There has been a surge of interest in pistol-caliber carbines recently, fostered in part by the realization that they can be an excellent choice for self-defense (especially when accurate, rapid fire is of primary importance) and by their growing acceptance inside the practical shooting sports.
Pistol-caliber carbines come in a wide variety of styles and fire a wide range of ammunition. 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. Prices range from $315 for the Hi-Point carbine to $2,095 for the Wilson Combat AR9. Here are 15 top options on the market today:
Built by TNW Firearms, the Aero Survival rifle has an easily removable barrel, making it easy to carry and stow away, and it can easily be changed between a number of different calibers. The pistol-caliber carbine uses Glock-style magazines and comes in a variety of different colors and camouflage patterns.
Beretta CX4 Carbine
The Beretta CX4 Carbine uses the same magazine as Beretta’s popular 92 series of handguns and is fully reversible for right- and left-handed shooters (an important feature for cross-eye dominant shooters like myself). Stock length can also be adjusted, something not often found in a polymer long gun.
Chiappa M1-9 Carbine
The M1 Carbine chambered in .30 Carbine is an American icon, and Chiappa has updated that familiar design to use the 9 mm cartridge and magazines from the Beretta 92 family of pistols. Lightweight, compact and fun to shoot, the Chiappa M1-9 brings one America’s favorite guns into the 21st century.
CMMG MkG45 Guard
The 9 mm cartridge has been the caliber of choice in AR-pattern pistol-caliber carbines for decades, but CMMG decided to change things up recently with their MkG 45 Guard carbine in .45 ACP. Using a unique bolt carrier group that’s tailor-made for the .45 ACP cartridge and feeding from Glock magazines, the CMMG MkG45 is a good choice if you want the familiarity of AR-15 style controls and the thump of a .45.
In the early 80s, Colt took the proven AR-15 platform and adapted it to work as a blowback submachine gun using 9 mm ammunition, and the 6951 9 mm carbine builds on that expertise. Combining Colt’s long history in building 9 mm carbines with Magpul accessories, the 6951 is an excellent choice in a pistol-caliber gun.
CZ Skorpion Evo 3
Named after its smaller, full-auto predecessor, the 9 mm CZ USA Skorpion made a big splash in the gun world when it was introduced a few years ago. Built from lightweight polymers and featuring ambidextrous controls, an M-Lok foreguard and a top-mounted Picatinny rail that lets you mount your choice of optics for even more accuracy.
Henry All Weather
Built on a reliable lever action, Henry rifles are available in both .38 Spl/.357 Mag. and .44 Spl/.44 Mag. versions. The company’s All Weather Carbine, made from polymer and stainless steel rather than wood and brass, is a good solution for someone who wants to take the reliability of a lever action along with them into the great outdoors.
Simple and effective, the Hi-Point carbine is a popular choice for the budget-conscious shooter. Available in .380 ACP, 9 mm or .45 ACP, the Hi-Point Carbine comes in a wide variety of colors for those who want to stand out from the other shooters on the firing line.
IWI X-95 9 mm Conversion
The IWI US X95 rifle in 9 mm is a rare bullpup pistol caliber carbine. The standard X95 easily converts from 5.56 NATO to 9 mm using a factory-built conversion kit. Built for right-handed shooting, the conversion kit is easily switched over to accommodate left-handed shooters as well.
JP Rifles is known for making top-quality rifles for the practical shooting sports, and the GMR-15 extends that tradition into pistol-caliber carbines, making an AR-style carbine that is an excellent choice for competition, law enforcement or home defense.
Inexpensive and compact, the Kel-Tec SUB-2000 is built in .40 S&W and 9 mm versions and comes in models that can accept either Glock, Smith & Wesson, Beretta or SIG Sauer magazines. The SUB-2000 also folds and unfolds in half with a magazine loaded in the grip, allowing it to be easily stored and quickly deployed when needed.
Looking like something more at home in a science-fiction movie than your local gun store, the Kriss Vector puts a modern spin on the classic .45 ACP-firing long gun. Its unique toggle action helps move the recoil impulse down and away from muzzle, improving control ability and accuracy.
Rock River Arms LAR-9
Available in a variety of handguards, stocks, muzzle devices and other options, the Rock River Arms LAR-9 is the epitome of a no-nonsense AR-style 9 mm carbine. Using Colt-pattern magazines, the LAR-9 is a pacesetter for AR-pattern pistol-caliber carbines.
SIG Sauer MPX
A modern take on the classic 9 mm carbine, the SIG Sauer MPX combines the control layout of the AR-15 platform with a short-stroke gas piston operating system to produce a world-beating modular carbine system that is rapidly gaining popularity and acceptance among the gun-buying public. The version shown above is the NFA-regulated SBR, but 16-inch-barreled carbine variants are available.
Wilson Combat AR9
Built with a meticulous attention to detail, the Wilson Combat AR9 uses either Glock magazines or magazines for the Beretta 92. The sky’s the limit for accessorizing this gun, as it is with most AR-pattern firearms, so you can be sure you’ll wind up with a gun that meets your requirement for a pistol-caliber long gun.