You have to hand it to Ruger – over the past few years the Newport, New Hampshire headquartered firearms manufacturer has transformed their image from “bolt action and rimfire” to “backpack-ready and NFA” (raise your hand if you predicted that Ruger would be making silencers). Seemingly basic considerations like optics and accessory rails, threaded barrels and polymer furniture options are progressive enough to get a younger generation of shooters interested in buying a Ruger. But manufacturing the new Ruger PC Carbine to accept GLOCK magazines is just part of the reason that Ruger’s latest offering is a homerun.
Reports of the death of the pistol caliber carbine have long been exaggerated – a steady flow of companies have announced models that are either new and unique or are update versions of classic guns. The Ruger PC Carbine is a bit of both, channeling the company’s original PC9 that debuted in 1996 as well as modern takedown features from recent rimfire hits.
In simple terms, the PC Carbine is basically an overgrown 10/22 takedown with magazine interchangeability features. In fact, Ruger’s new rifle allows trigger/fire control group swaps with 10/22 mechanisms.
The Ruger PC Carbine comes nicely packed inside a well organized box with all the required tools and components to shoot, adapt and maintain your new rifle. Although the 9mm carbine comes ready to shoot out of the box with a Ruger American magazine well and magazine, included at no extra charge is a GLOCK magazine well – Ruger could easily have left the GLOCK compatibility feature as an added cost.
Ruger’s new long gun is available in three versions: threaded barrel, bare muzzle and a 10 round magazine options for those states where a handful of extra rounds in a magazine can get you in legal trouble (don’t get me started). For this review, Ruger was nice enough to let me borrow the threaded barrel version due to my need to suppress every firearm that lands in my lap.
Let’s take a look at the numbers.
My initial reaction was very positive: The PC Carbine feels like a quality firearm right out of the box, has no visible machining marks and includes a well made polymer stock set.
Safety reminder: Always follow the rules of proper and safe gun handling. If you don’t understand something, stop and ask a professional for help.
If you are familiar with the classic 10/22 rimfire rifle, you are ready to run the PC Carbine – ergonomics, controls and general operation are basically the same. The only real difference being the magazine well and release button (more on dropping mags in a bit).
Breaking down the PC Carbine into its two halves is simple and takes less than 30 seconds. Simply unscrew the unlocking ring, push the release lever, then twist the front section counterclockwise and pull.
The magazine release is reversible; using the included hex key simply loosen the screw and remove it along with the release and the spring. Then install the assembly from the opposite sides and tighten the screw. I’ve included screenshots from the Ruger owner’s manual below (You do read the manual, right?).
The charging handle can also be switched for right or left hand side operation.
The safety is a standard cross bolt design, operated with a push of the index’s finger or thumb. And the bolt hold open mechanism is classic Ruger 10/22 – love it or hate it, at least it is familiar.
Inside the charging handle is a hex nut which can be unscrewed to switch it from the right or left hand side. We will have more time inside the PC Carbine’s instructions to show you the ease of the charging handle swap.
This pistol caliber carbine ships with two additional stock spacers to adjust length of pull. Truthfully, these little slices of plastic were the biggest disappointment of the entire review. They are shiny plastic rather than rubber or polymer and feel like an afterthought rather than a design feature like the rest of the PC Carbine’s winning personality. It’s a minor issue, just try to ignore the fact that they feel like the fake Legos you used to find at your least favorite cousin’s house as a kid.
The ghost ring sight set is perfectly suited to the sporter/carbine feel from Ruger. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation with the turn of a screw.
My only request here would be some side-protecting blades to keep the ghost ring from snagging on gear or clothing.
Now for one of the PC Carbine’s biggest features: magazine wells that can be changed to allow for the use of GLOCK mags. As of this writing, Ruger’s new Carbine ships with a Ruger magazine and mag well along with a GLOCK well. Time will tell if the company, or even aftermarket manufacturers, will make additional inserts to accept other manufacturer’s magazines.
The PCC’s user manual has an easy to follow set of instructions. Read and follow the steps for a proper installation.
