Ammunition

Pistol-Caliber Carbines for Home Defense

Gray-haired man in blue jacket with red ear protection shoots a pistol carbine into the woods.

I am always interested in different opinions about home-defense firearms. The three-gun trifecta—handgun, shotgun and rifle—is often commented on, with recommendations given. Many times the recommended rifle is more useful for an Israeli police action than home defense. Comments range from “the .223 has a lot of blast indoors” to “the system is very expensive, but you must have one” all the way to “buck it up, lay down the credit card and get with the program.”

Black Kel-Tec Carbine facing left on a white background.
The Kel-Tec is a modern minimalist design that gets the job done.

The reality is that among the most useful and effective of all home-defense guns is the pistol-caliber carbine.

Sure, if I were still in uniform, I would keep a .30-30 WCF, an SKS or an AR-15 in the cruiser. On the other hand, something better than the handgun is something better than the handgun. Let’s put things in perspective.

A good pistol-caliber carbine:

  • Is easier to learn to use well than a full-power rifle.
  • Is less expensive.
  • Has less muzzle blast.
  • Is easier to handle.

While the pistol-caliber carbine may not be as powerful as a .223, rifle power is relative.

The pistol-caliber carbine hits harder than a handgun based on two factors. The longer barrel burns powder more completely, resulting in higher velocity, and the carbine is easier to use well enough to deliver accurate fire. There are multiple classes of pistol-caliber carbines, including the converted submachine guns and AR-15 platform pistol-caliber carbines.

Converted Submachine Guns (SMGs)

One type is the converted submachine gun (SMG). There are SMGs fitted with legal-length 16-inch barrels and converted to the semi-auto-only mode of fire. The various Uzi carbines are one example. I find these the least useful for home defense. They are heavy, often inaccurate compared to more modern designs (the HK is an exception) and expensive.

Other Pistol-Caliber Carbines

Another type is the pistol-caliber carbine on the AR-15 platform. Those are OK as far as they go, and the most useful are the purpose-designed models. They have no fully automatic counterpart and do not resemble the AR-15.

Black Kel-Tec carbine, folded, on a white background.
The Kel-Tec carbine neatly folds for easy storage.

The Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm and the Beretta Storm are among those. The 9mm is by far more popular than the .40 or .45, which is based on ammunition availability, low recoil and high-capacity magazines. With most engagements in the home inside of 7 yards and outside incidents at 25 yards at best , the pistol-caliber carbine has little real disadvantage compared to a .223 rifle.

Benefits of the Carbine

Focus on the front sight of the Kel-Tec carbine with wood planks in the background
The front sight of the Kel-Tec carbine features a red insert that aids in rapid-fire hit probability.

The carbine is easy to manage, meaning less experienced shooters will get good hits quickly, with practice. The carbine has three points of contact—the cheek weld, shoulder and supporting hand—and is more stable than any handgun. The sight radius is longer, which allows excellent accuracy potential. Muzzle signature and muzzle blast are much less than a handgun firing the same cartridge. Plus, you may usually fire the pistol-caliber carbine at firing ranges that prohibit the .223 rifle.

The carbine is so much easier to use well that you should consider it as a prime home-defense piece over any handgun. A mediocre carbine shot is far more accurate than a fair handgun shooter. And there are carbines to fit every budget. The Kel-Tec carbines are the lightest of the breed, usually reliable, and accurate enough for home defense. They will put every bullet in the same hole at 10 yards. They lack a slide lock to hold the bolt open on the last shot, and the under-the-stock cocking lever takes some getting used to, but it is quite a weapon in close quarters.

Focus on the rear sight of the Kel-Tec carbine, barrel pointed away from you
The rear sight of the Kel-Tec is an excellent combat sight that comes to the target quickly.

The Kel-Tec carbines accept the Glock’s 33-round magazine in 9mm, and there is also a .40-caliber version. The 9mm hits pretty hard from a 16-inch barrel, so overall the 9mm is the best choice. As an example, the Fiocchi 115-grain XTP loading breaks 1,300 fps from the 9mm carbine, a useful advantage over the pistol. Commonality of caliber and magazines is not a bad idea, although if you own a revolver, the 9mm carbine is still a good idea for home defense. Like the home-defense shotgun, keep the carbine chamber empty and rack the bolt if trouble is imminent.

The useful advantages are many. The shotgun frightens female shooters and, truth be told, many police recruits. While the shotgun is a great problem solver at close-to-medium range, the pistol-caliber carbine is more versatile. The carbine may take on predators and pests to 100 yards or so. However, the primary reason for owning the pistol-caliber carbine is personal defense.

The Ballistic Advantages

Let’s consider some of the ballistic advantages of the pistol-caliber carbine. In 9mm Luger caliber, the 9mm is supercharged from a 9mm to a .357 Magnum, ballistics-wise. The 16-inch barrel gives the cartridge a serious increase in velocity. At the same time, the carbine is more accurate and controllable. In the .40-caliber Smith and Wesson, the .40 is jolted into 10mm category, and the useful level of power is dead on the .44-40 WCF level—a good place to be. With the .40-caliber carbine and the right loads, the pistol-caliber carbine moves into the deer and hog hunting categories at moderate range. Whatever the 10mm pistol will do, the .40-caliber carbine will do.

There is a caution in load selection for carbines; a load designed to fragment or expand quickly from a pistol barrel may expand too quickly from a carbine-length barrel (a 100 to 300 fps supercharge does funny things to a bullet).

A bullet designed to provide a balance of penetration and expansion is the only viable choice for use in the carbine. In 9mm Luger caliber, among the best choices is the 124-grain JHP.

There are several reasons I recommend this loading. Quality of manufacture is one. A good clean powder burn is another. While 115-grain loads are often good performers in handguns, I like the heavier bullet in carbines. The bullet will expand well, but the 124-grain is not as likely to under-penetrate. Also, since these carbines have blow-back actions, function seems more positive with the 124-grain loading.

The Safety and Bolt Lock for the Storm Carbine
The safety and bolt lock of the Storm carbine are well located and ergonomically sound designs.

