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7 Best Pistol Caliber AR-15 Carbines (AR-9)

Got a pistol? Got a AR-15? Enter the AR-9 platform! Find out why they are great defensive guns and a couple of our favorites.

Chances are you have a Glock or might buy one down the road.

It’d be nice to have a carbine that shares both ammo and mags right?

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Glock Mags
Some Glock Mags

And how about something that might be already familiar to you in the ergonomics and function of the AR-15?

Boom!

Aero Precision EPC Shooting
Aero Precision EPC Shooting

The AR-9 was born and has taken over the market ever since.

Let’s go over why they make sense and then a couple of our favorites.

Table of Contents

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Why Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) AR-9s?

I probably already spoiled it above…

But it simply makes sense to have both your long gun and sidearm in the same caliber and magazine. Especially if you aren’t looking to expand your collection past a few firearms or are looking primarily at home defense.

Plus we love our Glocks (Best Glock Models) and our AR-15s (AR-15 Buyer’s Guide).

Favorite AR-15s
Favorite AR-15s

And as opposed to handguns which take a lot more skill and training to shoot well…you have many more points of contact and a longer sight radius in a PCC.

Plus with pistol-braced variants you can have everything in a shorter package without sacrificing much.

UDP AR 9 on the farm
UDP AR-9 on the Farm

That shorter length also allows you to add a suppressor and since it’s an AR…endless upgrades.

Sig Sauer MPX K Banish Suppressor
Banish Suppressor

AR-15 & AR-9 Parts Compatibility

A big question that comes up…how much of an existing AR-15 can you keep?

Most things are the same…but you’ll see a big difference in lowers.

First is the ejector:

PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver
PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver

And also a different magwell to handle Glock (or other pistol mags).

PSA PX-9 Glock Magazine Magwell
PSA PX-9 Glock Magazine Magwell

Also on the lower is a different magazine catch style that I actually prefer to standard AR-15s. Different manufacturers will differ slightly…but it’s a larger/longer catch.

Aero Precision EPC Mag Release
Aero Precision EPC Mag Release

One the upper you’ll have a different bolt for your specific pistol caliber that’s simpler due to most guns being direct blowback. That also means no gas block or gas tube!

And of course a caliber specific barrel.

PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle
PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle

And though the lower will take any mil-spec AR-15 trigger group…I’d opt for something specifically built to handle the more recoil of the AR-9. Check out our suggestions in Best 9mm AR-15 Triggers.

Otherwise…you’re good with swapping everything else out!

Best AR-15 Pistol Caliber Carbines (AR-9)

1. Palmetto State Armory (PSA) PX-9

A major name in budget options for a wide range of firearms, the PSA PX-9 is a solid installment in their lineup.

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

And one of the best bang-for-the-buck starter AR-9s you can get.

Fit and finish is decent but it will always go bang. And in the end that’s what really matters, right?

I’ve used them for a couple PCC competitions and had a blast.

Best budget AR-9
549
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

PSA stocks everything from complete carbines to complete lowers and complete uppers so you can build to your heart’s content.

However, it should be noted that most PSA AR-9s do not have Last Round Bolt Hold Open.

PSA PX-9 Lower
PSA PX-9 Lower

But they do make some of the best looking AR-9s we’ve seen (or shot!).

Check out our full review here.

What’s your take on the PSA?

Readers' Ratings

4.98/5 (864)

Your Rating?

2. Aero Precision EPC

Looking for something a little more refined…and perhaps with a last round bolt hold open (LRBHO)?

Our recommendation mirrors our regular AR-15…and that’s to check out Aero Precision with their EPC (Enhanced Pistol Carbine).

Aero Precision EPC Shooting
Aero Precision EPC Shooting

It’s definitely enhanced with the LRBHO as well as some small niceties that make building and using it an upgrade.

Remember the mag release? The EPC’s might be our favorite.

Aero Precision EPC Mag Release
Aero Precision EPC Mag Release

And if you’re building your lower from the ground up…you’ll appreciate a threaded bolt catch to avoid marring the finish when installing.

Aero Precision EPC Mag Release
Aero Precision EPC Threaded Bolt Catch

The fire control group also has hardened pins to deal with the extra recoil from the blowback system.

But how does it shoot? In one word…great.

Aero Precision EPC Featured Image
Aero Precision EPC at Night

Check out our full review of the Aero EPC here.

Want a shorter pistol AR? We’ve built an 8.3″ barrel version and love it’s balance, adequate rail space, and extra maneuverability.

