I’m personally a big fan of pistol caliber carbines (PCC) for quite a few different reasons. For starters, it’s a fun way to plink around for a bit cheaper than with a rifle caliber. I can literally spend some money on a few boxes of 9mm ammo, bring my PCC to the range, hammer out some fundamentals training, and improve my skills.
It’s cheap(er) and efficient for training purposes, and is a lot of fun to do.
What is a pistol caliber carbine?
A Pistol Caliber Carbine, or PCC, is essentially nothing more than a long gun, like an AR-15 or AK47, chambered in a pistol caliber like 9mm, 10mm, .45 ACP, etc.
Though, I do also consider the shorter variants of these guns, like pistol caliber AR-15 pistols, etc., to be in this category too.
Pistol Caliber Carbines for Defense:
There are several reasons why the PCC is a good defensive weapon. First, they have some seriously low recoil. Pistol calibers tend to recoil less, anyway. When they’re stuck in a much heavier platform, it gets even lower.
Second, I also employ a pistol caliber carbine in home defense. I have it stashed in a part of my house that’s easy to get to if I’m in that part of the house and need a 30-round stick mag for a bit of extra firepower that’s easy to get to. All in all, to me, a pistol caliber carbine is one of the best home defense weapons out there.
Third, I employ a different PCC, a CMMG Banshee (as a braced pistol) in 40 S&W as my get-home gun. It sits in a bag that I bring around with me when I go more than a few hours from home. That bag doubles as a go bag that has a lot of other supplies in it if I ever needed to get out of my house quickly.
More than that, they’re accurate if you do your part. And the extra barrel gives the projectile some more velocity increasing the amount of energy transferred to your attacker.
But, they don’t always come with the concussive noise associated with a 12 gauge shotgun or AR-15. And, where there are over penetration concerns, you can choose a caliber known to penetrate through fewer barriers than others do, like 45 Auto.
Best Pistol Caliber Carbines:
- PSA AK-V
- Definitive Arms AKX-9
- Fab Defense KPOS G2
- Henry Big Boy Carbine
- PSA PA-9
- Kel Tec Sub 2000
- CMMG Guard 45
- SIG Sauer MPX
- Ruger PC Carbine
- CMMG Banshee
- CZ Scorpion
Until a few years ago, there weren’t many options in the way of a pistol caliber AK platform. There was a few Frankenstein builds out there, and the below listed Definitive Arms AKX-9 that was the first actual blueprinted pistol caliber AK, but it was expensive and hard to get your hands on.
Thankfully PSA stepped up to the plate and created a gun I have quite a bit of experience with, called the AK-V chambered in 9mm.
What a blast to shoot.
I’m a huge fan of the 9mm round and the AK variant. When the two are combined it’s a match made in heaven. To top it all off, the AK-V has some great upgrades not found on most other AK-47 type rifles, like a last round bolt hold open, and Magpul furniture. They’re available in both pistol and rifle forms.
Definitive Arms AKX-9:
This is a gun I own in my personal collection, and it’s one of my favorites. It’s accurate, affordable to shoot, is based on an AK-47 platform, accepts Colt Stick Mags, and has never failed me once.
This is a PCC that you won’t find on anyone else’s list, because they are super hard to find, but a no-brainer once you see how they run. Make sure you check out my full review to learn more about this, my own personal choice for best pistol caliber carbine.
They come into stock randomly on Atlantic Firearms’ website as well as the used market.
Fab Defense KPOS G2:
Glock makes some of the most popular and well-built pistols ever made.
It was just a matter of time before Glock Carbine Conversion Kits came out to turn the venerable pistol into a carbine. There are more than a few different options, to include the Micro Roni, Flux, and others.
This isn’t a standalone PCC, however, and makes use of your Glock handgun by inserting into a chassis of sorts. Because it isn’t itself a gun, these aren’t as accurate as the others on this list of the best PCCs.
Check out Travis’ review, here.
