One might ask that with all of the reviews, video and written, why I would write a review of the Ruger PC Carbine at this time. The explanation is simple, really. Up until now I had not had my hands on one to actually shoot. And, I can’t write a review on something I don’t have. Well, I could, but that would be a great disservice to you and to me.
While I had a Windham Weaponry R16FTT-9mm carbine on hand, I really wanted to do a comparison between the Ruger PC Carbine and the Windham Weaponry R16FTT-9mm carbine, as this would be a good opportunity to compare entirely different platforms. While the Ruger PC Carbine is built on a familiar 10/22-based platform, the Windham Weaponry R16FTT-9mm carbine is built on a “Stoner-Based” platform. However, I thought better of doing a comparison, at this time, and simply concentrate how the Ruger PC Carbine fares while standing on its own.
The Ruger PC Carbine has that rugged Ruger feel to it, and the look of the Ruger PC Carbine is of a politically-correct pistol caliber-carbine, in that the style is of more of a traditional look and feel. At first glance, without a magazine hanging out of it, it looks like the Ruger 10/22. Insert a greater than ten round magazine into it; however, and it begs to be treated like a 10/22 – simply pull the trigger to see how fast you can unload the magazine. You will tend to shoot more 9mm than you may intend to.
But first, let’s take a look at the features of the Ruger PC Carbine and my thoughts on each of them:
Interchangeable magazine wells for use of common Ruger® and Glock® magazines. Ships with SR-Series Pistol and Security-9® magazine well installed and an additional magazine well accepting Glock® magazines is included*. Ruger American Pistol® magazine well is available at ShopRuger.com. (Author: My first step was to change out the installed magazine well with the Glock magazine well. The swap-out took less than three minutes. The Ruger PC carbine will run Glock magazines from Glock G26 on up to 33-roundGlock magazines.
Easy takedown enables quick separation of the barrel/forend assembly from the action for ease of transportation and storage. Takedown is as simple as locking the bolt back and verifying that the rifle is unloaded, pushing a recessed lever, twisting the subassemblies and pulling them apart. (Author: Installing the barrel/forend is just as easy. Insert the barrel/forend into the receiver and twist it until it locks into place. One extra step is to ensure that the locking collar is tight. It would have been nice of Ruger to include a carrying bag, like with the 10/22 take-down. With that said, if you have a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, the Ruger PC Carbine will also fit into the case, but it does take up a bit more real estate. If you don’t have a case and want one, it is available through Ruger.)
Dead blow action features a custom tungsten dead blow weight that shortens bolt travel and reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise. Bolt is machined from heat treated, chrome-moly steel to ensure strength, structural integrity and durability. (Author: The Ruger PC Carbine’s bolt looks like the 10/22 on steroids. It is; of course, a center-fire bolt rather than a rim-fire.)
Reversible magazine release (Author: Handy for a lefty, but also for us cross-dominant people. the magazine release button that is located on the left side lend itself to right-hand operation when shooting left sided, which is something that I am used to. I simply reach around the mag well area, located the button with my trigger finger, and push inward to release the magazine.) and reversible charging handle to support ambidextrous use or one-handed control manipulation while maintaining a proper firing grip*. (Author: If you are cross-dominate and shoot lefty while being a righty, the charging handle can be operated quite well with the right hand while also keeping your grip with the left hand.)
Cold hammer-forged, chrome-moly steel barrel with ultra-precise rifling provides exceptional accuracy, longevity and easy cleaning. The heavy contour barrel provides consistent accuracy, while barrel fluting sheds unnecessary weight and allows for quick handling. (Author: The barrel is quite nice looking with the flutes. And, with me being a player of Native American Style Flutes, I can appreciate them, which has nothing to do with this barrel.)
1/2″-28 threaded barrel with included thread protector allows for use of standard muzzle accessories. (Author: The Ruger PC Carbine is ‘can’ be ready when you are.)
Accurate sighting system with adjustable ghost ring rear aperture sight and non-glare, protected blade front sight. (Author: I find the rear sight to be a little too far forward to be an effective ‘ghost sight, but it is adequate for its intended use.)
