Ruger PC9 carbine Review

ruger pc9

Frank Stratton at our sister site All Outdoors has reviewed the Ruger PC9, the Ruger 10/22-esqe 9mm carbine. Frank writes

The roots of its design are from the 20th Century 2nd generation carbines. That means no rails or pistol grip, no muzzle brake/flash hider, and night sights. It is a solid firearm that will take a lot of abuse and function accurately and reliably. The only change I would recommend is the addition of an electronic sight, such as the Lucid M7 shown above or an Aimpoint. While the top of the receiver is milled for Ruger scope rings, you can mount a Picatinny rail adapter to the receiver. For best cheek weld, you will want to choose a sight that is lower than those sold for AR straight stock style rifles.

Unfortunately Ruger stopped manufacturing the Police Carbines in 2006. I would love them to bring it back but sadly the market has largely gone off the concept of light compact pistol-caliber carbines. The last holdout are the classic .357 Magnum lever actions.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • echelon

    Probably not a huge market for them, granted, but companies like KelTec continue to see success in this arena because they have the foresight to make models that work with multiple popular brand magazines.

    One of Ruger’s problems is their own hubris where they had the habit of making guns and designing or using proprietary mags only for them. I’d be all over a mini-14 and a gunsite scout if they just used ar15 and ar10 mags, respectively.

    And yes, before anyone else replies – I am aware that the mini was produced to be a competitor to the AR, but since it lost it would’ve been nice to have a gun that uses the same mags. I think it would’ve only increased it’s popularity.

    The scout has no excuse. Even if it didn’t use AR10 mags it could’ve used FAL mags.

    • Ethan

      It amazes me that SO many manufacturers miss the Mag commonality boat. If I have to pay $140 to get 3 spare mags for my gun, the cost of that gun just went way up, and the value way down.

      That’s why I shoot CZs. 16rnd mags for $12 all day long. At that price I can keep spares in both vehicles, the bottom of my range bag, AND at home for less than the price of one un-common proprietary mag.

      • Maxpwr

        Please share your source of $12 CZ 16 round magazines.

        • Ethan

          I bought them on MidwayUSA at that price last year. I looked and they’re $22 now.
          Oh well, I suppose all good things must pass. Still, $22 is better than $60. 😉

          • Gary

            Lol @ “all day long.”

          • Ethan

            *shuffles feet*
            Well they were last time I bought them, lol.

          • Ethan

            Yeah…my CZ 455 mags are a minimum of $40 each.

          • Ethan

            And yes, my name is also Ethan. Pleased to meet you.

          • Ethan

            True, though that is more of a niche gun than the 75 series. For a while they were calling the CZ-75 “the 1911 of Europe”… though I’m guessing more modern designs have made it less ubiquitous lately.

            How do you like the 445? I’ve never owned a CZ rifle.

          • MountainKelly

            They’re just… Amazing.

          • Ethan

            I have the 455 Lux in 22lr. Beautiful rifle, well crafted, and extremely accurate. Tangent rear sight and shrouded front sight. Well machined bolt with big, beefy extractors. Crisp trigger break. My only issue is how expensive the mags are. $40 for a plastic 10 round, or metal 5 rounder is ridiculous. However, you get what you pay for.

      • MK EOD

        The Ruger Scout Rifle doesn’t use a “proprietary” magazine. It uses an Accuracy International pattern magazine, which is the most common pattern for bolt action rifles (aside from the proprietary OEM magazines most makers put on their bolt-action sporter rifles). Making a center-feed Mauser action work with a double-column magazine is probably a challenge. I think Ruger opted for proven function in this case.

        AI magazines are expensive, but the Ruger plastic mags cost much less.

        Yes, I’m aware that Mossberg did it. It doesn’t mean it’ll work for every pattern of bolt-action rifle. I do know of an Australian company that built Enfield pattern rifles, in .308 and 7.62x39mm, that fed from M14 and AK-47 pattern magazines, respectively, but I don’t think they’re imported.

        Making the Mini-14 take M16 magazines would be a not-insignificant redesign. I do think it’s perhaps time to retire the Mini and replace it with a modernized design that requires less machine time and takes more common magazines. A simpler design could be sold for less and would probably be popular in places where AR-types are banned outright.

