Affordable Icon: PTR’s 9CT

MP5 Mystique — Within Reach

PTR’s 9CT has all the iconic styling of the classic MP5 but without the tax stamp and
huge price tag. The knife is an Applegate/Fairbairn dagger from Böker.

At one point available in 120 different variations, the roller-lock MP5 is the universal subgun, much as the Porsche 911 is often considered the universal sports car.

Since its 1964 introduction as the MP64, the legendary 9mm SMG has been used by everyone from the British SAS to the garishly Renaissance-clad Swiss Guard who protect the Pope, not to mention Mel Gibson in the Lethal Weapon franchise and Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

Technically a delayed blowback system, the roller lock does not rely on gas to function. This greatly simplifies the gun and removes the fouling found in designs such as the AR-15.

Alas, full-auto versions also happen to be prohibitively expensive and even the semi-autos can trigger acute “sticker shock.”

The iconic “MP5” SMG silhouette is now as easily recognizable as that of a Thompson or a Sten gun.

PTR Steps In

Enter PTR, the South Carolina-based manufacturer famed for .308 battle rifles built on HK-licensed tooling from Portugal. They’ve now released the 9mm 9C, which shows up at retail for around $1,600-$1,800.

Unlike pistol-caliber carbines which are required to have a barrel of at least 16″ in length, PTR’s 9C has the familiar 8.86″ barrel but no buttstock and is thus classified as a handgun. It comes in two versions, the 9C with a tri-lug barrel, and the 9CT where a thread protector just forward of the tri-lug unscrews to reveal 1/2×28 threads.

Jeremy put a Trijicon TriPower optic on the 9CT. It took away some of the
guesswork involved with using a drum sight.

The front sight is the familiar ring-and-post. Note the checkered cocking
knob on the left side, shown locked open.

Sights And Rails

Our test gun is an early 9CT and will look familiar to anyone who’s spent time with the MP5. The checkered cocking knob is in its usual place in the cocking tube above the barrel and sights are the familiar drum rear and ring/post front. While the sights come in plain black, tritium night sight inserts for both front and rear are available from several sources.

An easier way to improve the sighting arrangement is with the 4.5″ Picatinny/1913 optics rail welded in place on top. To the best of my knowledge, PTR was the first to manufacture roller-locked guns with sight rails and they outdid themselves on the 9C. Interestingly, although the serial number is stamped into the top of the receiver, they added an oval window in the rail so the SN would be visible while allowing an extra 1-3/4″ length of rail for optics mounting. The front corners of the rail have been rounded off, which will certainly save some hands.

The rear of the gun is closed with a flat cap held in place with the usual push-pin, and the cap has a sling swivel for mounting the enclosed single-point bungee-style sling to help stabilize the gun while shooting.

The machined aluminum M-Lok forend is held in place with a screw instead of a pin. While the push-pin system makes the gun very quick to strip (remove the end plate, rotate the trigger housing down and off, remove bolt assembly from the rear), the screw doesn’t complicate things since the forend is seldom removed for cleaning. It’s a substitution usually found on M-Lok/KeyMod or rail forends.

Round count: Jeremy believes he ran 1,344 rounds through the 9CT. With the exception
of 124-gr. JHPs and a last-round feed problem PTR fixed, there was only a single feeding failure.

With the TriPower optic in place, Jeremy was able to get 25-yard groups measuring under 1-1/2" at 25 yards.

The 9CT is easy to take apart. Remove the push pin holding the receiver cap
in place and lift the cap off. The bolt assembly slides out to the rear and the trigger
housing swings down and off the gun.

The Flexibility Issue

Both the rail on top and the M-Lok forend give the gun great adaptability, added to the flexibility of the gun’s modular assembly. The buttstock and trigger housing come off without tools and the forend only requires a screwdriver to swap out.

The trigger housing is the commonly found plastic “Navy” style and the 9C comes with a pushbutton/paddle magazine release instead of the less-convenient pushbutton-only release found on some U.S.-made guns. The gun weighs a click over 5 lbs. and comes in a hard case with the foam cut to accommodate the gun, sling, two 30-round magazines and a sight adjustment tool. A cable lock is also included. The sight tool is particularly useful — while I’m sure there’s a way to adjust the drum rear sight without one, I’ve yet to figure out what it is.

