Ruger PCC 9mm – Versatility Redefined

The author with new Ruger Pistol Caliber Carbine

I have finally gotten my hands on the last of my top 5 from SHOT Show 2018. And in a year of Pistol Caliber Carbines, the one I was most looking forward to. I am talking about the new Ruger PCC, of course, a gun that is all but guaranteed to punch way above its weight.

In all its glory, outfitted with big stick Glock mag and Aimpoint M5

When I first saw the Ruger last January, I knew we had something different on our hands. I don’t know exactly what has gotten into Ruger over the last couple of years, but I like it. Starting about 2014, it feels like they fired the entire design department, and replaced them with some absolute madmen. The same minds that looked at chassis style guns, the hottest thing in the country, and said, “ Hmmm. I see a lot of great principles, but the cost is about $4500 at the entry level. What if we made one that retailed for $1200, but performed like the high-end ones?” And then delivered on it in the Ruger Precision Rifle. When they set out to design a PCC, they once again swung for the fences.

PCC in action, running SIG 115 grain

Pretty much all the current PCC guns are a blowback design and you can see the wheels turning as Ruger stepped up to the plate. What else is a blowback design, produced by Ruger since 1964, and at a volume of over 5 million? If you guessed 10/22, you win the prize. Indeed, the PCC looks exactly like a scaled up 10/22. Not only does this yield familiar controls, but it is also a design Ruger long ago worked the kinks out of.

SIG Elite Performance Ammunition, an excellent choice in 9mm.

As features go, you will be hard pressed to find a PCC as capable as Ruger’s version. To start with, it is based on not just any 10/22, but the takedown 10/22. You can pull the barrel and fore end off in about 10 seconds, cutting the length in half. This is a huge bonus for storage in general or for stashing in your car/boat/ ATV as a survival gun. The barrel is relatively thick but fluted for weight reduction. They advertise exceptional accuracy out of this barrel and in testing it delivered. It is very uncommon to see a PCC deliver 3 touching in an accuracy test, but the Ruger did just that. The barrel is also threaded ½ x 28, so it is suppressor or brake ready out of the box.

Takedown design

Neatly into two parts

Like a 10/22, the PCC is a side charger. But unlike a 10/22, it is reversible on the new PCC. A simple Allen key is required, but you can swap it over very easily. I actually count the need for tools as a plus on a survival gun. Tool-less briefs well, but it creates a number of problems. First, how often do you think you will switch the bolt handle over? Likely once, twice at the most. The first one to see if you like it on the opposite side, and again if you don’t. It’s not really a thing you are going to be changing every time you go to the range. Second, the need for an Allen key makes it harder to lose the bolt handle entirely. As a 3 Gunner, I always carried a spare bolt handle for my shotgun, which was tool-less. Ask me how I learned that and if I want it as a possibility on my survival rifle.

Right side charging

Simple Allen key retention

To left side charging

The magazine release is also reversible, but I like it left side as factory configured for a number of reasons. (Opposite of most PCC’s, and more like Sturmgewehr 44) First off, this isn’t an AR, my hands at least can’t reach the magazine release while keeping a firing grip. So economy of motion lends itself to left side release on this design. Second, in a survival gun, it makes you more likely to retain said magazine. If your non-firing hand is already forced to move to drop the empty, it is a natural motion to retain it while grabbing a fresh one.

The magazine release, ready to swap sides

The third reason has to do with another cool design feature. Ruger rewarded brand loyalty on the PCC by making it feed from the factory off of Ruger SR9 magazines. One is included in the box and I can find no fault in the design. It is metal, holds 17, and is made in Italy, the same as Tangfolio and Sig P320 mags. Likely in the same factory. I have no idea how Italy became magazine Mecca, but it is. On the website, you can also get an insert to make the gun feed off of magazines for the Ruger American Pistol, once again showing loyalty to a faithful customer base.

SR-9 magazine, the factory default setting

But Ruger also recognized the truth of the PCC class of guns and bent the knee. Included in the factory box is a mag well insert that lets the PCC run on Glock 9mm magazines. Think what you will of Glock pistols, no one can say the magazines aren’t tough. And prolific. In fact, arguably the strength of the Glock system is the magazine, with backward compatibility all the way to 1982. Which brings us to the final reason to leave the mag release alone.

