Pistol Caliber Carbine test criteria

For the upcoming Pistol Caliber Carbine series, I’ve been working up a series of objective evaluations that will help truly shake out each carbine over the course of several thousand rounds of ammo.  I was able to secure a source for cheap .40 S&W ammo, so that’s most likely going to be our test platform for this evaluation.  Additionally, we’re ditching the AR carbine and the only guns we’re going to run are the Hi Point and the Kel-Tec carbines.  The reason for ditching the AR carbine is that I feel like most folks know that AR carbines are generally accurate and easy to shoot…otherwise it wouldn’t be the most popular sporting rifle in America.

Here are the tests I’m planning on using for the Kel-Tec and Hi Point carbines, please suggest any additional tests you’d like to see.

  • Goal 1 – shoot 1k rounds of ammo through each carbine in a single day
  • Test at 10, 25, and 50 yards for accuracy and group size
  • Run each carbine through the IDPA classifier (modified for rifles) to establish shootability.
  • Pistol-Training.Com Dot Torture drill to establish extreme practical accuracy
  • Pistol-Training.Com F.A.S.T. drill because well, it’s just plain fun to shoot.

Any other suggested drills are more than welcome.  One of the things I’m doing is that in testing and practical deployment, I’m treating the pistol caliber carbine like a “super pistol” – I’m not using it at engagements beyond 50 yards, I’m not trying for MOA accuracy or anything like that.  To me, the pistol caliber carbine is an extension of the pistol – it’s not a “real rifle” in that they are still chambered for a relatively anemic caliber, but rather it’s a large, hard to conceal, but much more shootable pistol.

In theory, anything I can do with a modern, semi-automatic pistol I should be able to do faster and more accurately with a pistol caliber carbine.  To establish benchmarks, I’m also going to shoot many of the tests with a 9mm pistol for comparison.  This will allow me to establish a legitmate standard of performance against which the two carbines will be measured in addition to being measured against one another.

To eliminate the fluke factor on the timed runs such as the FAST and the IDPA classifier, I’m going to shoot the FAST Drill 10 times with each gun, and the IDPA qualifier 5 times with each gun.  That way I can take the average performance for each drill and use that as my performance benchmark.  This will hopefully eliminate some of the deviation that would occur if I shot one gun on a “great” shooting day and the other gun on a “bad” shooting day.

I’m looking forward to running these tests – this is kind of publishing that makes new media so effective!  You get immediate content and the opportunity to interact and change the direction of the tests if you feel that we’re wandering from the path.


  1. The one thing you lose with giving up the AR is having it for comparison purposes. The fact that everyone knows how ARs shoot means having AR data would give the other data more value.

    1. That’s true, and I may revisit the AR platform, but there is also a cost issue associated with this. Kel-Tecs and Hi Points are cheap, but a decent AR upper costs as much as both of the other test guns combined.

  2. I would also suggest you look at the Beretta Cx4 Storm. Its far more pleasant to shoot than a Sub2000 (trigger slap on the Kel-Tec can be brutal after a while) and the magazines it uses are higher capacity than a Hi-point.

    But, the reality is, its a $600+ carbine, these days.

  3. Dude, your blog ate my post! Or maybe it was my Blackberry…

    Don’t bother with the Dot Torture drill. It’s not really going to be relevant to a PCC’s usual method of employment, and the bore/sight offset on most PCCs will quickly drive you nuts when trying to hit those 2″ dots. A better choice for a practical accuracy test might be Todd’s 3×5 card drill, starting at 7 yards, then moving out to 10, 15, 25, 40, and 50. Five shots at each distance, offhand, on a 3×5 index card. Any misses, you repeat that distance. 3 misses total, the drill ends at that range.

    You should think about including a reliability stress test, something that will get the carbine hot. For AR-pattern guns, I do 4 28-rd. mag dumps, back to back, before I’ll deem the gun ready for service. Something along those lines would be a useful test of reliability.

    If you have access to a VTAC barricade, the 9-hole drill (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbyqAoiX4CA) would be a good way to evaluate the PCC’s ergonomics.

    I’ll be interested to see the results of your test. I suspect that you’ll find that the PCC gains a bit of long-distance accuracy, but gives up a lot of speed and ease of handling…


    1. I may have to switch to the 3×5 drill, actually. I hadn’t thought about sight offset when I was putting this together to be honest.

  4. Sight offset is part of the ergonomics of the carbine, and an important point comparing them to a pistol. In home defense situations, the likelyhood of needing to make a precision shot at close range (someone holding your family member hostage for example) seems far more likely than needing to make even a 20 yard shot.

  5. Actually, that gives me a good idea for a drill. I’ll set up two targets, one exposed for a wide open shot and the then other will be partially obsured by a no-shoot target leaving me only 50% of the head box to make my shot. I’ll run the course with a pistol and a carbine and see which I do better with.

  6. Caleb? Hostage shot???

    The only other test I can think of is the fold the gun in-half test, and I think the Kel-tec will win.

  7. Any thoughts on including the EMF JR Carbine? I would really like to see someone work one hard and see how it holds up.

Comments are closed.