The 9C has been well-received in the marketplace and not only on the civilian side; the U.S. Army’s Contracting Command recently announced contracts for about a dozen 9mm subguns for evaluation in its search for a Sub Compact Weapon, and PTR’s 9C was on the list.

For those unfamiliar with the manual of arms, the bolt is pulled to the rear and locked in place by rotating the handle upwards. Insert a loaded mag, then slap the bolt handle with the palm of your left hand, which will knock it out of its slot, causing it to run forward and load the gun. Reloading is similar, with the added step of removing the empty mag immediately after locking the bolt open, a process made much easier by the paddle mag release.

The rotating-drum rear sight has four different size apertures and
the integral Picatinny/1913 accepts optics.

The 9CT comes with the polymer “Navy” style trigger housing.

Range Notes

I fired over 1,300 rounds through the 9CT, using both the factory iron sights and a Trijicon TriPower optic clamped in place with an ARMS throw lever mount. Although I usually never follow break-in suggestions, on this occasion I did. This procedure involves shooting then cleaning and oiling the gun following every round for the first 20 rounds, then once every 20 rounds until you’ve fired 200. After the break-in — which made us quite efficient at field stripping the gun — we never cleaned or oiled it again.

Ammo was a mix of several different brands, including Federal, Remington, Southern Ballistic Research, Winchester and NOVX, that sent its RNP round with a 65-gr. copper/polymer projectile. We also fired 115- and 124-gr. ball and 124-gr. JHPs from Black Hills.

In the pile we used ammo with brass, steel, stainless steel and aluminum cases. Feeding was excellent. With the exception of the 124-gr. JHP (and a last-round issue we’ll get to in a minute), the only malfunction we had was a single failure to eject. While the 124-gr. JHP is an excellent round (my choice for my Browning Hi-Power), it fed well at the beginning of the test and then had intermittent problems afterwards. In all candor, though, these rounds are not what this gun is made to shoot.

A last-round feed problem surfaced early in the test, right after we completed the suggested break-in. When we contacted PTR about it, they requested the gun be sent back for repair. It was returned in a matter of days with a form saying the magazine well and extractor had been adjusted. Those fixes eliminated the last-round feed problem. In the 510 rounds we fired after the return, only the 124-gr. JHP failed to feed, likely due to the shortness of the round.

We fired the 9CT with and without the included bungee-style sling, and while it does help steady the gun, we were still able to do excellent work even without it. Recoil was negligible and accuracy outstanding, especially considering the gun is held up unsupported when fired. Even with the usually rolling creep one finds in this sort of trigger, can-sized targets at 25 yards were easy prey. From prone we were able to put five rounds into less than 2″ at the same distance with the iron sights, shrinking the group to less than 1-1/2″ with the TriPower optic.

The trick to getting good accuracy with the drum-style sight is the distance of your eye from the rear sight. The circular rear aperture is aligned with the round hood around the front sight post, and the top of the post is the aiming point. If your eye is too far from or too close to the rear sight, the aperture isn’t the correct size to align with the hood and it’s tough to line the sights up perfectly.

Those who want to get the most accuracy out of the 9CT may consider applying to the BATFE to convert the gun to a Short Barreled Rifle, which would make it even more useful.

Another thing to be aware of is the forend, which can get quite hot. There’s really no news here. Aluminum heats quickly on any gun and several mags of rapid fire in quick succession will make the gun too hot to hold comfortably. I have a PTR91 in .308 with a similar aluminum forend and use VZ Grip’s G10 Inter-lok rail covers to keep the heat to a manageable level.

The 9CT combines the aesthetics of an iconic SMG with features such as a sight rail and M-Lok forend. Once the last-round problem was solved, it displayed the field-plowing reliability for which roller locks are known, along with excellent accuracy. For those looking for a pistol-caliber gun for home defense or just a fun gun for the range, the 9CT is hard to beat.

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