In January of 2018, I did a review of the then fairly-new Ruger PC9. I was more than impressed with this little 9mm carbine, as was my wife. She insisted on getting one, and loves shooting it. I have to ration the 9mm ammo when we go out shooting, or she’ll shoot-up every round we bring with is…she is fast on the trigger and deadly accurate as well.
I knew it was only a question of time before Ruger, brought out different models. I correctly predicted that they’d bring one out with a telescoping stock and a pistol grip. The people spoke, and Ruger listened. We’re going to take a look at the new Model 19122 and it’s one honey of a 9mm carbine.
Depending on who you talk to, or what you find in your research, a modern “carbine” can be described many different ways. In many respects, it is a rifle with a barrel around 16 to 20-inches, and typically it fires a handgun round. However, that isn’t always the case, to wit, the M1 Carbine of WW2 fame, fired what was called the .30 Cal M1 carbine round – it wasn’t a handgun round per se. I’ve owned more than a few M1 Carbines over the years, and they were all fun guns to shoot, and I would take one into combat without hesitation. I should mention that we are talking about military M1 Carbines, not some of the civilian copies – many of which weren’t very reliable.
The M1 Carbine, .30 Caliber round is something akin to a .357 Magnum round, and there isn’t nothing anemic about the .357 mag round. It is a well-proven man-stopper of a pistol round. Of course, the military was required to use FMJ bullets, no hollow points or soft points. I’ve taken several deer over the years, with a 110-grain softpoint lead round from an M1 Carbine, and they didn’t take a step after being hit – they just went down – fast!
The 9mm round is the most popular self-defense round in use, all over the world, bar none. Even, the US military switched from the .45 ACP to the 9mm back in the 1980s, as their service round. Right now, in the midst of this Coronavirus, there is a serious run on 9mm ammo, and when you can find it at a gun shop, it is expensive, and even more so on-line. I recently saw an ad for 9mm FMJ ammo that nearly gave me a heart attack. As near as I can calculate this, it comes out to slightly less than $700 for a case of 1,000-rds of 9mm FMJ. Yikes!
I’m certainly not a “hoarder” when it comes to anything, I’m just a smart and well-provisioned Prepper, and have been buying my ammo and other supplies over many years. And when I shoot-up some ammo, I replace it. So, there was no need for me to run to the gun shop and buy a case or two of ammo. We’ve all seen the scenes on television of people in a panic to purchase toilet paper – buying hundreds of rolls if they could – leaving nothing behind for other shoppers – those are hoarders.
Let’s take a real good look at the latest Ruger PC9 version. As already mentioned, it is chambered in 9mm – some of the other PC9 models can be had in .40 S&W, but it’s not a hot seller for some reason. The little carbine weighs in at 7.3-pounds, so it’s not exactly a light-weight, compared to the M1 Carbine that came in around 5.5-pounds. Still, it’s not overly heavy and it balances well – a little front end heavy, but nothing you’d really notice. The adjustable stock is akin to those found on many AR-15 style carbines, and it telescopes about 3-inches, so you can adjust it to fit your body frame and shooting methods. The free-floating handguard is ventilated and made out of light-weight Aluminum, and it has M-LOK attachment points on all four sides.
There are no sights on this PC9, instead, it has a Picatinny rail mounted on the top, so you can mount some form or optic. These days, most shooters are opting to install some form of red dot sights on their firearms. I have no problem with this, as I have several firearms with red dot sights – however, I also have back-up sights, just in case the red dot gets broken or the batteries go dead, I can still aim and use the back-up sights. The upper and lower receivers are made out of aluminum alloy, and have a Type III hard-coat anodizing on them.
By the way, the barrel is fluted, to help keep weight down. And the end of the barrel is threaded if you want to install a suppressor on it – the thread pattern is ½”x28 – be aware, there are also other threads made for many 9mm guns, I made the mistake of buying the wrong sized flash hider for my original PC9. It wouldn’t fit. And even more importantly: DO NOT just sscew a typical AR muzzle brake or flash hider on a PC9. Most of those only have internal dimensions for clearance of .22/5.56 bullets! You need to be absolutely certain that the muzzle device allows clearance of 9mm projectiles.
There are two interchangeable magazine wells provided by Ruger with each PC9. One well takes the Ruger SR9, 17-rd magazines, and the other takes Glock 9mm mags. It only takes a couple minutes to swap out the magazine wells, no gunsmithing required. I took out the Ruger mag well, and installed the Glock one and never looked back. I found that the 33-rd Glock mags work great. However, I also found ETS 30 or 40 round mags work just as well, and they are easier to load than the Glock mags are, and they are less expensive.
The PC9 is actually a take-down carbine, and taking it into two parts it is super-easy. You make sure the gun is unloaded, lock the bolt back, and then a simple little lever is activated and you twist the barrel and receiver apart, and the gun is broken down into two parts for easy transportation. Ruger sells a great little gun case for putting these two pieces in. However, a gym bag works well, too — for more discreet carry. The magazine release can be moved to the left side of the gun, as well as the bolt release. I left mine as-is for some reason, but I can see where the bolt release on the opposite side would make for faster reloads and charging the gun for a new magazine.
Ruger calls the bolt a “dead bolt” action, and it features a custom tungsten dead blow weight that shortens the bolt travel, and it helps reduce felt recoil – not that there is much recoil to speak of. The pistol grip is pretty much that of an AR-15, and it is comfortable – very nice, indeed! Trigger pull is outstanding if you ask me – better than most ARs I’ve handled over the years.
Ammo for Our Tests
We had a great selection of 9mm ammo on-hand to run through this little PC9 carbine, from Black Hills Ammunitionwww.black-hills.com we had their 115 FMJ, 115 JHP +P, 124-gr JHP +P, 124-gr JHP, 115-gr Barnes Tac XP+P and their 100-gr HoneyBadger all-copper fluted rounds. I also had a box of “range 9mm ammo” and this is a mix of various 9m ammo that was tossed into a mix.
With no iron sights on the PC9, I resorted to a red dot sight, and put the target out at 50-yards – I don’t like walking back and forth at 100-yards in my old age. It took some doing to get the red dot sight zeroed, but one I did, it was giving me groups of about an inch and a half without much trouble. I swapped out the red dot sights and installed a cheap magnifying sight and once zeroed, I was getting groups of about third quarters of an inch with no problems. I was using a rolled-up sleeping bag over the hood of my pick-up – I keep plenty survival gear in the locked bed of my truck, and there is always a sleeping bag in this gear.
There were zero malfunctions in all my shooting – I fired more than 500 rounds. This is a fun gun to shoot, so I expended a lot of ammo in my testing over two shooting sessions. Needless to say, the PC9 liked some ammo better than others. I had several groups of 1-inch, using the magnifying scope – but I couldn’t do it all the time. Those groups were with the Black Hills 124-gr JHP +P load…all the other ammo was pretty much a tie – not enough difference in the group sizes to make a difference, in my opinion.
Full-retail on this PC9 version is $799. But as always shop around and you can find these guns for less money. They would make a great home-defense carbine, or in bad times, make one heck of a gun for close range defense, too. And, if you like plinking at rocks or other targets of opportunity, this is one fun gun for that kind of work, as well.