Pistol caliber carbines are really having a moment right now in the gun world, and honestly, we love to see it.
These firearms sport a lot of upsides. Personally, we love how accessible they are in terms of both cost and usability.
But where did this surge in interest in PCCs come from, and what sets these guns apart from regular ole rifles?
We’re going to dive into the PCC world, look at their popularity, as well as their growing presence in the competition scene.
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A Little PCC Backstory
A pistol caliber carbine is a carbine-length gun chambered in 9mm, 10mm, and .45 ACP.
Now, as for where they came from, that’s a little more complicated.
Arguably, you can draw some direct parallels between the modern pistol caliber carbines and the carbines of the late 19th century.
It made a lot of sense to have a long gun and a handgun that used the same caliber back before the West was won.
This ammo compatibility between your long gun and your sidearm is great when walking or riding long distances with your ammo.
This holds today when it comes to defensive options.
The idea of a carbine that takes the same ammo and mags as the handgun you’re carrying offers some obvious appeal — especially if you build a “defense in depth” system. (Using your pistol to get a long gun in a vehicle or another room of your house.)
Logistically, being able to swap mags back and forth just makes sense.
Moving out of the Wild West, we saw interest in PCCs from police.
Again, under the same thinking, law enforcement wanted the same magazine and ammo compatibility between the sidearm on their hip and the long gun in their patrol vehicle.
This led to the development of things like the Ruger Police Carbine to go along with the Ruger P-series handguns.
Further spurring interest in pistol caliber carbines has been the popularity of submachine guns in military and police use and popular culture.
Bruce Willis did an awful lot of marketing for H&K every time he slapped the charging handle on that MP5 in the first Die Hard film.
That was followed by a new wave of tactical first-person shooter video games like Call of Duty and Battlefield.
With millions of players, these games cemented the “looks like a rifle but shoots 9mm” style as fixtures in the minds of many young gun enthusiasts.
While PCCs and submachine guns are technically different, the idea of a short, carbine-length that doesn’t require a $200 tax stamp and a wait became even more appealing.
Why Pistol Caliber Carbines Are So Popular
This leads us to today, where PCCs make brisk sales all across the country and even overseas.
The short and long of it is, 9mm is cheaper and more accessible than 5.56 NATO or .308 Win.
Additionally, 9mm performance is still very effective out of an AR-style platform.
What about alternative PCC calibers?
These rounds are cheaper, great for training, and will still stop a threat in a defensive situation if needed.
And really, the appeal of the PCC hasn’t changed. Much like our cowboy kinfolk, having multiple platforms all running the same caliber makes life a whole lot easier and more efficient.
From defensive to recreational to even competition shooting, magazine compatibility and only worrying about one caliber proves advantageous.
Not to mention, these firearms serve as great training tools for new and experienced shooters alike. They’re often lightweight and easy to wield, offering a more beginner-friendly (a.k.a. less intimidating) platform.
And there’s practically no recoil with the carbine/9mm pairing. It’s a great stepping stone into larger ARs and bigger calibers. Perfect for learning the fundamentals!
All of these reasons combined led to most major firearms manufacturers churning out their own PCC variants.
And of course, like with 3-Gun a few years ago and PRS after that, whenever something catches on in the gun world, the big competition organizers notice.
3GunNation and USPSA offer PCC divisions now, thanks to the huge surge in interest in these guns. They’re some of the most packed divisions despite only being a few years old.
Want to get your hands on some competition-ready pistol caliber carbines? Check out our guide here.
Pistol caliber carbines aren’t really a new thing in the gun world, but they are certainly enjoying some newfound popularity and with good reason.
These awesome firearms are helping first-time shooters find their footing, and they’re making life a lot more fun for us experienced hands too.
What do you think of pistol caliber carbines? Just a trend, or something that’s here to stay? Let us know in the comments below! Ready to grab a PCC? Check out our suggestions for the Best Pistol Caliber Carbines: 9mm & Beyond.