A solid choice for mostly the same reasons in the .40-caliber carbine is the Black Hills 180-grain JHP. That load offers excellent accuracy and penetration, and expansion cannot be faulted. I would not fault the Black Hills 155-grain JHP either, but simply prefer the 180-grain load in this caliber. These loads give the carbines good predicted performance. There are other loadings that also give good results; I simply have the most experience with these. Among the single most accurate loadings I have used in .40 caliber is the Fiocchi 170-grain FMJ. I have a small supply I have used sparingly when firing at long range, and the results are impressive. Fiocchi also offers a modern line of plated bullets in this caliber that are a bargain for the shooter. Accuracy at a fair price is always good.

The Beretta Storm is a solid choice in a pistol-caliber carbine. After firing the Storm extensively, the ergonomics and solid handling are impressive. The sights are excellent examples of combat sights, offering real precision. The safety is well located, and the Storm has an ultra-modern look that grows on you the more you use it. The Storm uses Beretta 96 .40-caliber pistol magazines, which are readily available.

Based on function, accuracy and style the Beretta Storm is a great carbine.
Based on function, accuracy and style, the Beretta Storm is a great carbine.

The Storm has a bolt lock—a feature I like very much. It offers good accuracy and excellent reliability. Several police agencies adopted the Storm. While the full-power .223 carbine may seem a better choice, a carbine in hand in a dark alley is far better than a handgun and less intimidating to the user than a shotgun. The Storm is well made of good material, with a space-age look and feel that many will appreciate. The Storm’s excellent handling qualities are much of what sold me on the carbine doctrine. The Storm also may use a red dot sight, such as the Bushnell First Strike. The ability to mount a scope marks the Storm as superior to the Kel-Tec.

Commonality of Firearms?

Gray-haired man in blue jacket with red ear protection shoots a pistol carbine into the woods.
The author found the Beretta Storm handles quickly and offers excellent hit potential.

It is nice to have a Glock 17 9mm and a Kel-Tec 9mm that use the same magazines. That is not a tactical necessity, after all our soldiers field the 9mm handgun and .223 rifle. It is, however, a convenience. Having only one type of ammunition to stock up is good utility. The Beretta 96 .40 and the Storm go together, or the Storm 9mm and 9mm Storm carbine. If you want to plan ahead, and both spouses deploy the same handgun and keep a pistol-caliber carbine at home ready, there are far worse choices you could make.

The pistol-caliber carbine is also a good recreational firearm, and I have enjoyed firing and using my mine. Accounting for drop with the pistol-caliber carbine at longer ranges is not always easy and builds marksmanship. Learning the trigger press and cadence of fire is demanded of any personal defense firearm, and the pistol-caliber carbine is easier than most.

When all is said and done, the pistol-caliber carbine is a practical and tactical firearm that may be the best fit for your personal scenario.

Do you have a pistol-caliber carbine in your arsenal? If not, do you plan to add one? Share your thoughts on pistol-caliber carbines it in the comments section.

[bob]

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (109)

  1. I used an MP5 A2 on duty and that is really where I opened my eyes to the real life usefulness of a PCC compared to the AR15 for residential/urban type distances. So around 2008,I bought a CX4 9mm and I noticed that it handled more smoothly than the MP5. The sights were a little different to get used to but after I got myself used to them, the CX4 was a gun that simply always shot very well. My pals and I were out shooting outdoors and of course the 5.56 versus 9mm discussion occurred. My peers were all tactical guys. We tried a drill where three AR15’s and my CX4 were all laid pointing downrange exactly 50 feet from us. On go we all ran down, grabbed our guns and aimed at our 20 yard Shoot abs See targets to fire 10 rounds. Everybody used some type of optic. Mine was a 75.00 Tru Glo Tru Brite. I got on target far quicker and engaged my target well before my fellow Tackleberries. My shots were all inside a 2 inch center and I was done in time to watch my friends “superior” weapons deliver their last two or three shots. Their shots were slightly more accurate but they took a lot longer to deliver all 10 rounds. I watched the video later and saw that while the CX4 was off the ground and up in battery in one fast motion, the AR guys took a lot longer to shoulder and aim their guns. In my opinion, it was easily enough time for a bad guy to shoot you. I own AR rifles too and I think they are great but I can’t deny the fact that residential or urban gunfights are won by who can deliver good hits first and not by how powerful your rifle is. Once that 9mm or 40 cal or 45 ACP bullet hits someone center mass or in the face or the abdomen or the groin or the thigh, the bigger bullet they didn’t have time to deliver doesn’t matter

  2. Given today’s recent alternatives, I would prefer a rifle-caliber-pistol or even a non-NFA 12ga or 20ga “firearm” over a pistol-caliber-carbine for most home defense scenarios, but the Marlin Camp Carbine (especially the .45ACP version, which I have) was a great choice in its day and is still a very effective choice for certain scenarios.

  3. The velocity of a bullet from a PCC is not always more. Most 9mm ammo is made to function from pistol length barrels. Out of a longer barrel the bullet is slowing as the powder was already burned and friction is lowering the speed of the bullet. While this may be overcome by making a special load for 16″ barrels i dont know of any commercial ammo that is made for carbines. most 16″ carbines lower the speed of the bullet by the same amount that you said it was raised IE 100-300 FPS. Thank you.

    1. I suspect this would vary with the specific 9mm ammo. SAMMI 9mm is certainly intended for pistols, and thus any manufacturer would be trying to optimize the load for a 3 to 5 inch barrel. Some military 9mm ammo is intended for use in submachine guns, loaded hotter than SAMMI standards, and probably optimized for a SLIGHTLY longer barrel (although probably not even close to 16″). I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard of any testing on barrel length with 9mm. I do recall reading an article by a serious shooter who got one of the new Thompsons with a 16″ barrel, filed the paperwork to convert it to an SBR, then set about shortening the barrel in half inch increments. If I recall correctly, maximum velocity was with the barrel somewhere around 14″ with the particular .45ACP ammo he was using.

      Bottom line though is that despite all the “formulas” floating around, the changes in MV with barrel length are always going to be dependent on the actual load used — and, of course, so will the ideal barrel length.

