Ruger PC Carbine: fixing it for Glock mags

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Ruger PC Carbine with Vortex Razor

If you haven’t heard of, seen, or even shot the Ruger PC Carbine by now you’ve likely been living well and truly under a rock. The Ruger PC Carbine isn’t the first example of a Ruger brand pistol caliber carbine (PCC) but it is the first time one has seen massive success.

Ruger PC9 / Ruger PC4

Ruger originally released a very similar weapon called the PC9 (or PC4 if you’re into .40 S&W). In that weapon, PC stood for Police Carbine. Despite the seemingly LEO-centric name, anyone could buy them. They weren’t just for police officers, though they were handy for LEOs who were already using a Ruger pistol. The PC9 gave ’em a long gun that could be fed with the same magazines and offered a bit more oomph to the bullet (and improved accuracy too, of course). The only issue was, or so it seems, no one really wanted PCCs back then. And so the PC9, Marlin Camp 9, and some of their cousins met a lackluster response and all but disappeared from memory.

Living under a rock

Ruger PC Carbine? What?!?

Fast forward a decade to 2017. PCCs have taken off and are now the new Big Thing (or at least one of the new big things).

Ruger, having had tremendous success with its 10/22 Takedown, took some design cues from that weapon and used to build their PC Carbine: a 9mm or .40 S&W pistol caliber carbine that can be easily taken down into component halves.

I first got my hands on the PC Carbine at SHOT Show a few years ago and after firing it knew I had to get one.

Ruger take-down 9mm carbine

Ruger’s PC Carbine takes many design cues from their extremely successful 10/22.

Takedown carbine in 9mm (Ruger PC Carbine)

This specific model is the Canuckian version so it has an 18.5 in. barrel to keep it non-restricted, but (most) Americans need not worry about that.

You might also like: Ruger PC Carbine vs Kel-Tec Sub2000

9mm Carbine

A buyer typically receives two Ruger Security 9 (SR9) magazines and a Glock magazine well in the PC Carbine box, plus all the other stuff they stuff in there. The first thing I did was swap the Glock magazine well for the already-installed SR9 one. That’s where my first issue arrived, though it wasn’t one I noticed right off the bat.

Switching out the magazine well is as simple as removing the barrel half, using a 5/32 in. Allen key to remove the two bolts on the bottom of the buttstock half. Once you do so you’ll be able to push on the trigger group and lift the entire receiver unit out of the stock.

To swap the magazine well you just press the magazine release in and lift the SR9 (or Glock specific) magwell out and do the same in reverse. Place the receiver back in and tighten the bolts to 65 in/lbs and you are good to begin feeding your PCC with Glock magazines.

Ruger PC Carbine

Now comes the function check…

Ruger PC Carbine with Glock magazine aboard.

Glock Magazine Carbine: minor issue, simple solution

That ominous ellipse above (the ) is because the Glock magwell did not want to play well with others. Though I’d read no reports of the SR9 magazine well causing issues, the same could not be said for its alternate. In this case the last round bolt hold open did not function. It took a lot of consideration, frequent scratching of heads, and well-delivered profanity to come up with a solution.

The problem, as best I can tell, was likely due to tolerance stacking. This comes from the wide size range of each part; once you hit the extreme ends it can cause issues. When the forward bolt is torqued down the bolt hold open no longer functions (or that what’s happened in this rifle). This seems to have been caused by flex in the stock, binding the arm that lifts up and locks the bolt back when the last round is fired.

In my case, the fix was very simple. I just used a tiny piece of cheap, clear plastic clamshell packaging — you know, the stuff that should open right up but really presents enough of a fight that you wind up manhandling it until it tears or just cutting it open so your prize drops out.

I cut a small (roughly 1 in.) square hole, drilled a hole in it the size of the forward bolt, and used it as a washer.

These clear plastic clamshells fight way above their weight when you're trying to manipulate them.

These clear plastic clamshells fight way above their weight class when you’re trying to manipulate them.

I chose to go with plastic because it is somewhat compressible under the torque of the bolt and because it could be made wider than a washer (thus spreading out the load).

This allowed me to fully torque each bolt down and now the bolt hold-open works exactly as it should.

You might also like: Three 30+ round magazines perfect for the Ruger PC9

 

Ruger PC Carbine Review

A basic overview

The actual rifle itself feels remarkably like a 10/22 Takedown but much heavier. This weight comes from the tungsten buffer inside the bolt. This weight is, according to Ruger, a dead blow weight to shorten bolt travel and reduce felt recoil. This actually seems to work properly and makes sending double taps (or a controlled pair, whatever you’re doing) downrange pretty damn easy.

