• Higher Velocity
• Low Recoil
By Holt Bodinson
Centerfire rifles firing pint-sized pistol cartridges make a lot of sense. They’re fun — and cheap — to shoot. And their minimal recoil means the whole family can enjoy them.
I remember my first infatuation with pistol-caliber long guns. It started with a Winchester Model 92 rifle in .32-20, followed by a carbine of the same pedigree in .44-40. The M92s were followed by Spain’s little bolt-action Destroyer carbines in 9mm Luger, 9mm Largo and .38 ACP arriving as surplus in the ’60s.
So, there I was picking up Ruger’s new Pistol Caliber carbine in 9mm Luger at Murphy’s in Tucson when one of their customers came up to me and asked if he could examine it. Picking up the PC and giving it a critical once over, then shouldering it, he turned to me and said, “Boy, is this a big improvement over the old ones we had a few years ago.”
In fact, the first generation of PC carbines in 9mm and .40 S&W was axed in 2006. Since then it’s been a long dry spell for a replacement. But the new version isn’t just a mildly reconfigured PC. It’s a radical redesign — and a takedown to boot.
Weighing 8 lbs. with a red dot and flashlight installed, recoil is minimal
with the PC. Even recoil-sensitive shooters would take to the Ruger easily.
The PC deserves a hard look for home defense.
The PC proved to be a solid performer with a variety of 9mm loads. And the
carbine-barrel velocity bump means practically “Triple Plus P” performance
with no strain!
Styling counts if you want to sell firearms. Today’s consumers have a critical eye when it comes to appreciating form-follows-function lines. To me, the worst element of styling in the Ruger stable for years has been their insistence on forearm barrel bands on what could otherwise be pretty classy looking models. The bands began sprouting up in 1961 on the Model 44 magnum carbine, followed by the 10/22, the No. 3 single shot, the Model 96 lever action and the first generation of PC carbines.
Not only did barrel bands disrupt the flowing lines of otherwise good-looking guns, they were also blamed for adversely affecting accuracy because they could be over-tightened or under-tightened. I never saw any torque specifications in the owner’s manuals, it was catch-as-catch-can.
Ruger heard the gnashing of our collective teeth. The barrel band is gone on the new PC carbine. In its place is a short Picatinny under-rail just waiting for an appropriate accessory to make your life easier.
With the barrel band gone, the glass-filled nylon stock is pretty nice — well textured with an adjustable LOP from 12.6″ to 14.12″ using factory-supplied spacers.
But it’s the new configuration really catching your eye. Ruger is big on takedowns these days. The new PC — with an overall length of 34.8”— breaks down into two parts by simply toggling a recessed lever, twisting the forend/barrel assembly 90-degrees clockwise, and pulling the two sub-assemblies apart. A knurled adjustment nut enables the owner to take up any looseness developing over time.
The new receiver sports another integral Picatinny rail just screaming for a red dot-type sight or a lightweight scope, although the factory ghost-ring receiver sight is fast and practical. The PC weighs six-and-a-half pounds out of the box already, so you don’t want to weigh it down with heavy accessories.
The semi-auto, blowback action is fully ambidextrous, with a reversible charging handle and reversible magazine release.
Above, left to right: The previous barrel band has been replaced by a neat
Picatinny under-rail. The aperture rear sight is very effective and fast on
target. A quarter turn is all it takes to “take down” Ruger’s PC carbine.
It stows easily for transport.
As delivered, the PC magazine well is dimensioned for Ruger’s SR-Series pistol and Security-9 magazines, with one 17-round, SR9 magazine being supplied. But it can also handle GLOCK mags. Swapping out magazine wells is simple and straightforward. And since you’re probably either going to be a Ruger or a GLOCK mag enthusiast, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime procedure. The one factory caveat is when using older GLOCK magazines, the magazine release may have to remain on the left side of the receiver.
The PC’s 16″ fluted, hammer-forged barrel is fairly stout and threaded ½-28 at the muzzle. A nice idea Ruger has come up with is their thread protector winds-up against an O-ring keeping it tight and secure. To me, it’s one of those “Why didn’t I think of it?” things.
The carbine will accept Ruger or Glock magazines by swapping out
magazine inserts. The Glock one is supplied with the rifle too.
Does It Shoot?
Have you shopped for a 9mm lately? It’s cheap, particularly in bulk. Add an aluminum case to 100 rounds, like Federal Champion 115-gr. FMJ, and things get really inexpensive. Swapping out the Bushnell red dot for GPO’s multi-turret, 4-12×42 scope, it was off to the 50-yard range to shoot some 3-shot groups.
And because a significant velocity bump over a pistol-length barrel is one of the perks of a carbine, here’s a couple I clocked: Rem/UMC 115-gr. FMJ (1,302 fps), Hornady Critical Defense 115-gr. FTX (1,261 fps), Remington Ultimate Defense 124-gr. BJHP (1,228 fps). If you’re curious, the Remington BJHP clocks an advertised 1,020 fps out of a 2.7″ pistol barrel. So we’re seeing a 208 fps boost from the Ruger PC’s 16″ barrel. Not too shabby!
The PC definitely had its favorites. At the bargain end was Remington’s UMC brand 115-gr. FMJ averaging 1.4″. The most accurate defense load proved to be Hornady’s Critical Defense 115-gr. FTX producing a tight 1.35″ group, followed by Remington’s 124-gr. Ultimate Defense, BJHP at 1.52″. Considering it’s a takedown, the new PC really sparkled.
Believe me, loading 17-shot magazines by hand is grueling work. I use Caldwell’s Universal Pistol Mag Loader at the range and can recommend it highly.
Getting a lot of admiring glances from other shooters at the range, Ruger’s latest PC has that come-hither appeal. It’s rugged, accurate, weighty enough to minimize recoil, plus it’s a compact takedown. Stay tuned for additional caliber offerings, I’ll bet!