Best Pistol Caliber Carbines in 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

Neither a pistol nor a rifle, many people refer to these as rifle wannabes that are impractical and unnecessary, but pistol caliber carbines are one of the latest and best innovations in the generation of pistol-caliber rifles.

This idea of a long gun that grazes on handgun ammo is as old as firearms, but in recent years, pistol-caliber carbines are on a steady rise. This guide is going to tell you all about getting the best pistol caliber carbine.

One common question that many have who seem to not understand the value of PCCs is why not buy a rifle instead. Rifles like AR-15 and AK-47 are great choices if you are concerned about securing the perimeters and the outdoor space around your house, but are they really suitable for indoor defense purposes?

Best Pistol Caliber Carbines

The indoor scenario is different and you would want something that is smaller in size that can fit in confined spaces. Also, the best pistol caliber carbines have lower recoil as compared to rifles, hence, more apt for use by anyone.

Pistol caliber carbines also provide good stability as compared to rifles and handguns. There are people who can even shoot the wings of a fly with their pistol but for most of us, in situations when the adrenaline is on rush and stress on the roof, accuracy levels drop quite well and pistol caliber carbines give us the added advantage of stability that makes it easier to shoot mid-range targets. Again, they are designed in a way to let you interchangeably use it with your handguns.

Plus, the modern carbines come with at least a top rail that lets you mount any kind of optic you want, while others also have attachment points for laser sights and gun lights. Most of them offer good capacity, quick magazine changes, and they also cause a lot less noise and concussion.

From the traditional lever-actions to the latest in slick, hi-tech polymer semiautomatics, there is a probably a pistol-caliber that fits you, your tastes and your budget because they come in a wide variety of styles and fire a wide range of ammunition.

Taking an overlook of all the features that make it different, the easy handling and great power of pistol caliber carbines also make them fun and inexpensive to shoot.

Let us take a look at what are the things that you must consider before choosing the best handgun caliber for yourself.

Factors to Look For Before Buying the Best Pistol Caliber Carbine

One important thing that you must do before even looking for what makes a good handgun caliber is to ask yourself this question that what are you going to do with this gun.

Everyone must individually address this question so as to understand what you are looking for in the gun you plan to keep by your side for your safety. You must be clearly away from all the hype and show of salespersons.

Once that is clear, you should check out the other factors that might matter and differ according to your personal skills.

1. Quality is Everything

You should never buy a gun because it is cheap. It is best to buy a gun from a well-known brand. It is important for your safety and it is your responsibility to make sure the gun stands by you. If you want to save some money, you can buy a used name-brand gun but check it with a gunsmith before using it.

2. How Comfortable the gun is to you

Most pistols are available in a variety of calibers and once you are done with deciding the model you want to buy, try shooting it in different calibers. You should buy the largest caliber that is comfortable for you.

3. How Heavy is it?

Weight is the enemy, but it can be a friend for some. The heavier the pistol, the more uncomfortable it is to carry and the shooter is less likely to be fond of carrying it. But for house security and defense purposes, weight is what you want. The more the weight, the less the recoil and makes it apt for most people to use in times of need.

4. How Much Power it has

It is a common practice to calculate power by kinetic energy and momentum but the numbers we get from them are simply conjecturing. On comparing the commonly considered best 9mm, .40, and .45 loads using kinetic energy and momentum, we can observe that there is very little difference in the kinetic energy figures, but from the momentum standpoint, the .45 Auto has a clear edge.

5. How is the Support

Most people don’t consider this factor but it is also an important thing to look into how easily spare or aftermarket parts are obtained. Just like cars, guns have parts and they too will need changing after they wear out after a long time. With limited industry support, instruments like CCW holsters, magazine pouches, etc. can be hard to find.

Other than just these factors, many considerations need to be taken while buying a handgun. You should not buy a gun with a small caliber thinking of scaring or hurting the assailant. You must buy a gun that can actually create an impact when you are using it. If the assailant has a gun, then just drop your gun and no one will get hurt talking will not help you anyway.

The capacity and re-load differences are also to pay attention to. Small and lightweight guns also have a very bad recoil. You must look into what you prefer more and choose a gun that suits you.

Once you know what you want out of the product, you can easily know which device is perfect for you. Here is a list of the best handgun caliber.

Top 14 Best Pistol Caliber Carbines 2018

1. cZ USA- Scorpion Evo 3 S 1 Carbine Faux Suppressor 16.2IN 9mm 20+1RD

This is one of the best 9mm carbines available in the market. It is designed to be the best handgun caliber for self-defense and it surely stands on our expectations. The controls are also very much adjustable making it very comfortable to use for most people.

