Ruger PC Carbine Review [Video]

by Ryan Cleckner

March 15, 2023

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4.2
(31)

The Ruger PC Carbine is effectively a slightly larger Ruger 10/22 takedown that shoots 9mm.  Now that I’ve had it for a few years, what do I think about it?  Read the Gun University Ruger PC Carbine review to find out.

Ruger PC Carbine Specs

  • Capacity 17
  • Caliber 9mm
  • Sights Protected Blade (Front Sight), Adjustable Ghost Ring (Rear)
  • Barrel Feature Threaded and Fluted
  • Thread Pattern 1/2″ x 28
  • Overall Length 34.37″
  • Barrel Length 16.12″
  • Weight 6.8 lbs

Ruger PC Carbine Background

We’ll take a step back before we move forward: the Ruger 10/22. It’s one of those firearms that every American should have – they’re a ton of fun, and simple, and there are many accessories available for ’em.

It is a direct blowback action (it doesn’t lock like most firearms) and comes in many different models.

One of the latest is a take-down option that makes removing and re-installing the barrel and front handguard easy.

Why am I discussing a Ruger 10/22 in a Ruger PC Carbine review?

It’s not just because it’s maybe the most common Ruger out there. It’s because that’s the easiest way to explain what the weapon is. It will also help explain some of the design history of the Ruger PC carbine 9mm.

Ruger previously offered a “Police Carbine” that was a dead-ringer for the 10/22. You could easily mistake it from across the room. That weapon, which fired 9mm or .40 S&W pistol cartridges, was produced until 2007.

Trust me; these two were super easy to confuse. Even for the well-trained eye.

In late 2017, the company announced that they were bringing back the Ruger pistol caliber carbine. This one would be in a newer design, with a new take-down barrel system, that would include a threaded barrel, and that feeds from a Glock magazine!

The Ruger PC Carbine is effectively a slightly larger version of 10/22 takedown but chambered in 9mm Luger.

I knew the moment I saw the announcement that I had to have one. I was positive we’d eventually see an accessory that would make the Ruger PC Carbine much, much cooler. I’ll explain more below.

Ruger PC Carbine Features

Ruger-PC-Carbine-Features
1 Ambidextrous Charging Handle

Charging handle able to be swapped to allow running the gun with either hand instead of over the top AK-style action.

2 Adaptable Magazine Modules

Depending on which magazine module you have installed, you can run either a Ruger SR9 magazine or Glock mag.

3 Top-Notch Iron Sights

The forward sight is composed of a protected blade with curved outers with an adjustable ghost ring in the rear.

4 Threaded Barrel

Once you slap a can on here, there’s no turning back–especially if you’re shooting subsonics.

Ruger PC Carbine – Our Take

On my last trip to the range for this review, I was challenged by the other GunUniversity Co-Founder about this platform.

After I told him that I was really starting to like the PC Carbine, and knowing that I think that most guns should have a purpose, he asked, “So, what’s a 9mm carbine really for? When would you use it besides a trip to the range? Home defense, something else?”

It was a great question, namely because I couldn’t answer it.

I mumbled through a response. “Well, for a survival gun, it could be handy to have a rifle that broke in half for compact storage, something with quick separation and reassembly, and that shoots the same ammo and used the same mags as your pistol.”

But as I heard myself saying that I realized that such a “Red Dawn” rifle probably shouldn’t be in a relatively weak pistol caliber. Also, it’s pretty heavy for what it is and it really isn’t that small when broken down.

If I wanted light and small, there are surely better firearms for the task. If I wanted something suitable in a survival scenario, surely I’d want a proper rifle caliber.

Ok, so maybe it isn’t really a great “backpacking” rifle nor is it a great “end of the world” rifle. So… the question remained… what’s it for? And whatever you could use it for, is there something other than a 9mm carbine that is more suitable?

As we shot some video for this review and were generally having fun shooting the gun (it really is a lot of fun to shoot), it finally hit me what a 9mm carbine, in general, is great for…

Suppressed sub-sonic shooting!

Sure, it’s fun to plink with it. But so are other guns.

Sure, it breaks down to be more compact. But other guns are smaller (and lighter).

Where a 9mm carbine really shines is when you are shooting it with a silencer and you are shooting subsonic ammo (my favorite is 150gr Sellier & Bellot – partly because they send me some every so often and partly because I’ve never had an issue with it and when you’re capping a bullet’s speed, heavier is better).

I’ve known it’s good for this but it wasn’t until I was challenged on it did I think about it for a while that it really rang true. I love 300 Blackout, but 9mm carbines are cheaper to shoot and if I’m limiting myself to pistol power (sub-sonic 300 BLK is effectively a pointy 45 AUTO), might as well have the same ammo that I can shoot in my pistol.

