Is the pistol-caliber carbine/sub-gun functionally obsolete?

Is the pistol-caliber carbine/sub-gun functionally obsolete?

This is a discussion on Is the pistol-caliber carbine/sub-gun functionally obsolete? within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; This is perhaps a complicated question and I beg your indulgence because this will probably be a long post. The basic question: Is the pistol-caliber ...

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Thread: Is the pistol-caliber carbine/sub-gun functionally obsolete?

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Is the pistol-caliber carbine/sub-gun functionally obsolete?

    This is perhaps a complicated question and I beg your indulgence because this will probably be a long post. The basic question: Is the pistol-caliber carbine and/or subgun functionally obsolete in this day and age? I've been exploring this issue quite a bit. A few months ago I caught wind of the fact that HK is dropping their USC carbine from their lineup. For those of you that haven't seen this gun it's basically the civilian version of the UMP submachine gun, in .45 ACP. I've always loved the gun every since I first got to handle one maybe 14 years ago at the LGS, so I decided to jump on one while they're still available. I just paid it off and will probably have it within 10 days or so. My plan is to do an UMP conversion in stages. This involves replacing the lower (hopefully with an FBI, if not a Navy), adding a folding stock and eventually getting stamps to make it an SBR and add a can. This will be expensive but in the end I'll get a very light, short and accurate gun that gives me 25 rounds of .45 ACP on tap.

    There was a lot of soul searching before the purchase! I'm well aware that as a weapon I would probably have been better off just getting an M4-gery of some kind. Certainly a Daniel Defense with a 16" barrel would be much more potent for QCB and already comes from the factory set up for gunfighting (30 round mags, rails, etc). So why did I set out to build a .45 ACP carbine that costs three times as much as a good M4?

    Well, first and foremost the heart wants what the heart wants. I'm an HK fanboy and I always wanted the USC/UMP. While I do plan to use it for home defense I bought it as a fun-gun/range toy as well. Where I live I can shoot the USC on the indoor range but they don't allow rifles ("real" rifles). That means there's nowhere within 20 miles for me to shoot an M4, so few opportunities to train with it. Also it's cheaper to shoot a .45 ACP. The ammo isn't really any cheaper than 5.56 but it's a lot slicker to reload (ie carbide dies).

    So where does the pistol-caliber carbine fall on the utility spectrum? Certainly it's not even close to matching the lethality of a "real" rifle. The 5.56 round is at twice as powerful as any .45 ACP loading. A .300 Blackout is even stouter, and of course a 7.62 x 54 is more potent still. It's been said that people shot with handguns run away while those shot with rifles are DRT. So I'm well aware that for almost the same size and weight I could be employing a much more effective weapon.

    On the other hand, compared to a handgun the carbine is a real step up. With a longer sight radius and three points of contact with the body it's a lot easier to shoot a carbine well. Since it's heavier and larger it can also be fired faster with accuracy. The longer barrel will eek out more velocity and properly set up the carbine holds a lot more rounds. I know I can dump an entire magazine onto a playing card about as fast as I can pull the trigger at 25 feel with a rifle or carbine- I can't do that with a handgun.

    I do have a Remington 870 Tactical too, and down the road I'll still be buying a DD or BCM rifle, so I'm not locked into using the USC for HD. But I'll probably move the USC ahead of my HK USP45 Tactical in the rotation.

    What do you folks think about the viability of a pistol caliber carbine for home defense?
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array WrongRecroom's Avatar
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    What kills the sub gun market in the USA is the NFA act and 922r import laws. Look at the new Tarus carbine a great gun with a crap stock and only 10 round mags . Or for that matter the uzi again a great CQB gun but with a 16inch barrel not so much. Same with the mp5 . I would love to own a sp89 or h&k 94 but even the clones are 3 grand . Even the storm rifle great gun but you can not do anything with it ( add a silencer etc) as again 922r issues

    I personal like and think there should be more pisotl carbines out there . I have fired a full auto colt commando in 9mm before and like it so much I am looking at getting a semi auto now . Also remember that many sub guns take the same mags as handguns so that for me is a massive selling point .

    You could have a thread barrel sub 2000 and a 92 threaded barrel great set up if you ask me . Heck you could own a camp carbine a sub 2000 a pf11 a 5906 and a 6906 and they all could take the same mags again a great deal if you ask me

    From my reading 16inc barrel in 9mm adds a bit of ump to the round as well (in some case close to 357 mag speeds).

    And I think finally the other selling point is sometimes these are great in states that have AWB in CA I would not own a AR/AK pattern rifle I hate the laws on them but you could own a camp carbine and that would make a cracker jack HD gun..

    I think I am a fan of them but again the issue is finding one that is not crappy by the NFA acts . A colt 9mm AR does not look that bad to me a uzi in 16inch no sir esp the micro uzi


    So yeah I think a pistol caliber rifle be great for HD urban stuff. Light/handy and still hard hitting and you can used HP rounds .. And if you can sbr and slince it even better but I hate to lose that gun if I had used it for SD...