The gun has good ergonomics and is very suitable for left-handed users. This is also a proper option for both experienced and beginning shooters. Though it has an adjustable trigger, it can be difficult initially for newbies because of its heaviness. Also, its front sights are well shielded while its rear sights are fully adjustable and there is enough space for a red dot sight.

2. Wilson Combat- AR 9 Carbine 9mm 16’’ Beretta Mag

It has a very good accuracy and is very reliable. It is a successful conversion of the AR-15 and therefore, it has maintained much of the handling and controls of the AR platform. That is why you can count on it for its effectiveness in home defense.

It is useful for patrol purposes, home defense as well as cost-effective tactical training. This is also apt for both experienced and new shooters. When tested with a red dot sight and light, it really stands extraordinarily well.

It also has a great finish on the upper and lower receivers which makes it look incredibly great.

3. Sig Sauer- MPX Carbine 16 In 9mm Black 30+1RD

The unconventional design and amazing performance make this one of the best choices as a handgun caliber. It is reliable and also adaptable which makes it usable in the harshest of conditions.

This is also suitable for both left and right-hand shooters as thanks to its dual-sided selector switch, magazine release, charging handle and bolt release. It mainly operates from a fully-closed and locked rotating bolt, which gives it enhanced reliability and safety in use. Its short-stroke gas piston will allow it to run all weight and brands of 9mm ammunition with no adjustment needed to the gas valve.

Also for any equipment that you want to use with your gun have enough free space for them.

4. The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm carbine

Many firearms made by the Kel-Tec Company are not good at quality control and material selection but this is one of their most successful firearms because it is little more than a hinged pipe with a barrel.

This is a compact and light gun and it can be easily carried without letting its weight come to your notice. This is budget friendly but not something that you should trust your life with. When not in use, you can pull down its trigger guard while swinging the barrel assembly up and onto the receiver.  This folds it in half for proper storage.


This carbine looks and feels great because its design is inclined to AR-15 style but its size and maneuverability are that of a pistol-caliber carbine. This is also a lightweight option and weighs only 6 pounds when unloaded.

This is a very comfortable option and can be fitted with scopes, other optics and any other accessory that will make it extremely dependable. This gun is apt for short and mid-range targets.

But again, unlike most other carbines its stock does not fold therefore may make it hard to transport the gun.

6. Beretta CX4 Storm

This is a product that was designed with customization in mind. One of the best features is its Picatinny rail, which extends under the gun’s barrel while the other one runs along its side.

With good customizable options, this makes the gun fit for shooters of all sizes. The carbine has been designed to support a number of cartridges; 9mm, .40 S&W, and the .45 ACP. This is a lightweight option weighing only 5.75 pounds.

Even after being a polymer gun, it has a very good premium feel to it. But the trigger being plastic might not be suiting everyone. Also, the gun’s trigger pull of 7.5 pounds is too heavy for the carbine.

7. Ruger PC9

This is a traditionally styled, long-armed caliber with a manual push-button safety that is located behind the trigger guard. This was made as a police carbine as an alternative to shotguns for patrol cars.

The simply delayed blowback action is similar to other 9 mm carbines, but all the parts feel much more solid. This can stand as the best handgun caliber for general self-defense and is a good option for young hunters.

The follow-up shots also become effortless because there is no bounce or flip with it. The receiver features a rail segment so you can easily mount a red dot sight or scope if you like.

8. Hi-Point 995TS

This is the best budget handgun caliber with a sleek design and high reliability and accuracy. Its size and weight of just 6.25 pounds make it really comfortable to shoot.

The iron sights are also placed high enough in order to make it easy for the shooter to line up his targets. You do not need to mount an optic piece for this, making it a step ahead and better in terms of accuracy.

This is a very easy to use option. Along with that, the cheaper price than most other carbines in the market makes it a good choice for beginners.


Heckler and Koch is a company known for its production of excellent military-grade weapons, which guarantees its amazing quality and you can surely give your complete trust to it. It can be easily used in confined places because of its small length of just 35 inches and weight of less than six pounds.

This gun has a look and feel of a submachine gun which makes it one of the best handgun calibers for self-defense at any time. The gun also has a 10 capacity magazine which is made out of a corrosion free polymer, the exact one that the gun is made out of. This protects both the gun and its magazine from harsh weather conditions.