The stock has spacers so you can adjust the length of pull, and the rubber buttpad is grippy and offers some shock absorption.

I should also point out that I bought this version of the rifle in full confidence that Magpul would eventually offer one of their excellent takedown stocks for it. So this will be off to the garbage heap when that finally releases. Not to say the stock is bad. The Magpul one will be just that much better.

The rail on this PCC is actually milled into the receiver, so no chintzy screws hold it on half-assed. The sights are ghost ring style, which are easy enough to use, but I would have preferred an H&K 416 style front sight as I find that faster to pick up.

The barrel has flutes in it to aid in cooling and reduce weight, it also looks great. The muzzle area of the barrel is threaded and comes with a thread protector so you could add a brake or a suppressor if you wanted to. We topped our rifle with Vortex Razor red dot (an excellent optic). Lining up the 6 MOA dot is very simple.

Ruger PC Carbine

 

 

Ruger PC Carbine

The magazine release and bolt handle can be swapped sides either for lefty purposes or preference. I prefer the bolt handle on the left side in order to keep my firing hand on the pistol grip area of the stock.

Unfortunately, I can’t provide range pictures and targets due to the pandemic shutting down all of our ranges. You will have to take our word that this thing makes shots out past 100 meters a breeze. Hitting clays on the berm were almost effortless and the ran every round we put through it effortlessly.

The tiny rail section on the bottom could be used to a small pistol flashlight or something but isn’t overly useful for most other things. They do have several variations of the PC Carbine now including ones with AR grips and stocks and aluminum forends that have M-LOK slots.

I am surprised Ruger or aftermarket manufacturers have yet to produce other magazine wells for the PC Carbine for popular pistols like the S&W M&P, but who knows, maybe that’s coming.

Next up, LPVO: learn more about Low Power Variable Optics

 

Ruger takedown 9mm carbine: yes or no?

Should you buy the Ruger PC Carbine? Like anything that situational, but it’s certainly cheaper to shoot than an AR. And it could well be a solid performer in the many shooting competitions and action matches that now allow PCCs.

Between its ability to separate in halves to be packed away and its robust build, this handy rifle is also a good option for field use. It might even be a handy option for a scout scope if a barrel mount comes out for it.

Ruger PC Carbine

Ruger PC Carbine

It will be interesting to see how the platform evolves as more aftermarket and Ruger parts are made for it.

Ruger Magazines: getcha some and gas ’em up.

Pistol Caliber Carbines: what are they and why do you need one?

Shoot Gooder: some of our thoughts on improving skills.

Range Gear: some things make the trip easier, more effective, and more fun.

Everything Ruger: more from Ruger Firearms

 

 

  • joão cezar

    Ruger also had a .44 Mag caliber PCC, a long time ago! It, too, was like a 10-22 on steroids. Always wanted one, but, they weren’t that popular, and I never found one, new or used.

    • Michael Palm

      Those 44 carbines were very popular hunting rifles here in New England. There are probably hundreds of them sitting on used gun racks at all the local gun shops. Try Maine, New hampshire, MA, Vermont, Ct or RI……you”ll find one

  • Osvaldo Arenas

    Ruger has great things, since the 70s when I bought my first .22 caliber Ruger Pistol I still enjoy for target shootting. My son got latter models and loves them. I missed not buying a Calico 9mm Carbine with a barrell for something like 300 rounds. I saw the Ruger-57 New Platform for the 5.7x28mm Auto Rifle (The Mag Life) but the idea is being kidnapped by other companies. I would love to see the evolution of the New Ruger PC Carbine and surely I would like to buy the the 9 mm caliber which is the caliber I prefer in my weapons. Keep us posted Gunmag. !!!

  • UW Stig

    Can you go into more detail about your fix? Where do you put this plastic ‘washer’?

    • 1*

      @uwstig:disqus if your last round hold open is functioning on the GLOCK Mag conversion Insert you don’t need it…. if it’s NOT= this shim or spacer is sandwiched at the FRONT hold down bolt of the *Glock insert & frame

  • deprogramming services

    Any gun you think is fun to shoot is fine for having fun. But relative to other options they are impractical, especially in their current legal form.