  4. This article would have been informative and interesting BUT buried in the middle was a large chunk of total nonsense under the heading “Converted Submachine Guns”

    For the author’s education THERE AIN’T NO SECH ANIMAL! At least not in the USA where 99.9999% of CTD readers are located.

    There once (a long long time ago) where a few, but those were all swallowed up by the National Firearms Act. There might be two or three still in existence (registered as NFA Class III weapons) but since any ‘converted’ machine gun has to be registered AS a machine gun, the few that originally existed have almost all surely been converted back to their original full auto configurations. The guns your article is talking about in this category are NOT Converted Submachine Guns but rather simply semi-auto carbines that LOOK LIKE a submachine gun. Some use quite a few old surplus military parts, but always with a newly manufactured receiver and significant changes in the way the gun operates (most SMGs fired from the open bold, NONE of the look-alike carbines work that way because the BATFE will not approve any semi-auto that fires from the open bold because such a gun would be too easy to convert to full auto fire).

  5. I have a newer Kel-Tec Sub 2000 in 9mm Glock configuration. I have put a couple of hundred rounds through it with zero issues. Inside of 100M this gun puts rounds where I point, is easy to shoot, easier to handle, and extremely economical in 9mm.

    I have the quad rail from Kel Tec with a light mounted on the underside and a quick-detach sling point on the left side. I agonized over what to buy for home defense and did a ton of research. I couldn’t be happier with this gun and am glad I decided against a shotgun and the Mini 14 at twice the price.

  6. I agree with the whole sentiments listed here with regards to the use of pistol caliber carbines for use of home defense. Pistols may be concealable, but when it counts I would rather have a stock and a something to grip to steady my aim. Personally though, I keep a Masterpiece Arms .45 caliber Carbine under my bed. They are rugged and reliable machines and MPA has taken it upon themselves to update the more obsolete aspects of the design. it has a bulletproof warranty and I’ve never had a problem with mine.

  7. Easy test for easy of targeting.

    stand square to target. Hold firearm locked in but pointed down. Then look at target and close eyes. With eyes closed lock into shoulder as your aiming the open eyes.

    you should be on target with need for little to no adjustments.

    If you have to hunt for the front sight, you need to change something, it should be automatic.
    When I tried the highpoint 995 9mm it was on center of target before my eyes cleared up.

    Yes I do practice blind shooting pistol and carbine. Practice practice, use airsoft daily, even laying on the gound as if injured practice. Make it fun, change it up, laser tag, paintball, learn how to be a marksmen Rocks, knives, bows, spears, guns, learn everything you can imagine. It all helps. 😀

    1. I have shot most all of the pistol carbines available now. At least 500 rds in each.

      In my opinion….

      the baretta looks cool but for the Price …. you better love beretta products. It shoots fine. Limited on what red dots will fit and others addons.

      Sub 2000 is ugly as sin but have most options. Just dont drop it! Yes you can get it chambered for top 4 brand pistols n calibers… but it is mostly plastic. And where you get a massive amount of stress. Just behind the chamber. Yes they will fix it for free, but if fails when you need it. Somone else will be getting it repaired, your dead or in hospital. Your face is a couple inches away from the one weak point. If they fixed that, the Sub 2000 would more worth it.

      the High point over all is the best. Buttttttt only 10rds. 15rds if you get after market mags no one trusts. But ever aspect of the high point is better other then capacity.

      there an interesting one I forget the name but was in total recall (reboot) and the last 2 resident evil movies wierd gun heavy as hell
      but almost no recoil. It has an optional stock and lots of unusual options. Cost though you can get a glock, ar15, and an ar10 for the cost of one those beasts. Fun to shoot but holding up for long…. you better have cannons for arms. The one I shot weighed as much as my fully loaded ar15.

      the high point did one major point of interest… I got because of it. Of all the bullpup/pistol caliber carbines, getting onsight was the most nature. Zero effect, no twisting or finding the site, on the first try. First mag I was stacking rounds 100yrds 9mm.. easiest to hold on target and the recoil was almost as soft as my 22lr. I added a single point harness strap and it as nature as breathing. To me getting on target and staying their without neck stress is my #1 consern. The rest frankly did not get the job done as well as the highpoint.

    2. Based on your description of the unknown carbine, I guessed it was the Kriss Vector. A google search confirmed that.

    3. Yes thr KRISS Vector .45acp

      interesting frankingun, some may love it. I would guess it is durable as hell. Low recoil is nice. But felt really wierd getting on target.

      for me natural simple getting you on target is #1. Inside 25 yrds there should be zero need to aim to hit deer or human target. Hipoint does that with easy. And is tank of a gun for durability.

      Good luck everyone, all 4 carbines have their bonuses and negatives. Try them out see what fits you.

      My hipoint 995 with 15rd magpul mags works solidly, zero jams, zero issues, aiming is the smoothes in my opinion for my 33″ arms and big head lol……

    4. I own a Hi-Point new version of the carbine in 40 Smith & Wesson. Its well made, rated for +P ammo. I have a Streamlight and a green laser mounted on it as well as a two point sling. Its perfect. Accurate, low recoil. It carries 10 rounds and I keep an extra mag on my belt as well as two magazines mounted on the buttstock. It would be great if Hi-Point started to make high capacity magazines for them. But I am not going to Afghanistan or some such. So for target shooting or personnel defense its works fine.

    5. I agree about the High Point. Mine is a .45 that I have had since they first came out. I have a tactical light, laser, a reflex sight and the original sights as well. There’s two mags held on the stock for a total of 30 rounds. It has never had a misfire or any loading or ejecting issue but I have fired it only about 600 rounds or so. It’s pretty heavy but in a self-defense action I don’t believe I would notice that. I believe it will do the job.

  8. Not familar with–But sounds like a Lemon Gun if there is such a thing. Sometimes items are rushed into sales before all the bugs are worked out of. I found that Mags that are not from the manuf, tend to be made, lets say, less than ideal .i. e. min/max demensions, mag release cut out hole not big enough or doesn’t enter the mag far enough to grab. A lot of vibration there if you crank them off @ rapid fire. Didn’t slam it in hard enough on loading one and not in all the way. Stay away from cheap unlabeled mags and try again. Only use the one or one/s that came with. the urge to stock up on mags is natural, but only if you go quality first. I hope this helps. Off top of my head in spur of moment.

