A Slickguns Review : Ruger PC Carbine
Ruger’s PC Carbine came as a surprise – to me, at least. While the pistol caliber carbine market has been flooded with new models in the last few years, the majority of these seem to be based on the AR platform (Angstadt Arms and PWS come to mind) or were composed of sleek submachinegun looking designs, such as the CZ Scorpion. Even HK jumped into the fray and brought back the SP89, for all intents and purposes a semi auto pistol version of a shortened version of the venerable MP5. Whew!
With all these pistol caliber carbines flying off the shelves, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that Ruger came out with such a firearm – but what does surprise me is that it’s not either based on the AR in some fashion nor does it look like it was designed to be used by Space Marines in some upcoming sci-fi film.
Instead, what they came out with is very much a traditional shoulder fired rifle with some upgrades for the 21st Century gun owner. The Ruger PC Carbine is, for all intents and purposes, a beefed-up Ruger 10/22 Takedown chambered in 9mm Luger. Ruger could have called it the Politically Correct carbine, because with one change (the omission of the threaded muzzle), it becomes California legal.
To say that it’s neither based on the AR nor obviously sleek and modern is not to condemn it to the unwanted portion of a gun store shelf. Nor should its similarity to a neutered California version scare you away if everything you own has to be as tactical as possible. On the contrary, the Ruger PC Carbine is the one firearm you need to buy this year if you’re like me, but probably also if you’re not like me.
It’s these differences which set it apart and make it the firearm we needed but didn’t deserve. After all, with everyone seemingly buying guns based on looks alone, how could Ruger come out with something so genuinely good?
Sorry, I don’t mean to give away the whole review before we even start. As always, our reviews are broken into six parts – Accuracy, Shootability, Suitability, Maintenance, Abuse, and the Nutshell. We haven’t done the full battery of abuse testing just yet, but we’ve done enough to comment on general reliability for the purposes of this review, and we’ll follow up with a full discussion of reliability under extreme conditions when the review video comes out.
I should mention that the PC Carbine is not Ruger’s first upsized 10/22 – from 1996 to 2006, they made the Ruger Police Carbine. It was very similar to this version, but without a takedown feature, Picatinny rail on the forend, or an integral Picatinny rail in the receiver. You don’t often see them on the used gun market, and you’re about to find out why as you read this review of its descendant.
Townsend Whelen once said, “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” I like to say, “If it doesn’t shoot, who cares?”
Well, I care in this case, and Townsend Whelen would find the Ruger PC Carbine interesting. After zeroing the carbine for 25 yards, as I predicted that most of my shooting with it would be at close range, I moved back to 200 yards and shot from the prone. Using standard FMJ 115gr and 124gr ammo – hardly the stuff one would expect to shoot small groups with at extended distances for 9mm – and the chunky factory sights, I kept every single shot on the A zone of a silhouette target at that range.
The barrel of the PC Carbine comes in at a tiny bit longer than 16” and has a rather large outside diameter, but also features deep flutes. It still feels a little heavy on the front end, but it shoots.
Of course, I shouldn’t blame the PC Carbine for being so front heavy when over 90 percent of the shots I took were with a silencer attached. Ruger kindly threaded the muzzle 1/2×28, so attaching the muzzle device of your choice, including sound suppressors, is easy. Though only a thread protector is included from the factory, I’m very happy with the muzzle threading and the ability to attach a silencer out of the box.
The silencer I used was a Bowers Vers 458. Meant to pass through bullets up to .458” in diameter which are moving as fast as 2650fps, it had no problems handling .356” diameter bullets at speeds up to 1500fps. It was also extremely quiet with subsonic loads, as I would expect from a can the size of the Vers 458, extra space between the baffles and the bullet or not. Point of impact shift with the silencer attached was extremely minimal and at closer ranges I couldn’t discern a difference.
Because the PC Carbine is a takedown model like the 10/22 Takedown, some people might be wondering if it held zero after repeated removal and installation of the barrel and forend on the receiver half. If there is any shift, I didn’t notice it. It probably helps that the front and rear iron sight are both attached to the barrel -but even when I briefly attached a red dot, when fired at ranges where one would expect to use the PC Carbine, I noticed very minimal shift in impact.
There are no hang-ups when it comes to shooting the Ruger PC Carbine. It feels in the hand and in the shoulder just like a 10/22, which is to say that the PC Carbine feels a lot like one of the most shootable firearms ever made (albeit one that’s been eating for two). It shoots that way, too, with ghost ring sights that lend themselves to getting on target quickly and staying there after firing multiple shots.
The PC Carbine is blowback operated, like the 10/22, which means that with the silencer attached, I occasionally felt a little bit of carbon or gas on my face. By occasionally, I mean this happened twice during the firing of almost 1000 rounds to date. I view this as a non-issue.
