Ruger PC Carbine Review [2021 + Video]

by Ryan Cleckner

January 6, 2021

1 comments

3.8
(15)

The Ruger PC Carbine is effectively a slightly larger Ruger 10/22 takedown that shoots 9mm.  Now that I’ve had it for a couple years, what do I think about it?  Read on in our 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

The Ruger 10/22 is one of those firearms that every American should have – they’re a ton of fun, simple, and there are a plethora of accessories.

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 it easy to remove and re-install the barrel and front handguard.

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

Well, it’s quite possibly the easiest way to explain what the Ruger PC Carbine is and help explain some of its design history.

Previously, Ruger offered a “Police Carbine” up until 2007 that was a dead-ringer for the 10/22 (you could easily mistake it from across the room) and which fired 9mm or .40 S&W pistol cartridges.

Trust me, these two were super easy to confuse–even for the well-trained eye.

In late 2017, Ruger announced that they were bringing back the pistol caliber carbine in a newer design, with the new take-down barrel system, and it would include a threaded barrel and it could take Glock magazines!

Effectively, the Ruger PC Carbine is a slightly larger 10/22 takedown that is chambered in 9mm.

Upon seeing the announcement, I knew I had to have one because I was positive an accessory would eventually make it to market that would make this Ruger PC Carbine that much cooler. More on this 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 either run Ruger 9 or Glock magazines.

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?”

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

I mumbled through, “well, for a survival gun it could be handy to have a rifle that broke in half for compact storage and that shot 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 – there is also a chassis version available. As far as I’m concerned, the chassis version is stupid. There, I said it. Don’t get the chassis version.
If you’re looking for a 9mm carbine with “AR-like” features, get a Sig MPX or a CZ Scorpion. Where the standard rifle version of the Ruger PC Carbine really shines is in its simplicity and clean-ish 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 should arrive Fall 2020.

I’m definitely getting one and I think you should consider it too – if you are, then this is another reason to not get the chassis version. 

What I like:

I love the simplicity of the Ruger PC Carbine in the standard rifle version. It has clean lines and its no-frills design makes 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. For me, it just makes more sense 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 was willing to allow 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 are what 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.

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.

Video Review of the Ruger PC 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

TBD

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Ruger PC Carbine Starter Pack

The Ruger PC Carbine is a decent firearm for those looking to pickup a PCC. However, there’s a few accessories you should pick up to make your quality of life better. The following are just the basics to get you started.

  • Magazines: Mag shopping for this PCC is an absolute dream. Not only will the Ruger PC Carbine accept Ruger mags, it also comes with a magazine well module that allows it to take Gen 3, 4, or 5 Glock magazines! G19 PMAGs at Brownells
  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Gloryfire Universal Cleaning Kit on Amazon
  • Hearing Protection: Even if you slap a can on here and shoot subsonic, this gun can still be loud enough to do damage to your ears. Check out our Best Hearing Protection article to find out the best options for you.
  • Shooting Glasses: When you hit the range, you’re going to need a comfortable pair of shooting glasses. Figure out which we think are the Best Shooting Glasses out there!
  • Storage: Peak Case Ruger 9 PC Violin Case on Amazon

Ruger PC Carbine Gun Deals

It may not surprise you, but these guns are getting more and more popular as the days go by. And it can be quite frustrating to locate a good deal or even one in stock. Above are some marketplaces that you can find the Ruger PC Carbine.

Disclaimer: Priced at time of writing. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Upgrades and Accessories for the Ruger PC Carbine

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

Best Accessories for the Ruger PC Carbine

AccessoryDetailsCheck Price
Viking Tactical Quick Adjust Sling
  • 2 point design
  • Padded for Max Comfort
  • Quick Pull Tab for Rapid Adjustments
Check Price
Surefire X300U-A
  • 1000 Lumens
  • Large Center Spot Beam
  • Easy to Mount
  • Ambidextrous Switching
Check Price
Sig Romeo 4H Red Dot
  • Cowitness QR Mount and Low Mount Included
  • IPX-7 Rated
  • Over 50,000 Hour Battery Life
Check Price
Sig SRD 9 Silencer
Sig SRD 9
  • Stainless Steel Baffles for Durability
  • Lightweight and Maneuverable
  • Shoots Great with Subsonic Rounds
Check Price

Magpul Backpacker Stock

This one gets its own mention. And that’s because it’s not even available yet! But rest assured that once it is, we’re getting one. Coming out in Fall 2020, the Magpul Backpacker stock is going to be a serious game changer when it comes to the Ruger PC Carbine.

It’s a full on Magpul makeover complete with QD swivels and hidden compartments. Plus, the handguard adds a couple of valuable MLOK slots. We can’t just can’t wait fast enough.

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

Other Pistol Caliber Carbines of Its Class to Check Out

PCC’s are fun to shoot and very cool. And there’s a bunch of different models out there. Here are two other options if you’re looking for a PCC–but with a little dramatic flair.

#1 KelTec Sub 2000

KelTec Sub 2000

Sold at Palmetto State Armory

Reminiscent of a modernized Sten gun, this one-in-a-million style PCC is designed to be light, handy, and compact.

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability C
  • Ergonomics B
  • Reliability A+
  • Value A+
  • Accuracy C

Our Grade

B

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Variation? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

If you’re looking for that bare bones simple look, you might want to check out the KelTec SUB 2000. Like the Ruger PC Carbine, it’s a 9mm PCC, but it more lightweight and foldable. This a perfect gun to take with you while backpacking or…READ MORE

#2 CMMG Banshee : MK17 300 Series

CMMG Banshee

A premium PCC option for those looking for tons of features and a fun gun to shoot

Check Latest Price

  • Shootability A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Reliability A
  • Value C
  • Accuracy B

Our Grade

B+

Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

Reader’s Grade

TBD

Based on 0 Reviews

Your Grade

Do You Own This Gun? Leave A Review

Success Your Grade Has Been
Added To Our Reader’s Score

If the Ruger PC Carbine is a bit too simple and not as beefed up as you want, there’s always the CMMG Banshee MK17 300 Series. It’s the latest PCC from CMMG, and let me say this…it’s one bad machine…READ MORE 

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.

Important Links and Manuals for Your Ruger PC Carbine

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.

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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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1 COMMENTS

  1. Great review. I enjoy my Ruger PCC. It’s not really practical for anything – I’d rather have a rifle caliber for a truck gun. But it’s fun for plinking, and a bit more boom than a 10/22. It’s fun like an air rifle or a slingshot. No one NEEDs it. I put the Midwest forend on it so I could use a thumb-over grip and not be touching the barrel, but the traditional stock doesn’t really work with that, so a traditional grip it is. They do make a version with a pistol grip that might work better, but that makes it an evil assault weapon out here on the west coast 🙁

    My only gripe is that the placement of the mag release and light spring make it so I’ve accidentally dropped the mag a few times just by touching it with my palm while holding the rifle.

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