  9. I have a gen 1 Cx4 carbine. I have issues with my Beretta magazines literally falling out of the gun while in use. I have sent it off to Beretta once already but the problem persists. Has anyone else had this issue?

  10. Easy way to make them choose another home.

    be proud, fly your flag, put your favorite military foces sticker in the window and an NRA sticket.

    Most will assume your a patiot/vet/hunter or just someone that might be armed. They will move to a softer target.

  11. Agreed…. most have no idea what happens in a fight for your Life. Most thing a bar fight or school yard fight make you ready.

    you have to train.
    plan safe routes out of home or danger.
    defense points if possible.
    are you prepared able and willing to Kill another person?
    have you ever had to truely defend your life

    pray they are not pros with smoke and flash items.

    what you see on TV n movies is pure BS. Most of it. One shot kills, One or two hit fights, you name it. All wrong.

    simple fact. The human doby can take a good amount of damge even a lot of damage and keep on ticking. Shots to legs arms should will rarely stop a criminal that wants to get you. A punk yes it may stop them. But near zero chance someone on drugs or a pro.

    In movies you see people slashing the enemy ONCE and they are dead or dying. Hm no.

    movies show the NEW guy in gun fights surviving and not being hit, no glass or debree cutying or hitting them. They jump through glass windows? Not a scratch. Actually you would bounce off most modern glass windows or at least not through the frame. All older windows are heavy wood or sterl/iron frames.
    if your licky and the frame fails you get sliced up from the glass. Cloths are no protection, leathercan be. Patio windows, doors, panels of glass in shopping location…. hit the hard enough to break, your probably going to die or suffer critical damage.

    oh back to home defense. You will be shaking, jumpy, and few are able to deal with this stress.

    practice practice practice.

    have a defense point. Example. In my home I have 3. A secure area with vest n gas mask in man cave I have artistic looking mirtors at the end of each stairway. From my location I can see them. But they can’t see me. Main floor hidden panel. Up stairs everone does to bathtub and watch the door, I sit out side door, in view ofthem but able to view below.

    If I confirm there are intruders… call 911, and keep them on the line till help arrives

    Phase1 we have blow horn in center of the house.
    phase 2 I have blinding led strobe lights
    phase 3 I shoot if needed, hope I never have to again.

    First thing people should do when they move a new home before sny prepping…. is talk to your local LEO’s make friends and learn what thry prefer you do. They are not the enemy. If the know you and trust you, you have nothing to fear. It hrlps dispatch also when you kmow what to say and what not to say. Any delay can mean your life.

  12. So many people posting opinions that will get you or a loved one killed. Most have no experience fighting in a house etc Practice in a tactical shoot house do you…NO!!! Understand how to clear a room? No!! But you are the man and know what weapon, tactic and means are best right? NO!! Blast/flash/noise is deafening in doors…there is no way around it unless you want a suppressed weapon…problems with the govt then. Also, what makes you think the bad guy has a suppressed weapon, so all your work is useless! The best alternative is a “good” $$$ set of elec. ear pugs that will dampen noise by impulse and let you hear otherwise. they are not cheap but they work. There is no license and no problems., just use them. Put them next to the firearm you plan to use. I use an o/u 12 with a Streamlight TLR1, with a Glock 17 back up…they work. No pumps etc, no noise, two guaranteed rds..period, quicker thatn any other set up. you need more than two? Why? more macho bull? If you need more than two….what is the problem at hand? Drug cartel attacking your home..really? I do not think so. Reload..it is fast and easy. I have a Palm vest and plugs next to the firearm. You do not play the macho idiot and go looking for a problem..you wait, call 911, and protect yourself/ family in a secure area….too many people think they are some kind of Jack Bauer…just looking to get themselves killed. DO you have training that is realistic or worthwhile?? Never been in a fire fight let alone a realistic training scenario, all thinking they are gonna take down the bad guy…yeah, if he’s an amateur, and you are lucky…and if he isn’t an amateur???!!! Try using your brains and learn from pros…not the internet. 13 yrs DOD/DIA/DSE/SPB in the field getting it done…period. Dial 911, arm yourself, secure yourself…and wait. Either trouble or help will find you soon enough.

  13. Great article Bob. But you can mount a scope, or like mine a red dot, on a Kel-Tec Sub2000. It does involve changing the front hand guard, which you may buy from Kel-Tec. Also a 165 gr, FMJFP being pushed by 5.5 gr of Win. 231 with a O.A.L of 1.120 works great upto 25yrds. Haven’t gotten a chance to fire beyond that. Let you know how it acts when I do. Keep up the great writing.

  14. I DO NOT UNDERSTAND???? You setting 9mm = 40 = 45 = ???

    My problem has me making sure my Win. 357 mag. mod. 94 carbine that I have “several” loads near 30-30 will still shoot in my Ser. Rev.. Let alone my Rug LCR in .357.

    The rifle will shoot “big stuff”. But I have to ask just what “stuff” is still reasonable in a 17oz revolver. I have “different” loads for the rifle. But make sure they “will work (pain-pain-pain)” in the LCR.

  15. Two words: Kriss Vector. How did it not get mentioned considering it was voted best CQB? Someone selling Beretta and no KRISS now???

    1. You are right on to mention the KRISS. This 45 ACP rifle has little recoil, uses Glock 21 mags, and has a folding stock that will easily tuck this baby into a small bag. The accurracy is excellent and there are 25 rnd mags readily available. While I think the Beretta Storm CXA is superb as well, their 45 Storm only has 8 round mags. If you want more, you’d have to go to SierraPapa in Portland, OR.

  16. Make your own–Not that hard–1″ per every Hundred feet of Muzzel Velocity. I.E., .45acp–800 fps =8″, simple. Mac 10 barrel extension, tear down, rebuild, weld, drill holes, use drilled out rivet grommets 4 expansion chamber, aluninum housing for heat dissipation. Or, use air conditioning aluninum excelsior filter gauze available @ any hardware or depo place. Use a 1 litre soda bottle. find articles on the web how to. Possesion alone of device is same as using without a Fed License to manufacture; a fed crime. Lawn more mufflers work good. Drill a hole straight through with a drill press to match your cal + 10%, already threaded on end.. FYI, (Opinion Only). Not Liable for Stupidity. Happy Plinking.

