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Best 9mm AR-15 Uppers: It’s PCC Time

Easily make your AR-15 shoot 9mm? We cover the best 9mm uppers to convert your familiar AR to cheaper shooting pistol calibers.

You’ve probably noticed that we really like pistol-caliber carbines.

9mm AR-9 Uppers
9mm AR-9 Uppers

Great for home defense, fun at the range, and even competitive shooting, pistol caliber carbines (PCC) offer shooters the experience of shooting an AR-15 (or similar rifle) without the cost of high-dollar ammo.

PSA 9mm PX-9
PSA 9mm PX-9

The nice thing about building a PCC is that you don’t need to make a huge investment.

A dedicated 9mm lower is better…but a standard AR-15 lower with a magwell adaptor also works.

9mm (115gr vs 124gr vs 147 HP)
9mm (115gr vs 124gr vs 147 HP)

Really, the major thing you need is a new upper and the right magazines.

With the explosion in popularity 9mm PCCs are enjoying right now, there are a LOT of options on the market for dedicated complete uppers.

Science dog
We’re all about testing things out.

We’ve tested a bunch of them and played with even more and to our minds — these are the best of the batch!

Table of Contents

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Best 9mm AR-15 Uppers

Think of the upper and lower receivers as the heart and soul of your AR-15. Whether you’re running a pistol-caliber carbine or one of the many other types of guns on the AR platform, you’re going to need a solid receiver set before you get started.

Tricked out AR pistol
Tricked out AR SBR

Today, we’re going to look at a series of upper sets and stripped upper receivers that support 9mm cartridges. But first, let’s look at some reasons why you may want to shoot a 9mm AR.

  • Ammo is a lot cheaper.
  • Beginners may find them easier to handle. And many of them are lighter than their counterparts.
  • There are fewer restrictions with 9mm AR-15s. Most indoor ranges don’t have any problems letting you shoot your pistol-caliber carbine there.
  • The work great with suppressors.
Let's Go Dwight
Let’s Go Dwight

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at some different types of uppers.

 1. Palmetto State Armory AR-9 Lightweight Upper with M-LOK Rail

Unless you’re completely new to AR builds, you probably already know that PSA parts offer the best in quality and affordability.

PSA has built its entire reputation on providing dependable, high-quality products with a mid-range price tag — and the AR-9 upper is no exception.

Best Budget 9mm Complete Upper
319
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

But enough about PSA, let’s look at the specs of this part.

  • 16” Chrome Moly, nitride-treated barrel.
  • 13.5” free-float M-LOK handguard.
  • Billet 6061-T6 aluminum upper receiver.
  • Nitride-treated 9mm BCG, compatible with both Glock and Colt magazines.
PSA lead Star PCC
PSA lead Star PCC

Overall, you can expect this upper set to offer a smooth shooting experience, especially if paired with a PSA lower. With that said, some southpaw shooters have complained about gas and residue when shooting, due to the placement of the ejection port.

Just something to consider if you’re a lefty.

PSA also offers their AR-9 as a complete rifle – our review of it was very positive!

Best budget AR-9
699
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

What’s your take on the PSA?

Readers' Ratings

4.98/5 (796)

Your Rating?

2. Angstadt Arms 9mm AR-15 Complete Upper Assembly

Perfection ain’t cheap. But when you go with Angstadt, one thing’s for certain – you’re going to get a quality gun.

Angstadt Arms 9mm Upper
Angstadt Arms 9mm Upper ($850)

And when it comes to pistol-caliber carbines, this isn’t Angstadt’s first rodeo. We’re talking about the same company that developed the UDP-9, a popular compact defense weapon that combines the effectiveness of the 9mm cartridge with the tactical advantage of a carbine.

What if you wanted the upper parts of the UDP-9 but wanted to mix and match the rest of your components? They’ve got you covered.

UDP9 SBR Angstadt Arms
UDP9 SBR Angstadt Arms

The 9mm AR-15 complete upper assembly is a Colt and Glock mag-compatible upper receiver for your pistol-caliber AR pistol. And with a maximum barrel length of just 6 inches, it’s perfect for anyone looking for a compact weapon that packs a punch in a home-defense scenario.