Soft rubber buttpad with spacers allows the rifle to be properly sized for different shooters or varying levels of outerwear or defensive gear (three, 1/2” spacers included). (Author: The Ruger PC Carbine came with one spacer installed, which should serve most folks. I can add a slip-on recoil pad for my desired LOP if desired.)
Durable, glass-filled nylon synthetic stock features sling swivel studs for rapid sling attachment and forward mounted accessory rail to allow for a variety of under-barrel accessories such as lights or lasers. The grip features a proprietary texture for enhanced control. (Author: The accessory rail is very small, but should be adequate for most accessories; with the exception of a suitable Slim Jim snack holder.)
Light, crisp trigger pull with minimal over-travel and positive reset utilizing proven 10/22® trigger components. (Author: The trigger is crisp. The beauty of the PC Carbine is that you can dry-fire it, unlike the 10/22.)
CNC-milled from an aerospace-grade 7075-T6 aluminum billet, the receiver includes an integrated Picatinny rail and is Type III hard-coat anodized for maximum durability. (Author: This is a good addition to the design, as a lot of folks these days mount optics.)
Also includes: one, SR-Series pistol magazine (Author: Since I have a Ruger SR9 and SR9c, the magazine will not go to waste.) and hex wrenches for rear sight adjustment (Author: very handy), butt pad spacer adjustment and charging handle removal.
Of course, one of the key features of the Ruger PC Carbine is the take-down capability. Pull and lock the bolt to the rear, or just simply move it to the rear slightly enough to clear the breech face, push the locking lever forward a bit, rotate the barrel/forearm assembly clockwise, and then remove the barrel/forearm assembly from the firearm. When re-assembling, simply reverse the procedure; twist the barrel/forearm assembly in the counter-clockwise direction.
There is a barrel tightening ring that needs to be checked every now and then to ensure that the barrel/forearm assembly is correctly fitted. Usually, just a counter-clockwise (viewing from the butt) nudge with a finger nail is all that is needed.
Fully assembled, the Ruger PC Carbine only weighs 6.8 pounds. Adding an optic will increase the weight a bit. The Ruger PC Carbine seems to feel well-balanced whether empty or charged up with your favorite ammunition in your desired magazine.
The Length Of Pull (LOP) is adjustable from 12.62″ to 14.12″ and I found that I really did not mind a shorter LOP than what I prefer, which may be due to the firearm’s design being more conventional in nature over the pistol grip style of the “Stoner-based” counterpart.
The rear sight can be fully adjusted for windage and elevation with the use of the provided Allen wrench.
As with any blow-back operated firearm, the bolt and receiver will get extremely dirty and will require disassembly and cleaning. My best advice here is to follow the instructions provided by Ruger for removing the bolt from the receiver and subsequent disassembly of the bolt. Care must be taken to ensure that no springs (or components) are lost in the process. As you may discern from the image, the bolt is quite substantial. The Ruger PC Carbine is rated for all types of 9mm ammunition, including +P. The bolt has a ‘Dead Blow” weight that aids considerably with transitions from chambered to recoil and back to chambered.
It is important to note that when assembling the receiver to the stock, the two mounting screws should be tightened to 65 inch pounds to ensure proper seating. The stock, by the way, is checkered in the grip and forearm, which aids in holding on to the thing with wet hands.
The safety button is located in the forward trigger guard area and operates like any 10/22 Ruger safety; push left to fire, push right to safe. Being a left-side shooter, I use my support hand to push the safety to the desired position.
The bolt lock is a definite improvement over the one found on the 10/22. It is easily found just forward of the trigger guard. Again, being a left shooter, I use my support hand to push the bolt to the rear position and use my left trigger finger to push the bolt lock to the up position. To release the bolt, I do so with my strong hand.
While the charging handle is ambidextrous, I have found no issues with my leaving it as it came installed – on the right side.
