The 9mm carbine is an interesting weapon. If you’re looking for a happy middle ground between a rifle and a pistol, this is probably it. The popularity of 9mm carbines has risen and fallen in the past, and it’s picking up again. People are starting to recognize how this type of gun is a great self-defense weapon, most of all for home defense. They’re small, light, and versatile.
This article will help you figure out why you’d want to buy one, what to look for in a 9mm carbine, and where to get one.
Info about 9mm Carbines
Pistol-caliber carbines, or PCCS for short, don’t get much time in the spotlight. People often overlook them as they go from pistols to rifles or vice versa. Many rifle shooters believe that a 9mm carbine is little more than an impractical pygmy rifle that can’t match a rifle. This is incorrect, and little more than a preconceived notion. The popularity of these weapons rise and fall, with different makes coming and going with each cycle.
9mm carbines are great self-defense weapons, and they’re easy and fun to shoot, making them great for competitions and long sessions at the range. A carbine is a long gun that’s shorter than a rifle. The barrel length is between 10 and 18 inches, although some places have a legal limit of 16 inches. Compared to the three to five inches of a 9mm pistol, this is a lot more barrel and that has some significant advantages. The rifling and the sheer length of the barrel lead to more power and better accuracy.
These benefits can vary depending on what round you’re firing. +P ammunition reaps the best benefits of a 9mm PCC, with a significant boost to downrange energy and overall velocity. About twice as much as standard velocity loads.
9mm Carbine Varieties
Most types of carbines are also available in a 9mm carbine version. One popular example is the AR-15, which some manufacturers have turned into a 9mm variety. There are two sub-types in this category as well. There are ones with exclusive 9mm lower receivers, and ones using standard .223/5.56 lowers with built-in magazine adapters for 9mm ammo.
The design of many of these weapons makes it so that accessories for regular carbine guns are also compatible with 9mm carbines. For example, you can fit your AR-style 9mm carbine with aftermarket shoulder stocks, grips, and various tactical upgrades. If you prefer a more traditional hunting rifle type of design, there are plenty of 9mm carbines like this as well.
Many popular select-fire submachine guns have also gotten 9mm carbine siblings. Examples include the HK USC, FN PS90, and the classic Thompson carbine. These derivatives are semi-automatic and fitted with longer barrels, other than that they’re the same popular designs.
There are also 9mm carbine conversion kits, which consist of attachments that turn semi-automatic pistols like the 1911 into 9mm carbines. This can be very convenient when you need to travel with your gun. Another option is a 9mm carbine like the Kel-Tec Sub 2000, which folds in half.
Blowback-operated actions are common for 9mm carbines. This simple design makes the weapons very reliable. There is little that can go wrong, since there are no complex parts, no pistons or gas tubes that could malfunction. The bolt assembly stays where it’s supposed to due to the recoil spring and the bolt assembly’s own weight. When you fire, the expanding gases force the cartridge case back, and this cycles the bolt. It’s that simple. This design also tends to make the weapon easier to clean and keep lubricated.
Pros and Cons
Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons before diving into more detail on each feature and advantage of 9mm carbines.
- Very easy to use
- Highly versatile
- Uses common 9mm ammo
- Good for home defense
- Great precision
- Not as powerful as a rifle
Versatile and Flexible
It’s usually a good idea to buy firearms that fulfill multiple purposes rather than just one. 9mm carbines are a great example of this. Their versatility and ease of use make them ideal to bring along to the range, travel with, and defend your home. You can even compete with the same gun. It’s hard to find another solution that’s this flexible. Imagine the preparedness and consistent aim that comes from being able to bring your trunk gun to a competition, and then home to defend your house. You get to know the gun inside and out and how best to use it in every situation. This makes PCCs ideal for crisis preparation.
Since there are so many different types to choose from, and so many ways to customize a 9mm carbine, it’s easy to get a perfect fit for your needs. Another benefit is that shooting ranges often accept 9mm carbines while banning other long guns.
