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Best Pistol-Caliber Carbines: 9mm & Beyond

Pistol-caliber carbines: they’re not pistols, but they’re not quite rifles either.

wilson combat pistol caliber carbine
Pistol-caliber carbines are a great home defense option…and they’re just plain fun.

Some people might tell you that they’re rifle-wannabes that are unnecessary and impractical, but I think pistol-caliber carbines are optimized for self-defense, competition, and FUN.

We’re going to look particularly at pistol-caliber carbines for self-defense…particularly at home where these things really shine.

Plus some basics and layout just what a pistol caliber carbine is…and why you might want one.

Table of Contents


Why a Pistol-Caliber Carbine?

One of the questions that I hear quite often from people who don’t seem to understand pistol-caliber carbines (PCC) is: “why not go with a rifle instead? Surely an AR-15 or AK-47 can get the job done much more effectively, right?”

Yes and no.

tommy gun
The Tommy Gun: a .45 ACP submachine gun that’s the granddaddy of modern carbines.

PCC vs Rifle

If you need a home defense gun that will be used primarily in open space to secure perimeters and neutralize threats outdoors, the AR-15 and AK-47 are great choices.  

However, indoor home defense scenarios are a little different.

You want a gun that’s smaller and allows for maneuverability in tight areas, like around doorways and down hallways.  Most pistol caliber carbines are going to be shorter than any long gun, save maybe some of the nice bullpup shotguns and rifles out there.

ruger pc4 pistol caliber carbine

Simply put, you don’t want to lug around a bulky rifle or shotgun if you’re moving through a confined space.  In addition, when comparing a pistol-caliber carbine specifically to the AK-47, you also get an added benefit of lower recoil.

PCC vs Handguns

The biggest advantage that the pistol-caliber carbine has over your sidearm is stability.

Some of you may be crack shots who can shoot the wings off a fly with your trusty pistol.  

For the rest of us, handgun accuracy tends to drop when shooting at a target from 15 – 25 yards away, especially in dangerous situations where adrenaline and stress levels are through the roof.

p90 pistol caliber carbine
More rounds on tap and more stability means that you’ll be way better off with a PCC than a handgun in most high-stress situations.

For these types of scenarios, pistol-caliber carbines give you that added stability to hit your mid-range target with more accuracy.

Another benefit of pistol-caliber carbines is that many of them are designed to work interchangeably with some of your favorite handguns, so you can use the same magazine for your Cx4 Storm as you can for your Beretta 92.

Check out this video of how to shoot pistol-caliber carbines in a home defense situation.

Many PCCs also take OEM and aftermarket Glock mags, making them a good choice for shooters who already carry Gaston’s Greatest anyway and might have a few extra mags around the house.

Choosing a Good Pistol-Caliber

There are some great home defense shotguns out there, but a shotgun might not always be the best option.

Popular Pistol Calibers
Popular Pistol Calibers

The average pistol-caliber carbine shoots either 9mm, .40 S&W cartridges, or .45 ACP, and less common are .380 and 357 SIG cartridges.

The benefit to this is that you’ll find no shortage of ammo and in most cases, your pistol-caliber carbine is more affordable to shoot than the average rifle.

pistol caliber carbine competition
There are a number of pistol caliber carbine competitions out there as well if you choose to get competitive with things.

Now that we’ve covered some of the basics about pistol-caliber carbines, let’s have a look at some popular carbine models.

Best Pistol-Caliber Carbines

1. Hi-Point 995TS

First up, is a doozie, but hang in here with me for a second.

We’re going to get the controversial one out of the way up front.  It’s a Hi-Point.  We know what that name means, and we know its not exactly a byword for quality.

All the same, it’s on the list.

at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The Hi-Point 995TS ($350 -$480) is a 9mm carbine that many shooters call one of the best budget PCCs around.  It’s sleek, reliable, surprisingly accurate given its price (and lineage) and weighs in at just 6.25 pounds.

Its tactical design gives the gun a menacing look while its size and weight make it comfortable to shoot.

In fact, many Hi-Point users report that the 995TS is much more comfortable to shoot than the company’s handguns, which have received criticism for being unnaturally large and blocky…and genuinely terrible.

custom hi point 995ts pistol caliber carbine
You can also customize it fairly heavily, and its relatively low price means you can use it for some pretty wild gunsmithing experiments.

For whatever reason, Hi-Point did well with the 995TS.  It’s far more reliable than really any other Hi-Point offering, and certainly more comfortable to shoot.

Another nice feature of the 995TS is its iron sights, which are positioned high enough to make it easy to line up targets without the need of a mounted optic piece.

Overall, the carbine is comfortable to shoot and has an incredible accuracy (relatively speaking), and its low retail price makes it a great carbine for beginners.

The only thing holding this gun back from reaching its top potential is the Hi-Point name, which has been historically associated with cheap design and jamming malfunctions.  

With that said, the 995TS is a great gun to have around the house.  It’s cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, and is great for the range or for dispatching the occasional varmint around the home.  

This one I wouldn’t necessarily recommend carrying into a life-or-death scenario…unless it’s all you have, but a Hi-Point is still better than no gun at all, and the 995TS is certainly nothing to sneeze at when it comes to protecting yourself.

In particular, this bad boy makes for an excellent “truck gun.”

at Cabelas

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

It fits nicely in a toolbox, and is cheap enough that you can keep one in a boat when fishing…just in case.

alligator hazard
In case of gator, for instance.

2. Kel-Tec SUB-2000

The Kel-Tec SUB-2000 ($400 – $500)  is a semi-automatic carbine that supports 9mm or .40 S&W cartridges, depending on your caliber preferences.  

Best Backpacker PCC
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

There’s a lot to love about the SUB-2000 carbine.  For starters, before you buy the gun, you can choose which handgun magazine that you want it to take so that you can use the carbine interchangeably with your favorite sidearm.