Magazine inserts are labeled for clarity

Glock magazines retain via a dimpled cutout on the left side for Gen 3 and before guns, or on both side for Gen’s 4 & 5. Ruger stayed true to this retention method, which means that the left side mag release works for all generations of magazine. If you reverse it, you are limited to Gen 4 and later magazines only. And a hat tip to our friends over at, for providing the red 33 rounder used in this review.

ETS Glock mag, 33 round capacity

The upper receiver features a built-in Picatinny rail, so you are ready for red dots or scopes, without the need to bolt something else on. If you prefer irons, and like your guns ready out of the box, your in luck on this one as well. The PCC includes a very functional set of peep sites, that are adjustable for windage and elevation.

Top Picatinny rail, M5 installed

The best part of this gun is something you can’t see from the outside though and I can’t say this particular piece any better than Ruger can:

“Dead blow action features a custom tungsten dead blow weight that shortens bolt travel and reduces felt recoil and muzzle rise.”

Front blade

Adjustable rear

One of the first things I said about the PCC, all the way back at my SHOT Show test fire, was that it didn’t recoil much, even for the caliber. This is why. There is an actual recoil dampening system built into the bolt, and it works. When you shoot this gun, you almost feel obligated to make your own recoil. Once you get past that, you realize that most 22LR guns don’t shoot this flat and fast.

Bolt and receiver, showing its heritage

This gun is a winner and anyone that has been waiting for a 9mm carbine is in luck. But that is without discussing the best part; the price. Expensive doesn’t always mean good, any more than cheap always means bad. The Ruger PCC is definitely an example of the latter. Even with all those features, the MSRP is $649. About half the cost of other 9mm carbines on the market. I predict these things are going to sell like hotcakes. If you see one at your local gun shop, don’t ask to hold it. Just start laying dollars on the counter, and get out your 4473 pen.

Accuracy above average for PCC class guns

Beefy action screws

Last round lock open

Learn more about the Ruger PCC 9mm by clicking HERE.

***Shop GunsAmerica for your next Ruger PCC***

About the author: Clay Martin is a former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper, as well as 3-Gun competitor and Master ranked shooter in USPSA Production. In addition to writing about guns, he is the author of “Last Son of The War God,” a novel about shooting people that deserve it. You can also follow him on twitter, @offthe_res or his website,

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  • John Hoglin March 27, 2019, 12:36 am

    It just needs to be lighter. This should be a 5 lb gun. I like mine, I topped it with a 1-4 x 30mm scope. Perfect for the 9mm. I am waiting to see what after market stocks and accessories come out.

  • Karl Vanhooten March 18, 2019, 2:09 pm

    I owned two new Ruger PCCs. The first, using Glock mags, had accuracy issues and Ruger sent me another one. Still had accuracy issues at 50 yards, using eight different brands of 9mm. Tightening the take-down connector is critical. Sig Elite Performance was the best brand I tried. Using a red dot, and even a decent scope, the 50 yard hits on an 8-inch target were wildly inconsistent 4-5 inch “groups.” Sold it…I prefer my WWII M1 Carbine for a 50-100 yards rifle. But…for Steel Challenge or Three-Gun shoots at less than 30 yards, I would definitely suggest the PCC. BTW, Ruger service reps said they consider 4-inch groups typical, e.g., don’t use one for a varmint or long distance target rifle, but a short-range tactical “torso” weapon.

  • mike palm March 13, 2019, 3:58 pm

    Ruger made these in 1996-2005 ….these new ones are a version of the original with the added take down feature. They were not big sellers then. (The Marlin camp 9 carbines sold better at the time.)

  • Rlee March 12, 2019, 7:06 pm

    I’ve had one for 6 months and I love it. Best little rifle ever. Very accurate and follow up shots are quick and accurate virtually no kick. Highly recommend you get one. Well worth the money. Versatile gun and this article is excellent and I agree with every word.

  • Harley Meiroff March 12, 2019, 9:46 am

    I have one and think it’s just a great little carbine. 9mm out of a carbine length barrel is certainly different than relatively short pistol barrel. I am sure that those that would like all the different calibers realize that the pressure differences would make the project less than simple for Ruger. Not that it won’t happen down the road. One of the Ruger’s big features is it’s takedown configuration so hoping for a one piece stock is probably not going to happen.