Here’s the box insert with tools and accessories. The empty slot holds the included Ruger magazine.
There are two captured screws that hold the receiver in place. Loosen them until they pull away from the receiver.
The form of bare receiver may seem familiar: it’s e beefed-up version of the rimfire classic 10/22 design. In fact, Ruger boasts trigger group interchangeability with 10/22 products, which opens the door to some fantastic aftermarket options.
Looking into the empty stock from the top down shows the magazine insert and a spring loaded tab that is actuated by the magazine release. Simply depress the tab inside the well and lift the insert out of the stock.
Follow the steps in reverse to install a different mag well. In all, the process took about five minutes from start to finish.
The design simplicity should allow Ruger or other aftermarket manufacturers to make inserts for other popular magazines. Although GLOCK mags fulfill most shooters dreams of carrying their favorite pistol that shares mags with a capable carbine.
Charging handle swap:
Magazine release swap:
Suppressor owners will want to thread on their favorite 9mm capable can as soon as possible (I did, anyway). Caution here: Ruger has included a rubber o-ring between the barrel and the thread protector that could interfere with proper silencer alignment. I just removed the ring from my test unit and set it aside.
The PC Carbine really is a nice looking gun.
The addition of a threaded barrel should be an option on all modern pistol caliber carbines. The exploding suppressor market along with a healthy selection of subsonic ammunition makes long guns like the new Ruger really enjoyable hosts.
Fully configured, the PC Carbine can be outfitted with optics, lights and lasers, suppressors and magazines of varying capacities, making it a solid performer in many categories.
Mounting my Surefire X300 Ultra was slightly inconvenient; the sling stud was in the way of the light’s rear tail cap.
But unscrewing the stud fixed the issue and it could be that I don’t have the correct attachment plate for the X300. So it really is a minor issue.
For optics I used a Trijicon RMR in a Strike Industries REX Reflex Exoskeleton. The setup is easy to setup and functional, giving an extra layer of protection for your RMR. The REX retails for $44.99
Compact, lightweight, and rugged, the Reflex Exoskeleton provides extreme protection for a wide variety of reflex optics. The precisely drilled holes in the mount enable users to attach various optics of their choice. Included mounting posts securely hold your optic firmly in place – Strike Industries REX.
In all, I put 300-400 rounds through the Ruger without issue. On my steel targets I used the Federal Syntech Range Ammo which I thought performed very well. Even though Syntech is subsonic in most pistols, the 16” barrel in the Ruger definitely gave it a speed boost. But I used a few 147gr ammo types to achieve very quiet suppression levels.
Although I spent most of my time with the PC Carbine using the GLOCK magazine well adapter, the Ruger well functioned without issue. I used many versions of GLOCK mags, to include an older “ban era” variety, a Gen 3/4 Style that included a G26 and G18 capacities and the new Gen 5 magazines. Reload, round feeding and ejection were all spot on. Empty magazines also drop free without concern.
Accuracy was a generic and unscientific 2-3 MOA from a seated and supported position using a non-magnified re dot from the RMR. Better shooters with magnified optics and the right ammo pairing will undoubtedly drop group sizes to excellent levels. But the PC Carbine at its core is not a bench rest or target shooter. And besides small game and pest control, I see it’s hunting role as limited.
Recoil is easily manageable by anything but the smallest of shooters, especially when running suppressed or using the Syntech ammo. Follow up shots are quick and re-acquiring the sights or red dot after a shot is easy to do.
Overall, the Ruger PC Carbine is a winning package that offers a good host of options and accessories for an accessible retail price. GLOCK magazine capability, a threaded barrel, reversible controls and 10/22 trigger group compatibility alone make this long gun worthy of a ‘buy’.
But the aftermarket possibilities really have me excited: magazine well options will obviously increase, but the idea of a Magpul Backpacker-Style stock and integrally suppressed barrel assembly is awesome. Ruger did a great job with this gun and I’m looking forward to seeing what is coming up next from the classic Granite State firearm manufacturer.