Why Are 9mm Pistol-Caliber Carbines So Popular?

Posted by Frankie Chan on 5th Dec 2022

Pistol-caliber carbines are quite a divisive firearms category. Though they have become insanely popular over the past decade, many shooters still refuse to accept that they have any serious purpose. In contrast, others may claim that they are the perfect firearm. Though rifles may be better for most combat scenarios, pistol-caliber carbines still fit many niches quite well.

Therefore, these firearms are becoming extremely popular in the civilian market, and almost every major firearm manufacturer is making some PCC model. So, let's talk about pistol-caliber carbines, their uses, effectiveness, and rising popularity.

History of Pistol Caliber Carbines

Though the civilian market is seeing a rise in the popularity of pistol-caliber carbines, they have been around for a very long while. Most notably, the Artillery Luger and C96 pistol carbines were issued to artillery crews during the first world war. These carbine versions had higher capacities and featured a stock, which allowed artillery crewmen to have a lot of firepower in a compact package.

However, pistol-caliber carbines didn't stick around for too long in the military environment. With the development of submachine guns, like the German MP-18 and Thompson, pistol-caliber carbines didn't have many functions in the military. These submachine guns did fire pistol calibers, but they were fully automatic and allowed soldiers to send a lot of lead downrange instead of relying on a slow bolt action rifle. SMGs were used extensively throughout the second world war and in the following years throughout the world. Though their use is somewhat decreasing in the Military and law enforcement realm, they are still quite significant.

Pistol-caliber carbines started gaining a lot of popularity in the American civilian market. Civilians could not own submachine guns. However, many manufacturers made semi-automatic carbine versions of their popular SMGs that were popular with the public. However, one of the main reasons for the popularity of pistol-caliber carbines in the first place was their compact size. In the civilian market, these carbines needed to be in a rifle configuration to be legal. That is, they needed at least a 16-inch barrel. Turning them to an SBR through proper paperwork is possible in most states, but it can be somewhat of a hassle.

So, pistol-caliber carbines remained relatively obscure for a while. However, after pistol braces came into the market, which allowed shooters to own short-barreled versions of these pistol caliber carbines without using stocks and turning them into an SBR with the proper paperwork, their popularity skyrocketed. Many manufacturers started making pistol-caliber carbines, and most companies made semi-auto pistol versions of their SMGs and long barrel pistol caliber carbines.

Why Should You Buy a Pistol-Caliber Carbine?

Modern pistol-caliber carbines offer several incredible benefits that make them a fantastic addition to any shooter's arsenal. Moreover, there are loads of options available for PCC versions of iconic SMGs and newer designs. So, here are some of the main reasons you should get a pistol-caliber carbine.

Pistol-Caliber Carbines Use Cheaper Ammunition

One of the biggest advantages of pistol-caliber carbines is that they use relatively cheaper ammunition. Even though prices of ammo have risen recently, in comparison, a box of 9mm ammunition is significantly cheaper than a box of .223 Remington. So, a range day with a PCC will be much easier on the pocket, and you can get more range time and practice for lower costs.

Pistol-Caliber Carbines Are Great for Beginners

PCCs make for an excellent middle ground between small firearms and larger rifles, especially when teaching beginners to shoot. Because of the smaller calibers, they don't have a very strong recoil impulse and are easier to control. Meanwhile, they allow beginners to get used to the ergonomics and feel of popular rifle platforms.

Pistol-Caliber Carbines Are Great for Competition Shooting

Recently, PCCs have become quite popular among competition shooters. In a 2 or 3-gun competition, it allows shooters to share the same magazines, or at least ammunition, with their pistols, making for simpler setups and faster reload times as well. The ability to share ammunition between your primary and secondary firearm can also be quite advantageous in a survival situation.

You Can Use Pistol-Caliber Carbines at Indoor Shooting Ranges

Since pistol-caliber carbines don't have the concussive muzzle flash associated with full-powered rifles, they are better suited to indoor shooting. They are allowed in almost all indoor shooting ranges and are better for home defense scenarios.

Pistol-Caliber Carbines Are Usually More Compact

Though this isn't the case with all pistol caliber carbines, many modern PCCs that come in a pistol configuration and are used with pistol braces are very compact. They can have shorter barrels and folding braces, which allows them to be very maneuverable in tight spaces and allows you to have more firepower and a more accurate delivery platform than a standard pistol.

Pistol-Caliber Carbines Are Easier to Suppress

Subsonic pistol calibers are also easier to suppress, and PCCs work more reliably than full-powered rifles when suppressed. Moreover, with the overall shorter length of most pistol-caliber carbines, suppressors don't add too much to the firearm’s length.

Are Pistol Caliber Carbines Suitable for Home Defense?

Now, let me start by saying that there is no “perfect” weapon when it comes to self-defense. Shotguns pack a mean punch and allow you to use a wide range of lethal and non-lethal ammo; however, they can be too long and difficult to maneuver around tight doorways and hallways in a house. Rifles have a large magazine capacity and stopping power, but they bring a risk of over-penetration. Pistols are very maneuverable and have decent capacity; however, most people can't accurately shoot them at a distance.

Every kind of firearm has its pros and cons. Similarly, pistol-caliber carbines have their positives and negatives; however, they are easily among the most effective home defense options. Let me explain why.

Pistol-caliber carbines usually have a high magazine capacity. You can expect to have 30 rounds of 9mm in a single magazine, which is much higher than any pistol. Moreover, the longer barrel, stock or brace, and carbine platform allow you to stretch the capabilities of a humble pistol round and shoot more accurately and quickly.

Moreover, the smaller pistol calibers don't have the same concussive energy as rifle rounds, and though their sound won't be pleasant, it won't be as deafening as shooting a rifle or shotgun indoors. The smaller muzzle flash also allows you to focus on your sights. Additionally, PCCS have a lot more rail space than pistols to mount lights, lasers, foregrips, and other accessories, which can significantly improve your shooting effectiveness.

So, in conclusion, pistol-caliber carbines can be very effective for home defense.

What Is the Most Popular PCC Caliber?

Pistol-caliber carbines are becoming quite popular these days, and the most popular caliber they use is undoubtedly 9mm. The 9mm is the most popular handgun cartridge in the world, and it is super reliable, affordable, and easy to find. It is also a solid self-defense caliber with decent stopping power and range. This is why most manufacturers prefer making pistol-caliber carbines chambered in 9mm.

All the most popular pistol-caliber carbines, like 9mm ARs or AR9s, the CZ Scorpion EVO3, the CMMG 9mm Banshee, and the MP-5 clones are chambered in 9mm. Many pistol-caliber carbines are chambered in other calibers, from .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and even 5.7x28mm; however, they are nowhere near as popular as 9mm options.

Final Thoughts

So, to put it all together, pistol-caliber carbines have taken the civilian market by storm, and there is a solid reason behind their popularity. Pistol-caliber carbines offer a lot of great advantages for all kinds of shooters. They are excellent home defense weapons, can be used for competition shooting, are affordable to practice with, and make for excellent PDWs, which you can store in your car or hiking backpack. Overall, whether you like them or not, pistol-caliber carbines are here, and they are going to stick around for a while.