Compatible magazines include various Smith & Wesson, Sig Sauer, Beretta, and Glock handguns

Glock 9mm Sight Radius,
If you’re al

Don’t let its simple design fool you. The SUB-2000 is anything but basic

When it comes to comfort and convenience, the SUB-2000 earns a gold star.  It weighs a total of 4.25 pounds without ammo and is 30.5” in length, and it can also be collapsed and stored away in a compact location.

Great features include:

  • Fiber optic front sight for easily lining up targets.
  • The bolt is located underneath the buttstock in a convenient and out-of-the-way position.
  • Tons of aftermarket parts available.
Kel Tec Sub 2000
Kel Tec Sub 2000

The SUB-2000 is a solid gun that combines power, accuracy, and comfort, and is a great gun for its price.

Also, since it’s a Kel-Tec, you’re protected under a lifetime warranty in the event of something malfunctioning.

Check out our full in-depth review.  

3. Beretta Cx4 Storm

Next, we have the Cx4 Storm, a highly-acclaimed pistol-caliber carbine that is made to support the following cartridges: 9mm, .40 S&W, and the .45 ACP (recently discontinued, but there are models floating around).

at EuroOptic

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Like all Beretta products, the Cx4 Storm is praised for being durable, dependable, and highly accurate, as well as being ergonomically designed and able to accommodate people of all sizes.

Straight out of the box, the gun is a bit basic and simplistic.  You do have access to loads of aftermarket parts like vertical foregrips, flash suppressors, scopes, and flashlights or laser sights.

In fact, you can turn this $700ish gun into a $2000+ project on upgrades alone if you wanted to, but the benefit of the Cx4 Storm is that you don’t have to invest any money into it to enjoy a high-quality carbine.

If you’re still not impressed, watch it in action:

Some of the awesome features of the Cx4 Storm include:

  • Incredibly lightweight at 5.75 pounds.
  • More compact than most carbines with an overall length of 29.5”.
  • Doesn’t have the cheap and flimsy feel that some of the other polymer guns on the market have.
  • Magazines are inserted through the pistol grip, making it easier to reload in low-light or high-stress situations.
  • Picatinny rail on the top of the stock makes it easy to mount optics.
  • Can choose whether you want the magazines to be compatible with the Px4 or 90 series pistols, and with adaptors the Cx4 also accepts 8000-series magazines.

When it comes to innovative design and dependability, Beretta’s a name you can trust

One of the only complaints about the Cx4 Storm is the trigger.  It’s plastic and many gun owners feel that its trigger pull of around 7.5 pounds is much too heavy for a carbine.

Fortunately, there are aftermarket accessories available to help you reduce the trigger pull down to something around 3 – 5 pounds.

Also, removing the trigger assembly is relatively easy, as seen in this video:

4. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Carbine

The CZ Scorpion EVO 3 ($900) is a 9mm carbine that takes CZ’s classic Scorpion machine pistol and updates it to a modern (and civilian legal) design that is sleeker, and more reliable.

CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol caliber carbine
CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1, sootch00

I’ll save some space here and just send you to our complete CZ Scorpion EVO review…suffice to say its an excellent take on a classic and it will absolutely earn its keep in a home defense scenario.

Also, taking it to the range is hella fun.

Best Pick Pistol Caliber Carbine
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

What’s your take?

Readers' Ratings

4.97/5 (591)

Your Rating?


My personal favorite.

Heckler and Koch are known for producing excellent military-grade weaponry, and the HK USC ($1500-$1800) is no exception to the rule. 

hk usc pistol caliber carbine
This thing looks great, shoots great, and is as reliable as a Swiss watch.

This carbine takes .45 ACP cartridges and is the civilian version of the HK UMP, a popular submachine gun that is employed by various security forces around the world…and anyone who has ever played Call of Duty or Rainbow Six.

The USC delivers stopping power, reliability, and maneuverability.  Its length is under 35.5” long and weighs less than six pounds, which means that operating it in confined spaces is a breeze.

Also, the gun’s molded-in mounting points make it easy to attach optics, lighting, or other devices.

The USC has a submachine gun look and feel to it, which makes it great for home defense, and also really freaking cool.  Never underestimate the value of looking cool in a tactical scenario.

The USC comes with a 10-capacity magazine which is made out of the same corrosion-proof polymer as the gun.

 Some of the cooler features on this gun include:

  • Rubber buttstock pad and cheek rest for added comfort.
  • Ambidextrous safety.
  • Gun is completely corrosion proof and comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • 327mm sight radius for easy aiming.

If you want a carbine that packs the punch that comes with a .45 ACP but is incredibly easy to shoot, the USC is right for you – and since it’s based on the UMP’s tactical design, you know that you’re getting a gun that’s been tried and tested for close to mid-range self-defense.

hk ump pistol caliber carbine
Good luck getting your hands on the full-auto version though.

6. PSA 9mm PX-9

Our Editor’s Pick for an entry-level 9mm AR-15 PCC that is reliable and takes Glock mags is the PX-9.

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

Though it doesn’t have last round bolt hold open…it gives you the familiarity of the AR platform and all the potential upgrade potential.

Check it out in a night-time competition!

And with a slightly modded upper!

And our full review where we deep-dive into its reliability, accuracy, and more.

Best budget AR-9
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

7. Lead Star Arms Prime 9mm

A new addition that I’ve been waiting to hit regular production ever since I shot one last year…

And it’s finally here!

The Lead Star Prime is uber light and maneuverable.  But they didn’t remove so much material that it couldn’t dampen the recoil or there was a trade-off with reliability.

I wish I got a nice picture with the PCC…but here’s their AR-15 version!

Lead Star Arms Shooting
Lead Star Arms Shooting

Oh yea…and it’s helped a few shooters get some World shooting titles in PCC.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

I’m hoping to get one in-hand to test in the near future.

But based on my experience (and the dozen or so other shooters that ran it through the stage)…you can’t go wrong with it!

Let’s Recap

Here are some of the advantages the pistol-caliber carbine:

  • They’re lighter and more mobile than rifles.
  • They fire at a higher velocity than their handgun counterparts.
  • They’re not as loud as most rifles and handguns.
  • Lower recoil than most rifles with the exception of .22 caliber rifles.
  • Virtually all of the same accessories that you can add to your rifles like optics, flashlights, and vertical foregrips can be mounted on your carbine.