  17. “…the pistol-caliber carbine has little real disadvantage compared to a .223 rifle.” This simply isn’t true. If having 1/3 as much energy is “little real disadvantage” then we should all turn in our .308’s and hunt black bear with with .223 since the .223 has 1/3 the energy of a .308 and that’s “little real disadvantage.” Besides having 3x as much energy, the .223 is more likely to break up in drywall — unless you choose to use penetrators — and is therefore safer for family and neighbors if you miss. Using a pistol caliber carbine is in every way inferior to using a .223 for home defense. It is both less dangerous to the people you are aiming at and more dangerous to those you are not aiming at.

    1. True, the 223 will hit much harder than any pistol caliber carbine but I would anticipate home defense to be ranges of less than 50 feet and at that distance ten rounds of 230 grain .45 cal +P HP from a 16 inch barrel has got to be adequate if the defender can hit mid-torso or a head shot. There’s just so much that a human body can take. Remember that the 1911 was developed to stop drug-crazed Phillipino tribesmen with full metal jacket ammo, no hp, no +p, from a five inch barrel and they did the job just fine. The modern .45 or 357 Mag will stop any human threat, well placed.

  18. There’s a home-defense factor that we may be totally unaware of until we experience it – the fireball and sound blast of a shotgun or rifle in confined space like a home hallway. Being deafened, blinded and shocked senseless while defending your home can be disastrous. Even a 9mm or 380 handgun can be a severe shock to defenders used to daylight practice at the range with ear protection. For this reason alone I will use nothing but a pistol-caliber carbine inside my home if I have a choice. My .45 carbine indoor blast is quite enough, thanks!

    1. The solution to a loud gun isn’t to use an inferior gun; if you go down that road you’ll end up with a knife or a rock instead of a gun. The solution to a loud gun is a suppressor. They aren’t that tough to get and a suppressed rifle is quieter than a pistol-caliber carbine as well as far more effective. Pistol rounds are simply far less effective. Don’t substitute one problem for another when there is a solution to both.

    2. Naw, nothing to it.

      Here’s the link http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2012/05/foghorn/ask-foghorn-how-to-buy-a-silencer/

      And then of course, you’re on everybody’s radar as well. When they come to get those of us who might resist gun confiscation they’ll get the guys with fully auto weapons, silencers, etc, first. Not me boy, any gun owner will be in enough trouble. With a silencer you’ve already given them the first step; registration. Confiscation is easy after that.

    3. Plus, “suppressors” do not work as well as the movies would lead you to believe. Go with the shock and awe — I promise that the intruder will be more shocked and awed than you.

  19. One carbine not mentioned is the High Point, Made in Ohio. I’ve had one since they were introduced. In-expensive and hand gun caliper. tho they do not share a common magazine, or have a lock back on last shot. I wouldn’t trade it for any other. It also will mount a red dot. It has gone thru up-grades on the stock since I got mine. It should be included as a good hand gun caliper carbine.

    1. The Hi-Point 4095ts carbine does share the same mags as the 40 S&W Handgun. The 995 (9mm carbine) not not share the same mags as the 9mm handgun C9. I believe the 45cal version has interchangeable mags. Good quality carbines with a awesome lifetime warranty. nice items to buy pretty cheap. A little red dot and you have a fun plinker that shoots impressive groups. 10 round mags kinda stink.

  20. The pistol caliber carbine paired with the right handgun is an important part of my gear. I have a sub 2k in glock 17,with my glock 19, and a rossi 92 in 357 to go with my 6 inch colt python.

    The ability to carry 1 kind of ammo and greater acurracy out to 100 yrds is great for home defense, or a bug out bag.. with the right ammo either combo is capable of bringing down Med size game.

    The 50 rnd drum balances well on the keltec, and makes a strong impression .

    It may not a match quality rifle but being able to quickly put all 50 rnds at minute of bad guy @ 100 yrds is worth while

  21. I have all three Hi-Points pistols and I have all three Hi-Point carbines. I consider the carbines the poor man’s AR-15’s. I love shooting the .45 carbine and mine is kept under the bed. It is a fine personal defense weapon.

    1. I also have the Hi-Point in .40 S&W, carbine and pistol. The weapons are as accurate as the person shooting them. A lot of bang for the buck,

    2. I have the .40 S&W, .45 both in carbine and pistol. They are as accurate as the person firing them.

  22. I have both the KT 2000 and Storm in 9mm. They both take the Beretta 92FS mags. Hard to beat two carbines that take the same caliber and mags. Only wish the KT 2000 held the bolt open on an empty mag.

  23. My Carbine and 1911 45 ACP use the same 10 round magazine is a great comb I have and awesome fire power for home defense. I also have a Rossi M92 and a Taurus M66 in a 6 inch that use the same 38special and 357 Magnaum ammo for home defense. I sold my Remington 750 30-06 and Marlin 336W 30-30 so that my hand gun and carbine use the same ammunition. I stock up on only two ammo now and have gain on lower cost ammo.

  24. I am not a .223 fan at all. I have a Hi-Point .45, carbine and pistol, uses the same mags. When you are talking inside the home, and you are talking 7 – 25 yards, at those distances and under duress, the receptor of the slug from the .45 did not know that it came from an inexpensive weapon, and that it is not as accurate as a $700 or $800 weapon, but he is just as dead.

  25. I have both a Kel Tec Sub 2k and a Hi-Point 995 TS in 9mm. Both excellent firearms. Many goodies for sighting can be added.

  26. I’ve added Storm s in both 92 mag, and Cougar .45 versions with handguns using those magazines to complement them. Bought the pair of Berettas during a period when AR s were all the rage and before PCC s were considered more suitable as home-defense. I lucked out and found them new at less than $600 each.
    The bolt almost outweighs the remainder of the carbine and consequently tames recoil to such a degree that ANYONE will find these arms comfortable to shoot. My only regret was not buying a .40 S&W caliber version when they were still inexpensive.
    My Rossi 92 “trapper” .357 is still my favorite though, since it is so unintimidating to so much of the populace -and- I can feed it .38 Special for a fraction of the full-bore magnum loads when I just want to have fun.