10. TNW Aero Survival Rifle

Made out of aluminum to keep its weight down, this is a very strong but light in weight rifle that you can use for backpacking and hunting.

The trigger is heavy and the gun has a hard recoil which can make it a bit odd to use. It is a very versatile weapon, with most of its calibers available in the market. The carbine is good for shooters of all levels and if you are looking for a light, rugged and functional weapon, this is it.

11. Chiappa M1-9 Carbine

This 0.30 carbine is an American icon. This is also a lightweight option and has a familiar design to use the 9mm cartridge and magazines from the Beretta 92 family of pistols.

This is one of the most chosen carbines and is really good for beginners. With a very good design, this also makes the gun perfect for self-defense purposes. While these rifles can take some effort to find in a local gun shop, there readily available online. The M1-9 is perfect for plinking, small game hunting and even home defense.

12. Zenith HK MP5 Clone

Being a US civilian, the HK MP5 is a hard one to put your hands on unless you have lots to spend on firearms. This HK MP5 clone has the perfect body made traditional by pressing the steel stampings and welding them together.

This caliber also has a reasonable pricing and these clones accept most modern accessories like stabilizing braces. They also work with existing MP5s for aftermarket parts like charging handles.

13. Wilson Combat AR9

This is made by one of the most prestigious brands and manufacturers in the world. They optimized the upper receiver for the 9mm cartridge, rather than just shoehorning a pistol round in place.

You can also very easily mount optics onto this and the after market add-ons available are plenty. This is the bedside gun for anyone looking for 9mm pistol caliber carbines as a home defense weapon but prefers a rifle. Elderly people and smaller statured people would do well with this as their primary home defense weapon.

14. Sig Sauer MCX

Sig Sauer is a well known company for making combat handguns and now that they enter the world of submachine guns and pistol caliber carbines, this is one fine product they have manufactured.

Sig Sauer designed the MCX to be a 9mm submachine gun. So, this is the civilian legal semiautomatic version of one of the best 9mm carbines in the world. Because of Sig’s attention to military deals in recent times, they have brought some really good innovation to almost all their products.

The only problem with this is the availability and the pricing. It can be hard to find and can demand a well high price, just like most of their other handguns.

Narrowing the Choices

With many options and so many features, you may find many calibers that seem to suit you when you read and research on them. But the ideal method would be to visit a shooting range and find the right ones to shoot and test them. This will help you evaluate how much you are comfortable with using different calibers and different guns with similar choices.

Reasons to invest in the Best Caliber Carbine

1) Variety of choice

Unlike most firearms that are available in very limited configurations, pistol caliber-carbines are available in a variety of models to choose from. The Hi-Point Firearms carbine line-up is one of the least expensive with a surprising number of features for what you pay. Also with amazing features, most of them really stand well against each other.

2) Proven Designs

Many semi-automatic 9mm pistol caliber carbines use blowback-operated actions, which are among the simplest and most reliable designs available. The designs are always innovative and this makes them a different and special choice for everyone.

4) Low recoil

Guns are not made to hurt the operator. Many believe that if a gun does not leave the user with bruises after practice and long usage, then it is most probably not the right choice for self-defense.

In a situation of shooting, every moment is important and hesitating with pain is not the best thing. Low recoil of pistol caliber carbines also makes them stand out.

5) Cheap ammunition

It does not matter what gun you use until and unless you practice with them regularly. Not being able to use a good gun properly is not fine and you need a lot of ammunition to evaluate yourself. Pistol caliber carbines are one of the cheapest to run and are also available in plenty.

6) Flexible and fun to shoot

The 9mm pistol caliber carbines are ideal for informal plinking, target shooting, home defense or riding along as a trunk gun. The new interest that these guns are creating is the new divisions in 3-gun and other competitions that allow the use of 9mm carbines.

Using a gun in a match to hone your skills and then using it again for your self-defense makes these guns more trustful and worthy.

Choose the Best 9mm Pistol Caliber Carbine!

Pistol caliber carbines are very good for home defense because they are generally lighter and more mobile. They also fire at a much higher velocity that most handguns without causing any loud sounds.

A few years ago, there were less than half the offerings that we see on the market today. The 9mm pistol caliber carbines are the best and they are affordable, easy to find and for the time being, you can enjoy any of these rifles for less than half of what 5.56 ball ammo would cost you.

Most calibers provide great features, but knowing them well is very important both before buying and after buying them. Choosing the right product is only the halfway. Practicing with it and knowing what you can do with it matters a lot.