    From what I can tell the main reason to use a pistol round instead of a rifle round is that the pistol round is better for a shorter barrel; if the launch tube is too short for all the powder to burn before the bullet exits the barrel the round being fired is being used inefficiently, so you might as well not put more powder in the cartridge than is going to do any good, and you do the best you can to make up for lower velocity by using a bigger bullet. This is the essential difference between rifle and pistol ammunition.

    According to Ballistics by the Inch, a 40 cal. round doesn’t get much good from the barrel being over 10″ (depending on the specific round); any barrel length beyond that serves no purpose except to make the gun longer; it can even make the bullet slower. This seems more or less typical of common pistol rounds, though some might do a little better with a few inches more.

    Ballistics by the Inch doesn’t have a listing for 5.56 but it does for .223, and based on that it looks like the .223 out of even a 10″ barrel is still way faster than the pistol bullet out of that length barrel. They don’t give bullet energy so I don’t know how much effect the bigger bullet would have, but the difference in velocity is considerable and I doubt the heavier bullet would make up for that difference. So even with a 10″ barrel the rifle round still looks like it would be quite a bit more effective. So I don’t know what the advantage of a pistol caliber shoulder-fired weapon is. But such weapons are still in use so I assume there must be some purpose in them.

    History tells us that a short-barreled shoulder-fired weapon can be useful; if nothing else they can at least be cheap to mass produce. And traditionally they have been made with pistol rounds. The longer rifle is better but the shorter weapon is considered good enough, or at least the advantage of the smaller size is thought to be more important than the advantage of more power.

    One advantage of the pistol round would be that if you want to reduce a load to subsonic you might as well be using a bigger heavier bullet. And a 10″ barrel means you can have a suppressor without making the gun overly long.

    Since the pistol round even with a 10″ barrel is not nearly as effective as a rifle round, it makes sense for the weapon firing that round from the shoulder (where it can be controlled) to have burst fire capability.

    Where I’m going with this should be obvious: short shoulder-fired weapons that use pistol rounds probably can be useful in the right place. They are commonly called submachine guns. I think these could be a useful addition to the arsenal of freedom in America, though I would still prefer a rifle unless there was a very good reason to have a SMG instead.

    Our big brother in DC though has illegally denied us permission to exercise our Constitutional right to have one of these. Burst fire is illegal on new guns and prohibitively expensive on existing ones, suppressors require special permission from our big brother and $200 in tribute, and in his wisdom our big brother set an arbitrary minimum length on rifle barrels at 16″ (without special permission and another tribute payment).

    This is all illegal according to the Constitution, but it doesn’t matter what the law says when people who have no respect for the law have the power to put you in jail. So for all practical purposes, a shoulder-fired pistol-caliber weapon is only available if it has been bastardized into uselessness by the criminal gang in Washington. And the bastardized version, while certainly lethal, just doesn’t really have a niche, except as a toy.

    Even the value of the non-bastardized version is questionable, when you compare the SMG to the SBR.

    I remember this subject being discussed on a different site several years ago and someone who was heavily involved in practical pistol competition said he experimented with a pistol caliber carbine on practical pistol type courses, and he said based on that experience he saw absolutely no advantage in them, even over a pistol.

    I remember the guy on the YouTube show Forgotten Weapons, who seems to know the subject very well, said that the AK47 was a result of an attempt to make a better SMG (while the SKS was an attempt to make a better rifle). That being the case, it could be that shoulder-fired pistol-caliber weapons are simply obsolete, but not everyone has figured it out yet.

    I think they’re cool by the way. I think swords are cool too. But if my life is on the line I’ll choose practical over cool any day.

    • deprogramming services

      Just so no one is misled by this post, while the minimum legal length on rifle barrels is 16″, the minimum length for shotgun barrels is 18″. Both of these edicts are illegal, even though a bad decision by the Supreme Court claims they are legal (US v Miller). But legality has nothing to do with it; if the criminal gang finds you in possession of something you have a Constitutional right to have but do not have their permission to have they will put you in jail, maybe for a long time.

      This illegal edict was what ultimately led to the murder of Randy Weaver’s wife and son by government thugs.

  • Michael Palm

    I must be an “old school “gun guy? I have both the Marlin Camp Carbine and the Ruger Police Carbine from the 1990’s. I like that I can use my pistol ammo to practice with my carbines. They are excellent range plinkers. I wouldn’t go to war with them(I have a 5.56 rifle for that), but they can be great for home defense,CQB, short barrells, low recoil, better aiming ability. #Like!