Pistol Magazine Compatibility
Another factor that makes these weapons so versatile and ideal for crisis scenarios is that the ammo is so plentiful. They have bolt assemblages and magazine wells that make them compatible with common, affordable Glock magazines and other semi-automatic pistol mags. Having a carbine that takes the same magazines as your handgun makes reloading and packing much more convenient and effective. With brands like Beretta and Glock, it’s easy to find a good combination of carbine and sidearm with interchangeable mags. 9mm carbine magazine capacity ranges up to 33 rounds depending on the model.
Since 9mm ammo is so cheap and easy to find, you can stock up and you won’t have to worry about shooting costs. Frequent practice is very important, and it’s much easier to keep the habit when it doesn’t cost much. You can find practice grade ammo in sporting goods stores across the country. It’s among the most common calibers around the globe, especially for civilian use and law enforcement. This also means that a lot of research has gone into making the bullets as good as they can be.
With +P loads more plentiful and accessible than ever, you can ensure that your home defense weapon operates at maximum performance, without spending a fortune.
Accuracy and Ease of Use
It’s worth repeating that a 9mm carbine is incredibly easy to shoot with good precision. A handgun only has one point of contact, even with a two-hand grip, while a carbine offers three contact points. This allows for a steadier aim, and it reduces the felt recoil. The longer barrel also helps with the aim. So you don’t need as much training to be proficient with a 9mm carbine. This is very beneficial when your weapon is shared by the whole household, in particular. To someone with minimal practice and high levels of fear due to a dangerous situation, this can mean the difference between life and death.
Since it doesn’t have the powerful kickback of a rifle, and doesn’t bounce like a pistol, you get a reduced recoil impulse. And you won’t get sore after each shot, like you might with a rifle. This enables a higher rate of fire, since recovering your aim after the recoil is so quick. In other words, you’ll be able to fire more shots at your assailant in a shorter time, thus reducing the risk of them doing harm or getting away. The long, rifled barrel also produces a much more stable bullet trajectory, making it much better than a handgun at longer distances.
Whether they’re autoloading or lever action, 9mm carbines are about as easy to use as they come.
9mm Carbine versus Rifle
Rifles may often seem like ideal choices for home defense. They’re powerful, reliable, and intimidating. But think about it, home defense means a high probability of shooting in your house.
First of all, there’s the maneuverability factor. Rifles can make it hard to round corners and make your way through narrow hallways, not to mention how much stuff you might bump into and break. Even a bigger carbine can be difficult to deal with in these scenarios. This is why handguns are so popular for home defense. That, and the differences in rounds and calibers.
Pistol caliber carbines are smaller and easier to move around with. They’re among the very shortest long guns out there, on par with high-end bullpups. So they’ll be easy to use in most houses.
Risks of Rifles
Then there’s the intensity of the blast. Rifles make a lot of noise and smoke, which can be really bad in an enclosed space. Especially when it’s your own home, where the blast can harm your family or your belongings. 9mm carbines produce less blast. Less recoil is an added bonus. Your 9mm carbine won’t jump around and make you miss your target and pump your home full of bullets. It won’t bump into things or throw off your balance like a more powerful rifle might.
With a rifle, you’d have to worry more about over-penetration. The ballistic properties differ a lot. Rifle rounds can go through both bad guys and walls and hit someone or something precious and fragile. 9mm rounds are less likely to do this because they’re a lower powered caliber, which makes them a better home defense round.
Since it’s also cheaper and more widespread, it’s the ideal ammo to keep around. Since no home defense arsenal is complete without a handgun anyway, ammo compatibility is a huge plus.
When it comes to practice, 9mm carbines beat rifles at the range. Many ranges only let you shoot rifle rounds in the outside area. Ones without such areas tend to either forbid the use of rifle rounds, or make you pay extra to shoot at the rifle-caliber bays. The number of these can also be very small. 9mm carbines are not restricted like this.