Aero EPC-9 8.3" Build
Aero EPC-9 8.3″ Build

Want to snag one? Aero is meaning it to be mostly built at home…but there’s plenty of complete uppers and lowers to choose from!

314
at Aero Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Oh yea…we also have a video review too:

3. UDP-9 by Angstadt Arms

The UDP-9 is a finely-tuned 9mm AR-15 pistol that’s compatible with Glock and Glock aftermarket magazines.

Angstadt UDP-9 On a Stump
Angstadt UDP-9 On a Stump

While it does have a pretty hefty price tag, there were no corners cut when making this AR-9. Plus it’s not afraid to eat only the steel-cased stuff.

UDP AR 9 ammo
UDP-9 with Ammo

Since the UDP-9 functions like every other standard AR-15, you don’t have to worry about getting adjusted to new controls when shooting it for the first time.

We have a complete article on the UDP-9.

If you’re looking for a high-end AR-9…check out the UDP-9.

1369
at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

And you know it…a video!

4. Foxtrot Mike FM-9B

Looking for the ultimate backpack AR-9? Check out the Foxtrot Mike FM-9B.

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Shooting
Foxtrot Mike FM9B Shooting

There’s 10″, 5″, and 4″ variants. And here we have their tiniest bois!

A little too close for my comfort but even without a folding stock you’re good to go inside a gray man backpack.

I’d much rather have a QD suppressor ready if you go with the 4″ variant.

Best 9mm and Multi-Caliber Pistol Suppressors
Best 9mm and Multi-Caliber Pistol Suppressors

But 10″ will give you a good amount of usable rail space and lower the possibility of losing some digits.

It’s also reasonably priced and comes with last round bolt hold open.

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Bolt Open
Foxtrot Mike FM-9B Bolt Open

Check out our full review of the FM-9B to see what other aspects we liked.

670
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

And we also have a video review as well:

5. Palmetto State Armory AR-V

PSA hits our list again, but this time with the AR-V…a decently priced PCC with a unique twist.

Using either PSA’s proprietary AK-V/AR-V magazines, the AR-V can also use CZ Scorpion EVO mags.

PSA AR-V Left Side
PSA AR-V

We dig this PCC’s ability to give you some options in terms of mags, especially if you already own a Scorpion or PSA’s 9mm AK variant.

AKV up hill
AK-V Up the Hill

Operating with a 10.5-inch barrel covered by a PSA 9-inch M-LOK handguard, we found the AR-V to be pretty reliable and accurate.

PSA AR-V Shooting Left Side Close Up
PSA AR-V

It has a matching mag release that is on the AK-V and takes a little bit getting used to…but is great once you do.

PSA AR-V Right Side Receiver
PSA AR-V Right Side Receiver

Of course, you can check out the review here to learn more.

990
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

And yes…a full video review on the AR-V!

6. CMMG Banshee Series

Want to look down on all these blowback guns with an air of superiority?

Check out CMMG’s Banshee series which rely on a proprietary “radial delayed blowback” gas system that seriously cuts down on recoil especially during rapid fire.

There’s of course 9mm variants…but been there done that…we hands-on tested their 10mm.

Banshee long mag
CMMG Banshee 10mm

And from our reviewer’s mouth…”it ran like a scalded dog” by eating up that extra oomph and making the 10mm feel like 9mm.

There’s also different levels of awesomeness within the Banshee series…from the 100 to the 200 to our tested 300. It comes with everything you might want already upgraded.

Plus it looks great.

Banshee Side
CMMG 10mm Banshee Side

Check out our full review here. Or even check out a full review of the 5.7 Upper.

Available Coupons

7. Sig Sauer MPX

Here’s another high-end AR-9 option…that scoffs at the idea of a simple blowback action.

Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting
Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting

The Sig MPX uses a short piston recoil system that lets you get rid of the buffer tube for a nice compact package especially in a pistol format.

1999
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Everything will be familiar to a standard AR-15 and with the added bonus of nice ambidextrous controls as well.

Sig Sauer MPX K Controls
Sig Sauer MPX K Controls
Sig Sauer MPX K Receiver
Sig Sauer MPX K Receiver

It shot flawlessly for us and was a joy suppressed.

Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting Barrier
Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting Barrier

And in the dark…

Sig Sauer MPX K Night Shoot
Sig Sauer MPX K Night Shoot

Check out our full review of the MPX for all the details. This might be our favorite AR-9 based option at this time.

See it in all its glory in our vide:

Conclusion

So in summary, AR-9s are a fun blend of a handgun caliber and a carbine length. We’ve given you some of our favorite AR-9s from budget creations

Best budget AR-9
549
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

to more bang-for-the-buck options that come with a last round bolt hold-open option.