Overall, the Ruger PC Carbine is nicely styled. The grip area is sufficient and well-formed. The firearm is nicely balanced, feels good when carrying, and comes to the shoulder very quickly.
Range Day 1
I am going to start out by saying that I was not impressed the first range event spent with the Ruger PC Carbine.
I had mounted an inexpensive Barska 3-9×42 “Tactical” scope on it for accuracy testing; a scope that once resided on a Windham Weaponry SRC but was replaced with a Nikon P223 3x32mm scope, and I lay the blame for the Ruger PC Carbine’s lack of accuracy on the scope. At one point I would hitting high and the next point I would be hitting low. Trying to adjust the scope just made things worse.
I had several different types of ammunition with me and none fared well in forming any resemblance of accuracy. I ran out of time and patience at the range. It was time for me to remove this scope and replace it with a better scope for an accuracy test at a later time. Then, if that was successful, I would remove the scope and fire with the open sights.
The Ruger PC Carbine; however, functioned perfectly with all ammunition fired, up to and including Sig-Sauer 147-grain JHP. Feeding, extraction, and ejection were excellent. The recoil was light and very manageable as was expected, but was a little more hefty that that of the Windham Weaponry R16FTT-9mm carbine, which I had shot the week before. But the increased recoil of the Ruger PC Carbine, compared to the operating system of a ‘Stoner-based’ firearm, was expected due to the different recoil system.
Range Day 2
I had removed the Barska 3-9×42 “Tactical” scope that (I believe) had given me so much accuracy heartache on range day 1 and replaced it with one that was mounted in my Windham Weaponry .223/5.56mm SRC; a Nikon P223. I had all the confidence in the world with this scope and it would be more than adequate for checking accuracy at twenty-five yards and, hopefully, get a better feel for the precision of the PC Carbine.
If the Ruger PC Carbine proved worthy of a different optic, the Nikon P223 would find its way back on the Windham Weaponry .223/5.56mm SRC and another Nikon p223 scope would be ordered. The Nikon P223 used for this range day is mounted on high rings for use with the Windham Weaponry .223/5.56mm SRC; much higher than was needed for the Ruger PC Carbine, but I was more interested in groups over POI. In short, I was not going to adjust zero for the PC Carbine, which would result in re-zeroing once the P223 was mounted back on the WW, but simply aim at a specific point on the target and observe what the PC Carbine was telling me. But, this article is about the Ruger PC Carbine and not about the optics that may be mounted. I’ll leave my impression of the selected optic and cartridge later.
The Aguila 124-grain FMJ was chosen as the primary cartridge, with a sprinkling of Federal white box 115-grain FMJ, Speer Gold Dot 124-grain GR DGHP, and Hornady 147-grain XTP ammunition. I really wanted the Ruger PC Carbine to like the Hornady 147-grain XTP, as this is one of my favorite 9mm cartridges and the Glock 9mm pistols seem to like it.
The Ruger PC Carbine really liked the Sig-Sauer 147-grain Elite Performance Sig V-Crown JHP, and I am glad that it did, as the Glock G45, G19, and G17 seem to favor it as well. Hornady Custom 9mm Luger 147-grain XTP also seemed to like being sent through the Ruger PC Carbine. Both 147-grain loadings gave the best results. The Ruger PC Carbine did not like the Speer Gold Dot 124-grain GR DGHP at all and gave the worst accuracy of the bunch. The Federal 115-grain FMJ seemed to do well in the accuracy department and would serve well as plinking or range ammunition. To summarize, the Ruger PC Carbine seemed to favor the heavier projectiles, but also does well with lighter, slower cartridges.
Ejection was straight out to the right-side and most of my expended cases were either on the shooting table with me or just in front of me after they bounced off the lane wall.
As with day one at the range, there were absolutely no malfunctions; the Ruger PC Carbine ran like a top and on day 2 started to show its accuracy potential.
Range Day 3
With the Nikon P223 3×32 rifle scope proving its worth, the scope was removed and placed back in its home atop the Windham Weaponry ‘SRC’ and a new scope and rings were ordered.
