Shooters need carbines for situations when a pistol doesn’t offer quite enough power, but a long gun is excessive. The best pistol caliber carbine will combine the virtues of both weapons to create a versatile weapon for intermediate ranges.
Since there are a lot of them to choose from, we’ve built a list of ten to help start your search. We picked the ones that offer the best blend of reliability, versatility, and power to make sure we can cover the needs of most shooters.
Best Pistol Caliber Carbine: Why Choose One?
Many people don’t seem to understand the purpose of a Pistol Caliber Carbine, and don’t understand why you wouldn’t just go with a rifle instead, such as an AR-15 or AK-47.
Obviously, an AR-15 or AK-47 are both excellent choices for a home defense gun for outdoor spaces.
However, the best pistol caliber carbine is best utilized for indoor home defense.
When indoors, you’re going to want a gun that’s smaller and can be easily maneuvered around tight spaces.
Most of the best pistol caliber carbine choices are going to be shorter than a long gun.
When you’re defending your home, you don’t want to have to worry about a bulky rifle or shotgun. You even get the added benefit of a lower recoil with a pistol caliber carbine when compared to an AK-47.
Additionally, the best pistol caliber carbine choices can have some advantages over a handgun.
The biggest advantage is in terms of stability.
For most people, handgun accuracy tends to be worse when you’re shooting at a target from 15-25 yards away, especially when in a defense situation.
When you’re in a defense situation, a pistol caliber carbine can give you extra stability to hit your target with more accuracy.
Best Pistol Caliber Carbine: Top 10
Without further ado, here is our list of the top 10 best pistol caliber carbine choices.
10. Rossi Circuit Judge
The Circuit Judge is the best pistol caliber carbine for those that prioritize versatility. It can take both .45 Long Colt ammunition and 410 shells without any modifications, so that it can fill plenty of different roles.
The gun relies on a revolver mechanism to hold ammunition despite being a carbine, so it is also far more reliable than many other weapons. That mechanism also makes the gun easy to maintain.
All shooters should consider this if they want versatility, but its simplicity makes it particularly suitable for novices.
9. Henry 1860 Trapper
The 1860 is a shortened version of the original Henry Rifle, one of the most iconic guns of the Old West.
This model uses a brass frame and buttplate on a wooden stock to make a gun that is both durable and beautiful, even after a few years of heavy use. Since it uses a simple lever action, it can function under a wide range of conditions without jamming. The downside to this model is the price.
It’s suitable for experienced shooters with a taste for the gun’s history or aesthetics, but other shooters should look for a better value elsewhere.
8. JR GMR-15
The GMR-15 is an expensive choice, but it also has a lot to offer. The operating system uses a special spring to compensate for recoil, and it does eliminate most of it.
The standard of manufacturing is high enough to ensure extreme accuracy up to 100 yards in spite of the gun’s short barrel. These traits make it great for both competitions and home defense.
It can also take magazines from a Glock 17, which makes logistics easier for many shooters.
Experts should consider this for competitions, but inexperienced shooters won’t have the skills to capitalize on the gun’s features.
7. Sig Sauer MPX
The MPX should feel familiar to anyone who has used an AR-15 due to their similar control layout, but most of the similarities end there. The MPX is fully ambidextrous, which makes it one of the best choices for left-handed shooters.
A fully-closed bolt makes this gun unusually reliable, and the gun’s excellent ergonomics help to encourage proper form and high accuracy while shooting. Its high capacity can also be an asset for shooters who don’t like to carry spare magazines.
It will only be worth its high price to experienced shooters, but they should give this gun some serious consideration.
6. Hi-Point 9mm
The Hi-Point carbine is a simple, inexpensive, and balanced weapon.
The firearm has both a skeletonized stock and an internal recoil buffer that make it relatively light and easy to handle. The construction quality is relatively good for the gun’s price, so it’s also a reasonably reliable weapon.
Users that want to make adjustments can use the integral weaver rails and choose between variants that offer a forward grip, flashlight, or laser.
The simplicity and low price of this design make it perfect for novices or intermediate shooters who want to stay on a budget and avoid excess frills.
5. Kel-Tec SUB-2000
The SUB-2000 is the best pistol caliber carbine for shooters that own a lot of pistols.
It can accept a considerable number of magazines from a variety of different pistols, so that they will have more customization options.
The carbine itself is small and light, so it’s easy to transport, but the recoil isn’t heavy enough to make it hard to control.
Those traits make this an excellent choice for shooters of all skill levels, especially those who already have an extensive collection of magazines.
You can browse through more options if interested in 9mm carbines.
4. Calico Liberty 1
|Manufacturer||Calico Light Weapons Systems|
The Liberty is the best pistol caliber carbine for people who need a big magazine. Shooters do need to check their local laws before ordering the Liberty, but the convenience of carrying 100 rounds can be a significant asset.
Since the basic weapon is relatively light, it’s possible to use a full magazine without it getting unbalanced or awkward.
The weapon is quite reliable with the 50 round magazine, but it will suffer from some jams with the 100 round option if it is fired quickly.
Apart from that, it’s an excellent generalist weapon that should be useful for shooters of all skill levels.
3. Beretta Cx4 Storm
The Cx4 is an excellent choice for people who are familiar with the Beretta 92 pistol. They can share magazines, and their controls are relatively similar.
It is a relatively reliable weapon, both due to the quality of its construction and its mechanical design. The gun’s other major asset is ease of customization.
It is ambidextrous, has several adjustable components, and multiple picatinny rails for accessories.
That makes this the best pistol caliber carbine for experienced tinkerers, but sheer quality also makes this a decent choice for intermediate shooters.
2. Ruger 77/44
|Caliber||44 Rem Mag|
Ruger’s 77/44 is the options for shooters that want a reliable bolt action weapon.
It’s a good choice for precision shooting because it comes with integral scope mounts and hammer-forged barrel that provides excellent accuracy. The magazine uses a unique rotor system, which provides a boost to reliability.
Since the bolt locks back and allows the user to unload that magazine while the safety is on, it’s also a safe choice.
All shooters who need to shoot their carbine at distant targets or who value safety should consider this gun regardless of their skill level.
1. Aero Survival Rifle
|Caliber||.357 SIG/45 ACP/9mm|
The Aero Survival Rifle is the best pistol caliber carbine for people who need an emergency survival tool.
It breaks down small enough to fit in a backpack, but it still offers enough accuracy and power to be useful. The construction is relatively sturdy, so that it can stay functional in emergency conditions. It even has room for a scope for increased precision.
All shooters should consider the Aero Survival Rifle if they plan on heading out into nature, but it’s also a decent choice for new and intermediate shooters at the range.
How to Choose the Best Pistol Caliber Carbine
On average, a pistol caliber carbine will shoot either 9mm, .40 S&W cartridges, .380 and .357 magnum cartridges, or .45 ACP.
So, you’ll easily be able to find ammo and it is more affordable to shoot than the average rifle.
Making The Right Choice
Finding the best pistol caliber carbine is a matter of striking a balance between cost, reliability, and performance. Everyone will want a different blend, so it’s vital to look at as many options as possible.
If you’ve used any of these weapons or any other model, be sure to share your experiences in a comment to make the search easier for other shooters.