314
at Aero Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

And our current favorite with the Sig MPX.

1999
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Still looking for other PCC options? Check out our non-AR-specific article Best Pistol Caliber Carbines for more ideas.

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40 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    E. Rex Shone

    I just viewed your sit and I can feel myself getting hard...like a real man! Thank you

    June 1, 2022 4:13 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Eric Shindler

    You are better off saving your pennies and buying something of high-quality rather than something that’s adequate. My first build was with PSA I ended up Sending the upper back to the factory several times. The gun would only fire 115 grain ammo in bowl full metal jacket and Hornady critical defense 115 grain reliably everything else either jammed or got stuck. I did a 300blackout build using parts from Hanover Armory absolutely no problems. Currently Angstadt arms Has a sale on a complete 9 mm upper for $400 and the lower cost around $500 I can build the whole thing and have something amazing that I can further customize at a later date for under $1000.

    February 25, 2022 1:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Haboo

    I bought a 9mm AR form Zavier firearms and it will not chamber any hollow points only FMJ. Is that common among these or just some.

    October 21, 2021 12:02 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jon

    Being left handed and wanting to perform mag swaps without completely changing my purchase on the firearm i was “stuck” buying” the sig (lol). Do you know of any other options? Thanks!

    October 5, 2021 5:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Levon Thomas

    One I love is the 9mm Brigade Battle Pistol U-LOK by Brigade Manufacturing

    October 4, 2021 10:24 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joe

      Just ordered the 9inch version, will review after range visit. Plenty of positive comments, esp. re: customer service. I ordered factory direct to my FFL...great price, LRBHO was a big selling point.

      November 4, 2021 7:57 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Kurtis Hughes

    Aaaaaannnd Once AGAIN, you guys go all Pimp for the "Big Name" gun makers but forget about some of the best gun makers out there that aren't well known. BUT should be known by PEW PEW
    Tactical at the very least !!!
    American Resistance in Nacogdoches(I believe) Tx, needs to be on Y'all's radar. They make and build some of the BEST and affordable PCC's and AR's on the market. PERIOD !!
    Look into it. Trust me, You won't be disappointed.
    But then again, I'm guessing y'all don't read these comments much anyway.

    October 3, 2021 6:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Roger Cox

      Thanks.
      I often wonder about what manufacturers not receiving press time. Good to know of another American manufacturer.
      AMERICAN RESISTANCE AR-9 TAKEDOWN PISTOL looks like a great pack arm.
      Will check YouTube A. R. reviews.

      October 4, 2021 5:57 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Kurtis Hughes

        I have that very one Roger..... You will LOVE IT !! Stuff it into a backpack and/or behind the backseat of the truck. Shoots and Runs like a Champ. Glock 30 rnd. mags, and you are GTG !!

        October 5, 2021 8:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Hey Kurtis, thanks for the feedback. We appreciate your suggestion and will definitely look into American Resistance.

      October 4, 2021 6:59 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Kurtis Hughes

        I AM Impressed, You read my comment...... American Resistance's owner is a Great guy also, (I can't remember his name. Forgive me, I'm old...LOL) and is one of the reasons I pulled the trigger on buying the AR-9mm takedown 5-6 yrs. ago.
        Anyway, tell em' I sent ya. You won't be disappointed.

        October 5, 2021 8:37 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Roger Cox

    I realize a little more money, Nevertheless, American made Wilson Combat and Christiansen Arms AR-9s caused me to continue cramming money into my piggy bank. Wilson Combat, work of art, more money and 4-6 months wait time. I chose Christiansen Arms. Match grade Carbon fiber wrapped barrel and aluminum/carbon fiber barrel guard. Match grade trigger. Nine days after order, my baby arrived.
    On the other hand I could have purchased two less expensive firearms.

    So appreciate all Pew Pews articles. My go to source.

    Thank you

    October 3, 2021 4:05 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Jacki Billings, Editor

      Thanks for reading!

      October 4, 2021 6:59 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris LaMorte

    I’d remove Angstadt Arms from the list. I bought one and it fired every time on bolt close. When I contacted them, they revealed that they are aware that the triggers have issues but they haven’t done anything about it. I’ve still seen guns on the shelves with that trigger in it (The Timney PCC trigger).

    They have had it for 2.5 weeks and done absolutely nothing. There’s other videos of people who have had issues as well.

    March 2, 2021 6:21 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chris LaMorte

      To clarify, it would fire when I closed the bolt (but without pulling the trigger) and would also double fire at the range.