        The worst offender in this arena is handguns. There is never even a thought given to magazine compatibility. Understandable, to a certain extent, since the magazine type is dictated by grip geometry, but still. Sig, for example, could’ve made their newer polymer framed guns take the same magazines as the 226 series. Hell, even the Sig Pro doesn’t take the same magazine as the Sig 228 (correct me if I’m wrong), and it’s basically the same gun with a plastic frame. The S&W M&P uses different magazines than either the earlier Sigma or the even earlier 3rd Generation guns. The Beretta PX series takes different magazine than the 92 series.

    • The AI magazine on the Gunsite Scout is a very common magazine in the bolt gun world. They aren’t particularly cheap, but it isn’t a proprietary design.

      In fact Magpul is making magazines for it now.

      • echelon

        Interesting. I didn’t know they were the AI mags. I had heard they were proprietary.

        Good to know.

        I know the AI mags are really pricey but if Magpul is making polymer versions that definitely makes the platform more attractive for sure.

        Thanks for the info.

        • I don’t know why they don’t advertise the fact that it uses AI magazines. I certainly would.

          The Magpul AI magazines will have a MSRP of $35, but at this point will only be available in the 5 round configuration.

          But with Magpul getting in the game, and selling AI bottom metal for their Rem 700 stock, the AI magazine has pretty much permanently cemented itself as the standard magazine of the bolt action world.

          • echelon

            That’s still a bummer. $35 for a 5 rounder is too expensive. I’d pay that much for a good 20 rounder though.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      The Ruger PC9 and PC40 used common mags. In common with the Ruger P-Series handguns at the time. Just because it didn’t use magazines for YOUR handgun doesn’t mean that it used “proprietary” mags.

      The mini was never produced to be a competitor to the AR. It was designed to be a smaller, lighter, compact version of the M14. The magazines that it takes use the same type of “rock and lock” insertion as the M14/M1A.

      The Mini-14 came out when hardly anyone had an AR.

      • BattleshipGrey

        “Proprietary” was not the best wording, but were P series mags readily available and affordable (I’m truly asking)?

        When I first got to “play” with a P series handgun was during a firearms class for my Police Science degree. It was during the time that Berettas and S&Ws were beginning to lose favor in LE. We had a Glock 17, Beretta 92, Ruger P90, HK USP and a S&W 5906 to choose from each week. No one wanted the Ruger.

        • Mark_KTO

          “No one wanted the Ruger.”

          Probably because the manual of arms is… weird.

          • I’m curious.

            What makes the manual of arms of the Ruger that much different than the Beretta 92 or S&W 5906?

            I have no experience with the Ruger P-series. I was under the impression that they were mostly just like other DA/SA autos of the period, except that Ruger is expert at investment casting.

      • Kelly Jackson

        The Mini 14 was absolutely produced to be a competitor to the AR.

        The select fire AC556 is proof of that.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Also when this gun came out virtually nobody was using Ruger pistols.

        Bill Ruger backed the 1994 AWB and it soured a generation of gun owners to buying a Ruger product.

    • nadnerbus

      They could sort of have an argument for proprietary mags with the min14, since they lock in in the M14/FAL/AK style, rock back and rear locking lever.

      They absolutely had no excuse for the mini30 not taking AK magazines though. If they had, I believe you would see far more of them in circulation today.

      Oh well, I guess you could pin that on Old Ruger, with Bill “no civilian needs more than ten rounds” Ruger in charge.

      They need to get their stuff together though and evolve the rifle if they want to stay relevant.

      • MountainKelly

        The mags on my 30/have always been a pain in the neck

        • nadnerbus

          I don’t know about you, but I could live without a last shot hold open if it meant being able to use any AK mag.

          • MountainKelly

            Aye. Half the aftermarket mags are cheaply modified ak mags anyway. I need some more factory 10 and 20 rounders. Blah

    • Paul White

      amen. It also means I just don’t buy spare mags. My SR9c came with 2, that’s good enough for me. If they were 10 bucks less I might order at least 1-2 more.

      • echelon

        If the SHTF you’d better hope you don’t need more than two…

        Better to have and not need than need and not have. What’s a few bucks on mags in the long run?

        My rule of thumb is at least 6 mags for any gun I would use for a serious defensive situation. Ideally I’d have more than that.

        And since I’m not independently wealthy, magazine availability and price comes into play as factors which help be decide which gun(s) I use for that purpose.

        Now if the SR9c is just a range toy and nothing more, then yeah, two mags is more than plenty.