The caliber you choose depends widely on your personal preference, especially when you have to choose between a .45 ACP and a 9mm.

Regardless of the caliber you go with, you’ll get much more stability and accuracy with your carbine than with a handgun.

If money is a factor, remember that the 9mm ammo is significantly cheaper than .40 S&W and .45 ACP, as well as most other cartridges on the market.

Parting Words on Pistol Caliber Carbines

The opinions on, pistol-caliber carbines in the firearms community are mixed.

Some people love them, others think they’re impractical, and a lot of people simply don’t know enough pistol-caliber carbines to make an assessment because they’re so overlooked.

ar-9 pistol caliber carbine
How can you ignore something that looks so freaking cool?

Before making your decision on whether you want to buy your first carbine or not, I recommend visiting the range and trying a few out.  I personally think that carbines are equally as fun to shoot as rifles and much more fun than handguns.

The truth is that they’re perfect for home defense because they provide the best of both worlds: maneuverability more similar to a handgun and the stability of a rifle.  Plus dang fun for competitions.

If you already have experience shooting pistol-caliber carbines, what are your favorites? Know of one we missed? Want to yell at us for the blasphemy of recommending a Hi-Point? Let us know in the comments below!

Then check out other favorite guns & gear in Editor’s Picks.

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129 Leave a Reply

  • Daniel Garcia

    I have 3 PCC'S
    CZ Scorpian EVO3 S1

    I LOVE all 3 of them.
    Next on on my list is the Sig Sauer M400 9mm Tread.

    June 22, 2021 4:49 pm
  • Patrick w myers

    What is the gun in the last picture with the caption. How can you ignore something that looks s cool

    June 14, 2021 11:40 pm
  • Jim

    Why isn’t the KUSA’s KP9 on the list? It’s an incredible pcc, especially one that Russian police use.

    May 28, 2021 9:10 pm
  • JK

    cmmg 9mm carbine, not reliable. No throat, rifling back to case mouth. Throated and now runs. Less jumpy than straight blow back.

    May 26, 2021 11:16 am
  • DW

    Has anyone experienced the Glock fed Foxtrot Mike FM9? I’ve added a longer rail to the 5.5” barrel to cover a blast suppressor and a tail hook brace with the sylvan arms folder. Reflex with 45 degree irons and a small light. Perfect for home defense (and fits in a backpack if that’s your thing).

    May 17, 2021 12:12 am
  • Meyersgold

    They are all butt ugly compared to the Marlin Camp 9 and 45 carbines. Beautiful wood and steel.

    April 20, 2021 11:23 pm
  • Jimmy D.

    Blasphemy!!! How did you include the high point and not the ruger pc 9mm . It's my favorite to shoot out of all my guns.. I'm very disappointed the ruger wasn't included!

    April 19, 2021 10:01 am
    • Jim

      Me too! I hope you have seen the PCSH41 build of it. Absolutely amazing.

      May 28, 2021 9:11 pm
  • Brian K. Jones

    That last Pic, the one you said is "So freeking Cool",.... IT IS!!! I Want it! Which one is this???

    March 28, 2021 7:06 pm
  • John

    You mentioned a .357 pcc in your article but didn't list one. I am very interested to know who makes one. Also, I have owned an earlier sub2k and regret selling it. .40cal. accurate light and fun

    March 24, 2021 12:06 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      That's an error on our end, sorry. That should have read "357 SIG" not magnum. We'll fix that! Also, here is one of the 357 SIG guns!

      March 24, 2021 12:09 pm
  • Claude Ulrich

    I read about the Olympic k10 in 10mm. Been trying to find more info on the firearm and company. Are they still in business?

    March 16, 2021 5:54 am
  • Reptile850

    The Hi-Point 995 TS is arguably the best overall budget PCC. It commonly outperforms the Beretta CX4 Storm, Keltec Sub 2000, and the Ruger PC9.

    February 9, 2021 7:54 pm
  • Percy Blakeney

    My favorite is my Ruger PC Carbine. It takes Ruger American, Glock or Ruger SR-9 magazines, the latter which comes with the Carbine.

    I own a Ruger American, so can use the same magazines in both my pistol or rifle.

    The SR-9 magazine will not fit in the American pistol,.

    I bought a couple extra Ruger American, 9mm magazines, then modified the latch hole in one, to see if it would work in the Carbine. It did, so I modified the rest so they could be used in either the 9mm American pistol or the Carbine, and the SR-9 magazine could still be used in the Carbine, all without changing the magazine well, which would have allowed me to use the American mags, but not the SR-9.

    Then there is the fun fact that the Carbine takes about ten seconds or so to break down so it's about half it's operating length. Like the break down version of the 10-22.

    When you pick the Carbine up, you know it's built. Throw a red dot on it, it plunks cans all day long.

    December 15, 2020 5:40 pm
  • BJG

    Where does Foxtrot Mike fall on the list.

    December 6, 2020 4:26 pm
    • Chase Nichole

      Woohoo, just bought one of these and am excited to see it mentioned in comment #2!

      January 27, 2021 4:54 pm
  • RT

    Extar Ep9 should have been in the top 3.

    November 29, 2020 4:44 pm
  • Jordan

    What about the Extar EP9?

    November 8, 2020 4:16 pm
  • bw

    Just some FYI - As far as the very first pic at the top of the article goes, I did a "right click save as" on it - it has "wilson-combat-pistol-caliber-carbine" in the title.

    But as far as the last pic goes of that really nice lookin one, I did the same but it does not have any telling info in it's title....hopefully Pew-Pew chimes in here....kind of bizarre they don't put a label below all their pics, I mean the whole idea is information and advertising right?

