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Pistol Caliber Carbine: Novelty, or Are They Useful?


I'm personally a huge fan of pistol caliber carbines. While there are many folks who believe they're a novelty, or at best, just a good way to have fun at the range, they actually serve a purpose in my house and firearms collection. Going forward, try to remember that I don't own many guns for collection purposes minus some family heirlooms. Each gun in my home needs to serve a purpose or it doesn't belong here.


My favorite pistol caliber carbine also just happens to be one of my favorite guns, period. I acquired, by happenstance, a Definitive Arms AKX9. I've done numerous reviews on this gun for other publications, which I'm not going to link to here to pull away from the purpose of this article.

Just let it be known that Definitive Arms is one of the top AK manufacturers in the US and that the AKX9 is a totally blueprinted design that is built around the 9mm cartridge.

What this means is that instead of a Frankenstein rifle where parts are sourced from other guns to make something in 9X19 work on the (albeit modified) Avtomat Kalashnikova platform, everything is actually engineered to work. And, work it does. I'm approaching the 10,000 round mark with this rifle and it's flawless.

But, the rest of what I'm about to say also applies to AR9 rifles, Ruger PC Carbines, and most of the others out there.

Home Defense:

My pistol caliber carbines, especially my AKX9 with the 32 round Colt Stick Mags (made by ASC), are meant for home defense. They're short, lightweight, and chambered in something that will stop a bad guy.

While I don't want to get into the “bad guy stopper” or “stopping power” arguments right now, suffice it to say that a 9mm hollow point traveling at faster velocities because of the longer barrel is much more capable than my handgun with a four inch barrel.

I won't go into much detail, but this carbine is stashed in an area of my house where I can get to it if I'm in that part of the house. If I'm in a different part of the house, I will not go to that gun unless I find myself there.

Easier to shoot:

Something that falls on many deaf ears is the simple fact that long guns are easier to master than handguns are. I know that I, personally, shoot a rifle much better than I can a handgun. And, I can put rounds on paper at longer distances in a more accurate fashion.

That's just the way it is. Why? Well, there are a few reasons why people are generally more accurate with a rifle, one of them being that the sight radius is longer so there is a greater chance that you'll be lined up right.

Also important is carbines, in general, produce less recoil for easier follow up shots in the grogginess of night. This is compounded by having a pistol caliber carbine. There is usually, though not always because there are some things in play here like ammo type, gun weight, etc., less recoil in a pistol cartridge.

pistol caliber carbine

Cheaper, depending on caliber:

So, this one may or may not be true in your area or depending upon the chosen caliber of carbine. However, for me, in my area, and for 9mm–it's cheaper than 223/556. And, when ammo is cheaper, you are (hopefully) more inclined to train with it more often.

Granted, hollow points can be expensive. But, after your initial making sure they run in your gun, you won't be firing them as much and will train mostly with FMJ.

More ammo at my disposal:

Let's say that my home is invaded by several attackers at once in a true to the phrase smash and grab type of heist. Besides the fact that bad guys usually travel in packs, it's even more likely that there'll be more than one baddie invading your home because there is almost always strength in numbers.

If you grab your handgun during an invasion and end up in a shootout but only have twelve rounds in your non-dedicated carry/home defense gun, you may find yourself up that proverbial creek.

I carry 30 rounds in my Colt Stick mag, and there are Glock mags with a higher capacity, as well, if your home defense gun runs them.

More ammo, not less, is almost always a better option when you're in a fire fight. It's better to have some left over than not have enough.


Let's say you love your Glock handguns and have magazines galore hanging out in your house. Also let's say that your AR9 takes Glock mags. Guess who has some compatibility going on? In addition to that, if you are already stocking ammo in your chosen caliber you know you've already got it, so there is no more reason to buy anything extra.

This is a good deal if you're so strapped for cash that you can literally only afford two guns. Both can be chambered in the same caliber and you don't have to worry about anything else.

Wider range of use:

I know plenty of people who belong to indoor ranges who'd love to shoot their 5.56 NATO chambered rifles/carbines but cannot because range rules dictate that you can only shoot pistol calibers.

Many ranges will allow you to shoot a pistol caliber carbine all day long at an indoor range, simply because, well, it's not a rifle caliber. This is great for many reasons, but just the training purposes and making a smooth transition from an AR9 to an AR-15 is good enough for me.

In my case, it'd be making the transition from an AKX9 to an AK47.


There are plenty of naysayers about the PC Carbines. But, I'm personally a big fan and see the usefullness very easily. What I want to know right now, is do you think they're useful for anything? Why, or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

Also, while I have you here, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you about our newly released Home Defense Course. It's freaking awesome and you're going to learn a ton from it. You can check it out, here.

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One Response to Pistol Caliber Carbine: Novelty, or Are They Useful?

  1. Rich hoffman November 13, 2018 at 5:11 pm #

    I’ve had a Mech Tech carbine conversion for several years and love it. Mine is in 45 and out of the box hit4” groups at 100 yards. A better shooter with some fine tuning could probably do better. USDPA now has a competitive catagory for these.

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