By Trampas Swanson

Sometimes in life, the best new idea is simply an old one re-imagined from a different point of view. In the firearms industry, no company better illustrates that creative mindset than Ruger Firearms. In 1996, Ruger first released an innovative, semi-automatic carbine rifle aimed at the Law Enforcement market sales branded the Police Carbine. Based off their world famous .22 caliber 10/22 blow back action, these new rifles were available in 9mm and .40 caliber. The Police Carbine offered the ability for a shooter equipped with a Ruger P-series pistol to use the same magazines interchangeably. Whether the unpopularity of the P-series of pistols caused the down fall or the Police Carbine or it was simply ahead of it’s time, we’ll never know, but unfortunately the rifle was considered a sales failure.

Thankfully, Ruger did not give up on the concept. At the end of 2017, Ruger announced a redesigned version of the Police Carbine in a much more versatile “take down” model titled the Ruger Pistol Carbine 9. At first glance, seasoned shooters were all to quick to groan and say: “Here we go again.” The truth is, the timing for this new release couldn’t have been more right! This week, we take an in depth look at the new PC Carbine rifle and explore why this could be the big success Ruger has long waited for. The concept of carrying a pistol and rifle in the same caliber has always made things more streamlined and convenient for the end user. With the handgun, you have the advantage of having a concealable firearm that’s easier to carry. The rifle on the other hand, offers better accuracy and longer range over the handgun. 

ruger-pc9-1

PC Carbine Specs

  • Stock: Black Synthetic
  • Capacity: 17
  • Barrel Length: 16.12″
  • Overall Length: 34.37″
  • Barrel: Threaded, Fluted
  • Front Sight: Protected Blade
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Ghost Ring
  • Thread Pattern: 1/2″-28
  • Weight: 6.8 lb.
  • Length of Pull: 12.62″ – 14.12″
  • Twist: 1:10″ RH
  • Suggested Retail: $649.00

ruger-pc9-2

Range Time: Round 1

We began our testing at the private training grounds the Swanson Media Group affectionately calls “The Swamp”. Upon my arrival, I was met with fellow gun writer, Craig Reinolds. As we unboxed the Ruger PC 9, we discovered it shipped with one Ruger SR series 17 round magazine and one Glock 17 round magazine as well as a second magazine well “collar.” According to the instructions, the flared magazine well on the rifle allowed for use with the SR series and new Security-9 series of magazine from Ruger. (Observation note: I found this fact to be very interesting due to the fact the SR series magazines and Security-9 magazines do NOT interchange with each other, yet Ruger allowed them to both work in the PC 9. Righting a wrong or merely expanding options?)

This magazine well “collar” could also be unscrewed and replaced with the second one additionally shipped which accepts Glock 9mm magazines. This is a HUGE step for Ruger to include an outside manufacturer’s magazine as an option. This itself puts the new PC 9 a step closer to success than its predecessor considering 80% of the sales market for handguns involve Glock pistols. Well done Ruger!

ruger-pc9-3

Craig and I immediately loaded up the Ruger factory magazine and started taking shots at steel targets 30 yards down range. The factory iron sights featured a protected front sight blade and ghost ring rear sight, both mounted on the barrel section of where the rifle breaks down for discreet carry. The 16.12” barrel made the overall handling of the Ruger PC Carbine very quick and easy to handle moving from target to target. As we took turns shooting at the steel targets and moving back further, it was if Craig and I couldn’t miss. There was hardly any noticeable recoil and the trigger broke crisply and cleanly. While it wasn’t a high end target rifle, it certainly was fun to shoot. It reminded me a lot of plinking with my favorite Ruger 10/22 .22 caliber rifle.

Range Time: Round 2

A few weeks later, I again met with Craig for another test session. By then, Craig had already run at least another 300 rounds through the rifle and added a few items to it. A Bushnell holographic sight was added to the Picatinny rail mounted on top of the receiver as well as a Springfield XLM weapon light to the Picatinny rail on underside of the handguard. As I shouldered the rifle to check out how everything lined up on target with the new additions, I noticed a smart move on Craig’s part. The charging handle had been moved to the left side of the rifle from traditional right side mount as it was shipped. Craig’s had observed he would have to break his trigger hand from the rifle to charge it during loading and reloading when the handle was on the right side. With the handle moved to the left side, he could stay on target during reloads and would have less down time between shots during extended strings of fire.

ruger-pc9-4

Between test sessions, Craig started to notice some problems with the test rifle while breaking it in. As Craig and I discussed the issues, he went over the types of ammunition he used, the magazines he incorporated and the fact he tried both magazine collars and factory mags. It seemed the rifle stopped feeding the last couple of rounds during shooting regardless of which magazines or ammunition were used. Factory Glock 17 and 18 magazines, extended capacity ETS and Magpul Magazines, and the factory Ruger magazine were all used. All developed feed issues with the Ruger. Below is a list of ammunition tested throughout the review period. Like the magazines used, all brands of ammunition started to misfeed as well:

  • Magtech 115 gr FMJ
  • Hornady 124 gr +P XTP
  • UMC 115 gr FMJ
  • Blazer 115 gr FMJ
  • Monarch Brass 124 gr JHP

