Looking for the best 9mm PCC for competition, home defense, or just plinking on the back 40? I think I can help out.
I’ve never made a secret of the fact that I really love pistol-caliber carbines. No disrespect to my shotgun-loving folks out there, but I’m a big pistol and rifle guy, so of course I’m a fan of the two blended together.
There are a lot of benefits to a PCC over a pistol or a rifle (and of course some drawbacks as well) and they’re incredibly versatile, affordable, and practical. There’s also a wealth of PCC competitions out there that can train practical skills while also being just a whole boatload of fun.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of a 9mm PCC, what to look for, and some recommendations for the best of the best on the market.
Why a 9mm Pistol-Caliber Carbine?
I’m a huge fan of 9x19mm in general, and the rest of the world seems to have similar feelings. It’s easily one of the most popular and readily-available rounds on the planet. If you’re looking for an end of the world gun, you could certainly do worse than a 9mm PCC.
Modern 9mm ammo is a great defensive option for two legged threats, and is suitable for hunting small game in a pinch. It’s easy to find, cheap to buy, and plentiful. If you can’t find 9mm for sale where you live, you need to move.
There’s also the fact that 9mm defensive loads out of a carbine-length barrel rival .357 Magnum ammo out of a handgun in terms of energy. And with 30+ rounds in an easily-swapped magazine, that’s quite a bit of firepower.
In the world of PCC Competition, 9mm offers a cartridge with less recoil than .40 S&W and .45 ACP, while still offering enough power to knock over steel at range. Recoil is easily-controllable, mags are cheap (especially if you get a PCC that takes GLOCK mags) and most PCCs themselves are also fairly affordable.
Finally, tactics may win battles, but logistics wins wars. Having a primary weapon that takes the same ammo and the same magazine as your sidearm greatly streamlines your logistics, and if you’re looking for a defensive standup that will keep you and your loved ones safe, you could certainly do worse, and it’s hard to find a more versatile loadout.
Alright, with all that out of the way, let’s talk recommendations. I mean, that is why you’re here, right?
1. Rolling Your Own: Building a Pistol-Caliber Carbine
This counts as a recommendation, so don’t go thinking I lied to you.
There are a huge number of 9mm AR uppers and lowers out there, and as many parts and such as you could possibly ask for, so building your own AR-based 9mm PCC is not only possible, it’s actually really easy!
In general, I recommend checking Glockstore, Brownells, and Palmetto State Armory if you’re looking for parts. I’ve heard great things about PSA’s new 9mm AK-V and their AR-9 stuff, especially for the price…but I’ve never actually tested them.
I’ve shot them at one media event, but that hardly counts as a test and isn’t enough for me to recommend them as one of the best though I’m sure they’re a good value like all of PSA’s stuff. Though if anyone from PSA is reading this and wants me to test one…I’m right next door in Georgia guys. Just say the word.
There are plenty of other PCCs I have tested however, and I’ve built quite a few myself. In particular, I love Foxtrot Mike stuff and I usually recommend them if someone is looking to build their own PCC. Their FM-9 pre-built carbine is on the list of recommendations below as well.
Speaking of, let’s take a look down at those recommendations now.
If you’ve read much of anything I’ve written, or listened to me talk about the firearms industry, or just seen me at the range, it’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Ruger and most of their firearms. Of the big name manufacturers in the US, I think they provide some of the best value per dollar spent.
And the Ruger PC Carbine helps me make my case nicely.
At around $450, the Ruger PC carbine fits nicely in with a lot of the other PCCs on this list, pricewise. This takedown carbine accepts both GLOCK mags and common Ruger pistol magazines (specifically SR series and American Pistol series), and includes the magwell adapter for GLOCK mags and the SR series mags, with the American series magwell available separately.
The new M-LOK version seems aimed at PCC competition, and is my personal favorite. It comes with a free-floated M-LOK handguard that is milled out of anodized aluminum which keeps the carbine light and maneuverable, making it perfect for the fast action of competition.
Overall, if you’re looking for a fairly affordable 9mm carbine, and you want something that takes GLOCK mags, this is an excellent choice. You’ll also have no problem finding magazines.
Speaking of competition, if you want to jump into PCC competition like USPSA with both feet and you have room in your firearms budget to spare, the JP Rifles GMR-15 may be the one to pickup.
JP Rifles specializes in competition guns, and the GMR-15 improves on their previous competition-ready 9mm pistol-caliber carbine, the GMR-13, and may just be my favorite traditional AR-style PCC.
Like the original GMR-13, the new version is imminently reliable (unlike a lot of 9mm ARs) and takes GLOCK mags. Unlike the old version, this one comes with a proprietary last-round hold-open feature, also unlike a lot of 9mm ARs. Further improvements include an extended mag release and flared magwell for faster reloads.
You also get JP’s fan-favorite 9mm Silent Captured Spring which, coupled with the competition-ready comp on the end of the barrel, virtually eliminates recoil. In fast-paced carbine matches where speed is paramount, being able to get those hammered pair A-zone hits with confidence is key. This let’s you get those hits, and transition quickly to your next target.
In short, the GMR-15 feels almost like you’re cheating, but it’s perfectly legal. Somehow.
The CZ Scorpion EVO is another hugely popular PCC on the competition circuit, and it’s also gaining ground in the home defense and law enforcement markets as well.
