April 2019 - Gun Tests Magazine
Manufacturers have easily transformed the AR-15 platform to be compatible with 9mm ammo, and we have tested a few of these carbines back in 2015. Since then, there has been an uptick in new 9mm carbine models, so we decided to take a look at these short semi-autos that share ammo with your pistol. What separates these newer 9mm carbines from some AR-15 carbines is their ability to use handgun magazines. Not only do these carbines share the same ammunition, they also share the same magazine in your pistol. That’s versatility in our book.
The three rifles we procured were the Beretta CX4 Storm, Just Right Carbines’ Takedown Model, and Ruger’s PC Carbine. These carbines offer mild recoil, good accuracy, fast follow-up shots, light weight, and maneuverability. Some, like the Ruger, offer all the bells and whistles and propel the 9mm carbine category from a pipsqueak pistol-caliber carbine to a versatile home defense and survival tool. In the past five or six years, 9mm ammunition has also evolved, and there are a slew of viable loads that make these carbines more versatile than 9mm carbines years ago.
Less recoil means better accuracy and faster follow-up shots, and we all know bullet placement is very important in disabling a bad actor. We’ll take making the first well-placed shot any day. In our opinion, any of these carbines would made a good choice for home defense, for transport in a vehicle, as survival/prepper choice, small game hunting, and an all-round fun plinker. These also make a great transitional gun for shooters graduating from a rimfire round to a centerfire round. All of these carbines also offered an adjustable length of pull so smaller-stature shooters are not at a disadvantage.
All three of these carbines feed from handgun magazines and use a simple blowback mechanism. You can feel the bolt sliding back and forth in the receiver as the carbine cycles and that adds to the perceived recoil. These carbines are also light and perceived recoil is always higher in a lightweight rifle. In our opinion, the Beretta does the best job of making the mechanism feel smooth, and that’s because the CX4 is more like and oversized pistol than it is a carbine chambered in a pistol caliber. The Ruger and JRC have added flexibility since they are takedown models. Plus the Ruger does a whole lot more. The Ruger PC Carbine is packed with features that actually make the carbine more flexible, adaptable, and useful. Some of our more jaded testers kept going back to the PC Carbine for another try, which says a lot.