Ruger PC Carbine 9mm and ammo

Ruger PC 9mm Carbine: Complete Review

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Last time, we looked at a Hi-Point model 995 9mm carbine. This time, we’ll look at the Ruger version of the 9mm carbine (also available in .40 S&W). There are 20 different models listed on Ruger’s website, Ruger PC 9mm Carbine counting the various distributor guns and stock finishes available. Now, let’s look at where this particular gun came from — first, the company itself, then the gun.

Quick History of the Ruger Company

Sturm Ruger logo

I would imagine that there are few shooters in America that are not familiar with the Ruger company. Founded in 1949 by Alexander Sturm and Bill Ruger, the company gained fame with its .22 pistol, the Mark I which came out in 1949.

Modeled a bit after the Japanese Baby Nambu, the American Colt Woodsman and the German Luger, this is the gun that put Ruger on the map. Without going deeper into the vaults of history, suffice it to say that Ruger is at the top of its game.

From its beginnings to today, it has provided the American shooter with many different styles and types of guns. It is the largest firearms manufacturer in the U.S. (as of 2015, at least) and the second-largest manufacturer of revolvers and pistols (behind Smith & Wesson) and second-largest maker of rifles (behind Remington).

This company has an excellent reputation and corresponding customer service — I am a “poster boy” for their CS. I sent in a wrecked Ruger American .45 ACP, and they sent me a new one, no questions asked. This is one classy company. They seem to keep their finger on the pulse of the American shooting public and are very responsive to market innovations.

They also seem to always be bringing out a new model of something that looks interesting. An example — their LCP II .380 is popular, but it became even more so when they released it in .22 LR recently. That is an interesting gun, to be sure. That’s just one example.


Ruger built a police carbine in 9mm (the PC4) from 1996-2006. Here it is:

Ruger PC 9mm Carbine: Complete Review Ruger PC4

The gun was built for police agencies, but civilians could buy them as well. It sold well until toward the end of its run in 2006, at which time production was ended. The idea was that an officer would carry a P-series Ruger pistol on his or her hip yet have a Ruger carbine (that used the same magazines as their pistol) ready if a more offensive or further-reaching weapon was needed. Two guns that used the same ammo was a huge plus.

Ruger sold many of these — I remember when they came out — but, like I said above the sales just weren’t there at the end. Fast forward about 10 years, and boom — here we go again with the 9mm PC carbine. The new version was announced on December 29, 2017. It sported a take-down stock, which made it more portable. Now, backpackers and others who needed a short, easily-carried gun paid attention.

The new carbine has another very interesting feature that the original didn’t have — it can use Glock magazines. It comes with a second mag well, in the box, that’s easily swapped out. From the Glock 17’s 17-rounder to the 33-round long stick to a 50-round drum mag, you wouldn’t have too far to look in order to find magazines for this gun. You can even order a third style of mag well that uses Ruger American pistol mags.

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How It Works

This carbine uses a modified blow-back operating system, not a locked-bolt design. Ruger calls it a “Dead Blow Action.” The bolt is in three parts: a carrier, a tungsten dead-blow weight and a bolt face. In order to add to the strength of the system, the bolt is machined from chrome-moly steel for additional strength and durability.

The weight is designed to work with a buffer to help reduce felt recoil. All that extra weight tends to hold the bolt back a little longer and helps to insure that the next round in the magazine is loaded properly, even if the action is really dirty.

Ruger PC 9mm Carbine: Complete Review Ruger PC Carbine bolt
Photo courtesy

The above photo also shows the dual operating handle slots cut into the receiver and the corresponding hole in the bolt’s left side. If you like, the handle can be moved to the other side. Even though this rifle uses a blow-back operating system, the weighted bolt design really cuts down on recoil. It was a joy to shoot, with little felt recoil.

Specs and Pictures

Ruger PC Carbine Specs, Model 19122

Overall Barrel Length:16.12 inches; 1/2x28 threads
Overall Length:35.5 inches
Stock:Synthetic, with length-of-pull adjustable from 12.6 to 14.1 inches with included spacers
Overall Weight:7.5 pounds as weighed on my digital scale without magazine; Black Synthetic stock, 6.8 pounds
Sights:none (Traditional-stock model includes ghost ring and protected post sights)
Receiver:Alumiunum Alloy
Trigger Pull Average:3 lbs, 2.4 oz.
Finish:Hardcoat Anodized
Capacity:17+1. Glock mags can increase capacity and the magazine release is reversible
Real World Price:~ $640-$720
Weight of the carbine gun

Let’s look at some photos and discuss some of the gun’s other features.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm muzzle

Starting at the muzzle (like I did on the Hi-Point review), we see that the Ruger PC Carbine uses an aluminum shroud/handguard around the barrel. The shroud is free-floated. The barrel itself sits at 12 o’clock in that handguard, not in the center. You can’t see it from this view but the barrel is fluted and threaded for whatever you want to stick on the muzzle that uses 1/2×28 threads.