Ok, I can finally justify the “need” for a 9mm carbine; now let’s finally get into THIS 9mm carbine, the Ruger PC Carbine.

I own and tested the standard rifle version – a chassis version is also available. As far as I’m concerned, the chassis version is stupid. There, I said it. Don’t get the chassis version.

Get a Sig MPX or a CZ Scorpion if you’re looking for a 9mm carbine with “AR-like” features. The standard rifle version of the Ruger PC Carbine really shines in its simplicity and clean lines.

The chassis version adds an AR-like handguard that looks like it doesn’t belong with a barrel towards the top end (it looks weird). It also adds a pistol grip that isn’t conducive to the cross-block safety style nor position and you have to move your hand anyway to operate the bolt catch.

If you’re looking to add a light to the front, Ruger already thought of that and cleverly included a Picatinny rail section at the front of the stock.

The standard rifle version, however, is MUCH more familiar (it’s like a grown-up 10/22, remember?), and I think it’s easier to use. Of course, it helps that it doesn’t look obnoxious like the chassis version. 

Another reason to save your money and get the standard version instead is one of the main (maybe the main) reasons I bought the PC Carbine…I knew Magpul was surely going to make a backpacker stock for it.

The Magpul backpacker X-22 stock for the Ruger 10/22 takedown is an awesome upgrade. It allows the barrel and forend to be stored in and along with the buttstock, it provides extra storage, allows you to mount M-Lok accessories to the forend, and provides QD sockets for a sling. Super cool.

As soon as I saw the PC Carbine from Ruger, I immediately thought of the backpacker stock and how awesome it would be in a slightly bigger version for the 9mm big brother. I figured that Magpul couldn’t miss this opportunity so I bought a PC Carbine and waited.

Low and behold, Magpul has announced that they’re making a backpacker stock for the PC Carbine and it arrived in the Fall of 2020.

I got one (as you can tell), and I think you should consider it, too – if you are, then this is another reason not to get the chassis version. 

What I like:

I love the simplicity of the Ruger PC Carbine in the standard rifle version. Its clean lines and no-frills design make it more enjoyable for me to shoot.

The charging handle can be moved to the left side (unlike the 10/22) – this is a neat feature, and it is where my charging handle is. It makes more sense for me to load a mag and release the bolt with my left hand.

I like the sights. I know that many others don’t like the short sight radius, but I understand why the rear sight is so forward on the barrel – it is because it is a take-down rifle! If the barrel doesn’t perfectly align from one installation to the next (it won’t), it doesn’t matter because having both sights on the barrel means that they’ll still align with wherever the barrel is pointing. Also, Ruger put quality sights here and didn’t skimp.

I also really like the last-round bolt hold-open feature. I can’t remember it ever failing to hold the bolt open after the last round in the magazine was fired. I also like the Picatinny rail on the forend (it’s a nice touch) and the factory-threaded barrel.

In fact, now that I have 9mm carbines figured out, no 9mm rifle should ever come without a threaded barrel.

I also love that Ruger allowed another company’s magazines to work in their firearm. It comes from the factory working with Ruger mags, but they ship the Ruger PC Carbine with an adapter to use Glock magazines! This feature and the hope of a Magpul backpacker stock helped sell me on purchasing my own.

Of course, what I think I love most is that it is a TON of fun to shoot and it is very quiet with my Sig SRD-9 silencer attached. I expected a direct blowback action to be a bit louder than a locking action due to some of the noise coming out of the action but the Ruger is still quiet – perhaps it is because of the very heavy bolt weight?

What I don’t like:

The Ruger PC Carbine is heavy – noticeably heavier than other 9mm carbines. In general, heavier is not ideal but it is even more of an issue when the firearm takes down for easy storage in a backpack for hiking – heavy is not good. Some of this comes from the dead blow action intended to soften recoil.

Now, I get that the bolt needs to be heavy in order to retard the system enough to make it function. Got it. However, some weight could surely be saved elsewhere without adding too much cost.

Another thing I’m not fond of?… the magazine release. The only way to release the old magazine is to hit the button with your left thumb and strip the magazine form the gun prior to inserting a new one. I understand why it works the way it does out of simplicity and, honestly, there’s not really a better option to have it release with the trigger finger due to the 10/22-ish design. However, it’s still a bit of a “hmmm, not ideal but it works” situation. Also, as a “non-tactical” gun (in design and use) I’m not sure quick mag changes are really a big deal.

Conclusion:

The Ruger PC Carbine is extremely reliable (I’ve yet to have a malfunction), reasonably accurate (I’m plinking things with iron sights), and pretty darn quiet with the right silencer and ammo. It is also fairly affordable compared to other options, and it is a ton of fun.