9mm Carbine versus Handgun
When comparing a 9mm handgun and a 9mm carbine, the first benefit you’ll notice is the improved control and stability of the carbine. First of all, you’re shooting from the shoulder. There are also multiple points of contact (shoulder, firing hand, and supporting hand) instead of just one, which grants more stability. The longer sight radius and better overall precision make it very controllable and user-friendly.
Unless you’re a great shot, you may have a lot of trouble hitting a target with a handgun from more than 15-20 yards. The tension and adrenaline involved in a real home defense scenario will only make it harder. It’s much easier with a long gun, such as a 9mm carbine. And you get a faster rate of fire due to better stability.
You’ll also have a much easier time fitting 9mm carbines with helpful attachments. There’s no shortage of great sights, lasers, lights, and other add-ons for carbines. You have plenty of space to mount them, and it’s easy because carbines are generally designed to accept a variety of accessories. It takes more work and more compromises to upgrade a handgun like this.
Running out of bullets or having to reload in the midst of a dangerous situation is the last thing you want. The fact that 9mm carbines hold more rounds than pistols is a great advantage on its own. Combined with the better aim, velocity, and stability, it makes for a superior defense weapon.
This video demonstrates the higher power and precision of 9mm carbines.
On the other hand, if you’re in a really confined space, a handgun will provide better mobility. You also have the advantage of having one hand free while still being able to fire with a decent amount of control. If you have to move your children or other individuals out of harm’s way while trying to put a hole in the home invader, a handgun will be more convenient. A free hand can also make a big difference while moving objects for cover or mobility, and opening or closing doors.
However, the better aim, range, and ammo capacity of 9mm carbines should outweigh these factors in general. It’s a matter of personal priorities and predictions.
Where to Buy a 9mm Carbine in 2018
Thanks to the explosion of e-commerce, you now have a number of good online vendors to choose from in 2018. Many manufacturers sell their guns on their own website, but you’ll find a better selection on a gun vendor site.
This nifty website sells firearms and related products from a variety of stores as well as straight from certain manufacturers. They specialize in good deals, and you’ll find daily special offers. There’s even a dedicated page for everything that’s currently 50% off. And you can buy or redeem various coupons for even better deals.
There’s a vast selection of good 9mm carbines on this site. The webshop has offers from a multitude of big name companies including Cabela’s and Gunprime. The lists aren’t the most organized or well-curated ones, however. Compared to the other sites listed, this one can be a bit messy and you’re likely to encounter some irrelevant or somewhat misleading entries.
Either way, what matters is the great selection of 9mm PCCs. With options like the Sig Sauer MPX, Kel-Tec SUB-2000, and RUGER PC 9mm Carbine, you’re bound to find one that suits you just right.
You can also put your prospective favorites on a watchlist and get updates if better deals come along.
Bud’s Gun Shop
Bud and his gun shop have a long-standing reputation as a trusted online gun vendor. They’ve delivered more than two million firearms since opening the shop in 2002. The shop has practically impeccable rankings on gun broker, eBay, reseller ratings, and BBB. In addition to the online store, there are three physical stores and shooting ranges. One in Lexington, Kentucky, another in Greenville, Kentucky, and the last one in Sevierville, Tennessee.
The website makes it simple and easy to buy firearms at a great price while following every rule. There’s also a section for auctions, where you can find even better deals at times.
Bud has lots of 9mm carbines to choose from. Things like the popular Beretta CX7, Kriss Vector CRB G2, and the new IWI Tavor 9mm editions. And much more. Each listing has a user rating and information about shipping costs and speed. You’ll also find a simple one-click price match button on most products. If you want extra security, you can get a $100 best price guarantee. There are also other optional warranties you can buy with your gun.
You can stay updated on good deals if you subscribe to the newsletter, and there’s a member’s club with various perks you can join for a small annual fee.
