic or funny or what? Did you see my 6th point in my original post that started this thread? In addition to 9mm JHP being a Bad Thing to bystanders through walls, my favorite handgun load, .45 ACP 230 gr Hydra Shok sails merrily through far too many walls for me to neglect Safety Rule #4.


January 17, 1999, 07:26 AM

Does 8 years in the Army count?
I am not really sure why you replied in this way. I was asking for opinions on my next purchase. But thanks for the reply regardless.

Edmund Rowe
January 17, 1999, 01:02 PM

Giving you the benefit of the doubt regarding training, I'd get a long range precision bolt action rifle IMHO.


Michael Carlin
January 17, 1999, 05:58 PM

Yes I was being sarcastic!

On another forum, I saw a thread on PCC (I have not chased it back down, You can if you want, the only ones I think I have read are Glock Talk, Gun Forum and this one (TFL)) in which one of the regulars commented that his local "SWAT team" had opted for a PCC as they were concerned about shoot throughs. Their reasoning was that with SBA (soft body armor) their fire control was not so critical.

The concept itself screams of a total disregard for fire discipline, is ludicrous, and tells me a great deal about the "wanna be" nature of this particulat operation. The assumption that 9mm represents less danger to their fellow officers is fallacious. (Your point 6 in the first post in this thread!)

Edmund, I was being very sarcastic, sorry if that was not clear in the post.

(BTW you, sir, may call me michael! :D )
Ni ellegimit carborundum esse!

Yours In Marksmanship ;)


[This message has been edited by Michael Carlin (edited 01-17-99).]

January 17, 1999, 06:28 PM

Such as? Never been into bolt action, but I have to agree. Any specific rifles, let's keep it around $1000, and legal for hunting, but that's not the use of the weapon.

If we are what we eat, then I'm FAST, CHEAP, & EASY!

Edmund Rowe
January 17, 1999, 08:02 PM

I'd start with a Remington 700, either VS or PSS, or maybe the Savage FP110 Tactical.

Keep in mind the cost of the scope and future gunsmithing. Some relatively simple 'smithing can do wonders for the groups of a 700 and probably the Savage, such as putting a target crown on the muzzle, truing the action, lapping the bolt lugs, cutting the chamber back to shorten the chamber to a more precise amount, trigger job and good truing on the scope mounting. An article in Tactical Shooter a while back described how all this cost $200 and shrank 700 PSS groups from 0.6--.8" groups to 0.3-0.4 or something like that.

Biggest problem I've seen with good bolt rifles is they spoil you. You'll never be happy with an AR-15 or other assault carbine's trigger ever again after you tried a well-tuned bolt rifle. :)

...hmm...guess I've moved off topic?


cornered rat
January 21, 1999, 05:24 PM
And speaking of cornered rat stands...my Mini-14 is mean for just such. I don't expect to best trained riflemen at any range, but close-in .223 will go through more lard and Kevlar than 9/40/45.

Last year ee read about some guy in Oregon that had a whole parcel of cops breaking his door. He plugged two with an SKS before they could even start firing back with handguns. Mini14 replaced my SKS as being handier and faster to use, easier to clean and faster to reload (originals mags are costly, though). At 10 paces, .223 will work as well as .30, where as 9mm might not. Having fired subguns at avariety of targets, I'd say that subcaliber penetrators in every pistol bullets make sense: 9 and 45 proved whimpy against cover.

January 30, 1999, 11:28 PM
Here is a different thought about pistol caliber rifles. In the Chicago area the nearest place to shoot rifle calibers is about 2 hours drive from downtown. Pistol calibers can be shot in several indoor ranges that are in the suburbs 1/2 to 1 hr drive. Now does the ability to practice fairly often with the firearm that you rely on matter? The pistol calibers may lack several good points but they excel in this area of being cheaper and much more readily used.

Edmund Rowe
January 31, 1999, 05:16 AM

The ability to practice with live ammo is ALWAYS an asset, so for someone in a downtown sprawl like you describe, a PCC may be a good choice to get a warm fuzzy feeling with the live fire practice that is available.

Having said that, if I was in that situation I would:
1) move out of downtown soonest. While I'm at it move to a gun-friendly state.
2) even with a centerfire rifle I can get a lot of handling practice in dry-firing.
3) Make the extra effort to road trip out to practice wherever I could shoot centerfire rifle.

...but that's just me.