The trick to mounting the new Nikon P223 3×32 rifle scope was to have it mounted as low to the bore axis as possible while allowing adequate space between the mounting rail and the lens housings. The Warne Maxima 1-inch medium QD scope rings (shown in the above image) allowed just that. Providing just the right low profile that I was looking for, the scope and rings were as near perfect as I could ask for with a 2-inch scope to bore axis height. The QD rings also allow me to detach the scope when I need open sights, and reattach it just as quickly. The setup also held zero after removal and installation.
Next up was removing the stock butt spacer that came with the Ruger PC Carbine. While I like a substantial length of pull, the carbine length and eye relief of the scope dictated that I shorten things up a bit. With the shorter length of pull, simply pulling the (now shorter) stock into my shoulder placed my eye into perfect alignment with the scope and a perfect scope picture was to be had. The Ruger PC Carbine just begs to be pulled in tight and close; what is needed for QCB work. If I need a longer LOP, a slip-on LimbSaver recoil pad provides that.
Again, the Aguila 124-grain FMJ was chosen as the primary cartridge for zeroing. It would have to do for now, as I did not have any 147-grain FMJ with me. As with the previous shooting session, the Ruger PC Carbine really liked the Sig-Sauer 147-grain Elite Performance Sig V-Crown JHP and the Hornady 147-grain XTP, but I did not expect that to change.
Also, as with the previous two range sessions, the Ruger PC Carbine ran without flaw. I really started liking this little carbine.
Thoughts on Optics and Ammunition for the Ruger PC Carbine
The Ruger PC Carbine serves the roll of a personal protector. However, predators come in both four-legged and two-legged versions. In the immortal words of Dirty Harry, “A mans got to know his limitations.” That applies to his chosen personal protection devices as well. That’s not to say that the Ruger PC Carbine could not be used for hunting small game when necessary; the obvious limitation is the caliber. But, that’s not to say that it would take down anything beyond the limitations of the 9mm caliber, although I am reasonably sure that if the shot was placed in a vital area that assumption could be tested.
The PCC does not fit into the three-gun mindset; it is more of something that can extend the power and range of a handgun, but does not have the potential of a rifle or shotgun in inflicting damage and stopping threats. The PCC is more of a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’ firearm. But, that’s not to say that if we do have a PCC that we should not maximize its potential. Au contraire! We should be doing everything we can to maximize the effectiveness of a handgun cartridge in our chosen personal defense companion to achieve our desired results. That may require a bit more research in what ammunition works well out of the PCC and improving the accuracy through modern optics.
Some may scoff at putting a relatively medium-powered optic on a PCC, but if that’s what you need to do to maximize the benefits of a PCC for your purposes, then it should be done. While I could never be able to approach all of the scenarios in which a PCC could be beneficial, neither do I want to discount them.
The Nikon P223 3×32 seems to be a good choice for the Ruger PC Carbine if you are a scope person. I did have to mount it almost at the rear of the rail to provide, what I felt, was a good eye relief and quick to get into action. Surprisingly, I removed the installed 1-inch spacer to shorten the LOP to 12.75 inches; something that is unheard of for me. However, in doing so, I was able to mount the scope a little bit more forward. With the Nikon P223 3×32 mounted in Warne Medium QD rings, pulling the Ruger PC Carbine up to the shoulder placed everything in perfect alignment and the scope picture was excellent. The LOP is also good for me to sight through the rear ghost sight should the scope have to be removed. The Ruger PC Carbine is, after all, a firearm that would be considered in the “Survival” class given the take-down feature. A good “dot” sight would work as well, given that the PC Carbine is a short-to-medium distance firearm.
If a dot-sight (tubular or otherwise) is your thing, then mounting the sight will be no issue as there is plenty of top rail to do so. The balance between LOP and eye relief is not an issue when running an optic such as these. The front accessory rail also provides amounting point for laser, light, or combination laser/light to be mounted.