Cheaper Than Dirt
This website is dedicated to selling weapons, hunting gear, survival gear, and weapon accessories at really cheap prices. You’ll find a wide assortment of products. Sights, slings, suppressors, cleaning kits, ammunition, you name it. But the main attraction is the gun section.
What makes it such a good place to find specific things, such as a 9mm carbine, is the easy and effective filter system. You can get very specific with your gun types, manufacturers, and ratings in order to find the exact type of guns you want, and nothing else. You can even filter based on specific features and materials.
They carry a nice selection of 9mm carbines, including popular ones like the CZ Scorpion, the Kel-Tec SUB-2000, and the Just Right Carbine. You’ll often find them at great, reduced prices. However, there aren’t as many guns to choose from here.
This one’s an auction site where you can place bids on both new and old firearms and various accessories. But it’s also an ordinary online gun shop. When you search or browse the site, you can filter auctions, “buy it now”, and relisted items. Any combination or single category works.
What’s really nice is that you can filter your searches down to specific details so you only get what you’re looking for. Gun type, manufacture, price ranges, and weapon condition can all be fine-tuned to your preference.
It’s also a great place to go if you plan to sell your old gun when you buy your new one. And if you’re searching for really cheap deals, you should take a look at their Penny Auctions page.
Who Should Get a 9mm Carbine
9mm carbines are ideal for defending your home and your family. You get many of the benefits of a rifle, such as good stability, power, and helpful accessories, but it’s small enough to be maneuverable in your home. They’re very beginner-friendly weapons, so they’ll be easy for anyone in the household to pick up, take aim, and shoot without rigorous training.
If you live in an apartment or in a dense area with townhouses or rowhouses close together, the lower power of 9mm rounds will serve you much better than rifle rounds. You won’t run a high risk of shooting into a neighbor’s home, or taking down an innocent passer-by on the street outside. In addition, the legal liability aspect of this makes another compelling argument for 9mm carbines.
People who seek a good jack-of-all-trades firearm will love a 9mm carbine. They’re hard to beat when it comes to versatility, especially since they take popular pistol ammunition. This makes them ideal for preppers as well, especially if you need to conserve space or money for other preparations.
Choosing a Good 9mm Carbine
Not all 9mm carbines are created the same. In fact, there are quite significant differences between different subtypes and individual guns. As always, there is no best configuration, and it comes down to personal needs and preferences. That’s why it’s important that you do some good thinking on what you want out of your 9mm carbine. It helps when you know what to look for, so the advice in this section will come in handy when you’re picking out your gun.
The length of carbine barrels can vary a lot, from 10 to 18 inches. The difference between ones in the shorter end of that range and the longer ones is significant. The longest ones can have barrels almost twice as long as the shortest ones.
Depending on barrel placement and overall design, the total length of the weapon can vary even more. Carbines using the traditional design with long, rigid stocks can be very long. This makes a big difference when handling, storing, and traveling with your weapon. It can also greatly limit your options for means of storage and carrying.
If you’re getting a 9mm carbine to defend your house, you’re best off with a shorter one. The longer the gun, the more limited your movement is. If you’re looking for a trunk gun, on the other hand, the extra length can help with aim and stopping power, depending on design.
Collapsible or Removable Stock
The tactical advantages of stocks that can fold, collapse, or come off can be vast. Storing and traveling with your gun can be a real pain if you’re dealing with a rigid stock. And having to carry an obvious rifle case isn’t very good in a lot of places.
When it comes to tight spaces like hallways and small rooms, a long stock can easily get in the way and doesn’t do much good. Being able to adjust the gun for your current needs in no time is very important. Especially with a 9mm carbine, since the small size and good versatility are key selling points.
It’s important to get the design that’s the most practical for your needs, and not just what people portray as good. Some manufacturers exaggerate the benefits of their specific stock design.