I had a malfunction with the PC Carbine, except it wasn’t a malfunction at all, at least not in my mind. I will cover that below under the “maintenance” section.
While the PC Carbine is not an AR and therefore it does not have controls in standard AR locations, it does have all the same controls in the same locations as a 10/22 – with the notable exception of the magazine release no longer being an awkward toggle at the rear of the mag. Instead, in keeping with its pistol magazine compatibility, the magazine release is located very conveniently for controlled removal of a magazine with the left hand. It’s also reversible for left handed weirdos, as is the bolt handle.
The bolt catch seems to be a lot easier to use on the PC Carbine than on my 10/22 Takedown, although I generally found myself defaulting to use of the charging handle instead of messing with the bolt catch. The safety is in a standard 10/22 location, making training and practice on the 10/22 a natural progression to the PC Carbine.
Not all of my friends have shot the PC Carbine, but it has received universal praise for its ease of use and accuracy from those who have. One described it as “extremely confidence inspiring.”
What could you use the PC Carbine for? Well, just about anything you’d use a 10/22 for, and just about anything a civilian would use an AR15 for, too. No, you’re not going to be entering long range shooting competitions with the PC Carbine, and it’s not the first gun I’d grab if I knew I was facing half a dozen bad guys wearing body armor. It’s not as cheap to shoot as a 10/22 and it’s not as modular as the AR15.
Okay, so maybe not “just about anything,” but the Ruger PC Carbine would make an excellent home defense rifle, especially when one considers that it’s compatible not only with Ruger pistol mags but also Glock pistol mags, meaning you can use the same mags and ammo in both your rifle and pistol. Yes, you can also do this with an AR that takes Glock mags, but it’s pretty neat that a major firearm manufacturer has made a product compatible with the magazines of one of their competitors.
The PC Carbine would also make a good survival rifle, one capable of bringing down game significantly larger than that which your typical 22LR survival rifle could handle. At 6.5lbs it’s not the lightest thing you could throw in your backpack, but it would be right at home in a boat, plane, or other instrument of wilderness exploration.
As a fun plinking gun, it’s hard to beat the PC Carbine. You can find some sort of 9mm almost anywhere, and if you happen to be on the way to the range when you realize you didn’t bring enough ammunition, don’t worry if all you can find is steel or aluminum case ammo. I put Tula steel case and CCI Blazer aluminum case ammunition through it without a hitch. It also perfectly cycled Speer 100gr frangible as well as a variety of hollow point designs.
As a competition rifle? I tend to doubt this, just because those tend to be dominated by certain designs which don’t really look or feel like the Ruger. That said, for informal local speed shooting competitions, it would probably do just fine.
Some of you might have skipped down to this part to read about the “malfunction.” Well, here goes.
The takedown feature of the PC Carbine requires that the barrel be inserted and then rotated in place within the receiver. To remove the barrel, one pulls a knob on the underside of the handguard forward and then rotates the barrel before sliding it out of the receiver. There’s also what I will call a locking collar around the barrel. As shipped, the locking collar was somewhat loose, allowing very easy installation and removal of the barrel. Because I didn’t read the manual first, I didn’t know you were supposed to tighten this every time you installed the barrel.
This allowed the barrel to rotate just a few degrees when I unintentionally twisted the forend during shooting, even though the knob on the underside hadn’t been moved as required to remove the barrel. This slight rotation of the barrel, however, was enough to keep the weapon from firing.
You could call this a malfunction, but I like to call it the weapon working as the designers clearly intended. Were the PC Carbine to fire out of battery, the results might be catastrophic – even though the receiver is a massive chunk of aluminum that looks like it could handle 44 Magnum and it’s not as if 9mm is an extremely high pressure or high powder capacity cartridge. However, I like that Ruger designers wanted the gun to fire only when it was in battery. Therefore I wouldn’t call it as much of a malfunction as user error. When I reassembled the rifle and twisted the locking collar a few clicks tighter, it would no longer twist out of battery, and it was still easy to remove and reinstall the barrel.
As for any other maintenance issues relating to the PC Carbine, I found none. Changing out the magazine well to use Glock mags is a relatively simple procedure which does require removal of the stock. The vast majority of rounds fired for this review came out of the original Ruger magazine simply because I wanted to see how it worked out of the box.
As mentioned above, we haven’t run the whole battery of abuse tests on the PC Carbine yet. We have, however, shot nearly 1000 rounds through it without cleaning or lubrication – but with a silencer attached. If you were unaware, silencers tend to direct more debris back into the action of the firearm, causing carbon buildup on every surface that doesn’t get scraped clean with each shot. The guts of the PC Carbine are filthy, but it marches on, firing every time I pull the trigger.
Buy the Ruger PC Carbine immediately. There is nothing else to say.
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