Also, don’t let the price tag fool you. You’re definitely getting every bit of what you pay for when you go with Angstadt. Let’s look at its specs.

Angstadt UDP-9 On a Stump
Angstadt UDP-9 On a Stump
  • Upper receiver made from sturdy 7075-T6 billet aluminum. The receiver has been given a modified ejection port to ensure smooth ammo cycles and reduce chances of spent brass, gas, and debris hitting the shooter in the face.
  • Upper set comes with a 6” chrome moly barrel supporting 9mm cartridges.
  • Stylish and tactical 5.5” free-float handguard comes with 2 QD mounting points. Heptagon handguard offers 7 sides with M-LOK mounts.

And if that isn’t enough to sell you, consider this: Angstadt’s handguard has been specially modified to support most aftermarket suppressors. Plus, the barrel comes with its own A2 flash hider.

Check out our video review and complete article for the UDP-9!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGPNyLlhrYc

3. Foxtrot Mike Products 9mm AR-15 Upper Receivers

Foxtrot Mike Products offers a number of solid AR-15 components, including parts for 9mm carbines. When choosing an upper receiver for your 9mm AR, be sure to check whether it’s compatible with lowers that support Glock or Colt magazines.

Many of FNP’s uppers aren’t cross-compatible.

400
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

With that said, FMP offers a number of 9mm AR-15 upper receivers with barrel lengths ranging from 8.5 inches, 10.5 inches, and 16 inches. That means finding the right setup for you has never been easier.

Whether you want to run with a compact pistol-sized AR-15 or you want a full-length 9mm “rifle,” FMP has the right upper set for you.

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Left Side
They have full pistols like the Foxtrot Mike FM9B too.

Moreover, each configuration comes with a special interlocking connector designed to prevent the barrel nut from loosening after repetitive use.

While the specs vary slightly depending on the size of the receiver you go with, the basic setup is the same.

  • Upper set comes with a Picatinny rail mounted on the top and an M-LOK compatible handguard.
  • Build from 4150 carbon steel and given an anodized finish.
  • Comes equipped with an ambidextrous charging handle for maximum comfort.
  • 8.5” and 10.5” barrels are equipped with a diffuser, while the 16” barrel comes with a muzzle brake.
  • All three upper sets come with a lightweight PCC barrel.
Canik Mete 9mm Ammo Box
Making your shooting dollar travel farther.

If you’re looking for quality and dependability, you can’t go wrong with FMP. Their quality craftsmanship and engineering mean that you’ll be able to run all types of 9mm ammo, even the economical stuff, without experiencing constant problems.

And best of all, you also get a lifetime warranty.

4. Aero Precision

Aero Precision makes great products and the EPC-9 is no exception. This company prides itself on precision machining and the results are evident in this 9mm dedicated upper.

We’ve tested the Glock-specific EPC-9 lower for a while and have appreciated the attention to detail Aero baked in. This forged upper has been used on a couple of different builds here at Pew Pew and it has run like a top.

Aero EPC-9 8.3" Build
Aero Precision EPC

We definitely appreciate the fact the EPC-9 has a last-round bolt hold open feature and throughout use with multiple optics, the rail has been solid. We tried it out with CQB applications but also mounted up a red dot with a magnifier to extend the reach out to 100 yards.

This is a builder’s option so you’ll need to pick out your supporting lower and all the accompanying parts for your build. Thankfully, Aero has everything you need!

314
at Aero Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

A Word About Lowers

If you’re building a dedicated 9mm rifle, then you want to go with a dedicated 9mm lower — they are a bit more expensive than a standard AR-15 lower, but not painfully so. The first thing you’ll have to decide is what magazine you want to use.

GLOCK 17/19X/34/45 MAGAZINE & EXTENSION PRE ASSEMBLED - 9MM
GLOCK 17/19X/34/45 MAGAZINE & EXTENSION PRE ASSEMBLED – 9MM

Generally speaking, people opt for Glock since Glock magazines are plentiful, cheap, and come in lots of high-capacity flavors. But there are other options out there like Smith & Wesson M&P and Beretta style lowers.

