Even though I had assumed I knew enough, almost everything I had...
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Photos by AZPhotoMan
The sound of a roaring engine wakes you from your sleep. You leap out of bed and look out the window, only to see your truck speeding backward out of the driveway with a stranger behind the wheel. As the man slams your truck into gear and takes off down the block, you notice the neighbors frantically throwing suitcases into their van. You can hear sirens echoing in the distance. Whatever’s happening, it’s not good. Now's the time to get your family to a safer location, but the highways are sure to be jammed with frantic drivers, so you grab your bug-out bags and prepare to hit the road on foot.
In this hypothetical scenario, what weapons would you bring? A compact 9mm handgun, such as a Glock 19, provides a concealable means of personal protection, so it would be a good place to start. However, relying entirely on a pistol might be unwise in the long run. The limited range and accuracy of a handgun may not suffice when the time comes to hunt for food. On the other hand, running out of the city with a rifle in hand may draw unwanted attention.
Long-time readers of this magazine might recall the Ruger 10/22 Takedown survival rifle we built in Issue 8. Such a rifle is lightweight, packable, great for hunting small game, and could make a strong addition to your bug-out loadout. However, it would also require carrying extra magazines and .22LR ammo, a caliber that isn’t optimal for personal defense or hunting larger animals.
Ruger has released a new rifle that shares the spirit of the 10/22 Takedown, but potentially offers more versatility and stopping power. The Ruger PC Carbine is a takedown model chambered in 9mm rather than .22LR. Better yet, it’s compatible with the extra Glock magazines you’d already be carrying in the scenario above. This means you’d need to carry fewer mags and only one type of ammo, simplifying your load out.
Intrigued by the potential value of this rifle, we set out to learn more about it and test one firsthand at the range.
Ruger’s first attempt at a pistol-caliber carbine came in the Ruger Police Carbine that hit the market in 1996. The Police Carbine was marketed as a shoulder-fired companion for use alongside Ruger’s P-series pistol, as both used the same feeding source. Citing low demand, the Police Carbine was discontinued by Ruger in 2006.
Over the years, loyal customers have refused to accept the demise of Ruger’s pistol-caliber carbine line and, according to president and CEO Chris Killoy, “have long been requesting the return of a Ruger pistol-caliber carbine.” Ruger obliged its customers’ requests with the reincarnation of its pistol-caliber carbine in the form of the PC Carbine. This versatile and highly customizable firearm brings many desirable features that are sure to be as popular with RECOIL OFFGRID readers as its price tag.
We met this lovechild of the Ruger Police Carbine and the Ruger 10/22 Takedown a few weeks before its official release date. After spending some time disassembling, reconfiguring, reassembling, and shooting this lovely medley of glass-filled nylon and steel, here’s what we learned.
Like its Police Carbine predecessor, this new carbine utilizes a dead-blow action. The bolt is held forward by its inertia and spring pressure. A custom tungsten dead-blow weight shortens bolt travel and reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise.
The Ruger PC Carbine has a cold hammer-forged, chrome-moly steel barrel with precision rifling. The barrel is fluted for weight reduction, bringing the gun in at just 6.8 pounds with an empty tank. The Model 19100 featured here is threaded with a ½-inch-28 thread pattern for use with standard muzzle accessories and comes with a screw-on thread protector. For those living in more restrictive locales, the Model 19101 includes all the same features, minus the scary barrel threading. (NOTE: This is the same muzzle thread pitch as standard AR-15 barrels. Make sure any muzzle device you attach to the PC Carbine is, in fact, a 9mm muzzle device and not a 5.56mm muzzle device.)
The Ruger 10/22 Takedown has been a popular weapon among outdoorsmen and survivalists because the barrel assembly can be quickly, easily, and safely disassembled and reassembled without losing zero. Capitalizing on a good thing, Ruger designed the PC Carbine in the same fashion, using the already proven locking system of the 10/22 Takedown. Simply push the recessed locking lever and rotate the barrel/fore end assembly counterclockwise to unlock the barrel from the receiver and break the carbine in half, making it backpack compatible.
The most notable feature on the PC Carbine is its interchangeable magazines. Ruger designed the PC Carbine to accept common Ruger 9mm pistol magazines like the SR-Series and Security 9. It can also accept Ruger American Pistol magazines, but that will require the purchase of an optional magazine-well adapter ($30). Ruger could have stopped there and called it a day, but they took things one step further to ensure that this new carbine would be a draw to more than just die-hard Ruger fans. With a quick and easy swap to a mag-well that's included with every PC Carbine, the gun will accept standard Glock 9mm magazines. This is a somewhat unexpected move by Ruger, as they aren’t known for being particularly well supported by the aftermarket or even concerned with ease-of-compatibility for the end user. We’re thankful to see it and, if the S ever really does HTF, you’ll probably be thankful too.