    October 16, 2020 11:53 am
    • David, PPT Editor

      That last picture happens to be a SUPER early one for us before we got so awesome at making sure everything was named right. Sorry :(

      October 16, 2020 12:23 pm
      • bw

        10-4, in hindsite, wish I didn't get quite so critical in that last sentence there but "too late now". Anyway, I apologize for that - thanks for the reply and thanks for a great website, appreciate all the info on here.

        October 19, 2020 10:32 am
      • BenC

        Your apology is great but the question still remains in my mind. What brand and model in the last “cool” pic?

        November 9, 2020 1:58 am
        • David, PPT Editor

          We don't remember :(

          November 9, 2020 8:25 am
  • GAT

    This is an outdated article. Things are changing fast in the PCC arena!

    October 6, 2020 5:03 pm
  • cheryl a salvati

    I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THE VERY LAST GUN-NOT DISCUSSED IS. THE ONE YOU WROTE-How can you ignore something that looks so freaking cool?

    September 24, 2020 7:59 pm
    • Sir Eutychus

      Agreed. I came here to ask that as well.

      November 8, 2020 6:26 am
  • Mark Wynn

    First picture shows the excellent, reliable, inexpensive, developed for law enforcement, Ruger PC Carbine. Yet it apparently wasn't exotic enough to make the cut. I like mine. Fun to shoot. Accurate. I installed a red-dot. Take down/set up in a twinkle.

    September 24, 2020 7:14 pm
    • Percy Blakeney

      Dead on. I modified my American mags (very simple) so they work in the SR-9 well and I can use all the SR-9 mag in either my Ruger American pistol or the PC Carbine.

      December 15, 2020 5:43 pm
  • James Gause

    This is the gun I want, what is the brand, name and caliber?

    September 23, 2020 11:13 pm
    • cli

      Any response yet? Just like you .. this is the best looking of the bunch IMHO.

      September 25, 2020 8:11 am
  • Zachary

    Do u have to take the cover off the berol that the lights and stuff connect too to clean the berol

    September 14, 2020 11:00 am
  • Lite

    Why don't firearms manufacturers make this style in .44 Magnum? Seems like the perfect platform for that round.

    August 19, 2020 4:37 pm
  • Jacob

    You forgot the PC Carbine

    August 18, 2020 9:06 am
  • Josey

    Decibel Level can vary significantly between the loads. If you can go subsonic borderline at 1,100 FPS or lower with a 200 grain 40 caliber or a 45 caliber with 230 grains you’ll have knockdown power with less blast - less wear on your ears indoors.

    August 3, 2020 6:05 pm
  • Hjh


    July 16, 2020 11:34 am
  • Brandon Cox

    sdf can't see the comment section

    July 8, 2020 2:01 am
  • Eric

    I love my hi point 995st. Always work s

    June 27, 2020 2:14 am
  • Alicia Proctor

    I think the Ruger PCC9 belongs on this list! It's a joy to shoot, even for a 100 pound girl, and has several really cool features, like its ability to be quickly separated into 2 pieces and carried in a larger purse! It's great!

    June 12, 2020 6:47 pm
  • Robert Lajoie

    Please check out Extar EP9. Real fun American made 9mm PCC. Thx

    May 14, 2020 3:58 pm
  • Wild Pierre

    I recently purchased the Hi-point 4595 TS carbine straight out of the box 75 yards 8” steel swinging g targets 7 hits ten shots ! Next up 20 round mag . My 11 year old son emptied the mag and LOVED it Very low recoil . Just added compensator and fore grip . Looking forward to next range trip with him .

    May 8, 2020 6:11 pm
  • Jerry

    Ruger pcc 9 or 40.

    April 28, 2020 7:38 pm
  • Dan B.

    I have two Hi-Point 4595TS carbines and I have to say they in no way deserve the hate. Neither of them have ever had a single FTF, FTE, stovepipe or jam in any way, even when feeding them cheap soviet block steel cased ammo. They eat anything you feed them, and I can’t even come close to saying that about my Sub 2K. Plus, I did a trigger kit, stainless recoil rod, and upgraded recoil spring on both of them for about $30.00 apiece. Tough to beat that. It’s like buying a Honda instead of a Mercedes, but sometimes inexpensive doesn’t mean cheap. And seriously, they’re not THAT ugly...

    April 16, 2020 10:30 am
    • Reptile850


      February 9, 2021 8:22 pm
  • stan

    I just bought a SKO SHORTY 12ga semi shotgun , I have only fired it 10 times . so far no misfires or problems . it came with a 5 round mag , and I bought two 10 rounders . it is easy to fire but you must keep a tight grip to make the action work well . It is a very short pistol grip gun easy to move in tight space . I added a very bright streamlite where the front handle was .

    March 26, 2020 4:10 pm
  • ZPO

    Just finished an ar9 build. Mostly Spikes Tactical parts. 8.7 inch barrel, barking spider, glock mags. Great quality.

    March 23, 2020 9:43 am
  • Christopher Waters

    I Love My hi point carbines!! Have the 9 10 and 45. Quite accurate and fun to shoot. I know a master gunsmith that owns several hi point pistols and wouldn't get rid of them for anything. Inexpensive gun not a cheap gun.

    March 11, 2020 3:11 pm
  • Clay Bacon

    Why ignore Mech-Tech? I have one for my 1911 and it is wonderful. Plus, it keep that proper trigger, which can't be beat by any competitor. Ever! Mech-Tech also makes Carbine Conversion Units for pistols other than 1911, but if you don't have a 1911, you have an inferior trigger.

    March 10, 2020 11:29 am
  • Jacob Hawkins

    Ruger PC Carbine. Takes Glock and Ruger American Pistol Mags with the switch of a part. Free float handguard option available. Never shot one, but Ruger is known for not being a slouch. Might be worth a review!

    March 4, 2020 10:20 am
    • Fast Eddie

      My son bought one and like every other Ruger I've put my hands on it is right as rain. Accurate. Fun. Ruff and ready as a Ruger should be.