        • Paul White

          it’s my concealed carry gun of choice. But I’m not carrying 6 magazines on me at any given time anyway. If one fails then I’ll order another, but I don’t see the point of having six magazines for a CCW since there’s 0 chance I’ll carry them all.

          • Ethan

            I like to have 6 or 7 mags for my primary pistol, but like you said I’d NEVER carry them all at once. If I felt I needed that much firepower I would be carrying a rifle or at least an under-the-coat AR Pistol.

            To me the advantage of having numerous spare mags though is that you can plant them in multiple strategic locations. I only carry the 14+1 in the gun on the daily, but I’ve got spare mags in both vehicles, the nightstand, and in my bug out bag.

            Its not vital, but its handy. I would never be able to do that if my mags were $40 a piece though. I couldn’t afford to.

          • echelon

            I didn’t say for CCW. What happens in the event of a bad weather situation or some other unforeseen disaster and you might need to have more than two loaded mags on hand?

            I’m not saying you do, but as I said, better to have them and not need them than the other way around…

            Life is about choices and risk mitigation. I always hope for the best but plan for the worst.

          • You obviously don’t remember the Clinton AWB. $18 magazines were selling for $99.

  • MountainKelly

    Still not as awesome as the deerfield. Those things are awesome

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      OOF.. Yes. I have a 77/44 that takes the same rotary magazines, but nothing beats a semi-auto .44mag. I’ve got my bolt-action and it’s ok, but it’s no semi-auto.

      • MountainKelly

        Heck of a little thumper

    • Blake

      Packs a heck of a punch but doesn’t have too much going for it in the accuracy dept. We traded ours on a stainless Mini-14 & then accurized it.

      • MountainKelly

        Yeah wouldn’t trust a .44 for more than 100 yards haha. Not the greatest bc a d a fairly short barrel and stout action 😛

  • JackRyan

    The market is gone? Hardly. Gun makers don’t realize people want magazine commonality. If everything took Glock or Beretta mags, things would sell better. Ruger makes a fine pistol, but Glock and Beretta mags are way more abundant. I think the PCC market is just fine, especially when consider the 33 rd Glock and Beretta mags.

    • BattleshipGrey

      I think it’s the stupid NFA laws and tax that drives down the market for PCCs. If the laws weren’t so meddling, PCCs would probably make a big comeback, especially ones that have reliable, available and reasonably priced mags.

  • BillC

    Brake. It’s spelled, brake.

    • Norm

      I know, right? It bugs the hell out of me when I see ‘muzzle break’, especially in official company literature. It’s Brake, as in reduces recoil by slowing rearward motion.

      • 360AD

        Or “site” or “reticule”.

      • Ethan

        He’s just using the correct taticle terms. 😛

  • allannon

    Damnit, Steve, you got my hopes up.

    I was prepared to comment that if they brought them back with a t/d version I’d be all over it…but no, they’re still out of production.

    • David Sharpe

      Me too….I hoped they started making them again.

  • IXLR8

    Say what you will, but I would buy one of these rifles in a nanosecond, if it had a threaded barrel, and optical rail. I love the Ruger 10/22’s and this could be their big brother. Heck, make one that breaks in half like the 10/22.
    I have never seen one prior to my last gun show. It was marked L.E. and the owner wanted $750.00 for it. Too rich for my blood, but release them at say $399.00 to $499.00 and all of the suppressor owners would go nuts buying them.

    • Mark_KTO

      Eh, it’s not a rifle. It’s a carbine. Not the same thing.

      • IXLR8

        “This is my rifle, this is my gun”. There is nothing in there about carbines. 🙂

        A pistol caliber carbine is my personal favorite plinker. Do you really need a .223 to shoot at paper?

  • Nicholas Chen

    Actually Chiappa makes a M1 carbine esque rifle chambered in 9mm.

    • JackRyan

      It was a good idea but they shoulda made the barrel 16” not 18”, dropped the plastic bayonet lug and included a 1913 rail for the black stock version. The wood stock could have been the M1 look-a-like.

    • MountainKelly

      Legacy imports an ati m1 carbine clone that takes beretta mags and is chambered in/9×19

    • 45B20

      it’s imported

  • Eric S

    I picked up a PC4 some years ago. Quite possibly my favorite gun to shoot. I think they screwed up trying to market these to the police. Should have played it to the home defense crowd.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      Sadly, this was “old Ruger” before Bill died and the company couldn’t stand to produce ANYTHING “tactical” or “high capacity” that wasn’t LEO or Military only.

