The Pistol Caliber Carbine market is hot right now and for good reason! They are loads of fun and great training to boot! Since a box of 9mm is about half the price and muzzle blast of .223/5.56 a PCC makes a great training tool for new shooters. For those that aren’t following, a Pistol Caliber Carbine or PCC is a short rifle that will shoot a common pistol round. A rifle that will use the same ammo as my handgun and is fun to shoot, where do I sign up? I mean, where do I start? There are several really good options on the market currently, with still lots of innovation to come. I’ve done some homework and laid out a plan to test and review several major options. My plan is to also shoot competition with this rifle in the new PCC divisions as well as have fun at the range and use it to teach new shooters. The big question for those interested in PCC is, which platform to buy into?
Right now on the market we have several viable options.
- AR Based Platform
- Sig MPX
- MP5 Variant
- CZ Scorpion EVO
There are more on the market and a few of these I considered briefly but due to price and/or lack of options they aren’t being considered further.
First we have the AR based 9mm or AR9, within this platform there are several companies making parts and this is expanding, so the old AR platform is a solid option. The AR can use magazines from Colt, Glock, Beretta, and even Mp5 with the right lower receiver. With about 7 or so companies making dedicated lowers for Glock magazines alone, the AR9 has some good options and room to grow. The big advantage here is all the normal AR style parts and accessories that will work, so building your own from the receiver isn’t difficult. Accessories like stocks, rails, and triggers have enough options to drive you nuts trying to find the right one. If you prefer to buy a complete rifle you can also do that from several companies such as Lone Wolf, JP Rifles, Wilson Combat, Tresna Defense, and Angstadt Arms.
Sig Sauer has created the MPX which is semi-based on the AR, chambered in 9mm. The issues I have with the Sig MPX is that it’s much heavier then it needs to be and its use of proprietary parts. It does use some standard AR parts like the trigger and safety selector but that’s about it. With many proprietary parts and mags it could make customizing it tricky. Also at a street price of $1700 it’s pretty high, and at this price point you could toss in Mp5 clones.
The last option that appealed to me was a CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Carbine, and a dadgum good one at that. With a street price of around $900 and cheap mags it’s a strong contender for sure. However, like most guns, the EVO needs a few upgrades to get into the party, and those upgrades are quite pricey. Many people are jumping on this platform as it’s priced right and it is getting aftermarket support.
So my decision didn’t come lightly nor quickly. I want a gun that runs well, has options, and has solid aftermarket support. I do plan on shooting USPSA’s new PCC division and possibly 3-Gun or other local matches. So I need a platform that is known for reliability. Part of my decision is also that I also shoot Glocks in competition and own several AR-15 based rifles, so it seems fitting that I should have an AR based carbine. I will review an AR based 9mm carbine (AR9) that uses Glock mags. I’m choosing to build two of them for review and comparison.
Why two? Because with all the options on the market I’m wanting to compare the budget build to a high-end build. I’m going to do a value build sourcing budget minded parts. However I may take the liberty to make some common upgrades to get a better result. Since I’m building it, I can get the value upgrades right off the bat to enhance the result while keeping the cost down. I’m budgeting $800 for this build minus optics.
The high end build will use “premium” parts, most likely from well known companies. Definite upgrades to key parts, while some items may not be the most expensive because you just don’t need to spend $300 on a rail for example. Budget is $1400 minus optics.
I want to hear your suggestions, let me know what you want to see in the comments! I’m also hoping to review a few complete 9mm carbines by prominent manufacturers which will also be a good comparison.