But if Glock is what you’re looking for, Palmetto State Armory has you covered with a nice billet 9mm lower. It even has nice features like last round bolt hold open!

99
at PSA

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Your other option is to convert a standard AR-15 lower. This is nice if you’re not looking to build a dedicated 9mm rifle since it is easy to switch back and forth, but comes with the downside that conversions like this tend to be flawed and induce malfunctions not found in dedicated guns.

Good enough for plinking and maybe even some light PCC competition use, but not suited for duty or defense. Stern Defense is the best of the bunch we’ve found and it comes in both Glock and Smith & Wesson M&P magazine styles!

Best 9mm AR-15 Conversion
190
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

9mm Ammo

We have a complete guide to Best 9mm Ammo that you really should check out. In that article, we go in-depth on the pros and cons of our favorite 9mm ammo, but for now, I’ll just give you two — one for plinking, one for defense.

American Eagle 9mm

Great ammo for just plinking or training, it’s always gone bang for us and can be readily found at a cheap price.

Best 9mm Range Ammo
10
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

When it comes to ammo that you can burn through without breaking your wallet, American Eagle is at the top of our list.

Speer Gold Dot 9mm

Trusting your life to your ammo blind is never a good idea, thankfully Lucky Gunner has done extensive testing on a wide range of 9mm ammo and Speer Gold Dot is proven to be one of the best.

25
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

We like it because 1) it’s proven and 2) you can get it for a decent price making it easy to shoot it enough to ensure that your firearm works well with it and to zero optics.

Conclusion

That concludes our list of 9mm AR-15 uppers. While far from exhaustive, these are some of our favorites—and there’s a diverse enough range to help anyone from budget buyers and top-dollar spenders get the right parts for their pistol-caliber AR-15.

AR9 SBR
Wilson Combat AR9 SBR

That way, you can spend more time squeezing off rounds at the range without having to budget for ammo.

If you happen to be running a 9mm AR-15 or any other type of pistol-caliber carbine, we’d love to hear more about your setup. And also be sure to check out Best AR-15 Upgrades to make your PCC run even better.

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Billy J. Long

    AR upper idea:
    I'm always thinkin. But this time it keeps coming back to me. Make an AR upper that uses Glock mags on the side like a Sterling and the normal lower mag well is the ejection port. Mag release would be on the top left just like a pistol laying on its right side. The ejector on the roof of the upper and the extractor on the bottom of the bolt. A solid blowback bolt using the spring that's already in the lowers stock. Spent cases ejecting out the bottom. If need be just hang a collector bag on the bottom. With a large barrel nut covered by a front grip and being blowback operation, barrel changes would be easy. A 16in .357 Sig would smoke. Should be more simple than a .22 conversion kit. Just a polymer picatinny rail on top and you wouldn't need to furnish sights. The dependability and simplicity of an M3 Greese gun ! A .45 with a 16 1/4 inch barrel and a 26 round Glock mag. Should be very simple, light and inexpensive to produce. Should cost less to make than a Glock clone. Short barrel change for pistol lowers. Anyone with a lower could order it online and use it without worry because serials are on the lower. No FFL problems with uppers only.

    June 23, 2022 10:55 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Mark Badia

    I see these 16" barrels for PCC and wonder what is the effective barrel length for a 9mm round. Once all the powder is ignited every inch of the barrel is just providing drag on the round and diminishing muzzle velocity and therefore effective range. Given pistol ammo usually has faster-igniting powder to fully burn in shorter barrel lengths that are normal for pistols. I assume a 5-8" barrel is probably the sweet spot for a 9MM PCC and I would probably run it with 9mm+P ammo to leverage the effectiveness of an 7-8" barrel. If my thinking is wrong would love to understand why?

    February 11, 2022 12:21 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Nick

    Does anybody know the parts for the white AR9 SBR pictured? It looks similar to a CMMG but not exact so just wondering. Thank you

    December 15, 2021 7:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    John A Bird

    If you are building an AR9, the feeding of the cartridge is built into the barrel. If you are building from scratch look no further for a barrel that is guaranteed to feed from Macon Armory in Macon Georgia. If you look up their telephone number, speak with Rudy. They also have a 4" dead blow buffer that is extremely smooth and can be utilized with a carbine buffer tube and a 223 spring.

