Pistol Caliber carbines bring a lot to the table for the practical-minded gun owner, but I haven’t yet talked about one of their greatest benefits: the fun factor. If you’re anything like me, then you think just about all guns are fun to shoot under the right circumstances, but I think pistol caliber carbines offer more LPM than any other gun (LPM, of course, being LOLs Per Minute).
PCCs are light, quick firing, low recoil rifles that almost anyone can enjoy and almost anyone can afford to shoot. But here again, the PCC will often be compared against their rimfire cousins. Yes, 22s also use affordable ammo, with even less recoil so that even the most timid of weenies can manage to shoot them, and have fun doing it. And as much as I enjoy punching holes in soda cans with a 10/22 myself, there is always something just slightly unsatisfying about it. Sometimes you really need to teach that soda-can a lesson, and that requires making a bigger hole. Everybody loves the stupid grin on a new shooter’s face when they fire their first 22. But if you want to really see them light up, let them pop a few reactive targets with a PCC that has a little power behind it, but doesn’t punish them with excessive noise, recoil, or muzzle blast.
Want to take it a step further? The absolute most fun you can have with a firearm is to do all of the above with a PCC that makes virtually no noise. That’s right… I’m talking about suppressors. Silencers. Cans. Mufflers. Possibly the coolest firearm accessory ever made, and they’re absolutely perfect for PCCs.
While attaching a silencer to a handgun often makes it awkward to use, and usually obscures the sights, using a can with a carbine typically has very little negative effect on its handling. You can save your ears, be a good neighbor, and have a ton of fun all while getting in some quality practice time with a rifle that is not half bad for home protection. With the possible exception of the new .300 Blackout round, you can’t pull this off with a full power centerfire rifle unless you’re willing to take the extra steps to reload your own subsonic ammo.
Popular rifle calibers like .223 Rem and .308 Win were never designed to be down-loaded to subsonic velocities, so even if you find or make these loads, the accuracy and range will suffer. A silencer will help mitigate the blast noise of centerfire rifle calibers when standard factory ammo is used, but the supersonic crack of high velocity rifle bullets still make quite a racket. Suppressed PCCs, on the other hand, can often have their noise level reduced nearly to that of a common pellet gun by using readily available factory subsonic pistol ammo. With a silencer-equipped PCC, shooting reactive targets is not only fun because of what you see, but you get to hear the satisfying “THWACK” of the bullet’s impact.
Even though silencer ownership is on the rise in the U.S., I realize it’s far from ubiquitous. Never fear — for the 95% of you who have no plans to jump through the hoops that Uncle Sam requires for obtaining a suppressor, there are plenty of other aspects of PCCs that make them enjoyable to own.
Place an unsuspecting PCC in a room full of veteran shooters, and you’ll hear the word “handy” come up a lot as they examine the gun and pass it around. PCCs may only weigh a pound or two less than a slimmed-down AR-15, but the handling characteristics of a well-designed PCC are second to none. Because pistol cartridges are much shorter and create lower pressures than rifle rounds, the receivers of PCCs can be more compact than other rifles. In most cases, the ballistic benefit of a longer barrel for a pistol caliber peaks at about 16-18”, so the overall length is typically shorter as well. These attributes of PCCs combine with the advantage of lighter ammunition to allow for extremely lightweight, compact rifles. That means they’re easier to hold on target, easier for smaller folks to handle, and overall just a lot more fun to shoot in general than larger, heavier rifles. And if the fun factor isn’t “tactical” enough for you, there’s always this quote:
The carbine turned out to be an ace weapon of this war, as far as I am concerned. It was light and handy, powerful, and reasonably accurate. If I had to make my own in hostile jungle, travelling with the lightest possible kit where I should be likely to encounter enemy at any time, the carbine is the weapon I should choose.
– Lt. Col. John George, U.S. Army, on using the M1 Carbine with Merrill’s Marauders jungle combat unit in the Pacific during WWII
So there you have it; PCCs are loads of fun, and have at least one glowing endorsement from a bonafide “operator” (provided you accept the notion that the M1 Carbine counts as a PCC, a debate I’ll save for another day). What more do you want? Oh, there’s more, my friend. Check back tomorrow for our final installment when I’ll talk about the PCC’s “secret weapon” that may one day make them the most popular rifles in the country.