This week, one of my top five from SHOT show finally arrived, and it did not disappoint. I spent the week trying to melt the barrel off the new Nordic Components 9mm NCPCC Carbine, and it was everything I thought it would be. Before we get into the details of the gun, you may be asking yourself, “ Why is Clay so excited about a rifle in a pistol caliber? Has he lost his mind?”
- Chambering: 9mm
- Barrel: 16 inches
- Stock: MFT Minimalist
- Sights: None, rail
- Action: Straight blowback
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: Variable
- MSRP: $1,599
I am usually the death and destruction guy around here; that’s kind of why they hired me. I don’t want to confuse any facts on this one, I don’t look at anything in a pistol caliber as a tool of war. We got over the submachine gun idea real quick in this conflict after we started shooting people. Tell any GWOT Veteran you think an MP5 is a great counter-terrorism weapon, and they will laugh you out of the room. I like the idea of a pistol caliber carbine (PCC) nowadays for a few pretty good reasons, none of which would make it my ideal choice to repel the Mongolian horde.
Number 1, the shooting sports have taken off with a Pistol Caliber Carbine or PCC class, especially USPSA. Pistol range matches really are fun with a rifle, and it gives you a really good excuse to drive as fast as you can. This also opens the sport up to people that don’t have the time or energy to get good with a pistol. Pistol matches can be frustrating when you suck with a pistol, and everyone that plays the game has been there. Some people really just do not have the time to invest, and using a PCC makes it a whole lot easier. It is also a real question of what you are training for. If you use sport shooting as a training vehicle for the tactical employment of weapons, you are correct to go the PCC route. In the grand scheme of things, in relation to open conflict and shooting, pistol skills are right up there with the ability to read recipes in Latin. That is to say, almost completely useless.
Number 2, a PCC gives you some ability to train you would otherwise not get. And it does it cheaper. I live in Idaho and I shoot in a place that has an upper limit of 2500 meters as long as I am willing to climb a hill to get the line of sight. Probably farther if I really worked for it. I still train police officers and the like for CQB though, which means I often have to practice those same drills. Maybe this is just the rifleman in me, but I feel like an idiot blasting paper targets at 12 meters surrounded by open terrain with 5.56. My PCC, in its little baby 9mm caliber, makes me feel less like I am wasting bullets. It also affords me the opportunity to work CQB drills on steel targets, something I could only do in a rifle caliber if I bought very expensive frangible ammunition. Using steel saves a lot of time in pasting targets (especially if you haven’t shot the drills in a while), and provides instant feedback. You need a balance of both paper and steel targets, but steel has a lot of benefits when we are talking about close range engagements. The recoil is similar, unlike with using a .22 LR, which makes multiple shot drills much more realistic. I have done CQB range drills with a .22 conversion instead, but attempting any kind of multi-shot drill is a waste of time. You would be better off putting a picture of your new shoes on Facebook, where self-admiration belongs. CQB drills burn ammo up fast, and this is another strength of the PCC. 9mm is still about half the cost of 5.56 if you are buying new, and the cases last longer if you are reloading.
Number 3, these carbines are going to be extremely popular amongst the recoil-sensitive crowd. The bolt is actually heavier than an AR-15, and the recoil is similar in my opinion. But even unsuppressed, 9mm out of a 16-inch barrel is not as loud as 5.56. This part is speculation, but it appears to me this actually tricks your brain into thinking there is less recoil. It sounds dumb, but after you shoot one side by side with an AR, I bet you come to the same conclusion. And appearance is fine when you are teaching a new shooter. As long as they think it recoils less, it does recoil less. And that makes it easier to teach. This particular carbine also feels lighter than a normal 16-inch AR-15. I hope you will forgive me, I don’t have an appropriate scale to measure this. Dimensionally, the Nordic is the same size almost exactly as my AR. The magazine well actually has a lot more aluminum in it, so there is that. My best guess is that since the barrel is similar in profile to an AR, but a lot more steel is removed from the inside to make it 9mm, it actually results in a weight reduction you can feel. However they did it, it makes the PCC a very handy little gun.