After discussing the feed issues and seeing them firsthand , Craig and I both determined it must be the rifle itself. When everything appears wrong, look at the common denominator for the real problem. At the time, I knew of several of our gun industry friends who were also currently working with the Ruger PC 9. All stated the same malfunctions and concerns. With that accumulation of knowledge, I decided not to give up on this rifle yet. I emailed my contact at Ruger and explained the issue. Through discussions with the product team, it was determined the issue could be corrected by chamfering the feed ramp. As the sample rifle was sent back to Ruger, a new one arrived a few weeks later. 

ruger-pc9-5

Range Time: Round 3

The next range session would certainly be a completely different dynamic for testing overall. Instead of being outdoors, this session would be held at the indoor range at On Target Sports (OTS). Prior to our meeting, Craig reported the new test sample was running great through approximately 200 rounds of assorted magazines and ammunition. Our test session at OTS would follow up on this report. To take advantage of the rifle’s ½ x 28 TPI threaded barrel, I also arranged to run the Ruger PC 9 with the model Ti9 from Torrent Suppressors.

ruger-pc9-7

To lead things off, we ran a combination of several ammo brands through the same magazines with zero failures. Next, I removed the knurled thread protector and O ring from the Ruger’s warm barrel and installed the Ti9 suppressor by simply screwing it on. The previously light upward recoil turned into a rearward pulse into the shoulder when suppressed. Aside from an increase in powder fouling in the chamber, everything was a positive benefit. Obviously, the noise was considerably reduced as well as the muzzle flash on the first round fired and practically eliminating the flash of follow up shots as you can see in the attached video.

As I set the target out to 15 yards and mounted the rifle, I could feel a definite change in its balance. With the suppressor attached, it changed the weight from being in the shooting hand to a more even balance between both hands. This change helped the rifle track better and transition from target to target faster in an already fast-handling carbine. With a total weight of under 7lbs, and 16 oz of added weight for the Ti9, the complete package is easy to carry for extended periods in the field. (Insert here “the obligatory ounces turn to pounds over time” reference if you like, but this rifle does seem to personify that.)

ruger-pc9-8

Next, Swanson Media Group member Clint Steele got behind the PC 9 with his fully auto finger. As a retired military veteran, Clint has been an accomplished shooter for quite some time. My first instinct was to tell him to slow down on the shots but once I saw where he placed those rapid shots, I wanted to take out my notepad. Round after round cycled flawlessly through the Ruger PC 9 as the round count between all the shooters started to be counted in 100s.

As I lead off with my thoughts, Craig was still grinning from ear to ear and believed all the issues with the first test sample were now fixed with the second production run. Clint jumped in by mentioning how well balanced the suppressor made the rifle and his fondness for the Glock magazine compatibility .Admittedly, the three of us can well be considered “Glock Guys” as we all carry one daily in one form or another. In agreement with Clint, regardless of personal preferences, the numbers don’t lie and with Ruger making their brand compatible with a much larger selling magazine. As for the range session, it was a huge success with zero overall failures and tons of fun.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed shooting the Ruger PC Carbine over the five total months of test and evaluation. A key element of this process was having Craig carry the rifle daily with him in the field, in his van at work and on the range with other shooters. This daily experience with the PCC helped diagnose the specific issues with the first sample and articulate them to the folks at Ruger Firearms when I reached out to them. Furthermore, the attention and care Beth McAllister at Ruger took in listening to the issues we had early on with the first sample rifle was amazing. With regularly dealing with company executives, it was good to see how Beth recognized the problem with the first production run of the rifles and explained what measures were taken to ensure the next batch of rifles sent out would be correct.

ruger-pc9-6

The REAL genius in the Ruger Pistol Caliber Carbine comes in the civilian market in two distinct ways. First, the PCC competition market is a hot seller and the new Ruger Pistol Caliber Carbine is ready to meet that demand. Secondly, the gun culture itself is currently under fire publicly by the media. The sporting profile of the Ruger PCC is much less aggressive-looking to the uneducated eye and garners far less attention if seen in public. As Clint describes: “It’s the modern lever action.” For the hiker on the trail, a PC Carbine broken down in a small pack as a “truck gun” doesn’t intimidate people as much as if they see an AR or AK platform. Honestly, if I saw someone on the edge of the woods with a PC Carbine, I would think they were squirrel hunting with a Ruger 10/22 and not pay it much further attention. If you can carry a discreet looking rifle with high magazine capacity with less hassle, wouldn’t the Ruger PC Carbine just simply make more sense than an AR-15?

In the end, it boils down to what are your goals in shooting and needs in a rifle. The Ruger PC Carbine fills a fantastic niche in the civilian market for those who don’t want to carry different ammunition or separate magazines. The quality, versatility and price make the Ruger PC 9 one of my top picks for a civilian market sporting rifle. Special thanks to Tyler Smith and the great folks at On Target Sports in Orange Park, Florida for their wonderful hospitality during range testing for this article. Until next week folks, remember, a product isn’t good to go until its been Swamp Tested, Swamp Reviewed!