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So the boo birds came out the minute a picture of the Ruger PC Carbine was posted on the Real Guns Facebook and the inevitable question, “Why wouldn’t people just buy a 9mm AR?”. OK…For starters, with the rare exception, 9mm Luger AR look-a likes are not based on an AR design, with the gas operating system replaced with a simple blow back mechanism that is closer in design to a generic 9mm pistol than an AR.

The Ruger PC Carbine’s Dead Blow action incorporates a tungsten dead blow weight that shortens bolt travel and recoil spring rates. The result is minimized recoil and muzzle rise and a high tolerance for ammunition of wide varying bullet weights, power levels and velocity. During check out, the PC Carbine ingested any and all ammo from 115 grain +P to 147 grain +P and any standard and subsonic ammunition in between without complaint and with silencer on or off.

The PC Carbine is generally more compact and Its conventional geometry stock is more comfortable in hold. The Carbine can be broken down in half sections in seconds, it is legal where ARs without weird modifications often are not and, of greatest importance, it is not just another AR or AR look-alike.

A couple of accessories…

I did not want to mount a scope on the PC Carbine, even though that is an easy task with the carbine’s Picatinny rail. Shooting distances were not going to be far. I did not want to rely solely on the carbine’s ghost sight as the combination of that and my eyesight might not be fair in an evaluation. So a relatively inexpensive UTG Leaper reflex sight was installed.

The UTG Leapers 3.9″ Red/Green Circle Dot Reflex Sight comes in two versions, SCP-RDM39SDQ with a 4 MIL dot and SCP-RDM39CDQ with a 4 MIL dot and 58 MOA halo. Both are powered by two AG5 batteries. Each color selector acts as an on/off switch as well as color and illumination brightness selector. Left on, the sight will power down in one hour. Windage and elevation adjustments are in 1 MOA increments and can be locked in position after adjustment is set. This one was aligned with a standard boresighter and was within a couple of clicks of being dead on at fifty yards.

Is this red/Green dot the best choice for the PC Carbine? Well on one hand, with brush guard in place it is stout and large. The viewing area is also large, however, so it is easy to pick up and track even moving targets. I really like the 4 mil dot and 58 MOA halo image. It is bright and has lots of visual cues to quickly align on a target.

An Advanced Armament Corp. Illusion 9 silencer was used for the suppressed portion of live fire. The Illusion 9 is compact but effective and it screwed right onto the PC Carbine’s muzzle as soon as the thread protector came off the barrel. I’ve had the Illusion 9 for some time, using it on both pistols and rifles. It is adaptable to a variety of barrel muzzle threads, it can be disassembled for cleaning so I can shoot lead bullets and its body is offset from its bore axis so as not to obstruct sights. These days, if there is a threaded muzzle, I shoot with a silencer in place and I find myself saying “Huh?” a whole lot less.

More rewarding than a handgun…

There are one hundred fifty-three commercial loads for the 9mm Luger as a composite of twenty-six brands. Hosting sixteen distinctly different types of bullets, in grain weights from 50 to 165, they are designed for every application from target practice to close quarter defense and are priced from 14¢ to $1.10 per round. My needs are simple, so I grabbed eight random types off 9mm Luger ammo off the shelf and headed for the range. The fifty feet to the firing line was quite a journey.

In deference to my non-magnifying vision, and the use of a non-magnifying red dot sight, targets were set at fifty yards. Shooting was done with an without the silencer in place, which proved to be of little consequence as there was no measurable difference in group sizes, point of impact shift was negligible and velocity, mostly +/- a few feet per second. The data below was collected with the silencer in place.

9mm Luger Ammunition Bullet

50 Yard
3 Shot
Group “
American Eagle Syntech
115 1130 1281 1.1
Remington HTP +P
115 1255 1334 1.0
Remington UMC FMJ
124 1100 1151 1.2
Remington Ultimate Defense
124 1100 1232 1.8
Speer Gold Dot +P
Black Hills +P
American Eagle Subsonic
Grizzly +P

The increase in velocity over ammo ratings is substantial in most cases. The leap from 4″ barrel to 16.12″ barrel might suggest the increase would be better, but the  9mm Luger has a spill over full capacity of 13.9 grain of H2O and not enough gas volume to persist for long. A charge of Power Pistol behind a 124 grain JHP bullet will hit a 36,000 psi peak after just at two hundredths of an inch of travel. At four inches of travel, the barrel length test standard for the 9mm Luger cartridge, pressure falls to less than seven thousand psi. By the time it exits the PC Carbine’s 16.12″ barrel, pressure has dropped to just 1,600 psi and bore friction is more and more of an influence on the bullet’s velocity.  So why a rifle and not a handgun?

While the velocity bump is moderate, the energy gain is significant, which bring increased penetration and/or expansion. The longer PC Carbine sight radius makes accurate shooting easier when using the carbine’s ghost sight system. The carbine is much easier than a pistol to hold steady on target. The PC Carbine is not a pistol and therefore not subject to what could be a tangle of state and local anti gun possession laws.

The best and widest of the groups shot, the Gold Dot on the left, Remington Ultimate Defense on the right. Even the Remington at 1.8″ isn’t bad and that was the only ammo that demonstrated vertical stringing. The Grizzly ammo was surprising and left me wishing I had more time and a selection of similar weight ammo. The boost in velocity put subsonic ammo near the limit in muzzle velocity and other over the top to the level of a sonic boom, at least at my shooting elevation. The easy fix is shooting 147 grain standard pressure ammo which is well under the velocity requirements and they offer better terminal performance.

There were no incidences of the Ruger not cycling or locking open on empty with any of the ammunition shot, with the silencer installed or not. While I am used to heat waves rising from the silencer body after a few rounds, the Illusion 9mm remained cool to slightly warm to the touch. Brass was soot covered as is typical with a silencer in place, but the shooting experience was worth the clean up. Ammunition at subsonic velocity was quiet; the action cycling made more noise than the bullet departing.

I did some shooting through the ghost sight and without the silencer. With good light on targets performance was near as good as with the red dot. The red dot definitely held an edge with target in shade. Muzzle blast with the silencer off was moderate and recoil was too light to mention. The Ruger PC Carbine is a handy rifle to have around. A good plinker and a good piece of security and peace of mind hardware.

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