      March 29, 2020 11:35 pm
  • James in Montana

    One other thing. I've owned several of the Hi-Point Carbines and can attest to the fact that they are every bit as accurate and reliable as their more expensive counterparts. The only detrimental part is their limited round magazines. However, that is due to the political climate in several of the states where these carbines are sold and not to Hi-Points not wanting to make their carbines able to take larger capacity magazines. If all you can afford is a Hi-Point carbine, you are well protected by it if you practice with it diligently and get some extra mags.

    January 31, 2020 9:54 am
  • James in Montana

    One of the funnest PCCs that I know of is the Chiappa M1-9mm carbine. Patterned on the M1 Carbine, it is a direct blow-back operated carbine that takes M9/Beretta 92 magazines. While the bolt area looks a lot different than the M1 Carbine, it is the same weight (5.4 lbs) and just as easy to handle as its namesake. Overall, a great PCC for those who prefer the wood and steel guns over the polymer and steel of "modern" guns.

    January 31, 2020 9:41 am
  • Martin

    I have several PCCs and have shot several others. The smoothest is a direct impingement AR in 45 ACP. Ron at as far as I know pioneered the AR gas system for .45ACP and is a wizard. He worked with me to get exactly what I wanted. I've had 2 of his uppers and they are phenomenal. I used a Quarter Circle 10 receiver set (large Glock frame) and Yankee Hill handguard. Daniel Defense grip and stock, and a Geissele trigger, JP buffer spring system. It's like shooting a BB gun, especially when suppressed. :-D

    January 29, 2020 7:39 am
  • Adam

    What makes it a PCC? Is it the stock? Length? Or what? Is an AR9 with a brace or just buffer tube and a 4inch bbl still considered a PCC?

    January 28, 2020 11:20 pm
    • Fyrfytr998

      A barrel longer than 12 inches. Anything less makes it a pistol. Now for a non NFA carbine, you need a 16in. barrel and a stock. Less than 16 with a stock puts you in SBR territory.

      May 5, 2020 7:38 pm
  • Shannon Lane

    I own the SUB-2000, the Freedom Arms FX-9, and I've converted (of all things) a Rueger 10/22 to a carbine bullpup configuration based on the P90 chassis. Of all of them, the FX-9 and the Rueger conversion are the best shooters, while the SUB-2000 is an astoundingly portable, usable, and lighweight firearm.

    THe best part of the FX-9 and the SUB-2000? They share mags with my Glock 17 - which means I literally have complete portability between the three platforms. I can't stress enough how amazingly useful and significant that really is.

    I've never had a misfeed problem, accuracy issues, or any other true complaint with any of the rifles, and - as I'm not a hunter and have no real use for rifle-caliber firearms? I find them absolutely excellent for both fun and home defense.

    We shooters talk a lot (and winge) about ammunition caliber and effectiveness, but at the end of the day, the only really effective firearm is the one that you can afford to practice on, that's easy to set up and use, and that isn't a PITA to go to the range and shoot. These pistol carbines are all of these together, and I'd rather pick up one of these and go enjoy myself any day over any of the rifle-caliber firearms I own.

    Don't underestimate the power of keeping your personal firearms to a single (or only a few) caliber choices.

    As a side note? Most ranges have restrictions on range utilization based on caliber - rifle calibers aren't often allowed at pistol distances or indoors. These rifles can be used just about anywhere, and with less expense - meaning more opportunities to practice and a better shooter in the end.

    January 5, 2020 8:59 am
  • Frank Massey

    I own a 995TS, the .380TS and the .40Cal TS. Contrary to popular misconception, they are very well made and efficient firearms. Hi-Point warrants the weapon for the life of the questions asked. Next, I've never had any of them jam or stovepipe as long as the ammo wasn't the crappy lacquered steel cases from Russia...that stuff will jam any rifle. Try one out sometime and see what they can do. And, yes, they are great home defense weapons.

    December 24, 2019 6:40 pm
    • Tom H.

      I agree! When doing firewood in the mountains, I like having a long gun with me. I found the 995TS makes a great woods gun due to it's short overall length, durability, and reliability. Plus, the no questions asked warranty! It's the only carbine I don't mind bouncing around on my atv's.

      December 26, 2019 3:19 am
  • Lincoln Davis

    You forgot the true classic...
    The only true pistol caliber carbine in my eyes.
    Also legal in California XD

    December 5, 2019 3:26 pm
  • Russell Flynn

    I'm surprised that the Freedom Ordnance FX9 isn't on this list.
    Available in 4", 8" and 16" barrels.
    Unlike most AR type carbines that are built to accommodate the 9mm round, the FX9 is built around the 9mm round. Because of this, the billet upper and lower is slightly smaller (and lighter).
    Everything else is mil spec, so you can customize the crap out of it.
    It takes Glocks mags (the Promag 50 round drums work well!) It also has a last round hold open.
    I absolutely love mine!
    MSRP is $799, but you can buy them at $600 if you look around.

    December 2, 2019 9:30 am
  • Erik Hansen

    The Extar EP9 is frequently overlooked as a PCC. Like other guns in your review, it is a pistol with a brace. I have only put about 2000 rounds though mine, but it runs like a champ with no malfunctions and is very accurate. The EP9 takes Glock magazines, AR triggers and has a full length accessory rail (I'm running a first generation ACOG on the rail and it does not interfere with the side charging handle).

    November 29, 2019 8:28 am
    • Russell Flynn

      Extar weapons look like great shooters at a budget price.
      I'll likely replace my Hi Point 4595TS with their EP45 at some point. I love my Hi Point .45 ACP, but the fact it doesn't take Glock mags makes it less than perfect. The takedown process is also difficult.
      As for weight, the Extar EP45 is only a couple pounds lighter than the 4595TS, but trading two pounds in weapon weight for two pounds of ammo seems smarter.