  27. Try finding a kel tec sub 2000, they tout it maybe they should make it. I looked , looked and finally bought a hi point 9mm carbine, fine little gun my only gripe is no mag with more than 15 rounds. The Storm priced itself beyond what I wanted to pay.

  28. i agree! the hi point is a wonderful piece at a very competitive price. i have one in a .40, stripped off the front and rear sights and mounted a holo. now it dances!

  29. I have a Hi Point 495TS 9mm Carbine and it is outstanding and versatile.
    It is small, light, has room for all the accessories, shoots reliably, easy to handle, and inexpensive. So it doesn’t get better than that.

  30. I love pistol caliber carbines. I currently have a Hi-Point 995ts and Kel-Tec Sub 2000 in 9x19mm. Also have a couple Rossi R92 lever guns in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum. With the right load, the .44 Magnum can reach out to 300 yards with a tang sight.

  31. Odd the left the most stable 3rd carbine the Hi-point. One of tge lowest in costn. Lots of accessories the others can’t use without modes.

    Hand grip, laser, scope and red dot all options.. can get Hi-point in 9mm 40 and 45. It come with detachable sights and built in pic rail.

    Best sites if the group, and ease of use is amazing. My first 10 shots were on 100yrd target. 1inch group just to the left of center. Easier to get on target then my AR15 with iron sites.

    Beretta. Was good all around but bulky and less option.

    Onky draw back of Hi-point for now is 10rd clip.

    The sub2000 is nice, ugly, but has plastic parts near chamber abd can break leaving you pieces of junk instead of a tool for defense.

    Hands down Hi-point is the best over all, unless you must have high capacity mags.

  32. Check out the new bull pup shot guns and conversion kits. Search bullpup unlimited. Awesome kit for the 870. Just tested mine and it is great. Really impressed with action and reduction in kick. Very impressed! Great home defense option……

  33. My objective for home defense is to “stop” the threat.

    I rely on the Henry Big Boy H006 (.44 mag) as a home defense carbine. Recoil is significantly reduced over the handgun version, but the impact force is exceptional. Should I be unable to effect a “stop” with the carbine, I would resort an equal caliber revolver.

    I generally load with Speer 200 Grain SJHP +P for both the carbine and the revolver.

    I am a strong believer in pistol round carbines for all applications, excep long distance hunting.

    1. Have to concur…Have a ASR in 9mm/.40 and .45 ACP. Uses Glock mags and it very reliable and easily breaks down to fit in a BOB. Great weapon for the price.

  34. You left out, possibly the most reliable and cheapest of all these pistol caliber carbines…What about the 4595 by Hi point. Really good piece, for the price.

    1. You are very correct, extremely reliable and inexpensive, promag makes 15 round mags for them too.

    2. Outstanding carbine, I couldn’t agree more. But a word to the wise – use of the promag 15 round mag voids the hipoint warranty

    3. Agree on the hi point. This is a great carbine for the price. It is much more functional than the keltec.

    4. I have to concur with LeDale. Not only the 4595,but the 995 and the 4095 HiPoints. Not a good test when you don’t try all the brands. I myself like the HiPoints over the others. I think they are far superior to the others in the shooting department. Ugly to look at but a great weapon. I now own 4 HiPoint carbines and got rid of the others. I only find one other weapon better then the HiPoint and that is the M-1 carbine in .30 cal. I think Mr. Campbell needs to redo his test. Just saying…..

    5. All of the Hi-Point carbines are excellent. I’ve had my 995ts for three years now and put a couple thousand rounds through it. It has yet to have a failure to feed, failure to fire, or failure to eject. It is also very accurate over its stock iron sights, putting all ten rounds in its magazine handily inside a 6″ Glow Shot target at 100 yards. I also may actually consider taking it apart and cleaning it in another 500 rounds.

  35. I have a 9MM Hi Point Carbine. It is awsome. Performs great and is very accurate. Not expensive and always a joy to shoot! Great warranty as well.

  36. Buffalo Bore shows that it’s heavy 158gr. .357 HP out of a Marlin 1894 hits with slightly more muzzle energy than it’s .77gr. 223… 1610 vs 1560 ft/lbs. approx. Nothing wrong with a .357 rifle for defense, or hunting.

  37. I am a firm believer in pistol caliber carbines. We have a couple of them. We have a Marlin Camp carbine in 45 acp that uses 1911 magazines. We also have a Beretta CX storm 9mm that uses 92 magazines. And my person favorite is my Marlin 1894C in 357 mag. We have pistols to match all the carbines so it make for some nice combo’s for home protection. We are thinking of add a KelTec carbine and Glock 19 combo to the stable soon.

  38. Hipoint 995TS Best bang for the buck, very accurate iron sights, always goes bang with everything I run through it. FEELS far better than either the storm or the Kel Tec at a fraction of the cost. Made in America with a WTTY. that is second to known. They even guarantee the consumables as in magazines replacing them two for one, and the WTTY is good from the first owner through the LAST. NOBODY but Hipoint does that, and it’s the gun of choice when it comes to fun! The only downside is 10 round magazine capacity. If you buy the aftermarket 15 round mags, you have to swap out the followers with the original factory mags for reliability, and increased capacity. they come in 9mm, 40, and .45 IF you can get your hands on one, because they ARE so popular among those that own them we have more than one. Magazines are also interchangable with their handguns. Same reliability, WTTY, and value, ALL made in the USA.

    1. write your legislators, and vote, I refuse to live in an anti gun state. but am surrounded by them 🙁

  39. I was referring to a semi auto carbine in .38/.357. Yes there are many Lever rifles in .357, and bolt actions as well. There is One company that makes a .357 handgun in semi auto, Magnum Research Desert Eagle. It’s very expensive too.

  40. I have the sub2k in both 9 and 40 with red lion fronts & sights and red dots on the rail, padding on the tube and a kick pad on the spring. have thousands of rounds thru them. They have become my favorite center fire guns to shoot up to 100 yards. No problems and I beat the crap out of them.