      March 2, 2021 6:22 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Patricio Lillo

        on mine the factory and aftermarket magazines come out unlatch with a small jerk back and fort! i contacted costumer service and they wanna give me the round around! gun is great but they need to fix this! costumer service sucks too wouldn't recommend for $1500!!!!!

        May 19, 2021 8:16 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Chuck Wills

      I was told by a man at a gun store this was his choice if he were to buy one...I'm also looking at a banshee any thoughts never owned a 9mm ar. Thanks....
      Chuck

      July 13, 2021 7:23 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    David Clark

    Hello?! JP GMR-15? Don't write an article called "Best Pistol Caliber AR-15 Carbines (That Take Glock Mags)" and exclude arguably the best one.

    November 20, 2020 3:29 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Fyrfytr998

    Surpised CMMG and its delayed blowback didn't make the cut.

    April 28, 2020 1:56 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      blew7

      The CMMG Banshee 300 is what I ended up deciding on.

      July 27, 2020 12:37 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Leon Soto

        How do you like it.

        August 9, 2020 4:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jtrosse

    I would add the Beretta CX4 Storm PCC bull pup. It’s magazines are compatible with the .92fs and did I mention it is a BERETTA!!

    April 9, 2020 4:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Icecolb

      Terrible plastic stock trigger, hard to find, little aftermarket support. Yes, fun, and I'd love to own one, but not among the best. Esp if Ruger PCC doesn't even make the cut.

      October 3, 2021 2:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Stephen

    Your magazine capacity and compatibility chart is titled "high capacity" when all options listed are standard capacity.

    April 7, 2020 4:19 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      DNFU

      There are true high capacity 30+ round magazines in 9mm, 40S&W, and even 45ACP available in Glock style mags. Not to mention drums that will work with Glock style feed systems, again in all three of the above mentioned calibers, usually around 50 rounds per.

      April 29, 2020 4:52 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Hokanspawn

    These are all 9mm..... Any of these in .45?

    August 27, 2019 4:55 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Quinton L Richardson

    Nordic components?

    April 16, 2019 8:17 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Dave A

    The mags are interchangeable from larger to smaller frame sizes of the same caliber, with the exception of single stack mags. The G19 mag will fit the G26 but does not fit the 17. G17 will fit the G19 and G26.

    September 3, 2018 5:44 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    DavidEnt

    I purchased the Ruger PC9 and I am loving it. It works with every Glock magazine that I own and shoots great. The price was great also.

    August 17, 2018 4:29 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Tactdad

      Yeah.....I do not see the extra $$, being worth spending on a AR-15 model for 9mm....except that they look much cooler...personally I use a gun as a tool,the ruger does everything an AR 9 mm does...gor half the price!

      March 31, 2019 10:21 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Brad

        Eh. Half? Palmetto PA9 for $550...ruger pc9 for $550...i dont think you use the term "half" in the same way as the rest of us.

        April 21, 2019 3:32 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    NAC

    Get it in 10mm, 45acp or 460 Rowland then we will talk!

    April 4, 2018 12:42 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Matthew Collins

      Actually, a number of these are available in .45! I don't know about 10mm, but I found this guy from PSA (its out of stock right now, but I called and they have more on the way): http://palmettostatearmory.com/blem-psa-ar-45-16-45-acp-1-16-nitride-keymod-classic-rifle-516446312.html

      Angstadt also does a UDP-45 and AR-45 receivers if you want to roll your own.

      UDP-45: https://angstadtarms.com/product/udp-45-pistol-brace/
      Receivers: https://angstadtarms.com/0940-receiver-set/

      April 4, 2018 1:20 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    AndrewReifer

    For about $650 I built an amazing AR-9 SBR through PSA. Haven’t had an issue yet and I was constantly hitting a 6” steel circle at 80 yds standing with a proper red dot. I’m obsessed with the pistol caliber ARs even if I do get ridiculed...” why do you need that?”

    March 8, 2018 8:09 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Great to hear...I have a 9mm PSA on the way and I'll have a full review up.

      March 9, 2018 11:29 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mopoe

      I like your style and would love to see your setup!

      March 13, 2018 12:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Juanzo

    No CMMG Guard 9mm?

    March 8, 2018 5:07 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Tactdad

      For double the$.....no thanks!

      March 31, 2019 10:24 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Bear Money

    Personally, I’m loving my Ruger PC carbine more than these choices. PC takes Glock magazines and is priced to Sale a butt load. It’s a very dependable gun. Hopefully pew pew will review and show everyone why you need a PC carbine in your safe.

    March 8, 2018 4:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Yup...trying to get our hands on one!

      March 9, 2018 11:27 am
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