Like The AR-15? Then You’ll Love These 5 Pistol Caliber Rifles

Key point: The AR-15 is an adaptable platform.

The explosive interest in modern sporting rifles, as well as the natural pace of industry innovation, has led the firearms industry to use semi-automatic rifles in an increasingly wide variety of configurations. One of the latest innovations is a new generation of pistol caliber rifles that combine smaller pistol calibers with a rifle or carbine weapon.

Pistol-caliber carbines (PCCs) are not new: some of the most famous in recent history include the Ruger .44 Magnum carbine and 9mm rifles. The adaptability of the AR-15 platform – as well as those offered by manufacturers like Beretta, Kel-Tec, and CZ – has made it possible to adapt it to calibers like 9mm Luger, 10mm Auto, .40 Smith & Wesson, and even .45. adapt ACP. These are five of the best PCCs out there.

Quarter circle 10 pistol caliber carbine

The modular nature of the AR-15 weapon system allows designers to focus on perfecting a pistol caliber action without worrying about the rest of the weapon. On the consumer side, familiarity with AR rifles makes adopting an AR-based PCC relatively easy. Several manufacturers offer their own AR-based pistol-caliber carbines, and the Texas-based Quarter Circle 10 PCCs are representative of industry trends.

Quarter-circle PCCs are primarily based on the AR-15, but use a blowback operating system instead of the AR platform’s direct impact system. In other words, the recoil created by the firing of the weapon powers the action instead of burning gunpowder gases. As with many AR-based vendors, Quarter Circle’s designs accept Glock magazines and magazines derived from Colt’s 9mm carabiner series. The QC carbines and pistol receivers are available in 9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson, and .45 ACP, while the weapon can use existing rifle stocks, carbine stocks, and pistol struts.

Beretta Cx4 Storm

Just as AR-15 owners can easily switch to AR-based pistol-caliber carbines, the Beretta Cx4 allows those familiar with Berettas to quickly use a shoulder-fired weapon. The Storm has the same controls as Beretta pistols – an attractive feature for law enforcement agencies and individuals who already use Beretta guns. The Cx4 handles magazines like a Beretta pistol, rather than having a separate magazine slot in front of the trigger control group.

The Cx4 can also use magazines from the company’s Px4 and 90 series handguns, including the famous Beretta 92. This allows the Cx4 to use magazines with a capacity of up to twenty rounds. Other features of the Cx4 include light recoil, ambidextrous controls, a chrome-plated, hammer-forged barrel for durability, a 16.6-inch magazine, and a Picatinny rail for attaching aiming accessories that runs along the top of the receiver. Beretta’s PCC is available in 9mm Luger and .40 Smith & Wesson. The gun weighs 5.6 pounds unloaded.

CZ Scorpion EVO3 S1 carabiner

The CZ Scorpion EVO3 S1 Carbine shares its name with an older weapon, the Czechoslovak Vz. 61 Scorpion submachine gun. The small and compact Scorpion – with a chamber in .380 caliber and with 20-round magazines – was popular with Soviet vehicle crews, rear service personnel and terrorist groups. The new EVO3 S1 carbine shares the same name, but otherwise has little in common with the old weapon.

The EVO3 carabiner has a total length of 34 inches and has a metal receiver with a fiber-reinforced polymer exterior. It has ambidextrous controls. The barrel is 16.2 inches, cold forged and is factory-fitted with a compensating muzzle break or faux suppressor. The ½-28 threads allow the installation of a muzzle brake, compensator or third party silencer. The CZ pistol-caliber carbine features MLOK-compatible handguard for attaching weapon accessories, including lights and lasers.

Kel-Tec Sub-2000

One of the more unorthodox looking weapons on the market is the Kel-Tec Sub-2000 carbine. Like the Cx4, the Sub-2000 looks like a pistol with an extended barrel and shoulder rest, with a magazine slot in the handle. It also features Picatinny accessory rails above and below the barrel.

The Kel-Tec range differs through a special talent: it can be folded up for compact storage. By rotating the barrel up and back, the Sub-2000 essentially folds on itself to a total length of only sixteen inches and a height of seven inches. In the compact configuration, the carabiner can be secured in this way with a built-in lock and key system.

The Sub-2000, like other guns on this list, has a 16.25-inch barrel. Thanks to a skeletal, minimalist configuration, the gun weighs just 4.25 pounds. The weapon is available in both a 9 mm Luger and a .40 Smith & Wesson version and can also be used with the Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, Smith & Wesson M&P, Sig Sauer P226 and Beretta 92 or 96 can be ordered.

Heckler & Koch USC 45

The German weapons manufacturer Heckler & Koch tends to restrict the sale of its paramilitary and military long weapons. The H&K USC 45, the civil version of the UMP 45 submachine gun, is one such weapon that is back on the American market.

The UMP45 submachine gun was developed to complement the world-famous MP5 submachine gun in the Heckler & Koch product line. The UMP is a newer design that aims to make better use of modern materials – especially polymers – resulting in a weapon that is lighter than the MP5 but capable of handling heavier calibers with higher recoil. The UMP is a blowback submachine gun and is available in 9 mm, .40 Smith & Wesson, and .45 ACP versions.

The civilian USC 45 is available in .45 ACP and features a cold-forged 16-inch barrel, ambidextrous controls, and a large vent for use with gloves. It has a fixed floating dock, takes ten-round magazines and contains a Weaver rail for attaching accessories.

Kyle Mizokami is a San Francisco-based defense and national security writer who has appeared in Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring, and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he co-founded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami. This first appeared at the beginning of this year.

Image: Beretta USA.

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