Article continued below:
Number 4, I didn’t really get until I put the suppressor on. The Nordic Components carbine suppresses extremely well, especially when fed the new HUSH ammo from Freedom Munitions. Both the 147- and 165-grain offerings were borderline Hollywood quiet, which is pretty amazing. The only thing I didn’t get a chance to do on this test timeline was shoot it side by side with 300 AAC in subsonic. We will have to get back to that one. It beats the pants off of 5.56 in this department though, hands down. I was really impressed by this, especially how the HUSH stayed subsonic in the 16-inch barrel. If you are looking for a fun toy to play with but hate earplugs, this set up is for you. For my testing, I ran a Gemtech GM-9 in direct thread configuration, and it did a fantastic job. This would make an outstanding spotlighting rig, if that is legal in your jurisdiction.
The Nordic Components 9mm Carbine is the best of the PCC bunch that I have shot so far, by a margin. It comes out of the box wearing an MFT Minimalist stock on a full length, five-position carbine buffer tube. This is a great little stock, with absolutely no bells and whistles. It has two options for where you attach your sling, neither of which is a QD. This lack of options also makes it extremely light, which is great. There is just enough rubber butt pad to make a long day of shooting doable, and nothing else. The pistol grip is a MagPul MIAD, which is pretty much ubiquitous on an AR platform these days.
The trigger in the Nordic is another feature I appreciate. It comes with a Mil Spec, or what I call a placeholder trigger. No manufacturer in their right mind would ship a gun out without a trigger, but anyone playing the PCC game is probably going to change it on day one anyway. Instead of making us pay for the trigger they want, Nordic ships the carbine with a mil standard trigger group. This probably costs about $45 at the manufacturer level, and prevents you and me from paying the $200 for a premium trigger that we might not want. I immediately swapped mine out for an AR Gold PCC trigger, with excellent results. This flat-faced, short-reset wonder breaks at 2.9 lbs, and makes the carbine run like a scalded cat.
How It Works
Like most pistol caliber carbines, the Nordic Components is a straight blowback design, instead of a direct impingement with a locking bolt. If you take the bolt carrier group out out, you will notice that it is both heavy, and wildly different looking than an AR-15. The Nordic version is high energy polished to a mirror like surface. It was so pretty, I almost didn’t want to get it dirty.
The hand guard is a full-length job, going all the way to the start of the flash hider like a modern gun should. It is technically a decagon, which is a word I had to look up. That means it is round with 10 edges, which works out to be pretty cool. Your hand doesn’t notice the flat edges, because they are so subtle. But it does give you enough bite to use effectively on support you find in the field. The whole length is M-LOK compatible, so you have all kinds of options for mounting accessories. The barrel is a 1/10 right-hand twist, of what looks to be close to government profile. Thick enough to be rigid for accuracy, thin enough you don’t need to spend more time in the gym than on the range.
So, what did we miss? There was something else, I’m sure of it. Oh yeah, the most important part. The thing that truly makes the Nordic Components carbine different. It feeds off of Glock magazines. Or M&P magazines. And I am quite sure other options are on the way. Out of the same gun. Depending on what magazine you like or have, you can swap which mag well with the press of one pin. Underneath the magazine release is what looks like an oversized takedown pin. Press it out with your finger, and the entire mag well comes off. Slap a new one on, and off you go. It takes less than 30 seconds. This is a pretty neat option. You can match your carbine to your sidearm, and carry spares that work for both. I see this as especially helpful with LE, one of the applications I am sure the Nordic will see use in. Your department switches handguns? For $150, your carbine can stay the same. I ran my test model with both M&P and Glock magazines, and had zero malfunctions with either. I have Taran Tactical extensions for both models, and they also ran flawlessly. 15 rounds of 9mm might feel a little silly, but 41 is enough to have some serious fun.
All in all, I was extremely impressed with the Nordic Components Carbine. It is very well built, with the kind of quality you can feel when you pick it up. It is a very useful tool, but there is another reason you are going to want this. It’s fun. I giggled like a schoolgirl the whole time I was shooting close-range steel with it. It’s just one of those things you have to feel to appreciate, and I recommend that you do. And at 9mm prices, it’s something you can actually afford to shoot.
To learn more, visit https://nordiccomp.com/categories/nc-pcc/.
To buy a Nordic Components 9mm on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?Keyword=Nordic%20PCC.