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Phaedrus's Avatar
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    Yeah, it would suck to buy the stamps, wait a year for approval and drop three grand into the gun only to have it sit forever in police lockup if you ever did use it for defense! But then again, it beats being dead! Comparing the carbine to the pistol (as opposed to a true rifle) I think it offers an advantage in speed and shootability that could give you an edge if you needed to deploy it against multiple assailants as you might in a home invasion.

    I think the Thureon Defense carbines look promising, too. And you could sure do worse than a Beretta Storm for HD. The Storm carbine uses 92 mags, and there are 20 rounders for it I think. I believe that hot .40 loads from the 16" barrel of the Storm are pretty close to full-boat 10mm velocity, too.
    Last edited by Phaedrus; January 6th, 2014 at 03:50 AM. Reason: Added link.
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaedrus View Post
    Is the pistol-caliber carbine/sub-gun functionally obsolete?
    IMO, it's an artificially small market, due to the restrictions on select-fire/full-auto. Other than police agencies and military, many don't see the point of having more than a couple rounds.

    But the utility is the same as it has ever been. It's as functional and utilitarian in a "heavy" situation as anything else. I appreciate the ability to dump a lot more lead at an assailant than just a pistol, with the added accuracy the longer sight radius and control provides. Have had a couple of sub-carbine guns and have loved them for what they are, but have mostly disliked the heavier and clunkier format of the lower-end models I had. Would absolutely love a H&K USC, MP5 or similar type of platform, for all the obvious reasons. Would love a Thompson carbine, as well. IMO they have their place.

    What do you folks think about the viability of a pistol caliber carbine for home defense?
    Absolutely one of the best for the purpose, I'd say. There aren't many better options to having longer-gun performance, pistol-grade caliber and simplicity, compact handling. The M1 Carbine or a short lever-action is about as close as it comes, though for my money neither of those works as well as a great, compact, lightweight sub-carbine such as the H&K USC/UMP/MP5/MP7. I'll take a pistol for most things, but in situations where a lot more lead makes sense in other than long-gun distances, the sub-carbine route is a good one. Bummer, the banners got their preference and the courts have upheld it, else I think we'd have a far, far larger market for them than we see today.
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  5. #5
    VIP Member Array 10thmtn's Avatar
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    For HD, you ARE better off with a 5.56. Better terminal effects, and less over penetration risk, due to the bullets tumbling and fragmenting (of course nothing is guaranteed and all safety rules apply). Even the recoil averse should be ok with 5.56.

    The only uses I see are as you said - if you have nowhere near to train with a rifle, then a PCC makes sense. If it takes the same mags as your handgun, then you can keep it in the car unloaded and be legal just about anywhere you can legally have your CCW pistol (note I am not a fan of guns left in cars on a regular basis due to the risk of theft, but I know some in rural areas do this).

    My primary HD long gun is a shotgun, because I can run it with regularity on the trap field. Not many places near here to run a rifle. My wife gets the Mini 14 because of recoil. If she was willing to train more, I would get a PCC for her.

    Edit - I guess you can consider the Ruger 10/22 a "pistol caliber carbine." Or maybe .22 handguns are rifle caliber handguns...? Either way, many have 10/22 carbines, and while not my first choice, I wouldn't want a mag dumped into me either.
    Last edited by 10thmtn; January 5th, 2014 at 02:01 PM.
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    Functionally obsolete? No. More rare than I would like to see? Absolutely.

    Nothing wrong with that HK, great firearm.


    For those that want a carbine for a little more than the price of a handgun there's always the Just Right in 9mm or .40, both take Glock mags. 33 rds of 9mm HP is definitely not a bad HD weapon.
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  7. #7
    Distinguished Member Array DingBat's Avatar
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    i would love to try one of these new Kriss Vector sub-guns. i even already have a glock 21. but a non-full auto one makes the recoil reduction mechanism pointless. plus having to get it with an uber-long barrel is pointless too. but if i could get one FA/SBR/suppressed? heck ya!

    and i am planning on getting my wife a PS90. not exactly a "true" pistol caliber, though there is at least one pistol chambered in it...
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  8. #8
    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    I was considering a Kel Tec sub2000 for HD and ultimately ended up buying a Springfield XDm-9 4.5 with 19+1 capacity of 9mm. It's 19+1, can be operated with one hand leaving the other for flashlight, opening closing doors, or whatever else, and it seemed easier to maneuver in close quarters. From 25 yards and in I shoot it as good as a rifle, and I can't imagine taking more than a 25 yard shot in HD. I can also deploy the handgun faster (i.e. moving and acquiring multiple targets in different directions). Just my thoughts that lead me to my purchase. I like the handgun carbines, but they just didn't offer up much over a good hi cap HD pistol for my particular application.
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    An acquaintance of mine recently purchased a .45 cal Hi-Point carbine cheapo for the reasons stated above. She frequently carries a Springfield EMP 3" 1911. I'll likely run it next week and post a report. Seems to be heavy and overly "tacticool"
    for me though.
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    Senior Member Array darbo's Avatar
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    About a year ago I bought a CX4 Storm in 9mm. I really enjoy shooting it! As has been mentioned the PCC tends to be easy to shoot accurately.