Determining the ammunition to run through the Ruger PC Carbine is, of course, up to the user. Some may favor the lighter, faster ammunition while others (like me) favor the heavier; albeit, slower ammunition if the firearm will run with it and is accurate. As the Ruger PC Carbine would be a “Survival” piece, even when coupled with a good 9mm pistol that uses magazines that are compatible with your selected adapter, critters other than two-legged may need to be considered. Obviously, your chosen defensive round must be able to handle four-legged animals, and I would consider a heavier loading capable of taking down up to possible Wolf-sized animals. Two-legged and four-legged animals can be highly unpredictable in how many projectiles they can soak up before succumbing to the effects of multiple impacts on their body. But, with the Glock magazine adapter installed, you have a wide variety of magazine length and capacity to choose from.
Below are some speculations that I put together using the Nikon P223 3x32mm scope and the Sig-Sauer 147-grain Elite Performance Sig V-Crown JHP, which is a combination that seems to work for me at this time. As I say, this is all speculation until field tested, but it provides a good baseline to determine relative performance, trajectory, and Point Blank Range (PBR) of the chosen combination of firearm, scope, and ammunition at two different zeroes. More playing around is in the future and the Ruger PC Carbine and I become more comfortable with each other.
Final Thoughts on the Ruger PC Carbine
I have to say that the first day at the range I was sorely disappointed, and my thoughts were not happy with the Ruger PC Carbine. However, after replacing the original scope that was mounted for accuracy testing with a known good scope, my thoughts toward the Ruger PC Carbine began to change. While hating to use the expression, “It is what it is” I do have to use it. What the Ruger PC Carbine is not is a precision target rifle capable of placing multiple shots in one clean hole; the Ruger PC Carbine is a good choice in pairing up a pistol/carbine combination with a degree of accuracy that will serve you well in most “survival” conditions.
The accuracy (now) is on par with my other PCCs, with the exception of the Windham Weaponry R16FTT-9mm carbine that is far superior. But, for the MSRP of $649 (or less if you shop) the accuracy is within expectations.
If you already have a Ruger 10/22 Takedown, the Ruger PC Carbine also fits in the case along with numerous magazines, plenty of ammunition, and an optic (the receiver will not store with an attached optic within the pouch, however). Due to its take-down characteristics, the Ruger PC Carbine fits in my travel luggage, a large back-pack, and a small duffle-type ‘roller’ bag. There are a number of storage options and the Ruger PC Carbine can be quickly assembled when needed.
Other features of the Ruger PC Carbine make if user-friendly to both left-handed and right-handed shooters. Being a cross-eye-dominant, right-side dominant, left-sided long gun shooter I have no problems with controls being where they are.
Swapping out magazine adapters is a very simple process. If I happened to be carrying a Ruger SR Series 9mm pistol, the Glock magazine could be removed quickly and the SR magazine adapter installed and vice-versa should I switch back to a Glock 9mm. My personal opinion is that the Glock G19, G17, G17L, or G34 coupled with the Ruger PC Carbine would be an ideal combination to have and to hold. Even the magazine from a Glock G26 works well and I like the shorter magazine for range work.
On a closing note, one of our range employees has a Ruger PC Carbine on lay-a-way. After I told him about the dismal first range performance (not knowing that he had one on lay-a-way) he started questioning his choice. After I let him shoot this particular PCC with this scope combination, his confidence level returned and he is, again, looking forward to setting his up.
If you are in the market for a PC PC Carbine, I can highly recommend the Ruger PC Carbine.
- Ruger PC Carbine: https://ruger.com/products/pcCarbine/models.html
- Ruger PC Carbine Review (Hickok45) Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJfIiunSwmk
- Ruger PC Carbine Review (Hickok45) Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbN49QiKxCA
- Ruger PC Carbine review (SOOTCH00): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jHDa9qg160
- Nikon P223 3x32mm Scope: https://www.nikonsportoptics.com/en/nikon-products/riflescopes/p-tactical-.223-3×32-bdc-carbine.html
- Warne 201LM 1 inch Quick Detach Medium Matte Rings: https://warnescopemounts.com/?s=201LM