  • AJ March 11, 2019, 9:50 pm

    This is actually a great idea for a survival rifle… Coupled with external hollow points this thing could really be an all-in-one. Now I say that because of its takedown feature. There are plenty of pistol caliber ARs on the market, but with a mixed bag of issues. And keltec has had their sub2000 carbines for a while. However, Ruger and their 10/22 have been almost a staple of plinking and reliability since it’s conception. Especially with their home grown and aftermarket stock options, the 10/22 is a great training gun.

  • PAUL March 11, 2019, 4:19 pm

    Ruger how about 10mm and 44 mag I will buy both , deer hunting legal in a lot more states now . Thanks

  • BillJ357 March 11, 2019, 4:02 pm

    Exactly. Making a 10mm would make me want one, soon…

    or at least a .30 carbine… both would make this a great companion to what I have…. Ruger .30 SA and Glock 21, with 10mm conversion. 🙂 🙂

  • StevO March 11, 2019, 3:10 pm

    Just got mine the other day. Will make a nice home defense gun

  • Jeff Rankin March 11, 2019, 2:14 pm

    I like the 9mm cartridge but, I’m holding out for a 10mm version.

    • BillJ357 March 11, 2019, 3:58 pm

      Exactly. Making a 10mm would make me want one, soon…

  • Harry March 11, 2019, 1:58 pm

    Nice review… No mention of Beretta cx4 storm in 9mm? Wonder how it will compare… That; is a great carabine

  • Christopher Sourp March 11, 2019, 1:37 pm

    I think I missed the part about what ammo you were using. And grain.

  • John Bibb March 11, 2019, 11:51 am

    Nice! But–get back to me when Ruger makes it in the .30 Cal. M-1 Carbine round! Far better choice than any of the pistol caliber rounds.
    John Bibb

  • Michael Gatz March 11, 2019, 11:28 am

    77 years old poor eyesight. Many many 100’s of rounds through Ruger 9mm Carbine. 2 inch spread at 50 yards. No failures. Also I am not mechanical, but changed magazine well to Glock magazine well in about 15 minutes. AMAZING FIREARM. I am thinking of putting a Sig Romeo5 red dot on it. As I said 77 year old eyes get tired after many many rounds. Love this firearm. Light and easy. It is so much much fun, I run through lots of 9mm. Who cares. Less for the kids. Ha, ha.

  • Damon March 11, 2019, 10:57 am

    I bought this PCC 6 months ago for less than $500 (including shipping /transfer). I mounted a Bushnell TRS-25 and swapped the magwell to Glock. I also flipped the bolt handle to the correct side 😉 and removed the butt-stock spacers, which shortens it considerably, but not too short to fire prone.
    I can’t tell you why I love this carbine so much, but it shoots and handles like a dream… Tack-driver!!! I can’t believe how much fun this thing is to shoot. I had to buy 3 more 33rd mags, just to enjoy blazing with it at the range. Taking Glock 9mm mags, it’s also very practical for survival (get a suppressor for it).
    I’m hoping Magpul would create a replacement stock for it, like with their 10/22 Takedown stock, that lets the 2 pieces connect to each other when apart. It would really help when throwing it in a bag.

  • SuperG March 11, 2019, 10:24 am

    I left hand .40 model would be ideal for me. I can only hope.

  • Jim March 11, 2019, 10:19 am

    I have one of the old PC4s, the gen 1 .40 S&W version of this carbine. Handy, but doesn’t seem to be as good as the newer version that is on my to buy list. I would like to see Ruger come up with more mag adapters. CZ75 would be a good one for me. I’m also rather surprised they don’t offer an adapter for their own P-series magazines that they still list on their website.

    • mike palm March 13, 2019, 3:38 pm

      My thoughts exactly, there are millions of P series magazines out there and the pistols that went with them are built like tanks and will outlive you and me, so shame on Ruger for not including the P series adapters with these guns. I also have an original 1997 model PC carbine and I like it better than the new one. my.02 cents

  • Andy West March 11, 2019, 9:58 am

    I am a S&W M&P fan. Do not own Glock nor Ruger pistols. Successfully milled the Ruger magazine notch into M&P mags. Works great, now I can use the same mags in carbine and sidearm.

  • CHRISTIAN focht March 11, 2019, 9:58 am

    Make One In 10mm and I am in big time.