    In 9mm the Storm can be purchased configured to use either PX4 or 92 magazines. I already owned a PX4 so it made sense to get that version of Storm. With this setup I have 17 and 20 round magazines that are interchangeable. In the 92 format I know there are aftermarket 30 round magazines and, without checking, I think even Beretta makes 30 rounders for the 92 and Storm. I haven't looked but there may also be aftermarket 30 round magazines for the PX4.

    Many people tout the use of .22 in a SHTF scenario and I would never argue that. But for me I have decided to use my 2 fullsize PX4s and the CX4 as my SHTF survival setup. I realize it has its compromises but I feel it's a viable solution...to a problem I hope never occurs!

    As for ballistics I have shot my reloads through a Chrony 1 and I consistently get about 250fps more out of the CX4 compared to the 4" barreled PX4.

    Two additional thoughts. The Storm is very quiet on its own! With a suppressor it could not be heard! Of course the felt recoil is very mild.
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    Distinguished Member Array 5lima30ret's Avatar
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    Even though I have an AR in my inventory I actually have (2) pistol caliber carbines with 2 completely different purposes. The first is a Ruger 96/44 in .44 mag. It is a great 100 yd deer and hog gun and is much more accurate than any of the 30/30's I had. The second is a Kel Tec Sub 2000 in .40 that shares magazines with my Glock 35. It folds into a very compact 16"x7" package and easilt fits in a briefcase for travel. The Sub 2000 is like having a super accurate handgun (75 yd shots on bowling pins are very doable) and it shares magazines and ammo with my Glock! I really wish they made it in .45acp! I've always had a soft spot for the Thompson submachine guns. I got to fire a full auto version years ago and LOVED it! A buddy of mine flew Pararescue in Vietnam and he said that his Thompson he had during his first tour was far more effective than the M-16 he carried his second tour.
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    Distinguished Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    The added length gives pistol calibers some added teeth! The added length and three points of contact gives me some extra accuracy. I've had several pistol caliber carbines, and liked every one! Throw in that you would have to drive over an hour to shoot a rifle and I think you have a winner. DR
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    +1 on the Storm with a backup pistol using the same mag. There are a number of reasons I would prefer the Storm to a 5.56 for HD, most mentioned by Darbo. A 9mm through a 16 inch barrel is relatively quiet unsuppressed. The gun is much more handy, and light enough to shoot and hold one handed. The rails provide an attachment point for a light or two, and a laser, which is reason enough to prefer it over a handgun.

    I have shot a semi-auto Uzi over an IPSC course and it was fast in the double tap. I also was very impressed with a full-auto MP5 in double and triple tap. You can use only the front sight at room distance on these guns and still make solid hits.
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    The only one that I can think of that is short enough/cheap enough to be viable without a tax stamp was the sub2000. I owned one and unloaded it because it would only fire a full 33rd magazine without a hiccup about 1 in 4 times. Not enough reliability for me. Truly a Keltech is just never going to be a fighting weapon in my opinion.
    Now if we didn't have the 16" barrel rule, then I could see it. I might eventually buy the 9mm conversion for my Tavor but then I would be paying a lot of money for something that has crappy terminal ballistics compared to the .556 Tavor, so I guess I just don't see the point anymore.
    Now on the other hand, if a suppressor can was easily gotten (that pesky tax stamp and 1 year or so wait has kept me out of the game,) a suppressed 9mm is TON's quieter than .556, but I hear IWI is developing a 300 BO favor barrel so even that could be negated.
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    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    There's a reason that pretty much all LE, military and security went to 5.56 over sub gun calibers. It's just more effective, plain and simple. Plus, it allows longer shots if needed.

    Another advantage is that there's less chance of serious injury when penetrating interior/exterior walls ehen using fmj or OTM like tap 75gr, and penetration is on par with handgun ammo when using bonded ammo, which is also superior against soft tissue after penetrating a layer of auto glass, doors, etc.

    i had had a full auto MP5 for a handful of years. I loved that gun. There's a video on my flickr where I pretty much do a mag dump (something I never do, but this was to show recoil) and kept every round in a fist size group at 10 yards. I ran it suppressed occasionally, but the blast unsuppressed was mild compared to 5.56. Though your ears would be ringing after a few rounds without hearing protection. This is one reason I'm liking 300blk. My 9" gun has less concussion and blast than my 14.5" 5.56, and I don't run any brakes right now.

    But, I'm comparing a full auto MP5 to other calibers, which isn't really in line with the topic.

    As 10th and someone else mentioned, training facilities are a consideration. If you're running a sub gun and handgun that take the same mags, I could see that being somewhat useful.

    They're all going to get the job done if the shooter does his part. For home defense use, I care more about training and tactics than I do the firearm one chooses. So, choose what feels right and run with it.
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