    I used to have the storm in 9. terrific gun.
    the old rugers were also great.

  41. I keep a KT 2000 under my bed with a 33 round Glock mag 147gr JHP. Small red dot, light, and laser so it’s GTG in just about any HD situation.

    Well over 1k rounds through it with zero issues, even with hi-cap Glock mags. Cheap to practice and much fun to boot.

  42. I picked up a Marlin Camp 9 and paired it with a S&W 910 years ago. Still like it. There are probably better combinations but I still wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that combo.

  43. My favorite in this category is the one I have had for over 20 years, a Marlin Camp Carbine in ,45 acp . it`s fed via 1911 mags and works great. they have been out of production for a pretty long time, but can be found occasionally, at places like gunbroker dot com , prices have gone way lately.

  44. I have a Hi-Point mod.995 in 9mm. Love that weapon. I use it for home defense, I use it for plinking, I use it to hunt varmints. Its what I consider my fun gun. I have a BSA reflex optic on it, which gives me good accuracy out to 100 yards. All in all a very good gun for the money.

    1. The Marlin 1894 or Winchester 94 are available in .38/.357 and .44 Mag/Spec. I have one of each. Both will take down a deer at 100 yards. With XS Sights they make excellent defense weapons. Nothing like saying you have a 1894 assault rifle. And they are very reliable, well proven over 100 years, cool to shoot and handle great. I think they are also legal in all states. Several of your assault type or black rifles are not. Therefor it is a very good choice for traveling.

  45. I gave serious thought to home defense. I divided the requirements into 4 ranges:
    Inside the house (less than 10 yds); 9mm pistol w/light and laser
    Outside the house (10-50 yds); a semi auto 12 gauge shotgun (Mossberg JM Pro 10 round capacity which I also use on sporting clays)
    0 – 100 yds; a Kel-Tec 9mm carbine (17, 33, 50 round magazines)
    50 – 400 yds. a 1903 A3 Springfield 30.06 w/scope.

    The 9mm offers a wide selection of ammunition from 50 grain (2200 fps in the carbine!) to 147 grain. Also 2 guns using the same caliber cost less.
    The 12 gauge can put 5 times the amount of lead down range than an AR-15 in 10 seconds (10 x 15 – 00 buck @ 58 grains each vs 30 x 55 grains). Also, most HD shotguns offer only cylinder bore chokes, useless after 30 yards. The JM Pro can use any choke from cylinder to turkey so w/#2 birdshot it is effective to 70 yards.
    The 30.06 caliber offers the widest variety of ammunition of any rifle. The M2 AP round can penetrate 1/2 inch of mild steel, 12 inches of brick or 48 inches of pine thus a car, brick wall or a tree provides no protection to anyone intending you harm.

  46. I have the original style Hi-Point, which I bought for fun and didn’t really expect it to be very accurate or reliable, but I was happy to find that it was totally reliable and surprisingly accurate. I spruced it up with an ATI stock, red dot scope, and pressure activated laser w/light and is now my weapon of choice when checking out noises in the night. It does however sit next to my 870 which would be my first choice if I thought someone was in my house.

  47. the best PCC I can think of is no longer made, and it is the Ruger PC9 and PC4. Looks like a 10/22 and is way more rugged than the kel-tec thingy…

  48. To bad cheaper than dirt cant get the glock 9mm kel-tec in stock…. I love to get one, but im not going to pay more than retail prices

  49. I have a Mec-Tec carbine conversion unit which uses the frame of my 45 cal. 1911 pistol. I have shot several hundred rounds through it and have found it to be very accurate. I order to convert it back to a pistol you just
    have to remove it from the carbine and replace the barrel and slide. I also have a 40 round drum mag. which make target shooting a lot more fun. With the tri rail you can also attach a laser, tactical light and a red dot scope with see thru scope rings. This will let you still use the iron fixed sights.

    1. Concur, I have a Mech-Tech carbine 45ACP upper on an early Para Ordnance P14 45ACP frame.- I have used factory 14 rd mags, and ProMag 20 round mags- and I have used both of those with a 2round extended base to up mag capacity. The gun is extremely reliable. I have fired thousands of rounds through it, and with FMJ I have never had a failure to feed. I have an Eotech red dot on it and have it zeroed for 40 feet, which is a zero point blank sighting +/- 3 inches out to 90 yards. Out to about 25 yards I can put 5 rounds through the same ragged hole all day long. I am extremely pleased with its performance and it is my go to home defense weapon.

  50. I have a Beretta CX-4 and a TNW Aero Survival Rifle (ASR) both in .45 acp and prefer the TNW ASR for it’s compactness and ability to use Glock magazines. Many of the members of my shooting club have shot and handled the TNW.

  51. I keep a folding stock Ruger 10-22 with 2 30Rnd mags. Not a big bullet, buts lots of little ones. It is very comfortable and has good control. My wife can shoot it easily. I taught her to keep shooting till the threat is gone.

  52. I live in Italy, I personally own either .223 – 7,63R and shotgun..and also a cx4 storm carbine. Me and my family live in a 10th century house with 2′ thick stone walls, have you ever tried to shoot a .223 or an AK against a wall like that? Fragments fly everywhere. In the US you have the opposite problem an AK can easily go through a wall and hit somebody in another room or outside the house even if you hit the intruder.

    Second thing, I wouldn’t like to save my kid’s life just to destroy his hearing capabilities with a shotgun or rifle blast, a handgun caliber carbine even inside a room has a sound that just having the muzzle out the door is enough to not harm the sensible kid’s ears.

    Last of all the length and weight of a cx4 storm or other similar, even with light and red dot mounted, make them perfect for the indoor use, in my personal opinion obviously.

  53. BTW, I zeroed my CX4 mounted red dot at 25 yards, shooting 9mm. Any thoughts/ideas on a different zero distance?

  54. I have the Beretta CX4 Storm and the PX4 pistol; they use the same magazine (obviously same caliber- in this case 9mm). In my humble opinion the stocking of ammo and magazine interchangeability makes it very convenient. I bought the CX4 primarily for home defense, even though I have an AR. The compact size, accuracy, stopping power, and reduced penetration were my primary reasons. According to the article, it seems like I made reasonable assumptions to justify my purchase. The CX4 is extremely easy to shoot and very accurate, especially with a red dot scope.