Speaking of that handguard, here it is.

This keeps your hand away from the hot barrel and gives you a good surface to grip. Visible on the right is the small rail on the right that allows you to mount a sight, laser, light, etc.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm top-rail
Picatinny rail

Here’s what’s happening on the top of the rifle — a standard Picatinny rail that allows you to put whatever sight you want on it. Ruger used to use a proprietary rail that required the use of their scope accessories but this is much better. The operating handle on top is reversible if you need it to be moved to the other side.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm bolt open
The bolt, shown in open position.

Here we see the magazine and release. The release is reversible if needed — and the fairly massive bolt. The bolt really does help dampen recoil. The mag well is interchangeable — you simply loosen a couple of action screws, remove the chassis from the receiver, press in on the mag release button and latch (for Ruger mag wells – no latch press is needed for the Glock well), and the mag well comes up and out. Replace with the other, included well, and you’re in business with other styles of mags.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm magazine
Ruger SR9/Security 9 17-round magazine.

You can see the “Made in Italy” stamp above. These mags are evidently made by Mec-Gar, a good thing. The witness holes are numbered on both sides of the mag — even numbers on one side, odd on the other. It shows 17 holes. Again, a good thing — this tells you exactly how many you have left in the mag, so you don’t have to guess.

Glock mag well bottom
Glock mag well, top end and bottom.

Just about every double-stack Glock 9mm mag should work.

Take-down procedure

1. Press the take-down lever (after making the sure the gun is empty)

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm takedown lever

2. Twist the barrel/ fore-end.


3. Pull apart:

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm takedown 2 pieces

Now you have a back-pack-able rifle, or at least one that’s easy to store. It’s easy to put together — just insert the barrel/ fore-end and twist. Ruger makes this very simple to do, no tools required — a really good feature.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm trigger-mag
Here’s a close-up of the trigger and mag well.

Notice the “10/22”- style crossbolt safety. This trigger was based on that in the 10/22. That could be worse — the 10/22 is, arguably, the best-selling .22 LR rifle going and the trigger is one reason for that.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm ejection port engraving
Here’s a shot of the ejection port and engraving.
Ruger PC Carbine 9mm mag-release
Here’s the magazine release, from the other side of the gun.

Your finger doesn’t slip off this one — the grooves are deep and sharp. You can see where the release picked up some wood from my “backdrop” stump when the rifle was on its other side. These grooves hold your finger, for sure. If you want it on the other side of the gun, no sweat — move it there. Instructions on how to do so are in the manual starting on page 18.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm left side
Left side and butt stock

As we move down the gun, here’s a shot of the carbine’s left side and butt stock. The stock is multi-position collapsible and includes spacers to alter length of pull.

Ruger PC Carbine 9mm buttstock
And, the stock from the other side.

The only way I see to improve it would be to make it a folder. This gun is comfortable to shoot.

Ruger PC 9mm Carbine extra included rail
And, lastly, an additional rail in case you need it.

Try as I might, I could find no mention of this in the owner’s manual. Perhaps some of you who own this gun could enlighten me as to its function. My only semi-educated guess is that it is to replace the rear sight for those models so equipped in order to mount an optic in its place.

Some Personal Observations

First, let me say that this gun is impressive. From the moment I picked it up I knew that this carbine was built to last. What do I mean? It feels solid. Overbuilt. The Ruger Way, I call it.

From their pistols to the revolvers they make to their long guns – I’ve yet to pick up a gun made by Ruger that didn’t feel solid. I’m not sure what other word to use there. The weight of this carbine is over seven pounds. That’s a pound or two more than other 9mm carbines. The metallic construction shows here.

About the only polymer I see on the gun is its stock and outer receiver group. But, the receiver is aluminum alloy as is the barrel’s hand-guard/shroud, and the barrel, steel. That puts weight out front which helps to steady the gun when aiming. Adding in the ability to collapse the stock all the way in, you have a handy carbine at the ready very quickly. Plus, it hangs on the target without waving around like some guns with poly hand-guards tend to do.