It’s worth repeating the great convenience of being able to load your carbine with your pistol rounds. So ideally you should make sure to find a 9mm carbine that accepts the magazines of your 9mm pistol. So if you have a Beretta handgun, it’s best to get a Beretta 9mm carbine. Glock 9mm magazines, both stock and aftermarket ones, will work with a lot of different 9mm carbines. But some 9mm carbines only accept their own special magazines.
Factory magazines also vary in capacity, so you may want to take a closer look and get one with a higher capacity. Or invest in an additional extended magazine.
Barrel and Suppression
While PCCs are low in both recoil and noise in general, different models vary. If you’re getting your carbine for home defense, it’s wise to minimize these factors as much as possible. Some designs prioritize this, including basic suppression and muzzle breaks for this purpose. While investing in a suppressor is definitely an effective way to reduce blast, the extra length can be inconvenient if you have a longer carbine in a smaller home. And depending on local regulations, getting one can be a bit troublesome.
Most modern 9mm carbines are good at keeping the noise and recoil to a minimum. The noise factor is extra important if you want to practice in your backyard without making your neighbors hate you.
This one is most important for shooters who are thinking of replacing a different carbine or rifle with a 9mm carbine and want to transfer the attachments. While the vast majority of modern PCCs have railing, the type, amount, and location of the rail will vary.
If you want a fully fleshed out tactical carbine with sights, lights, and more, make sure to get a model with generous railing to make it easier for yourself.
Picking the Right Ammunition for a 9mm Carbine
The 9mm carbine is a bit pickier than its .357 counterpart. .357 carbines always perform much better than handguns of the same caliber, regardless of the specific ammunition qualities. With a 9mm carbine, you need to pick the right ammo to reap the full benefits.
9mm cartridges are very optimized for their typical use in handguns. The powder charge often works best in a short barrel, due to their careful design. They’re meant to expand at a certain point and this is tailored to the velocity and barrel length of a handgun. So they tend to not gain much from the carbine barrel, due to early or overly energetic expansion. This can sometimes lead to poor penetration upon impact.
Lighter bullets gain more velocity in carbines than heavy ones. And +P ammunition gets a better velocity boost in every bullet weight. Since heavier bullets aren’t affected as much, they have a better chance to remain intact and do what they’re supposed to do. The Tactical Guru recommendation is to get 147-grain loads from trusted, big name manufacturers like Winchester, Speer, and Federal. They’re powerful and reliable when fired out of both handguns and carbines, and they won’t fragment on their way through the carbine barrel.
On the other hand, if you’re concerned with over-penetration, you’re likely to prefer a lighter round. In this case, a 124-grain +P load is a better option. You still get a significant increase in muzzle velocity with your carbine, and the small amount of fragmentation and early expansion helps reduce penetration. So, if you have thin walls and you worry about accidentally shooting through to your neighbors or family, go with this solution.
Note that only +P rated firearms are good for use with +P ammunition. These rounds will also increase muzzle blast as well as overall wear and tear.
If hollow points are legal where you live, they’re a great way to avoid over-penetration.
Despite rumors and fluctuating popularity, a 9mm carbine is a great gun. Ideal for home defense in particular, but versatile in general and a very viable option for competitions and as a trunk gun. They’re very user-friendly and you can shoot them with ease even if you’re new to carbines. If you like to shoot for fun as well, you’ll have great times with a 9mm carbine.
It’s a perfect middle ground between a pistol and a rifle. You get more firepower, aim, and versatility than you would with a pistol. At the same time, you can avoid many of the downsides of a powerful rifle. And, perhaps best of all, it fires those affordable, widespread 9mm rounds.
Is it the ideal gun for everyone? No. There really is no such gun. 9mm carbines are, however, very good home defense weapons. Carefully choosing your weapon and ammunition to get it right for your personal needs and preferences is what it all comes down to. 9mm carbines are often a good place to start, because they’re versatile and affordable.
If you haven’t tried a 9mm carbine before, I strongly recommend that you do.