Thureon Defense Carbine 9mm
When it comes to personal defense, competition, and recreational shooting, the most popular rifle in America is likely the AR-15 chambered for .223 Remington. But there are still plenty of shooters who prefer the light recoil and low expense of 9mm Luger ammunition. Whereas caliber .223 is strictly the staple of rifle shooters, 9mm carbines are often used by pistol shooters who sometimes use a long gun. There are three basic types of 9mm carbine. They are the 9mm AR-15, semi-automatic versions of submachineguns such as the UZI, and purpose-built 9mm carbines that more or less follow their own rules of design. To answer some of those questions, Gun Tests magazine recently fired the $700 Thureon Defense 9mm.
Their choice of test ammunition was Winchester USA 115-grain FMJ rounds and two loads from Black Hills Ammunition topped with 124-grain bullets. One featured a full-metal-jacketed slug and the other a jacketed hollowpoint driven by a +P charge. Each carbine was tested for accuracy from the 50-yard bench using only their supplied open sights.
Here’s what the staff at GT said:
Thureon Defense Carbine 9mm, $700
This is the newest design among the carbines. Someone asked why not simply choose a 9mm upper for your AR-15? There are several good replies. First, we may not have an AR-15. Second, we may not wish to own a .223 rifle. Perhaps the most pertinent answer is that a rifle with two uppers is still just one rifle, and two rifles are two rifles. The Thureon carbine looks like a blend of a Sten and a Colt AR-15. This 9mm has purposeful lines, but it isn’t pretty. The original Thureon used modified UZI magazines, but our carbine was Glock compatible. We remember the 9mm Colt and its seemingly nonexistent replacement magazines, so using the UZI magazine was a good thing. But in the interest of availability, the Glock is even better.
The handguard was a circular, ventilated type that is about 1.45 inches in diameter. The 16-inch-plus barrel featured a flash suppressor. How much of an aid the suppressor was we may only hazard, but the rifle didn’t have much muzzle rise. While it isn’t an AR, it was built on similar handling and should be evaluated as such. The receiver halves fit together well. The trigger action was typical AR-15 in operation but broke cleaner than most, in our view. The buttstock was advertised with adjustments ranging from about 32 inches to just over 35.6 inches. Large- and small-framed shooters or those wearing heavy clothing or a vest will find this carbine fits them with the proper adjustment. The pistol grip, location of the safety and other controls were straightforward AR-15 design. However, our example was fitted with the optional Slide Fire stock. This feature turns the weapon into an externally driven machine gun of sorts. For the purposes of this test we kept this feature locked out. The only downside to our test procedure was that even when locked in the normal position, the stock was a bit loose. We exhibited pressure on the stock to be certain that the accuracy testing was viable.
We think that the Thureon came on board with an advantage in the firing tests. It is difficult to find an interested shooter without AR-15 experience, and every single rater had experience with the AR-15 and plenty of muscle memory to draw from. The other guns had to hit the ground running just to keep up. Everyone liked the way the Thureon handled, which was similar to the AR-15, but most raters felt it handled even a bit faster. That is good handling! The charging handle on the side of the receiver was a departure from the AR-15 norm, but no one criticized. The Thureon was fired without malfunction. Like all other quality firearms, the carbines preferred one load to the other. But the Kel-Tec or UZI-type carbines tend to produce more or less the same results with all types of ammunition. However, the Thureon displayed at least acceptable accuracy with some loads and exceptional accuracy with others. Choosing to experiment with additional loads such as Fiocchi 123-grain FMJ ammunition (a round that one of our raters swears by for good results), the Thureon produced 2-inch 50-yard groups, excellent for this type of rifle. This was despite the fact that some felt that the sights of the Thureon could have been better. Both the front and rear sights were located on the receiver, rather than offering a front sight mounted on the end of the barrel. That the Thureon invites the shooter to challenge the 50-yard line with only open sights is, in our view, a testament to the product.
If we may discuss intangibles briefly, there is a good chance that the Thureon 9mm, coupled with a hard-hitting 9mm loading such as the Black Hills 124-grain +P, may be a suitable weapon for taking out coyote at a long 100 yards. We feel that the 9mm Luger cartridge gives its best performance inside 100 yards, and in that range the Thureon carbine maximizes the caliber. Despite the much touted “hands meeting in the dark” magazine change for both the UZI and the Kel-Tec, the Thureon proved to be sure and positive in magazine changes. Hitting the magazine release and quickly canting the magazine into the well and snapping it into place produced brilliant elapsed times.
A few words on the Slide Fire stock; we did not like it that much. The Slide Fire works by pressing forward on the forend while you keep the trigger finger on the stock. The finger is then pressed into the trigger and the recoil of the carbine keeps the finger moving until you remove your finger from the trigger or release forward pressure to the forend. Under nonstop rapid-fire, a rifle magazine can be emptied in a few seconds. It is a poor man’s automatic fire, completely legal, being delivered with a letter from the ATF stating it is legal. It’s a ball of fun that will appeal to some shooters. But, in our view, there is nothing accomplished by such rapid fire that cannot be achieved by quick, controlled semi-automatic fire.
Our Team Said: The Thureon is the strong first choice for anyone interested in gilt-edged accuracy, allowing the shooter to explore just what a 9mm carbine will do. The Thureon is cost effective and should provide cheap, accurate plinking from long range. A handloading program with +P loads might also allow you to take out a wily coyote far past 9mm pistol range. Either way, as a fighting carbine for the worst-case scenario, the Thureon wins by a considerable margin.