  • Louis March 11, 2019, 9:54 am

    I didn’t wait that long. Got the first one my dealer acquired. Now Ruger, make one in 10mm, please.

  • Tom March 11, 2019, 8:53 am

    Notify me when they make it in .45 acp and I’ll buy one.

  • Dayne Adams March 11, 2019, 8:46 am

    Spot on in every detail, Clay. I’ve had mine for nearly a year and it quickly became a favorite. Even with my old eyes, nailing a soup-can at 25 yards (with just iron sights) was effortless. It’s easy to shoot and has a nice weight and balance, too. Current street price is $500 give or take and they even sell a 10-round CA compliant version too, if I’m not mistaken. I’ll leave the “what is it good for” argument to those with more energy or less to do; I’ll just say it’s fun to shoot and for me that’s enough. Again, good review, thanks.

  • Frank S. March 11, 2019, 8:42 am

    Hmmm… thought I’d bought my last long gun, but have been thinking of a 10/22 in M1 furniture (unless someone has an M1 .30 carbine they will sell me for $500 or so in good shooting condition…). I think I like this PCC in 9mm better, though I don’t think the 33 round mag is great sticking down that far. A 15 round double stakc would be about right though…. Hopefully they will make a non-take-down version. Would love the 9mm with M1 style furniture!!

  • srsquidizen March 11, 2019, 8:21 am

    Half the price of other PCC’s? Street price appears to be higher than 2 of the most popular which would be Kel-Tec and Hi-Point. Granted the Ruger has some nice features, but both of those do reliably and well the limited number of things a “pistol caliber carbine” is good for. The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 even folds up to half its length then back to ready fast with no fumbling to put pieces together. And has models using common pistol mags e.g. Glock 17 & Beretta 92 though I’m not sure if you can interchange them via adaptors like the Ruger.

    • Paul March 11, 2019, 9:44 am

      The Ruger PC Carbine is leagues ahead of Kel-Tec and Hi-Point. To compare these to the PC Carbine is like comparing a Kel-Tec or Hi-Point to a Glock. Yes, they do the same thing, shoot rounds out of a long barrel, but the comparison ends there. The Ruger is a great, great gun. The others are not.

      • Frontier05 March 11, 2019, 10:26 am

        I bought the KelTec Sub2000 Gen 2 with Glock 17 configuration. After a year of shooting with the after market improvements for cheek weld, bolt cover, and an improvised stock cushion, I happily sold mine to buy the Ruger PCC. The Ruger PCC is an awesome upgrade over the novelty KelTec. It’s very much like my 1022 TD which is another winner. Glad I have both.

        • Taylor March 11, 2019, 1:31 pm

          I’m just glad we live in a country where we can own any or all of them and make our own decisions on which is best. The Kel-Tec sub 2000 is a great gun as well as the Ruger pcc.

        • Jason March 11, 2019, 2:02 pm

          I own both the Kel Tec Sub 2000 and the Ruger PC Carbine. The Kel Tec is lighter and the fact that it folds in half is awesome but those are the only two pros that it has on the Ruger. The Ruger has better sights (for me) and it shoots amazingly well. I like the Kel Tec but I absolutely love the Ruger.

    • Willie-O March 12, 2019, 6:50 am

      I’ve owned (2) Keltecs. There won’t be a 3rd.

  • Randy March 11, 2019, 7:37 am

    Make one in .357 Mag then I would Buy one, I am NO FAN of the 9mm

    • Justista March 11, 2019, 11:49 am

      .38 super would be a good one and easier to make work.

    • mike palm March 13, 2019, 3:45 pm

      If you shoot 9MM +P out of the 16 inch barell you get an increase in velocity of approximately 22% and 50% more energy which puts that in the ballpark of a 357. Plus practice ammo for 9mm is so cheap right now you can get 50 rounds fmj for under $10.

  • Charles Olson March 11, 2019, 6:56 am

    Everything you said about the PC 9 is spot on. I purchased one two months ago for under $500 and love shooting it. So does everyone else I’m with. I no longer load the 32 round mags because that’s the first mag they grab emptying my stock of 9 mm very quickly. What a pleasure to shoot especially with a Bushnell Trophy TRS 25 red dot sight.

    • mike palm March 13, 2019, 3:46 pm

      9mm fmj is about $7-$10 today which makes practice easier on my wallet.

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