Recently, we did an article on the top pistol caliber carbines, and now will be discussing the best pistol caliber carbine AR-9 accessories. These handy little firearms are great for a number of things. They can be used for self-defense, competition, and make excellent weapons to keep in a vehicle or for backpack carry. Generally, pistol caliber carbines occupy a space somewhere between a pistol and a rifle. Usually, these come in a pistol caliber, commonly 9mm these days. But, they fire that pistol round out of a longer barrel, getting better ballistics than out of the much shorter pistol barrel. These longer barrels combined with the much better handling of the rifle format over the pistol overcomes the biggest issue with pistols- they’re really hard to shoot well. Instead, with a pistol caliber carbine, you get something that is much more shootable, and still compact and lightweight.
This time we’re talking about a general category of pistol caliber carbines, the AR-9. Based on the AR15, the AR-9 has been produced nearly as long as its bigger brother in 223. The early AR-9s, made by Colt, were meant to replace the pistol for folks like helicopter and truck crews. The concept has stuck around since, and there are tons of AR-9s on the market today, and you can easily build your own if you’re built any AR before. In fact, most AR-9s borrow a large portion of their parts from the AR15, so this should be familiar territory. Once you’ve got the base gun together, it’s time to put some accessories on it, so here are ten things we thing you’d find useful for an AR-9 accessory.
When outfitted well, the AR-9 can become the best carbine for home defense, assuming you’re willing to put in some training and, ideally, attend a few classes. We really enjoy shooting these, especially as they’re essentially a Glock magazine carbine that you can shoot all day without breaking the bank like some of the other AR calibers out there.
- Vortex Optics Crossfire 2 Red Dot Sight
- Doublestar Sling Adapter
- KCI 33 Round Extended Magazine
- Inforce Compact Weapon Light
- Crimson Trace Rail Master Laser
- Bravo Company Angled Grip
- Magpul Vertical Grip
- Brownells AR Charging Handle
- SB Tactical Folding Brace
- CCI Blazer Brass Black Label 9mm Ammo
- Parting Shots…
Vortex Optics Crossfire 2 Red Dot Sight
One cannot easily hit, the old saying goes, what one cannot see. Most AR-9s out there come what marketing folks like to call “optics ready.” That is a really clever way of saying that you’re going to have to provide your own optics. For a pistol caliber carbine, we can think of no better option than a red dot sight. These sights are meant, usually, for ranges inside of 200 yards. This is just fine for our purposes here, as 9mm does tend to run out of steam beyond that and, generally, a pistol caliber carbine is going to be your weapon for up close, not for making half mile shots from a bench. So, we want an optic that is light, point-able, and generally easy to use.
Here, we recommend the Vortex Optics Crossfire 2 MOA Red Dot Sight. These have a really crisp 2 MOA dot, a batter that will last for 50,000 hours on the lowest setting, and a generally high build quality. Since price is usually a factor in people’s builds, this mid-range option is likely to appeal to lots of folks. When thinking of a pistol caliber carbine roll specifically, we anted to keep two extra things in mind.
First, weight. This whole package is only 5.2 ounces mounted on the gun. Assuming you’re going to put it fairly far back to get a short eye relief, this will balance nicely on the gun. Second, compatibility: this comes with a multi-height mount so that you can use it with iron sights if you wish. The Vortex Optics Crossfire 2 MOA Red Dot Sight is a great AR-9 accessory. To be fair, optics like these do have their limits, and aren’t that useful at really extended range. That’s part of the tradeoffs in considering the balance between carbine VS rifle: you do give up some range, but more than make up for it, in our opinion, in weight savings and improved handling.
Doublestar Sling Adapter
AR-9s are inherently practical weapons. They’re not meant, usually, to sit in a safe and occasionally be shot from a bench before being replaced gently in that safe not to see the light of day again for six months. Instead, a lot of people build these for either competition or for some other practical use like a backpacking gun. For either of those uses, or many more, we think a sling is a must have for any rifle style firearm, and this is no exception.
One issue in the sling game is always the locating of that sling. There are a lot of option of where to hook the thing up, but with the sheer number of points, braces, and the like, we wanted to provide one that we think will work for the largest variety of builds. This Double Star AR15/16 sling adapter end plate is a slick solution to that problem. Basically, this replaces your stock AR end plate with one that has two sling loops on it into which you can clip a sling. That gives you several options: you can run a single point sling here or use it as one of the two places for mounting a two-point sling. We suppose you can also use it for a three-point sling, but I have not personally seen such a setup in many years.
One other big feature is that this can be setup either left or right-handed (assuming you pay the extra dollar for the ambidextrous option). This is of great benefit to either left handed shooters or people who plan on running their AR-9 in competition, who will likely have to shoot off handed at some point. Basically, this is a simple and elegant solution to an annoying problem, and thus we recommend this AR-9 accessory.
KCI 33 Round Extended Magazine
With all this talk of competition and backpacking, it’s pretty likely that you’re going to do some high volume shooting with your AR-9. To that end, it makes sense to talk about magazine selection as well. Now, these will not work for everyone, as you’ll have to check magazine compatibility as you plan your build. That said, a great proportion of AR-9s are set up to take Glock magazines, which makes sense for two reasons.
First, Glock magazines are really easy to find, so it’s a sensible choice. Second, having the magazines compatible with both handguns and rifles means that there is less overall stuff to carry and you can take the magazines from one and use them in the other: this is great in either competition or in practical shooting. Interestingly enough, this idea is a really old one: notice how old lever guns and revolvers come in the same calibers? This was so that cowboys only had to buy or make one kind of ammo.