  55. A .45 cal., acp/ Lc doesn’t seem to care what barrel length.Beyond 5 ” or so it is. So what? it says ; Shoot me. Of course theres +P now. I need to see gain vs. loss to pay the Extra Price, Of course.

  56. An excellent article., one only has to switch back and forth between a .22 rifle and handgun to see for themselves the advantage of owning a carbine. chambered for a pistol cartridge. The more conventional carbines (Mini14s, AR 15s, and AKs ) are not light weight firearms . They are also very loud, so when something is raising a ruckus it is usually the lowly .22 that is the go to gun. Something just a tad bigger loaded with a HP might be nice.. The “Just Right Rifles ” are lookng good.
    A nomber of years ago Shooting Times Magazine ran an article on the then new Malin Camp rifles. The tests showed significant gains in velocity for the 9mm carbine but not the .45 carbine over a handgun. Go figure!

  57. There is (Almost). Get one of the Baretta carbines I believe come in .40 S & W. Not quite the Omph of the .10 mm, but manageable. Work up and start reloading your own ammo.

  58. Great choice. Not a handgun cal. unless it comes in a TC Contender (Do they still make those?). I have a Mini-14 stainless in 5.56 and the 30. cal Ranch rifle stainless also. A Stellar firearm and not too bulky with the right syns. Plastics.

  59. Get rid of it to some un-suspecting fool and get what’s proven and reliable. Thats why there cheap (If there is anything these days that is cheap). Don’t feed a Horse with a Broken Leg.

  60. I have a Kel-Tec Sub2K and have had to send it back twice to get repaired. It came back from the second repair with a problem with the safety. It creeps to safe ofter firing a shot or two. Has to go back again… When this carbine works, it is great. My original problems were failure to fire and failure to eject. The FTE took two trips to Kel-Tec for repair. I am looking at replacing the front site with the Red Lion Precision version. They seem to make a few products for the Kel-Tec weapons line.

  61. Right before Sandy Hook, I ordered a Rock River AR-9. It took forever to come in with the flood of orders for regular AR-15s that came close afterwards. But with very little personalization it has easily become one of my favorite rifles. Many friends, with a variety in various local and federal law enforcement agencies, all harassed me about a pistol caliber AR that wouldn’t be nearly on par with their agency issued AR15s. That only lasted until they picked it and shot the AR9! Every one of them remarked about better than expected accuracy, and less recoil. Of course being able to take it to indoor ranges in the winter months left them even more jealous. While not as inexpensive as the Storm or KelTec it’s a rather nice pistol caliber carbine to consider. Rock River now also offers an AR-40 as well.

  62. I have the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 9mm, the Hi-Point 9mm and the Hi-Point .45ACP The Hi-Point carbines are my favorite, but I like the Kel-Tec for ease of concealment. I find the Hi-Points more accurate and reliable.

  63. Not a pistol cal. carbine, but I have a couple WW 2 M2’s that i worked up reloads for that I acquired many years ago @ a Mlitary surplus sell-off. Hard to find brass, but if your a consumate scrounger you can find it. Worked up my own reloads using ball powder and pistol bullets and a little machining rework. I never settle for the obvious and like to experiment and re-develope. Although, I haven’t done that stuff for years now.

    1. Are you speaking of the M2 Carbine (selectable full-auto) variant of the M1 Carbine? In 30 Carbine caliber? If so I don’t see why you are having a difficult time finding brass.
      P.S I won’t ask if you are legal.

  64. I think you are way off on the converted SMG remark on accuracy. I own both a UC9 Uzi and a TM1 Thompson, both of which are 16 inch barrel NFA legal semi auto carbines of which you speak. I can group both well enough at 100 yards to kill a rabbit, or similar small game, with both carbines. Maybe some rebuilds and new SMG converts may have poor accuracy, but my experience certainly does not represent this, and I will go so far as to say I would like proof of your findings and basis of your statement.

    I will agree that such weapons, especially heavy blowback actions, are excessively heavy for those who would choose a pistol carbine. Pistol carbines are for new shooters, those of limited physical capacity, the elderly, and women, both as you say, due to the potential for light weight and low recoil, so such heavy weight weapons defeat the purpose sought. I suppose those seeking these carbines as a permanent choice for self defense would do so for weight, and thus would exclude the big old heavy designs. I don’t think 100 round drums filled with heavy 45 acp in a 13 lbs. Chicago typewrighters were invented for grandma to keep the yard free of rabbits, or the house of burglars.

    Certainly there are advantages to the cheaper, newer designs, mainly with weight and magazine interchangability,, but again I cannot agree with your statements to the inaccuracy of the older style weapons. And as for controllability with rapid fire, the old heavy designs may have a serious edge, one that is only negated by the fact that, mentioned before, is not the main reason for the weapon, nor is the advantage as desirable to the field of potential users as the weight issue.

  65. .357rifles and revolvers- or Coonan .357 semi auto if you need semi action in your handgun. Carbine-handgun combinations are nothing new to Western afficianados, nor to history. Some place I can’t remember mentioned a .357 semi auto carbine similar to the Ruger .44 mag- which in itself combined with a .44 revolver, would be an ideal choice if one can handle the recoil.

  66. What do you base that statement on, they work?
    Even bean bags from the 12 gauge do not always work as intended.

    I have constructed and fired at this material more than once, with published results and another coming soon.

    I have seen the bad guys take the 9mm and .38 and keep coming.

    Less lethal may do for stray dogs but little else.

    Sincerely.

  67. home or apartment? how near are your neighbors? do you have children in your home, do they? pets? have you ever constucted a wall similir to a dwelling and fired rounds into it? there are many things you need consider before any “perfect choice” can be made. even a direct hit on an intuder or not can penetrate every wall in your home, exiting to where? collateral damage management is your responsibility–and liability!!. think of less lethal rounds in home,they work!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit exceeded. Please click the reload button and complete the captcha once again.

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.