In the comments section on my Homeland Defense Rifle topic the subject of pistol caliber carbines was broached by a fearless reader. I have always held a soft spot in my heart for pistol caliber carbines, despite the fact that I know that a rifle is almost always a better weapon. Be that as it may, I have below a breakdown of the carbines I would take, in the order I would take them if the SHTF. Same as the last list, I’ve broken them out by action type.
One of the biggest reasons to take a pistol caliber carbine instead of a full on rifle is that you can pack one kind of ammo for both your weapons. Even though the pistol rounds from a rifle are less powerful than a true rifle round, it’s generally easier to make accurate shots with a rifle than with a pistol.
- Ruger PC9 – Ruger’s excellent carbine chambered in 9mm. This rifle is fed using the same magazines from the standard Ruger P-series pistols, which gives you the additional advantage of only having to pack one kind of magazine in addition to one type of ammo. I owned one of these for a while (and foolishly sold it for a song), and I loved it. Big, ugly, and tough as hell; one of the best points of the Ruger is that I felt like if I needed to, I could beat a yak to death with it.
- Kel-Tec Sub2000 – Kel-tec’s 9mm carbine gets excellent points for a couple of note-worthy features. First off, it folds in half which allows for much easier storage. I can vouch for the fact that when folded, it will fit nicely into my backpack. Additionally, it comes in three different models, one of which takes Glock magazines, another takes Beretta 92 magazines. If a Glock is your Go-To gun, and you’re looking for a pistol carbine, look no further. My only complaint about the Kel-Tec was that it didn’t heft as well as the Ruger, it just seemed a little light in the ass.
- Hi Point Carbine – These things get rave reviews from almost anyone that actually shoots them. It shoots well, handles well, and doesn’t seem to FTF. The reason why it’s third on the list is because it doesn’t share magazines with anything other than Hi-Point pistols. That is pretty much the only strike against the Hi Point carbine.
Uh…off the top of my head, I can only think of one bolt action pistol caliber carbine, which is the 9mm Largo Destroyer Carbine. While I love the name and the cartridge, it’s not really practical in my opinion. 9mm Largo isn’t easy to come by, and unless you happen upon a stash of Spanish ammo somewhere you’ll probably just end up with a shitty club.
My deep love for bolt actions wishes that someone would make a 10mm or .45 ACP fixed magazine carbine with an 16 inch tube that can be loaded via stripper clips or single rounds, with nice ghost ring sights on it. I don’t know what I’d use it for, but I’d buy two.
Oh yeah. This is where it gets fun. Since I believe that revolvers are the ultimate survival pistols (for reasons which I’ll enumerate in a later post), this is where the game is at for carbines.
- The Marlin Cowboy rifle – This would be my first and basically only choice in this category. You can get it chambered for whichever caliber you like, be it .45 Colt (my favorite), .357 Magnum (my 2nd favorite), or .44 Magnum. Plus, lever rifles have the advantage of being able to be topped off in mid firing. You shoot 7 times, there’s a lull in the action, you can plop 3 more rounds into the magazine to bring you back up to full capacity without having to swap removable magazines.
Honestly, with lever guns the biggest debate is what caliber to take. Personally, I’d take a .357 Magnum, since it gives you the ability to shoot the magnums as well as .38 Special. Plus, it pairs oh-so-nicely with my GP100. My 2nd choice would be my favorite cartridge, the .45 Colt. I’ve got a couple of guns chambered for this round, and a matching carbine would go quite nicely. The biggest concern would be the fact that ammo is relatively heavy for this chambering, which limits the amount that you can carry.
I didn’t include single shot rifles on the Homeland Defense Rifle post mainly because they would face serious limitations in the tactical aspect. Survival situations on the other hand are where single shot rifles can truly shine. H&R makes two different rifles chambered for .45 Colt, one of which will also accept .410 shotgun rounds. I’d recommend the latter, since it gives you the ability to carry a shotgun without packing a second gun.
The drawbacks to a single shot carbine in a survival situation are pretty obvious, namely a slow rate of fire, no magazine for cartridge storage, increased recoil due to lighter weight, etc.
However, they do some have advantages. While the lighter weight does increase recoil, with .45 Colt rounds it’s not going to matter. The lack of an immediate follow up shot forces you to make your first shot count, which in a SHTF situation helps conserve your precious ammo supply. I would not feel at all underarmed packing a Ruger Blackhawk and an H&R .45 Colt rifle.
As I said in the thread on Homeland Defense Rifles, if you do choose a single shot as your go-to gun, make sure you practice the manual of arms regularly. Personally, I’d buy a bunch of snap caps in whatever caliber you have and practice reload drills until I could do it in the dark while blindfolded. But then again, my wife says I’m paranoid. Your actual mileage may vary.