      December 2, 2019 9:41 am
    • Danny Poe

      I own the Extar EP9. I have to say with over 6000 rounds through it with not one problem, this is my personal favorite. I've shot many others and will admit many are nice but it comes at a price. Price was my primary concern when I purchased the Extar. However after the purchase several others in my department have purchased them as well. They are extremely reliable and very smooth to operate. Accuracy is extremely good. I will have to say I would personally rely on this weapon in a self protection situation. They take Glock mags and require very little maintenance, they weigh in at just over 4 pounds.
      This is my opinion, others may see them as substandard, but I'll wager they haven't taken one to the range. I added a set of Magpul sights and a Sightmark reflex , I'm hitting a 18 inch gong at 100 yards.

      January 29, 2020 2:52 pm
  • jeb

    This is like a who's who of PCCs... from 2010.

    November 27, 2019 7:08 pm
  • Brian Womack

    Stribog and PTR 9kt are some of the best on the market.

    November 23, 2019 6:39 am
  • JD Murphy

    Brandon - what brand/model is the unnamed PCC in the photo at the very end of your article??

    October 30, 2019 11:35 am
    • Fyrfytr998

      Technically speaking, that final weapon is an AR9 pistol and not a carbine. It has a barrel less than 16 inches and uses a pistol brace instead of a stock.

      May 5, 2020 7:42 pm
  • Matthew Bristol

    How do you like the Brigade bm-9 that is on the classic firearms website? I have not seen any reviews on it yet.

    October 28, 2019 2:31 am
    • David, PPT Editor

      We haven't tried it, sorry

      October 28, 2019 9:02 am
  • originaljpat

    No Ruger PC Carbine!

    October 19, 2019 6:17 pm
  • brandon arthur

    How about the Ruger PC 9 M-LOK? Its amazing

    October 7, 2019 10:28 am
  • Wayne

    Have to agree with a previous reviewer. If the list ever goes to 7, the Extar EP9 would look good at that spot. Have one and I love it - it's perfect in every way!

    August 17, 2019 9:58 am
  • Josh

    No mention of the MPX?

    August 5, 2019 8:19 am
  • Eddie

    The Hi-Point carbine may work for people but not for me. If I were compiling this list though, I'd have put a Ruger Carbine on it rather than the Hi-Point or even the HK... I'm sure the HK is worthy of a 'best of' list but the price on it would most likely put it out of reach for many shooters.

    July 17, 2019 2:37 pm
    • Richard Bouchard


      September 12, 2019 3:59 pm
  • Joshua W

    The Exrar EP9 looks to be a great firearm that is very reasonably priced. Check it out.

    June 25, 2019 4:20 pm
    • yo-momma

      It's a pistol and doesn't fit on a list of carbines...

      September 23, 2019 12:35 pm
      • Erik

        While technically true, the brace on the EP9 is easily shouldered and makes it run like a carbine...

        November 29, 2019 8:32 am
  • Perry

    357mag is hugely popular ever hear of marlin 1894 Winchester 92

    June 24, 2019 9:38 am
    • David, PPT Editor

      PCC is normally considered to be semi-auto and .357 mag in a semi-auto PCC is almost unheard of, but I would agree that the old lever actions were the OG PCCs! I reviewed a Cimarron 1873 in .357 mag and it has quickly become one of my favorite rifles to plink at the range with.

      June 25, 2019 4:08 pm
    • Eddie

      I'm not aware of any definition of a pistol caliber carbine necessarily being a semi-auto rifle only so I would say that pistol caliber lever action carbines fit also and are good choices for firearms as they've been around for about 150 years more or less and are very reliable.

      July 17, 2019 2:33 pm
  • alan healy

    i chose to build an ar-9 solely for the gas mileage that you can get from 9mm. in all aspects it is similar to my ar-15, but i can spend a fraction of the cost and have way more fun at the range when shooting 2-250 rounds. it's a great gun for my son to get comfortable with as well. it came in at around $800, but i'm sure you could do one for less if you wanted.

    June 22, 2019 5:09 am
  • David Schlegel

    The Ruger PCC is my favorite. Now they even have more models. Would love to get that sweet looking handrail on my PCC9!

    April 29, 2019 3:22 am
  • Michael T

    My vote is for the CZ Scorpion 9mm. It is fun to shoot and for me in my advanced age has improved my accuracy 1,000% over standard pistol. It has some bad features: cocking handle too small results in skinned fingers. Safeties are too small and dig into hands/ fingers while shooting. Trigger pull is far too heavy at 10.5 pounds. CZ surely knows about these bad features so why don’t they correct them at the time of manufacture and thus avoid the need to buy and install after market replacements. A good gun could be transformed into a great gun.

    April 28, 2019 5:02 am
  • Bill Rose

    No Ruger PC Carbine? Affordable, highly adaptable, GREAT shooter and takes both Ruger and Glock magazines plus you can customize to your heart's content. AND it breaks down. Perfect for home protection or as a bug out gun. The Hi-Point and Kel-Tec are great guns because they are very inexpensive but still reliable. I love the design of the Beretta CX4 Storm and IMHO the Rolls Royce of PCCs would be the CZ Scorpion but after much deliberation all these guns I mentioned I went with the Ruger and I am not disappointed!

    March 23, 2019 5:21 pm
  • Jay

    How does the Freedom Ordnance FX-9 stack up the the carbine in your list?

    February 28, 2019 9:20 am
  • Mark Wynn

    No mention of the Ruger 9mm semi-auto carbine .... high quality for a low price
    .... hmmm

    February 7, 2019 8:20 pm
  • Jerry

    Who is the maker of the AR pistol in the last photo with the coment" How can you ignore something that looks so freaking cool?"

    February 4, 2019 5:02 pm
  • Rusty in Bend OR

    In the sub-gun/PCC category, it's hard to imagine why the SIG MPX isn't near the top of the list ... unless "Cost" was a huge factor in list creation. And if you extend to all sub-guns irrespective of chambering, it's hard to ignore the SIG Rattler. Yes, I'm a "S(B)igot", but the truth is these are stunningly reliable premium sub-guns that over-qualify in both shootability and cool looks. (IMHO)

    January 1, 2019 7:16 am
  • Ransom Smith

    My Hi Point 4595TS is a pretty cool gun. Never had any problems with it, and eats whatever I feed it. The handguns may indeed deserve the criticism they usually get. But, like you stated in the article, for some reason Hi Point did well with the carbines...

