Friday, April 19, 2019

Range Report II: Ruger PC9 Carbine

Having played with this indoors, and gotten it sighted in at home defense range, it was time to take it outside.

The carbine as tested. Note the charging handle on the left side.
And yes, that's the finest piece of Chinese glass $39 will buy. 

It was a perfect day. 75°, sunny, 1/10 clouds, with a 0-10MPH variable crosswind in the canyon varying from 3 o'clock to 8 o'clock.

And if you're keeping score at home, indoors was with Federal 115gr FMJ. Outdoors was with Winchester white box 115gr FMJ.

Shooting it this time off a sandbag on a concrete shooting bench, the 20Y zero proved to be low and right at 100Y.

I made similarly bold dope corrections to the previous settings, but at a more normal zero distance, they were overmuch. The next group was all high and left. Having some wee life experience with bracketing a target (with howitzers), I took off half the original change, and achieved everything in the black inside a 4" circle.

Which reminded me why I like going to the range.

Then I settled down, and focused on slow, steady groups. The variable wind made this a small challenge.
So did the jackhole who decided, on a 75% empty range with 50+ stations, to settle in right next to me and begin rapid-fire strings of turning money into noise with his AR.

Which reminded me why I hate going to the range.

(Which is why a priority for Castle Anthrax is outside-city-limits ability to shoot on the property, WheneverTH I feel like it, consistent with safety and neighborliness.)

After relocating away from Slob A$$hole, re-arranging my gear, and setting up my target 3/4ths of the way to the other end, things were much more agreeable.

The wind died down for awhile, I took my time, and the groups tightened up to where I was moving the centers 1 click at a time.

The final adjustment was 2 3/4" L, and 3 1/2" Up, from the 20Y zero.
I then put the best part of two 10-round strings into the same fist-sized group I'd achieved the other day at 20Y, with a couple of fliers that were me jerking a trigger that is anything but a smooth precision rifle example, and lets off when it feels like it at nearly 5 lbs. of pull. And I think Ruger was using Soviet trigger pull gauges when they made that claim.

Nonetheless, you won't shoot yourself in the foot with it if your aren't an idiot, and I didn't buy it to shoot precision marksmanship. But as I'm not alone in my estimation, there are several after-market drop-in trigger groups on the market, one of which may find its way into my carbine.

According to comments elsewhere, a carbine that will put pistol rounds into minute of chest pocket at 100Y is no improvement over a Glock pistol, for a penalty of 5-5.5 pounds.
Elmer Keith being dead, I will shoot any non-professional using their stock Glock pistol against my Ruger rifle as described, for $1/point at 100Y and farther, and we'll see whether the 5 pounds is worth it.

It was windy, and yes, I rushed a couple.
Just to rub it in, I had 25 rounds left over from the 100 round box I started with.
I was originally going to sight-in at 200Y, but as it was both late in the day, and not worth the walk, I opted for some fun instead, with a bit of serious effort.

The range has metal gongs set up out to 600Y.
Including a 15" circle, and a 14" tall pig silhouette at 200Y.

Standing offhand, and using Kentucky windage, I used the duplex reticle to address the problem. After 2 "overs", it turned out the part of the reticle where the crosshair fattens up to a post at 6 o'clock is the exact bullseye for 200Y, with no farther sight manipulation whatsoever.

Just the way it worked out.

So I then proceeded to clang both the chest-width circle, and piggy, 23 times in a row.
Bang-clang. Bang-clang. Lather, rinse, repeat. Bang-clang.
Like I said after dialing it in indoors: tedious regularity.

{Next time I get back there, I'll shoot a video of that, too, and post the YouTube of it. -A.}

Come show me you can do that with your pistol at 200Y, and when you fail, ask me what the extra 5 pounds gets you. More importantly, anyone with minimal training could do the same thing, which cannot be said of pistol shooting at that range, ever.

Another commenter asked why a carbine for 9mm now weighs 2-3 pounds more than an M1 from 1943.
1) a heavier barrel, that takes down in about a second
2) a non-locking straight blowback action
3) which includes a molded tungsten firing block weight inside the PC9 bolt group, to keep the rifle from doing what Marlin's Camp guns did: battering themselves to pieces, even with hot +P 9mm rounds.

Words fail to convey how happy I am not to have to clean any part of a gas system on this thing. A quick spray-down of the bore with Break Free CLP, and half a dozen patches wrapped around a bronze bore brush, and the barrel is clean.