If you want a “non-tactical” 9mm carbine that’s reliable and a lot of fun to shoot, you really should check this one out. In fact, this Ruger PC Carbine topped our list for best Pistol Caliber Carbine!

Ruger PC Carbine Pros and Cons

  • Ambidextrous Charging Handle
  • Great Sights
  • Bolt Hold Open Feature
  • Threaded Barrel
  • Mag Release is Clunky
  • Heavier than Other Platforms

Report Card

Reliability

We experienced no malfunctions and the bolt held open on the last round every time.

A+
Accuracy

It’s not super accurate, but it’s enough for plinking.

B
Shootability

There’s something about a traditional rifle stock I like – easy to use and operate.

A
Ergonomics

This rifle just feels good–no small thanks in part to the ambidextrous charging handle.

B
Value

Compared to other 9mm carbines, this is a good value.

A

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

A

Based on 20 Reviews

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Upgrades and Accessories for the Ruger PC Carbine

If you want to upgrade this weapon, there’s ample room to do so. Aside from swapping the ambi controls, there are some definite parts you can purchase to make the Ruger PC Carbine your own. Here are some of our recommendations:

Best Ammo for Your Ruger PC Carbine

When it comes to the Ruger PC Carbine, we definitely recommend picking up some faster range rounds when target shooting. But if you’re just out plinking, you’ll have an incredible time shooting subsonic–especially if you’ve put a can on it.

Range Rounds

MagTech-9mm-Ammo

MagTech 9mm 115 GR FMJ Ammo

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Natchez Shooter’s Supply $0.24
Brownells $0.23
Palmetto State Armory $0.34

Subsonic Ammunition

Sellier-and-Bellot-Subsonic-9mm

S&B 140 GR Subsonic Ammo

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
Brownells $0.28
Natchez Shooter’s Supply $0.29

Best Accessories for the Ruger PC Carbine

Magpul Backpacker Stock
  • Breaks down into a compact, easily-transported package
  • M-LOK slots at 3 and 9 o’clock
  • Multiple QD cup mounting locations
  • Water-resistant grip storage
On Primary Arms
Magpul MS1 Sling
  • Every rifle should have a sling and a light
  • MS1 slider provides rapid adjustments
  • Strong and wear resistant
  • Survived testing with tens of thousands of cycles in wet, dry and sandy conditions.
Check price
Thorntail light mount
  • 4 light mounting positions
  • 45 degree offset for ergonomic activation
  • Ambidextrous 4 total hand-guard mounting solutions
  • Designed by Haley Strategic for use with laser aiming device
Check price
Surefire M640U Scout Light Pro
  • Proven WML option
  • 1000 Lumen Ultra Hight Output LED
  • Rugged and reliable
  • Mil-Spec Hard Anodized finish, and O-ring sealed to keep out the elements.
Check price
Streamlight ProTac HL-X Rechargeable Long Gun Light
  • Less expensive WML option
  • Up to 22-hour battery life
  • TEN-TAP Programming
  • Includes 2 switch controls (single button & remote pressure switch)
  • Dual fuel capable
  • Includes USB-rechargeable battery pack with charging cord
Check price
Aimpoint CompM5b
  • Excellent (higher end) WML option
  • Quickly adjust the reticle in accordance with projectile ballistics and distance to target
  • Wind compensation adjustment in 3 levels
  • Compatible with the Aimpoint 3X & 6XMag-1 magnifiers
On Amazon
Vortex Viper PST 1-6X
  • Lightweight good quality LPVO option
  • Hash-marked reticle using MOA or MRAD
  • 3.8″ eye relief
  • 112.5-18.8 ft/100 yds

 

Check price

Ruger PC Charger

Ruger PC Charger

The Ruger PC Charger is close cousin of the Ruger PC Carbine; a pistol cousin (not the concealed carry kind). Unfortunately, that’s now (or shortly will be) an SBR. Like the Ruger PC9, the PC Charger can be fed with a Glock 9mm or Ruger SR9 magazine.

 

How to Care for Your Ruger PC Carbine

There’s no way you can call yourself a proper gun owner if you can’t even clean your firearm. Part of being a responsible owner is knowing how to perform basic takedowns and maintenance. But sometimes taking down your weapon for the first time can be confusing. Thankfully, Patrick Hayden from Kentucky Gun Co. has put together a quality video on how to takedown your carbine and even swap out magazine well modules.

This is definitely a neat firearm, and you may want to get some more insight. We don’t blame you. Start with some of these links that we found helpful ourselves.

Ruger PC Carbine Video Review

Here’s something for those of you who learn better via video than reading.

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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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