    November 26, 2018 7:50 pm
  • Cody

    Check out the High Tower Armory MBS-95 Bullpup conversion for the High Point. It really makes a huge difference to an already stupidly reliable platform.
    Beyond that, I always chocked up high point as absolute crap... but this has been the most reliable gun i've ever owned. And in 9mm, its accuracy at 50-100 yards is really surprising.
    Like I think i'd actually trust my life to this...thing.

    November 14, 2018 7:10 am
  • Jason

    Why not a 5.56 bullpup instead?

    November 13, 2018 8:13 pm
  • full METAL

    Needs moar B&T !

    November 5, 2018 11:47 am
  • Bill

    How about an article on pistol caliber rifle ballistics. I have a 357 and 44 Henry but can not find anything on ballistics for them with 38s or 44 specials. I was thing about a PC carbine but could it take down a deer at 100 yards in a survival scenario.

    October 12, 2018 3:32 pm
  • mike

    You attach a photo of the Ruger Police carbine, but dont write anything about them?
    Ruger is making them again in a take down version. I own a Ruger PC4 (40 caliber) and a Marlin Camp 9 carbine which I consider 2 of the best., yet a plastic hi point $200 gun gets recommended?
    Please explain that?

    September 7, 2018 3:38 pm
    • John

      Thank you. I wouldn't use that High Point to start a fire with.

      September 29, 2018 1:37 pm
      • Erik H Hansen

        Have you shot a High Point 9mm carbine? Ugly - yes. Reliable - absolutely.

        November 29, 2019 8:38 am
    • LazrBeam

      Roger that on the Marlin Camp 9. And the Ruger .44 Mag carbine, even though it only held 4 rds, should have been an honorable mention. And, let’s don’t forget the M-1 carbine. It’s being newly manufactured to mil-specs.

      December 14, 2019 10:51 pm
  • David Barbee

    The Beretta CX4 Storm is easy to convert for left handed shooters.

    August 4, 2018 10:51 am
  • henry

    I know I'm old but ever heard of a M-1 carbine? Basically a hot 357 Mag.

    June 20, 2018 11:15 am
    • David

      M1-Carbine, with the right mags, is a great little gun! But .30 Carbine nor the M1-Carbine really fit into the "Pistol-caliber". .30 Carbine is technically a rifle cartridge and finding a pistol chambered in it is very hard to do. The only current production one I know of is the Ruger Blackhawk.

      Still, handy little rifle and nice cartridge that doesn't get much credit these days.

      June 20, 2018 3:32 pm
  • For Reals?

    I hate to keep being the buzzkill on this site, especially since everything here is well-written, well-researched, and really accessible to the casual shooter/observer, but if we shooters don’t nip these common misconceptions in the bud they’re just going to keep plaguing us and weighing down progress.

    1. A PCC legally has to be the same length as the shortest rifle (around 26 inches total length). Unless you shell out the $200 tax stamp for an SBR, your 16” AR will be as long as you PCC.

    2. In the majority of states, including Stand Your Ground (SYG) states, engaging any target at 25 yards is hard to prove as defensive, unless of course they are ACTIVELY shooting at you, and at that point a rifle maybe be a shade better for stoping the fight. You’ll see the phrase “a duty to retreat” more than “snipe that fool” in legal docs.

    3. No Auto Ordinance? For shame (shakin my head). I’m just playing but I have had the honor of firing a WWII era Thompson and it was butter-smooth.

    Other than that, great stuff PewPew. Again, your articles are fantastic. Keep’em coming!

    June 12, 2018 2:35 pm
    • David S

      You're wrong about the length requirement. If the gun started its life as a pistol and you don't put an actual stock on it, there is no length requirement. You can attach a pistol brace instead. Disclaimer, not a lawyer, but the common interpretation of the ATF's current position (October 2018) is that you can legally touch the pistol brace to your shoulder as if it were a stock, as long as your intent when you built or bought wasn't just to circumvent the SBR laws. If you get yourself a braced pistol and happen to touch that brace to your shoulder when your hear a bump in the night, I don't think you have to worry about being prosecuted over it.

      Also, the Thompson has fallen out of favor for good reason - it's a wildly outdated design. Most obviously, it's *HEAVY*, and it's expensive to make. In full-auto, it's fun but outclassed by modern submachine gun designs. In the semi-auto versions available to regular folks, it's wildly impractical, except for the "neat" factor. Don't buy a Thompson for home defense.

      October 18, 2018 3:57 pm
  • robin

    Thoughts on CMMG MkGs GUARD Glock fed magazines and uses Radial Delayed Blowback operating system?

    May 28, 2018 8:37 pm
  • Bob Anson

    Pallmetto Statt Armory 9mm

    April 8, 2018 2:35 pm
  • Mccrummen837

    Anyone know the name of the green rifle at the bottom?

    January 31, 2018 4:35 pm
    • Jon

      That's an AR-9 pistol dude.

      March 20, 2018 5:16 am
  • Tom Arnold

    what do you think of the new Ruger PCC?

    January 11, 2018 5:23 am
    • Eric Hung

      It looks awesome and I can't wait to try it out at SHOT show soon.

      January 12, 2018 5:23 pm
      • Thomas Arnold

        curious how it compares to the Scorpion and others reviewed here

        January 15, 2018 7:44 am
  • R. B. Avery

    Oh, I forgot about the Kriss Vector CRB? I am pointing you in the direction of review at least 15 to 25 different 9mm PCC manufacturers so that we have a more comprehensive list of what's out there from $300 to $2500.00

    December 11, 2017 1:56 pm
  • R. B. Avery

    Great article Brandon, I am impressed with your presentation and I like the position you have taken on 9mm PCC, however you have overlooked a large number of new and old 9mm PCC on the market that are all quality made carbines and higher priced carbines, start with Thureon Defense 9mm, ATI-Mil Tech Sport, Nordic Modular 9mm, Dark storm 9mm, Wilson Combat 9mm (which is overpriced) FX-9 PCC ($599) from channel on U-Tube, Sig 9mm (how did you miss this one?) and finally the new comer the J-68/69 this is a Bullpup 9mm using Glock magazines you need to test and review this one! finally when you do your follow-up on 9mm PCC don't forget to review and recommend scopes and red DOTs everybody is leaving 9mm carbine people out on a limb when it comes to sights? Brandon start with Primary Arms 2.5X with the ACSS reticle, this scope is already calibrated for the 9mm 115 and 124 grain!