Word to the wise: blowback means the charging handle is coming all the way back, each and every time, whichever side you have it on. I watched to know this, I did not experiment by putting my mitt in the way, but if you do it the hard way, well, look up Mark Twain's comment about the man who carries a cat by the tail.

Tomorrow, I'll crack open the manual again, and take the action apart for a proper cleaning.
All I did between Range Days 1 and 2 was Q-tips and a few wet patches inside the open action, to get the worst of the crud out from around the bolt and such.

The down side of a blowback action is that everything does, in fact, blow back into the action, so everything from the ejected brass to the working parts get dirty. Coal miner's face dirty, in fact.

Tomorrow is cleaning day.

When I get the camera and card reader sorted out, I'll start posting my own pics, instead of web grabs. (Maybe even crank out short YouTube snippets.) But that's something for another day.

And the fact that I did two weapons-related posts (which happen around here randomly, at best) on the day before and the day after the anniversary of Weaponsman's passing: pure serendipitous happenstance. I think. (Cue spooky music.)

Next project is upping my Vaughn hammer-hatchet to something close to what PJF did with his:



June J said...

Yet another excellent range review. Thank you. Now I want to take off the RDS and put a scope on mine for a little long range shooting.

RandyGC said...

I had a roommate in my .mil days that could center punch man sized targets at 100 yards with my stock (factory trigger, mag disconnect in place) Browning Hi-Power. So there are some regular folks that could give you a run for the money. Myself, not so much.

The good thing after that day at the range was that I knew that my BHP was well sighted. The bad news was re-enforcing that any problems with getting the results I wanted were all on me.

Rich jordan said...

A long time ago in a desert far far away we took my then new Colt Delta Elite (10mm) and found that hitting human chest size targets at 150 -200 yards was not difficult when we were well stabilized (prone or shooting resting on the hood of the truck). Some pistols, and some rounds, are quite capable of that range. Shooting freehand? The pistol definitely could, but not us! I've got nowhere to shoot now to see how things would go today.

That said I'll take the weight to get the increased power and accuracy of a carbine.

I don't expect to give up my Marlin but I admit one of these Ruger takedowns in .45ACP or 10mm would be almost a mandatory purchase.

Glen Filthie said...

Thats a smart little carbine Aesop. Still... how much jam is left at 200m?

I’m loving those hatchets too.

Aesop said...

I'll leave the details to the hardcore aficionados, but enough oomph to ring a steel gong at 200Y is nothing I'd want smacking me in head or torso at that range.
When I have the wherewithal, that's the sort of thing to test out with ballistic jello blocks and chronometers and such.

@RandyGC: Yes, there are a few. Key word being few.
Whereas I can hand that carbine or one similar to anyone and they can do it all day long, with zero training.
It's a point-and-click interface.

This is why musketry took over from archery: no lead time to develop passably lethal proficiency.

Most of that commentary was aimed at one jet-fuel genius elsewhere who couldn't, even when hit over the head with the obvious, figure out the purpose of a pistol-caliber carbine over a pistol.

I live in hope they come out with a M1911-compatible .45 version.
I would even settle for one that works with G21 mags.
Given the simplicity of switching the mag blocks in and out, both are possible, in the same version.
Now Ruger just needs to build them.
No small part of my enjoyment of this one was something fun to shoot, that our would-be Communist overlords here in Califrutopia hadn't banned outright.
I've learned to get such boons while the getting is good.
Otherwise, my wishlist of firearms is fairly short, and my needlist is pretty much a zero.

Anonymous said...


Do you see an practical advantage to the 40 S&W over the 9 mm version?

RandyGC said...


Yeah, I should have been clearer that in 40+ years of shooting activity at ranges of various type I've met one (1) person that could accomplish that. And I ain't the one which is why a PCC is high on my list if I ever get the funds.

I was glad to hear that Ruger apparently learned from the Camp 9 about how not to beat itself to death. I'll be interested to see your reporting on how it holds up in the long term.

And already having a G21, yeah I'd be interested.

Aesop said...

@Anonymous 7:17P

If you're shooting a Glock 22, 23, 24, 27 or 35, your pistol magazines would work much better in a Ruger PC40, when they release one.
That would clearly be an advantage.
If you tried to use your magazines from those pistols in a PC9, I have a feeling you'd have some feeding problems.

I'm not a gunsmith though, so you might want to check on that to be sure.

Anonymous said...


Model Number: 19109 Caliber: 40 S&W