The Sight Issue

Would I like to see a set of iron sights on the gun? Certainly. Even the Hi-Point included sights. But, I think I see why Ruger doesn’t do that — they must obviously feel that the buyer will have definitive ideas about what type of sight to add, be it irons, red dot, laser or scope.

If it were mine, I’d stick a red dot with a 6 MOA dot on it. I’ve shot dots that were smaller, and for my eyes, a 6 MOA dot works best. It doesn’t cover up a lot of the target but is large enough that you can acquire it quickly. The standard rail on top makes it easy to add whatever sight you desire to the gun.

Uses For This Carbine

This gun has the feel of a larger-caliber rifle. It weighs nearly seven and a half pounds, near that magic eight pound weight that a lot of rifle shooters consider optimum for a hunting gun. But, this is not necessarily just a hunting gun, nor is it chambered for a traditional rifle cartridge. How would we use it? What purposes would it fulfill?

In my first review of this two-parter, I listed some uses that a 9mm carbine might be put to. Included in those were plinking/target, pest eradication, home defense, competition and some small or medium close-range hunting. The Ruger could also be at home in a squad car, as its older, discontinued cousin was.

When you figure that you could conceivably hang a 50-round drum magazine from the Ruger’s magazine well, that changes things. (I’ve seen those mags for sale as low as around $45). Talk about a law enforcement or home defense tool…wow. Add a light or laser sight, and you’re in business. Most other PC carbines don’t have that capability. That expands the gun’s possibilities.

Even though it’s heavy for a pistol-caliber carbine, adding a 50-round capability makes the weight worth it. Some folks won’t buy a PC carbine that weighs this much because they figure that if they are going to pack around an almost-eight-pound long gun, it at least ought to shoot a serious rifle cartridge.

There are several .223/ 5.56mm short carbines out there that would be a better choice for that camp of shooters, but I see the 9mm as being a decent carbine. We don’t always want or need a “big-boom” cartridge. For a lot of uses, a pistol caliber suffices.

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Range Time

As I tend to do, I tested the gun with a couple of popular factory loads. I regularly read some reviews where the tester shot 25 different loads and then I wonder if it’s a gun or ammo review.

I come from the school that gives credit to the manufacturer where accuracy is concerned. I figure if it shoots OK with a couple of mainline loads, it should do OK with most of the other stuff out there. Conversely, if it’s all over the map, then more testing would be needed but I have yet for that to happen.

Granted, each gun will prefer a certain brand or load over others but it wouldn’t matter if I tried them all — the gun you buy will undoubtedly need testing with all those loads anyway as it probably won’t like the same loads that my test gun liked.

Anyway, here are a couple of targets I shot with the gun. I stuck an inexpensive red dot sight on the rail for these targets. These are two representative targets with these two loads. I used a six o’clock hold at the bottom point of the diamond. As always, my eyes forced the group to the right, but that would be an easy fix. The range was 25 yards.

target ruger fiocchi
Fiocchi 115-grain FMJ
target ruger win
Winchester “white box” 115 grain FMJ

Both of these loads showed potential. I think that, with a little more fiddling, these loads would work very well in this test gun. Certainly well enough to take out a rogue racoon or close-in coyote, which would be my main reason for owning a PCC. Racoons are prolific around here and are brazen. I could see, after dialing in whatever optic was mounted on the gun, hitting paper plates at 100 yards with regularity which should give you confidence when you pull down on a masked garbage can raider at a bit beyond normal household varmint range.

coyote in field

A good friend of ours lost all his chickens to one of that nasty breed of critter. So, it makes one think of maybe acquiring a mid-power-level long gun that could reach out the 103 yards for the coyote and also be handy at chicken-coop ranges for the smaller, toothy varmints.

This Ruger carbine would be great in that role. What if you don’t have those types of varmints to contend with? Well, I could see this gun used for punching paper or ringing steel, then being taken home and used to protect your domicile. Even a couple of 17-round mags would work for that. Or, stick the Glock adapter in and buy a couple of 33-rounders. That would tend to discourage all but the most addle-brained uninvited nightime visitors.

Just make sure you invest in a magazine loader – that really helps load those long double-stack magazines.

Wrap Up

The Ruger PC 9mm Carbine is quite a gun. Overbuilt like most Rugers, it should probably last at least one human life if not more. This company tends to make things that last — I know a guy who is still using his Blackhawk revolver for hunting that he bought in the early 1960s. One gun, true, but there are folks all over the country with stories like that. Ruger just tends to overdo things. Heck, the owner’s manual for this carbine is 59 pages long.

