March 04, 2021
By Sam Wolfenberger
Ruger’s PC Carbine has gone through some changes in the nearly quarter-century that it’s been around. Most recently, some versions now sport a free-floating, slotted, aluminum handguard and an adjustable buttstock; the gun is now a takedown model; and it now incorporates interchangeable magazine well inserts. One thing that hasn’t changed is the carbine is chambered for handgun cartridges.
It’s obvious the newest versions of the PC Carbine are intended for tactical/defense use. The slotted handguards are M-LOK compatible, making attaching tactical accessories easy, and the adjustable buttstocks look a lot like the familiar AR-15 types.
But I’ve always thought of the PC Carbine as a camp carbine, so I opted to shoot the standard model that has a sleek, “normal” traditional-style forearm and a fixed buttstock. And I chose the .40 S&W chambering. The carbine is also offered in 9mm, and while the .40 S&W isn’t so popular these days with a lot of shooters, I’m still a fan. In fact, my preferred home-defense pistol is chambered for the .40-caliber round. I like the cartridge for that purpose, and I also like it for trail use. And I really like the idea of having a handgun and a carbine in the same chambering, so much so that over the years I’ve paired various woods handguns with carbines in .22 LR, .22 WMR, .32 H&R Magnum, .327 Federal Magnum, .32-20, .357 Magnum, .38-40, and .44 Magnum.
The PC Carbine’s cold-hammer-forged, chrome-moly steel barrel is 16.12 inches long and fluted and has a twist rate of one turn in 16 inches. And the muzzle is threaded 9/16-24. Overall length is 34.37 inches, and weight is 6.6 pounds. Length of pull is adjustable from 12.62 inches to 14.12 inches via buttpad spacers. The rear sight is an adjustable ghost-ring type, and the front sight blade is protected by a sturdy wing on each side. The aluminum-alloy receiver features an integral Picatinny top rail, and the charging handle and the magazine release are reversible.
Like I said earlier, the carbine easily takes down into two pieces. That’s accomplished by locking the bolt back, pushing the recessed lever on the underside of the forearm, twisting the subassemblies, and pulling the barrel/forearm free from the receiver/buttstock.
Now back to those interchangeable magazine well inserts. The PC Carbine comes set up to accept Ruger SR/Security-9 pistol magazines, and also included is an extra interchangeable magwell insert that fits current Glock magazines (not the early ones). Obviously, if your defensive carbine is chambered for a handgun cartridge and you also use a pistol for home defense, you’re going to want your carbine to accept the same magazines. The preppers, survivalists, and self-defense gurus can give you plenty of in-depth reasons for that; I’m none of those things, so I’ll simply say that in a life-threatening situation, it makes everything less confusing and a whole lot faster and easier to use the same magazines—and the same ammo—for both guns. Glock doesn’t make a carbine, but now you can have your Glock and shoot a Ruger, too.
The magwell inserts swap out quickly and easily once the receiver is removed from the buttstock. My gun came with one 15-round Ruger magazine, but the company also offers it with a state-compliant 10-round magazine for shooters living where magazine capacity is limited. You have to supply your own Glock magazines if you go that route. Also, if you choose the 9mm PC Carbine, Ruger sells a magwell insert that fits its American Pistol magazines.
As for the gun’s performance, the accuracy and velocity results of shooting three factory loads at 50 yards are listed in the accompanying chart. All three loads had 165-grain bullets, and overall average accuracy was 2.27 inches for five-shot groups. At a closer self-defense range of 45 feet (the length of the main hallway in my house), the PC Carbine put all rounds from a fully loaded magazine into one ragged hole. The trigger uses the proven Ruger 10/22 components, and the trigger pull on my gun was a healthy 5.0 pounds according to my RCBS trigger pull scale. It is by no means what you’d call a match-quality trigger, but I got used to it fairly quickly, and I don’t think it had an adverse effect on the accuracy.
The semiautomatic, pistol-caliber Ruger PC Carbine is almost 25 years old now. With these fresh updates and new features, don’t you think it’s time you got to know one? It’s a fine home-defense gun, and it’s a dandy little camp gun, too.
PC Carbine Specs
MANUFACTURER: Sturm, Ruger & Co.; ruger.com
TYPE: Blowback-operated autoloader
CALIBER: .40 S&W
MAGAZINE CAPACITY: 15 rounds
BARREL: 16.12 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 34.37 in.
WEIGHT, EMPTY: 6.6 lbs.
STOCK: Glass-filled nylon synthetic
LENGTH OF PULL: Adjustable from 12.62 to 14.12 in.
FINISH: Matte black Type III hard-coat anodized
SIGHTS: Adjustable ghost-ring rear; protected post front; receiver has an integral Picatinny top rail
TRIGGER: 5.0-lb. pull (as tested)