      Modern Ruger would release the PC9 with factory 30rd mags directly to the consumer market without even mentioning LEO’s. Now….. They just need to ACTUALLY do that. Heh.

      • Mark_KTO

        Old Bill really didn’t favor the idea of mere “civilians” having serious weapons. For a gun maker, he was surprisingly indifferent, if not outright unfriendly, to the 2nd Amendment.

  • robt.kruck

    mech tech 9mm with glock base. AWSUME.

  • Winston

    Back when the Ruger 9mm carbines were still being made I remember hearing about some business out west that was converting them take other magazines. like the common S&W 59 series mags and the 9mm glock mag.

  • 45B20

    For the 2005 price of the PC9 one can buy a well equiped AR or AK today with mags and ammo. Even a poodle shooter beats the 9mm on all counts!

  • UCSPanther

    It would be nice if Ruger or someone else would build a traditional style carbine in .45 ACP and used 1911 magazines.

    • Richard

      Marlin did make one, the camp carbine in 45.

  • MountainKelly

    Sooooo police carbine with Ppsh mags and 9mm follower? Hahaha

  • Uncle Charlie

    Don’t forget Hi-Point pistol caliber carbines. Contrary to the bad rep for some hand guns, the carbines generally tend to get good reviews. Fugly but dependable.

    • Blake

      at least they’re ridiculously cheap.

      But I think if I was going to sink any money into a 9mm carbine it would be roller-locked…

  • lifetimearearesident

    While it is clear by the number of up votes on some of the other posts that the idea of magazine commonality has a lot of fans today I think that looking back in time this was less of an issue for most shooters. That said if I was thinking of making a carbine in today’s market the 1911 mag pattern seems like a no brainer and If I could give Ruger some advice it would be to consider making a Mini 14 that accepts AR 15 magazines. Seems unlikely but look at the AR10 market. Armalite is now producing a version that takes PMags.

    • Ethan

      Yep. If you can draw a strong aftermarket offering, the value of your platform goes way up without having to add a dime to your design.

      At some point I’d love to see the industry embrace common standards for certain things: Magazines & shotshell tubes, stocks, grips, sights (pistol, rifle, AND shotgun), and more.

      No one would be forced to make their gun to an industry standard, but it would be a huge value added to your platform if people could keep their favorite existing components.

      • MIke

        This would be great. Having to buy different night sights for every make and model pistol is a huge pain

  • Marc

    I have a PC9 with the same rail but a Docter III, using Mec Gar 20 round mags. A very fun steel plinker, everyone who has tried it loves it.

  • SpazC

    I loved my PC9 while I had it. Unfortunately the mags got the better of me when I traded my P95 for my Glock 19. Wound up trading the pc9 into an JRA AK74.

  • marathag

    That means no rails or pistol grip, no muzzle brake/flash hider, and night sights

    Should have done it in Walnut.

    If it’s Synthetic, you’re almost there to TactiCool, anyway.

  • marathag

    That every early mini-14 I ever dealt with patterned like a shotgun, I don’t think many Armies would have gone for that, as expensive as they were.

  • El Duderino

    Not sure why there isn’t an inexpensive ambi 9mm bullpup out there. It would sell like hotcakes.

    • IXLR8

      The Tavor 9mm bullpup is incredible, but not inexpensive. Same size as an MP5, but with a 16″ barrel, and suppressor ready.

  • El Duderino

    The Marlin Camp Carbine took much more common mags, but they are also gone. For the most part, people spending money for a quality rifle want a rifle caliber. Pistol caliber carbines have to be inexpensive and/or have unique features like the SUB2000.

  • ozzallos .

    “…but sadly the market has largely gone off the concept of [high priced] light compact pistol-caliber carbines…”

    Fixed that for you.

    HiPoint has already proven there’s a considerable market for an affordable pistol caliber carbine. Even Keltec Sub2000s are wildly popular at their MSRP price. The problem isn’t demand– It’s that the majority of consumers aren’t going to pay $600 for a product they know shouldn’t cost $600.

    The pistol caliber carbine market is a haven for inflationist gougers at the moment, charging premium prices for no better reasons than looks or the fact that they accept hicap mags. I mean look at taurus. There’s no way that thing should cost what they’re trying to sell it for, but they’re priced to compete with their nearest HiPoint competition– They’re priced much higher because they think they can get away with it.

    The market is in a state of stagnation because nearly everybody playing in it has priced their products to high to attract consumer growth.