Swapping out magazine well assemblies couldn’t be any easier. Even without the aid of a user’s manual, we were able to figure out how to exchange the preinstalled SR-Series/Security 9 magazine well with the included Glock-compatible magazine well in a matter of minutes. With the barrel/fore end assembly removed, simply remove the receiver from the stock via the two 5/32-inch hex takedown screws, then compress the magazine release and remove the magwell assembly from the top. Slide in the other magwell assembly, and you’re ready to feed lead from your favorite Glock magazine.
Having options like ambidextrous controls used to be a concern for only the small percentage of left-handed shooters out there, but as shooting techniques and tactics have continued to develop along with firearms technology, the need for customization has become more apparent. That need is compounded when we break away from familiar tactical platforms like the AR-15 and try to carry over our well-ingrained tactics. The customizable features of the PC Carbine help bring the shooter to a happy place where their weapon manipulation skills can be familiar and efficient.
Out of the box, the PC Carbine is set up with the magazine release button on the left side and the charging handle on the right side. Since we here at RECOIL OFFGRID tend to look at things from the aforementioned SHTF perspective, we decided to reconfigure this setup to make it more combat friendly.
After working through some reloads and figuring out the most efficient order of operations, we moved the charging handle to the left side and the mag-release button to the right side. Swapping the charging handle to the left side allowed for FAL-style support-hand operation of the bolt assembly. Having the mag-release on the left side required us to hit the release at an awkward angle using the thumb and reducing the efficiency of the reloading procedure, whereas moving it to the right allowed us to slide the support-hand straight back and hit the release with the middle finger while en route to a fresh magazine on the belt.
To account for body size and length of pull variations between shooters, the PC Carbine comes with three ½-inch spacers that allow the length of pull to be adjusted from 12 5/8- to 14 1/8-inch in ½-inch increments. These spacers sit between the buttstock and recoil pad and are held in place with two hex screws.
The bang switch on the PC Carbine uses 80-percent 10/22 components. The trigger is decent out of the box — it has a crisp pull and positive reset with minimal overtravel. Although we didn’t have a chance to test this theory, it’s quite possible that if one were to obtain certain quality 10/22 aftermarket trigger parts, one might end up with an enhanced trigger worthy of the highest accolades. But again, it’s just a theory.
The PC Carbine is outfitted with a ghost-ring adjustable rear sight and a non-glare, protected front sight. Both sights are mounted on the barrel forward of the receiver. This reduces the sight radius but ensures consistency during takedown and reassembly. All adjustments are made with the rear sight by loosening the windage or elevation set screws and sliding the aperture in the direction you want bullet impact to shift.
The sighting system is probably the PC Carbine’s biggest downfall. The free-sliding aperture and lack of positive click adjustments make small sighting corrections more difficult than necessary, but it's still a functional system. Fortunately, the PC Carbine has plenty of rail space on the receiver, so in keeping with the compact, packable nature of the gun, we installed an EOTech Mini Red Dot Sight (MRDS) for use during testing. It proved to be a perfect companion for the PC Carbine.
With the PC Carbine reconfigured to our liking, we dropped in the Glock magazine well, grabbed a handful of Gen4 9mm Glock magazines, courtesy of Elite Tactical Systems, and headed to the range to see what this baby could do. Included in the range bag were several boxes of Federal’s 115-grain Train + Protect VHP and the newly released 124-grain American Eagle Syntech ammunition.
After getting a quick zero with the MRDS at 25 yards to make sure we were on paper, we moved back to the 50-yard line to get a more suitable zero. At 50 yards, shot grouping was consistently within 1.5 inches with both the 115- and 124-grain. This is quite an acceptable level of accuracy for a pistol-caliber weapon. What’s more, the PC Carbine retained its zero after takedown and reassembly, even with the optic mounted on the receiver.
We spent most of the range time running “up drills” at 15 yards — two- to three-round volleys. The barely noticeable recoil and red-dot optic made target acquisition and follow-up shots quick and accurate. Our chief complaint from a tactical standpoint would be the push-button safety, which requires the shooter to break their shooting grip to put the gun on safe. Not a deal-breaker, though, as this is a common and reliable safety design.
Functionally, the PC Carbine performed quite well. In almost 400 rounds of hard running, we failed to experience a single malfunction. This brings us to our final word of caution. The PC Carbine is extremely fun to shoot, so if you’re not careful, you can easily blow through several boxes of 9mm before you remember you’re not shooting a 10/22.
If you’re looking for a packable long-arm that won’t break the bank and is compatible with your beloved Glock or Ruger-family 9mm pistol, the Ruger PC Carbine might just be the answer. Your bug-out bag will welcome the addition.