    December 26, 2020 7:24 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Curtis B Fairbanks

    thanks for the photo of the offset scope. I think that will work. Building a 16" 9mm. Good article. Curtis

    August 10, 2020 1:17 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dee Greene

    Has anyone done any research into the effect the M4 feed ramps have on reliable chambering of 9mm rounds? And if so, what bullet profile will/will not feed adequately in a PCC build? Seems to me, and I could be mistaken, that the cuts on the ramps might cause some sort of feed issues. Am I off base in this hypothesis? No one that I have read brings that into the discussion at all. Does anyone manufacture an upper that doesn't have any feed ramp cuts?

    January 23, 2020 5:41 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      MichaelH

      I've been heavily shopping AR parts for the last six months and there are plenty of upper receivers out there that don't have m4 feed ramps. Don't know if it matters or not.

      July 13, 2021 12:19 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Oscar

    I want to build the white and black AR SBR, where can I find the list to build one?

    December 5, 2019 7:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jared

    Who makes an AR lower specifically for M&P mags besides Nordic?

    July 19, 2019 11:32 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      I don't know of anyone who makes a dedicated lower for M&P mags, just conversion kits like Stern.

      July 20, 2019 1:49 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Rusty in Bend OR

    I get the PCC idea, but struggle with "going long". I have a SIG MPX (9mm) that started as a "Pistol" (with a pistol brace) but is now a SBR (Form-1) with a solid stock, a LAW Tactical folding stock adapter, and a Mid-Evil 360 vertical foregrip. (Other cool mods as well.) I shoot it frequently with a SilencerCo Osprey can. It might be the funnest thing to shoot on the planet. What would make it "un-fun" is to lengthen it to the full 16+ and shoot it as a full-length rifle. So I just don't "get" the full-length PCC thing. But to each his own. I don't have to get it, for someone else to enjoy it.

    December 24, 2018 7:02 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dave Huff

      No one cares, Rusty.....

      June 8, 2020 3:22 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Stephen Armstrong

    Karri's guns sell a Fowler for 556 mags to feed 9mm through them then you dont need the adapter in a standard ar15 lower. Fowler kit is for 30 dound p mags about 40 bucks. Or the complete 9mm mag is 50 bucks

    December 23, 2018 7:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Gary Burns

    We have two AR-9 pistols, both 10.5" one full PSA and one full Angstadt, by full I mean both upper and lower receivers. Both are for Glock magazines. Have yet to shoot them, just jumping on the bandwagon.

    December 23, 2018 4:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chuck

      I have recently built a Frankenstein using a PSA lower, AERO upper, CMMG 8" barrel and BCG, a no name carbon fiber foreend, an SB brace, and a CMMG PMAG conversion kit. I can still use this lower as a standard AR lower. It weighs in at around 5.5 lbs. All told, about 800 for the build. Love the AR9!

      July 29, 2019 4:49 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jon

        Hi Chuck,

        Glad I came across your post because I'm planning on doing the same thing (AR45 though) with probably the same parts, might go with an AERO lower too since I'm an AERO fanboy. Do you need any special parts for the standard lower? Or would you recommend I go with a dedicated AR45 lower?

        August 7, 2019 6:12 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Jon

          Also. Where did you source the no name carbon fiber handguard?

          August 7, 2019 6:16 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeff

    You should change the description under that picture of the white "tricked out ar pistol" which is actually an sbr because it has a foregrip on it.

    December 23, 2018 5:05 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Changed ;)

      December 23, 2018 6:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Roadprophet

    Suggested magwell adapters for standard lowers? Is it something that is ready to install/uninstall?

    December 23, 2018 4:30 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      David, PPT Editor

      Stern Defense makes a good magwell adapter, it can be installed and uninstalled fairly easy. Comes in Glock and S&W M&P mag styles.

      December 23, 2018 6:54 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        2idvet

        I have a Stern Defense 9mm 8 inch long upper and magwell adapter on a Aero Precision AR-15 lower pistol. This using the Glock magazines and I have not had any issues at all in the first 1000 rounds.

        December 23, 2018 8:44 pm
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