The Extar EP9 Pistol Caliber Carbine: Extreme Budget Gun

Who doesn’t love the ability to acquire a good gun for very little money? We all obey the wallet, or at least should, to avoid drowning in debt. The Extar brand has an interesting idea: Create a simple, affordable firearm and sell it directly to the consumer at a low price point. This has resulted in the EP9 and EP45, which are large-format pistols, and most recently, Extar expanded into the EP9 Carbine. This is a proper rifle with a 16-inch barrel and stock.

Extar was happy to send one of these guns to me for review, and I’ve been blasting through piles of 9mm ammo to see what kind of gun Extar offered at its humble price point. The Extar EP9 Carbine costs $499, making it one of the most affordable semi-auto rifles on the market. Cutting out the middleman of distributors has kept that price more or less inflation-proof.

The Inflation-Proof EP9 Carbine

Extar’s carbine utilizes an interesting operating system. They call it mass-delayed blowback, which seems like a fancy way to say straight blowback. That’s not entirely accurate. It’s more like a cousin to straight blowback. This system uses a separate spring-loaded weight on the bolt to reduce bolt velocity and help cancel out that violent straight blowback impulse.

Extra EP9 rifle
The Extar is a very affordable rifle.

The carbine also makes heavy use of polymer in the upper and lower receiver, which likely helps keep the price low. Extar wisely uses Glock magazines and even makes their own and ships the gun with one 18-round magazine. The EP9 Carbine has some AR-inspired features but is arguably a fair bit different.

Upper and lower receiver
Polymer makes up the upper and lower receivers.

The Extar EP9 uses a very AR-like lower receiver with an AR-type safe magazine release and bolt release. This means the gun does, in fact, have a last-round bolt hold-open device. That’s a nice touch for a budget rifle that takes Glock magazines.

Ep9 stock
The MFT Minimalist Stock is a nice touch.

Controls and Ergos

The charging handle is mounted to the left side of the gun and is a reciprocating design. This has the same effect the SCAR charging handle has when it comes to mourning optics. You have the make sure your optic lacks a knob or QD lever on the left side, or you might clip your knuckles charging the rifle. The charging handle might also be a little frustrating for lefties as well.

Ep9 charging handle
The EP9 has a left-side reciprocating charging handle.

The handguard is a short M-LOK rail with a somewhat odd but very ergonomic shape to it. The handguard is somewhat thick but really allows you to clamp down on the gun. The rail is polymer and features a fairly heavy texture applied to it.

Mlok handguard
The Extar EP9 has a rather nice handguard.

The stock could have just been the standard M4 type, and I would have been happy, but Extar went with the Mission First Tactical minimalist stock. It’s nicer than the old M4 profile and offers more modern sling options.

To The Range

I grabbed a few spare ETS Gen 2 9mm magazines and hit the range with some cheap ammo for a budget-themed shoot. I 3D-printed the target stand using a spare furring strip and some cardboard from an old Amazon box. I took the budget level to the extreme for this one. Call me inspired by the idea of saving money.

I even mounted the cheapest dot I have, a Bushnell TRS 25 on a UTG riser, to the EP9 Carbine. This old thing is my knock-around optic and often gets used on numerous rifles for testing and reviewing. I’ve used it so much I lost the turret caps long ago. I zeroed in at 25 yards.

Shooting the extra ep9
The mass delayed bolt helps cut some recoil compared to a straight blowback gun.

Once zeroed, I pasted up a fresh B8 and started testing for accuracy. At 25 yards, with slow fire and a rested position, I was able to produce one ragged hole on my B8 target. That’s plenty accurate for my uses. Back out 50 yards, my dot seemed like it was covering the entirety of my B8 target, but with a good hold and taking my time, I could fire groups that remained in the black of the B8.

If I took the time to pop a magnifier on the gun, I’m sure I could shrink those groups even more. On an IPSC target, every round remained in a nice tight group on the upper chest. Needless to say, the gun would work fine at home defense distances.

The Bill Drill

The first drill I fired was the Bill Drill. This drill takes place at seven yards and forces you to fire six rounds as quickly and as accurately as you can into the A zone of your traditional IPSC or IDPA target. It’s traditionally a pistol drill, but it can work for carbines. I ran the drill several times, and the first time, I embarrassingly forgot to account for offset.

Extra EP9 shooting
The Extra EP9 proved to be surprisingly accurate.

My second and third runs put the lead right where it needed to be. My runs evened out to a little less than 2.5 seconds. The mass delayed blowback system shows its simplicity here. It’s not as bad as a straight blowback system, but the dot tends to move around quite a bit under rapid fire compared to something like a roller-delayed system. Ensuring the gun remained in the A-zone took a little more time.

Reloading behind cover
The gun was fun to run and gun with.

The question you have to ask is whether that extra few tenths of a second is worth the three grand HK charges for an MP5 clone versus the $500 dollars Extar is asking. Keep in mind that the Bill Drill uses a fairly small target, and it’s not like the gun was rising off the whole IPSC man-sized target.

Run and Gun

The magazine well of the Extar EP9 is wide and shaped like a funnel for quick and easy reloads. After a couple of practice runs, a reload in about two seconds was easy. I learned that hitting the charging handle was faster than the bolt release for me. Ripping reloads went on longer than I initially thought because it was intuitive and gave me that positive feedback loop that kept me amused. (If we aren’t having fun, then what’s the point?)

Shooting behind cover
The Extar EP9 is quite lightweight and easy to shoot around cover.

I ran a short course of fire that involved moving from 25 yards and in on multiple targets. I sprinted, took cover, reloaded, and more. In this more practical application, I was able to move, shoot, and try the gun in something more than a square range. It proved the gun holds up when you’re doing something slightly more than squaring up to a target and going bang.

Reloading the rifle
The magwell makes reloads quick and easy.

Reloading from behind cover was quick and easy, and so was reloading on the run. Mags drop free without complaint and even easily fit with the bolt closed and the mag full. The rifle’s light weight made it easier to lean out from behind cover without feeling a little unbalanced. At five pounds and two ounces, it’s not going to feel too bad.

A Budget-Worthy Blaster

After firing 500 rounds of monarch steel from Academy, the gun was filthy on the inside, yet it never stopped running. I never applied any lubrication beyond the first time I received the gun. It didn’t seem to care and kept running without a flaw. Even the budget ETS mags didn’t present an issue.

The Extar EP-9 proved to be a fairly well-made, easy-shooting, and reliable weapon. It has some quirks, like not much support for lefties, but overall, for $500, I think it’s going to be tough to find a better semi-auto carbine.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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