If you have a use for a 9mm but need more punch than a pistol provides, check this gun out. It is no lightweight, weighing almost 7 ½ pounds without a magazine, but that weight buys you lighter recoil and the ability to hold a bit more steadily on target. Add an optic, some extra mags of whatever persuasion you favor, a box or two of 9mm ammo and you’re set for a fun afternoon.

Add in the pest-eradication function and your neighborhood or homestead should be down in its varmint numbers very quickly. If you have one of these, tell us below what you think of it. As always, stay safe and get out to do some shooting.

  1. Thanks Mike for another great review! IMHO, if this were a 10mm weapon with interchangeable mags with a pistol of like caliber, I’d be sold. 9mm, at this price point, not so much. Again, thanks for another great review.

    1. Dave, appreciate the kind words. Unfortunately, they don’t make a ten, just a .40. They’d probably have to re-design the action, not sure blowback would handle the 10mm. Thanks for writing!

        1. John, yeah, Hi-Point seems to have that figured out just fine – glad you like yours! Thanks for writing. PS – that 10mm carbine, with the right optic and ammo, might make a dandy close-to-medium range deer gun. It’s legal in my state.

  2. Very nice well done.
    Nice little addition to the Ruger Family.
    I wish I could have 1.
    Looks like an all rounder.
    Fun fun fun.

    1. Paul, yep, it’s a keeper. Hopefully someday soon you can add one to your collection. Thanks for writing!

  3. After reading your review, I will have to have one of these. Been waiting for the right one at the right price to come along.

  4. Well written article, I enjoy target shooting but clays at 100 yards were easy as pie with a reflex site. Yes it’s a little heavy but love the low recoil. My wife bought it for me for Christmas last year for 465$ worth every penny! Reliable inexpensive to shoot and to purchase love it!

    1. Robin, glad you’re so good with it – that’s impressive. Looks like she got a good deal on yours! Thanks for writing.

  5. Always appreciate your reviews, Mike. Simple yet thorough. Nice to hear you enjoyed the carbine – have a different PCC but considering adding this Ruger into the mix as well. Thanks for the write-up!

    1. Paul, appreciate your kind words. I do try to be thorough as I like a lot of detail in reviews I read, so I try to do it for others. Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for writing!

    1. Mick, too bad, but every gun’s different. At least you have a Hi-Point to shoot – I liked the one I reviewed last week. Thanks for writing!

        1. Mick, you make a good point. yeah, Guns should be identical but I’ve shot gun 1 and gotten one result, then gun 2, same model, same factory, and it shot a bit differently. Not a big difference, but a small variation. Nothing wrong with that – they just shot a bit differently. Manufacturers try to make all guns identical in a production run, but sometimes small differences crop up. No big deal, if all the guns are in spec. I’ve seen it mostly with older guns that were hand-fitted. They tended to like different types of ammo, but again it was not a big thing. Modern manufacturing has taken a lot of variation out of gun production. These are the best of times for gun manufacturing, with the technology we have today. I appreciate your comment- thanks for writing.

  6. All right, as someone who also owns a Ruger American compact in .45 ACP, I gotta know, how did you manage to wreck yours?

    1. Steve, I think what happened was that some of the rounds in the mag were faulty and did not have a really tight crimp on the bullet and it allowed them to seat deeper in the case upon recoil. When they fed into the chamber, they were too deep and pressures were too high. At least that’s what I think – Ruger didn’t say anything. I do think I was the first one to send back a wrecked American pistol from what the fellow said on the phone who I talked to. They were great. Thanks for writing!

  7. I love my Ruger PC9. It is extremely accurate out to 100 yards. I run a 3 moa red dot and the versatility of the Glock mags is fantastic. I just wish our Canadian.magazine restrictions were not so anal. I would love a couple funsticks or a drum for this gun. Over 1500 rounds through this gun and not a single ftf or fte. What more could one ask for in a PCC?

    1. D-Dog, glad you like the Ruger. It is a quality gun – too bad about the mag restrictions. Thanks for writing!

  8. Enjoyed your article. Before everything went to pot, ammo wise, I was looking for a 9mm pistol/carbine. I was quite impressed by Kalashnikov KR-9 SBR – KUSA. Seems like a very impressive weapon. Would love to see a unbiased review on one. Keep up the good work.

    1. John, if I could get hold of one to test, I sure would. 9mm carbines are hot right now. I appreciate you taking the time to write!

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