This lightweight carbine clocks in at under 7lbs even with the 16″ barrel and folding stock, and the gun points about as well as you could ask.
Like most 9mm pistol-caliber carbines recoil is minimal, and the included muzzle brake lightens it even more.
The Scorpion EVO comes in many different configurations as well, including pistol formats, so whether you’re looking for a truck gun, something to keep by the nightstand, or a full-sized competition gun, you’ve got options.
It’s also imminently reliable with factory ammo, and I haven’t had a malfunction in mine in over 2000 rounds now…and I’ve yet to clean it. The one issue I had was with some bare minimum power 9mm handloads I had that I use in my super lightweight and cut-down competition gun when I’m not worried about power factor or knocking over steel.
I knew that load wouldn’t cycle a carbine and lo and behold, I was right. Almost like I do this for a living. Other than that load, I’ve never had my Scorpion fail to go bang, and that reliability is why it lives in my toolbox as a “just in case” gun.
I’ve left mine mostly stock, but if you choose to pick up an EVO of your very own, you have a huge range of customization options as there are a number of companies that make aftermarket upgrades, and CZ themselves offer parts from their Custom Shop.
You also have an M-LOK section on the forend, or the option for a full-length M-LOK handguard that you can hang all the usual gubbins off of like grips, lights, lasers, target designators, coffee grinders, etc.
Overall, if I could only have one PCC from this list, the Scorpion would be a hard contender for that spot. Thank God I don’t have to choose though.
If I did have to choose, the SIG MPX Competition would be the frontrunner for my favorite PCC…but only barely.
It’s narrow lead has more to do with how good the other PCCs on this list are than any failing of the MPX though. This carbine has literally changed the tactical world when it comes to SMGs, and many agencies and organizations that used the MP5 are making the transition to the AR-style MPX.
The MPX design has more than proven itself in the hands of military and LEO shooters at this point, and has shown itself to be imminently reliable. Mine has never had a hiccup, at all, ever.
It’s also one of my favorite guns to train new shooters on, or to just let people shoot at the range. The grip and controls are all AR-15 style, so most people will be able to transition to this carbine with ease.
The monolithic receiver is topped with a rail, and the skeletonized M-LOK handguard has a short rail section at the end for mounting a front sight. That lightened rail helps keep the balance of the gun right near the mag well, which is just about perfect, and helps the gun point and transition very smoothly.
The 16” match-grade barrel comes tipped with an aggressive comp that almost completely eliminates recoil, and the Timney single-stage trigger that comes on the competition variant is absolutely sublime. At the back, you have a 5-position stock that folds out of the way for easy storage and transport, which is great for competitors that have to travel for a match.
The only real complaint I have with the MPX is the price. At $1,700, it’s not the most expensive PCC out there, and I do think it’s worth it, but I would have liked to have seen the street price on this settle around the $1,500 mark. Mags are also pricey at $50 a pop. All that said, it’s still a great gun, and the competition version is ready to go out of the box, so I can’t complain too much.
Foxtrot Mike is a company that specializes in ARs, and their 9mm stuff is some of the best around. Go to a USPSA PCC match and try to count how many folks are running FM builds. You’ll run out of fingers and toes pretty quickly.
You can get all the parts to build your own FM-9 if you want, but if you just want the baby without the labor pains, you can pick up a completed gun. For most users, I’m going to recommend the FM-9B, which is the rifle-length version.
For around $700, you get a gun that is manufactured almost entirely in house by Foxtrot Mike. The upper is a side-charging monolithic-style upper with an M-LOK handguard. That side-charging capability is great for clearing malfunctions because you don’t have to break your firing position to charge the rifle.
FM also does some of the best machining in the industry in my opinion (I’m a machinist myself, I’m picky about this stuff) and I’d like to shake the hand of their materials guy/gal because all of the parts in this gun are made with absolutely excellent metals that save money where possible, but run to the top-end where critical parts are concerned.
For example, the extractor on this thing. From what I can tell, this is a proprietary design because I’ve never seen a 9mm AR bolt with an extractor quite like this one, and it’s made of a high-quality S7 tool steel that will last several thousand rounds.
The lowers take GLOCK Mags (though you can get Colt-compatible versions too) and feature last round bolt hold open, and the trigger is excellent as well. I love the super aggressive and tactile reset of the trigger for competition shooting.
In fact, this is the gun I shoot best with when it comes to PCC stuff. I love my MPX and my Scorpion, but this thing just runs like a dream and I personally really gelled with it right out of the box.
Best of all, even the full-length version is only $700.
For that price, you get one of the best PCCs on the market, with a featureset that I’d expect to cost at least twice that. There are other PCCs that do this or that better, or have features this one doesn’t, but for raw value, it’s hard to argue against the FM-9.
9mm pistol-caliber carbines are affordable, fun, and above all practical. If you’re looking to pick up a PCC of your very own, these are the ones I recommend. I’ve beat the ever-loving s*** out of every gun on this list, and I would count on any of them in a competition or in a life-threatening scenario.
These are the guns I shoot the most, since ammo is so cheap, and these are the guns I’m most likely to turn to when I hear a bump in the night that I may have to bump back. In short, I love them, and I know you will too.