    December 11, 2017 1:47 pm
  • Scrum

    Great article Brandon! I own or have shot a few of these, or derivatives thereof. I'm most interested, however, in the last picture you have in the article, which is not one of the five firearms you summarized. It's the OD/FDE one with a SBM4 brace in your "Parting Words..." section. Any idea what AR-like, pistol carbine lower that is?

    December 8, 2017 8:27 am
  • Byron

    I love my Beretta CX4 Storm 9 mm. Accurate, dependable, light, powerful enough, and fun. I also consider my Marlin 1894c .357 mag a pistol caliber carbine.

    September 30, 2017 5:06 pm
  • Joel

    The thing people need to keep in mind is, sure you can buy sweet carbine for $1000-$2500, but if someone breaks into your house and you're in the right to shoot, your gun WILL be confiscated as evidence and there will be no guarantee that you will get it back in a timely fashion or get it back at all. So you might what to factor that into your decision in how much you want to shell out for a carbine.

    September 11, 2017 4:54 pm
    • Scrum

      Very true Joel. We likely won't get the firearm back, even if it is a good shoot. Of course, I'll be more focused on finding a great lawyer for the life altering criminal and/or civil litigation that's sure to ensue!

      That said, however, if I'm ever forced into that situation, I want in my hands the most reliable firearm I can purchase, AND with which I can afford to train regularly. We all have budgets, and it certainly doesn't take $1,000+ to procure a reliable firearm.

      For 99% of the population, myself included, I'd humbly suggest that any excess budget we get to enjoy is better spent training--on and off the range--for the event we hope we never have to experience, than spent on an overly pretty, galactically "tacticool", "mine was more expensive than yours" firearm with which we never train. If one can afford to train with both a tacticool and reliable home defense firearm...then all the better!

      December 8, 2017 8:51 am
  • Joseph Horta

    So is it considered an AR? Or is it strictly a pistol that lo0ks like an AR? I have totally ignored this product because I purchased my LWRC Di so this is me being lazy. I am from CA so it is most likely illegal here anyway,

    July 28, 2017 9:56 am
    • John

      Joseph- another CA owner here... I have a PCC here and it is, indeed, treated as an "assault weapon." Simply put, that means no pistol grip, flash hider, adjustable stock, or front grip. Since all of these have pistol grips you'll need a grip wrap to make it legal.

      I got mine from Solar Tactical and have no complaints.

      While having a PCC with a grip wrap isn't as cool as the above firearms, the setup still provides an awesomely fun firearm.

      November 30, 2017 4:28 pm
  • ralph

    I like that you included a picture of a Ruger PC9, but you did not identify it. It is a great match up with the Ruger P-series pistols. It is a great 9mm carbine. They don't make them anymore, but used PC9s can be found on gun auctions sites, just be prepared to pay $800+ to get one.

    July 20, 2017 3:26 am

    I think a 10mm carbine would be ideal. Flat shooting and packs a punch way more than any other caliber. More rounds than a .45 and slightly less than 9mm in mags. I believe H&K made sub guns in 10mm at one time. Cannot think of any reason why the 10mm would be a bad choice.

    June 11, 2017 4:33 am
    • Connor H

      Hi Point recently released a 10mm version of their carbine. Also, Mech-tech makes glock conversion "uppers" for the G20.

      April 22, 2018 9:17 am
  • Craig Fisher

    Just wanted to say I have a hi-point 40 cal. Carbine and a 9mm and 40mm hand gun love them all never had a problem with any of them being a former police officer I have shot many different types of firearms and I compare it as a cheaper version of a glock loved my glocks but also have been very impressed with hi-point.

    June 7, 2017 6:49 pm
  • Vapor

    Not sure why so little was said about the CZ Scorpion Evo 3 in relation to the other carbines listed. These things are very accurate, quality made, light and tough as nails. I love the HK too, but a ten round magazine seems a bit paltry in a home defense scenario. All things being equal, sometimes more = better.

    June 5, 2017 10:52 am
  • Tom

    What carbine is in the last photo?

    June 4, 2017 8:11 am
  • Dave

    I bought a Hi-Point 995 TS and it does perform. I've fired different types and different brands of ammo. No FTF or FTE. I've even mixed type and brand in the same magazine with no problems. Nice carbine. Hi-Point pistols...not so much. The only draw back is the 10rd magazine. A 20 rd mag is made, but it extends too far to be really practical.

    June 2, 2017 2:50 pm
  • RV1959

    What about Just Right Carbines? They're great guns build along the lines of an AR-15 platform so many of the AR components can be used in it.. There are a number of calibers available for it and you can get conversion kits to change calibers.

    June 2, 2017 6:29 am
  • BarEnosh

    I own both Keltec sub2K and CZ Scorpion. Installed lasers and red dots on both to cover medium and long range scenarios ... super hard to put down at range, too addictive ... and I agree with you that it's perhaps the best home defense tools (even better than tactical shotguns I have, thanks for the great review

    June 1, 2017 8:26 pm
  • Steve

    I own a Sig MPX, absolute dream to shoot, Folding SIG brace, 30 round, put a red dot on top and a green laser/light combo on under side.

    June 1, 2017 5:52 pm
  • Jason

    Where is the Kriss Vector CRB?

    June 1, 2017 5:19 pm
  • Stephen Brunner

    I have owned a 995 TS for several years and love it. It is fun and effective, particularly with a nice red dot on it.

    June 1, 2017 5:11 pm
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