These KCI Glock magazines are a reasonably priced 33 round magazine that will do well as an AR-9 accessory. We tried to keep these low priced for two reasons. First, so you can buy a lot of them and do as much shooting as you like. Second, if you do use these in competition you’ll be abusing them by tossing them in dirt and mud, so we should probably get magazines that can be replaced relatively cheaply. Overall, these are a solid magazine choice that will do well in your AR-9.
Inforce Compact Weapon Light
Remember that bit about not being able to shoot what you cannot see? Well, that applies to lighting as well as to optics themselves. If you plan on using your AR-9 for any kind of emergency or defensive shooting, we cannot stress enough the importance of adding a light to your weapon. This is obvious in outdoor settings but has implications for home defense as well. This one, the Inforce-Mil White/IR Gen 2 Ultra Compact Weapon Light is a solid choice.
The light provides 1.5 hours of 400 lumen white light and a simple button activation mean that this is a no-frills, no nonsense AR-9 accessory. That’s exactly what we want on a defensive gun: fewer buttons to mess with when your heart is going 200 beats a minute and you need to focus. This also mounts simply to a section of 1913 rail, which you can find on basically any surface of a modern AR platform regardless of caliber. This light is a great defensive solution, and, bonus, has an IR mode should you want to run it with night vision.
Crimson Trace Rail Master Laser
Speaking of making hits on what you want to see, we are big believers in being overly prepared on a rifle. Imagine that you’re in a competition or a home defense situation, you look through your red dot and… nothing. No nice little BULLET GOES HERE indicator. What now? This is when you can either shoot instinctively, which might work, or have a backup option that is much more likely to produce something like the results that you want. TO that end, a red laser sight is a great AR-9 accessory.
We recommend this Crimson Trace Rail Master for a couple of reasons. First, it comes in two colors: the green laser plays much nicer with astigmatism than the red. Second, it’s very light as it’s actually meant for pistols. We think that’s awesome not only for the sake of lightness, but also for consistency. IF you can, put the same laser on your handgun that is on your rifle. Thus, the muscle memory and manual of operation will be the same across the platform and you’d be a lot more likely to get the thing working under stress. Adding a secondary laser to a pistol caliber carbine can keep you in the fight when or if your other optics go down.
Bravo Company Angled Grip
One thing that a lot of people like to put on their AR platform firearms is a grip of some kind. These can help with a lot of things, but come in especially handy for a pistol caliber carbine. First and foremost, the short barrels on these carbines make it more than possible for you to slip and accidentally put your hand in front of the muzzle. This is, to say the least, a very bad time. With that in mind, we recommend something like this BCM angled grip. These are small and fit into M-Lok sections that come standard on many handguards. This will give your hand a nice stop, and is also a pretty handy point of reference for weapon manipulation as well. For not a lot of weight or added cost, we think this is a no-brainer as a great AR-9 accessory.
Magpul Vertical Grip
If you’re looking for a little more substantial grip, we thing a vertical foregrip is a great option as a AR-9 accessory. With these, you have to be careful legally. If your pistol caliber carbine was made as a rifle and is still a rifle, then these are fine. On the other hand, if your carbine was created as a pistol, you cannot put a vertical foregrip on it without registering it with the ATF as a short-barreled rifle. That said, assuming the paperwork is correct on your end, we think that this grip by Magpul is a great option that can make your pistol caliber carbine much easier to handle, especially in competition settings where speed and consistency are key.
Brownells AR Charging Handle
Assuming your AR-9 is one of the ones that uses a standard sized AR bolt, a part you are going to need is a charging handle. While some people spend a lot of money on these to get the best of the best, and we think those are really cool, we do recognize that budget is a concern for most of us when building a pistol caliber carbine, and thus we think it’s sensible to get a simple, no frills charging handle that will, for most of us, do the job just fine. This one, by Brownells, is an aluminum charging handle in a black anodized finish and should look familiar to anyone who has fired a stock AR15 before: these get the job done and make a great AR-9 accessory to keep on hand.
SB Tactical Folding Brace
Assuming, in this case, that your AR-9 is a pistol, one thing that you will likely find very useful in your build is a brace. In the past few years, braces have come a long way as stabilizing devices, and this one be SB tactical shows a lot of that innovation. This one has a skeletonized steel design with a really sturdy hinge, giving it a really sturdy lockup that will help keep you from wandering in terms of shot placement. Additionally, you can still fire the weapon with the brace closed, which we think is great. These are meant for AR pistols without a gas tube, though, so keep that in mind. If your build is compatible with this brace, installation is a breeze as it just locks into a section of 1913 rail. This FS1913 tactical brace is one of the best on the market and we highly recommend it for your next AR-9 accessory purchase.
CCI Blazer Brass Black Label 9mm Ammo
Of course, with that nice new AR-9 you’ve got all kitted out, we expect that you’ll be doing some shooting. Thus, you’ll need some ammo. We recommend the CCI Blazer Brass Black Label 9mm FMJ in the bulk box. We recently did an article on bulk ammo, and this is one of our recommended suppliers to keep costs low and allow you to get in maximum training at the range. This 115 grain ball ammo is more than good enough for training, but is still brass cased so it won’t beat up your AR-9 quite like steel cased ammo would. Pick up a few cases and hit the range with your nice, new AR9.
This list has ten things we think that can help make your AR-9 just about the best carbine for home defense. Carbines are a really useful tool in home defense, competition, and we think they’re a lot of fun to shoot as well. In the debate of Carbine VS Rifle, carbines come out on top in terms of handling in a lot of cases. While they might not be the best at long range, the AR-9, basically a Glock magazine carbine, is an excellent tool that we think you will get a lot out of, especially when you’ve added some critical accessories and parts to make it an effective weapon. We hope you’ve enjoyed this list and found your next AR-9 accessory purchase.