Pistol Caliber Carbines and their advantages/disadvantages!
Pistol Caliber Carbines (PCC’s or PCC) or Rifles are not a new concept. It has not been uncommon, clear back into the Black Powder Muzzle-loading era, to have your Pistol and your Rifle of the the same bore size or caliber. Being able to have common components available for either reduces the need to carry two, or more separate, ammunition supplies. In the case of a Muzzle-loading, you would carry the same ball and hopefully patches for both Rifle and pistol. You might carry different powders for each, but even that would be a preference. You could carry ffg for your rifle and it will work in the pistol. fffg would have probably been better for your pistol but ffg will work. This was carried into the days of the Cartridge.
Some notable examples from the lever action era are .45colt and the 44-40 cartridges. This started with the 1873 Winchester which was chambered in pistol caliber rounds. They were popular as you only needed one type of ammunition to load both Rifle and pistol. They were probably not so popular for hunting as some of the Rifle Calibers. Modern examples include but are not limited to; .30 Carbine, 9mm parabellum (9mm Luger), .40 Smith and Wesson, .357SIG, .38/.357 Magnum, .41 magnum, .44 Special/.44 Magnum .45ACP. It may seem ridiculous, but even the .45-70 Government Cartridge can even be added to this category.
The main advantage is ammunition commonality. You do not need to carry different cartridges for each firearm. When you go a step further, and find a carbine that can also, use the same magazine as the pistol, it really adds up. The Kel-Tec sub 2000 comes in 5 different magazine well styles. Being able to use the same Magazines for your pistol as well as your Carbine is a great idea. This also saves Money in that you do not have to stock two different magazines. The Ruger PC4 carbine used their 9mm and .40 S&W magazines. The Ruger carbine, no longer produced, was heavy but a very robust design. The pistol caliber carbines are usually more accurate at the greater ranges than handguns. Most people can shoot smaller groups, at 50 yards or more, with a carbine than they can with their pistol.
There are many detractors of the PCC’s. They usually end up making apples versus oranges comparisons of the PCC and an AR15 carbine. The fact is there is no comparison at over 100 yards The .223 (5.56.45mm). The AR15 or one of the other .223 carbines will win. That said where does a pistol caliber carbine win. The pistol caliber carbine ammo is about the same weight. 9mm weighs 2.2 pounds average for 100 rounds. .223 weighs 2.4 pounds per 100. I have not been able to find an average weight for .40 S&W but would guess it is heavier than the .223. at around 3 to 3.2 pounds per 100. .45ACP is 4.2 pounds per 100. So weight is not really separating a factor. the 9mm weighs less but the .40 S&W and above weighs more. Bulk is a big factor. any of these pistol rounds fits into a smaller area than the .223 does. for the same are as a 30 round .223 magazine fills you could have 60 rounds+ of 9mm. The other calibers are more bulky ,but they would also have more rounds for the same area than the .223. The pistol caliber carbines usually do weigh less than an AR15 carbine, usually. The Ruger PC4 is about 6.5 pounds which is about the same as the AR-15. The Kel-Tec is 4 pounds. The Barretta CX4 is 5.75 pounds. The lighter carbines would be easier for the smaller shooters to handle than an AR-15. Overall lengths are also around 30 inches rather than the 32.5 inches of a collapsed stock AR-15.
As to power; The pistol caliber carbine detractors make all kind of arguments. The fact is that pistol calibers are sufficient for small game hunting. They are generally quieter to shoot and sufficiently powerful enough to defend your self with. All of these calibers gain at least 250 feet per second out of a carbine. The magnums gain up to 600 FPS out of carbine length barrels. The .22 long rifle has killed just about everything there is to kill, ask the poachers. Deer have been taken cleanly with the .22LR. Of course I do not recommend that you use this caliber, but if you are in a survival situation you do what you have to. The detractors act like the 9mm is somehow less powerful than a .22LR. The 9mm out of a pistol has three times more energy than the lowly .22LR. It also has the same average velocity out of a pistol as the .22LR has out of a rifle. Again I would not recommend a 9mm as your primary deer rifle but it beats the .22LR all over. but if you get within 50 yards and shoot carefully you will bring home dinner. The .40 and the .45 will work even better. Take one of the magnums and you have a real deer rifle in a carbine in your hands.
Where the pistol caliber carbine shines is in the suburban environment. The shorter ranges added to the higher population density. If you are in a survival situation then you do not want to be making a lot of noise. Anyone coming under fire of a PCC is going to go looking for an easier mark. Kids and small adults will be able to make a very significant addition, to the security with a PCC in their hands. A PCC makes an excellent “get home” gun. The Kel-Tec sub 2000 is lightweight and folds into a very small package. It Easily fits into your get home bag. As a camper or trailer carbine a PCC is a real winner. Fun to shoot and decently accurate to make a tin can cry. In 9mm the ammo is relatively cheap at $149 for 500 rounds.
I have shot a good many rounds out of a HK94 in 9mm. It was just like shooting a powerful BB gun. Everyone who shot it had better scores with it than they could get with a Mini-14 rifle. Some that failed to qualify with the “Mini” had never failed to qualify with the “HK”. The KH94 was just a really easy gun to shoot and did not intimidate the people that were not gun fanatics. I have also shot a .357 Magnum carbine lever action. It was a fun gun to shoot and very flat shooting out to 100 yards. It fed .38 and .357 without a hiccup. The owner stated that if he fired lead bullet .38 special and then loaded .357 magnum after he had troubles with ejection. This is caused by a lead and powder ring left after shooting the shorter .38 special. The .357 magnum is 1/10th of an inch longer. On firing it forms the case over this ring and then your are trying to pull it out. This will also happen with the .44 special/.44 Magnum.
So overall I like the Pistol Caliber Carbines. They have a lot to offer in self defense and just plain fun. They can be cheaper than a AR-15 or they can be more expensive. The Kel-Tec is just over $400. The Beretta CX4 is in the $950 range the HK94 was in the $1250 range in the 1980′s and is now discontinued. The High Point 995s base price is $285. The Calico Liberty 50 is between $807 and $1030 And do not even look at a Kriss Vector carbine ($1895)
Barrels By The Inch