Henry Big Boy Carbine:
Say what? Henry? Well, have you ever shot a Henry Lever Action rifle before? If you have, then you get it. If not, then you should.
Did you know they make a carbine version with a 16.5 inch barrel? Every gun Henry makes that I’ve shot was reliable and accurate (almost to a fault, but not quite). They make Big Boy Carbines chambered in .38/.357, .327, .41, 44, and .45 Colt. Click the link to learn more about Henry’s Carbines.
This is an excellent addition to those of you who are revolver owners so you don’t have to actively stock a new caliber.
The primary downside to this is the weight. The brass is just heavy, and there isn’t much of a way around it.
I’ve got quite a few rounds downrange with a PSA AR-9, and I’m impressed. Not only is the quality there, but the value is also there.
As an added bonus, the controls are familiar to anyone who has had experience with an AR-15 variant rifle.
If you’re serious about self-defense having an AR-15 chambered in 9mm is an excellent option for training that can also be used for defense.
Kel Tec Sub 2000:
The Kel Tec Sub 2000 is, to me, the ultimate backpack gun. It folds up nice and small, shoots 9mm like a champ, is accurate-enough, and pretty reliable.
These aren’t the easiest guns to find on this best pistol caliber carbine list, but well worth the search for a gun you can stick in a backpack or a safe in your truck. They can be had in 9mm or .40 S&W, and retail for about $500, again, if you can find one.
CMMG Guard 45:
This is one of the few on this list not chambered in 9X19, though if memory serves me, they do offer a 9mm one, as well. I was at the event they released the Guard at, and was highly impressed. Here is a video of us shooting the Guard after the release:
To me, this platform makes sense for home defense. Why? Well, you still get a maneuverable platform, but with .45 ACP, you don’t need to worry about penetrating through walls as much as you do with some of the other calibers. Of course, it is still a concern to a degree, just not as much.
Anything can over penetrate.
SIG Sauer MPX:
The SIG MPX is easily the most expensive pistol caliber carbine on this list. Coming in at about $2,000, this is a carbine you have to be able to afford. But, SIG charges that much money because they can get that much money for their guns. Period.
I sadly didn’t have any decent MPX pictures from any of the range days SIG has invited me out to. Hopefully I can find one soon. Either way, the MPX is a great PCC.
Ruger PC Carbine:
Ruger is one of those companies who are continually bringing new stuff to the table. When they released the PC Carbine at SHOT Show, I think in 2017 or 2018, it caused quite the stir. The PC Carbine went on to be one of the most popular PCCs on the market because of its versatility and the fact that it can take Glock magazines once set up to do so with a small part swap.
Also cool is the fact that you can now customize them further and add stuff to your heart’s content. They’re now coming with M-LOK handguard with rails on top for sighting systems, adjustable stocks, etc.
This is a recent addition to this list of what I think are the best pistol caliber carbines. The Banshee is a gun that I have right now chambered in .40 S&W, but it is available in other calibers as well.
I have time behind the trigger of a 10mm PCC Banshee, as well while at their release for it. This is a great all around platform of pistol caliber carbine.
This gun is in my get home bag that is designed to get me back home if the SHTF when I’m out. I have a review forthcoming on the Banshee, so make sure you stay tuned for it. Overall, this is a great gun that shoots 180 grain projectiles at a higher velocity than normal because the barrel is longer than it is in a handgun.
Because it takes Glock magazines, I have 22 rounds at my disposal.
The Banshee is also customizable in that you can get it in a multitude of different colors.
Check out my CMMG Banshee review.
Last, but certainly not least, is the very capable CZ Scorpion EVO 3, pistol caliber carbine. Again, this is one of the most capable and quality-built firearms on the market built by a trusted manufacturer. It also comes with a 16.2 inch barrel, or shorter for pistol platforms, a folding stock, with a sub $1,000 price tag. What’s not to love?
There you have it, the top 11 best pistol caliber carbines currently available for the model year 2021. Which ones do you feel as though I’m missing? Let me know in the comments below.