Question From a Reader-

Hi NC Scout.

Could you consider the  scenario below and provide your thoughts and opinion? I’m curious what you think about this subject with your background. Thank you in advance.

We are starting to research the possibility of using a carbine line instead of an AR line for out main patrol/carry load.  Our thought is that we can have a carbine/pistol combination that accepts the same magazine/ammunition, so that if, during a fire fight, the carbine becomes inoperable, we can switch to our pistol without losing our capacity (so we start the fight with 300 rounds, and we can switch guns and finish the fight with 300 rounds).  Right now, if our AR goes down, we only have 50-ish rounds of pistol ammunition to finish off with, which could cause us to abandon an assault that we were close to successfully completing.

Other considerations:

  • We only have to carry/stock up on one type of ammunition.
  • Carbine weighs less than the AR (most likely).
  • Most likely all of our encounters will be within 100 yards, which the carbine can handle.  Obviously we lose the ability to reach out and touch someone with a carbine. But we also believe most fights will be short range encounters, less than 200 yrds.
Just curious as to what your thoughts are on this topic, and which (if any) carbine/pistol combinations you would recommend, and why. Or do should we just stick with our current setup. All this assumes a 2 person buddy team with limited or no resupply as defined by JC Dodge at MasonDixonTactical.
Thanks (name witheld)
I’m assuming by your question that you mean ‘pistol caliber carbine’ by carbine. I’ll state up front that both a PCC and a combat carbine (AR, AK, etc.) have advantages and disadvantages. The largest limiting factor to PCCs are the engagement range and power- you’re essentially entering the fight with a longer-barreled submachine gun.  Again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, if:
1. Your role is not primarily actively fighting, but defensive in nature.
2. You understand the limitations of the chosen pistol round (which it seems like you do).
From a logistics standpoint, supplying common calibers is paramount, but not so much as to justify hampering your overall capability. Sure, SMGs were great primary weapons in the WWII-early Vietnam era, but the advancement of intermediate caliber carbines (7.62×39, 5.56, 6.5, etc) really rendered pistol caliber SMGs irrelevant to everyone except Police forces concerned with over penetration in urban areas or special military units for hostage rescue.
From a Survivalist standpoint, I would focus much more on a standard rifle cartridge, and the ability to carry more of it if I’m planning on getting into a fight, rather than stepping down to a pistol round out of a long gun. Both the 5.56 and 7.62 (x39 and x51) have so much more utility that I wouldn’t consider any common autoloading pistol cartridge over them. That being said, if my role is not retreatist in nature, but more in line with an Ulster-style fight, a PCC might have certain advantages. This however is a question concerning METT-TC (MISSION, ENEMY, TIME, TERRAIN, TROOPS, CIVILIANS), and not the weapon itself. In that case, the weapon is usually irrelevant and should be disposable.
As far as ammunition concerns go, in a real, live shootout, you’re gonna burn through a lot more ammo than you realize, a lot faster than you realize, especially if it’s your first rodeo. A secondary arm is exactly that, secondary, for breaking contact if the primary no longer works or a more specialized role (much more preferable, like a Ruger MK3 for example). If you’re currently armed with the AR, and you’re not sold on its reliability, look at another platform (like the good ol Kalash). In my experience, I’ve only had two real-world issues with AR malfunctions- a bolt override from a worn out magazine and two lugs sheared from a high-round count class. These were on issued Colt M4s…other brands may be different. On the magazine bit, nearly 100% of the AR-15 malfunctions I’ve observed (from others) are magazine-related, or in the rising case of the $500 special, out-of-spec parts. In either case, concerning reliability, confidence in your weapon system only comes from one source- your experience, and cannot be substituted by anyone else’s- so that means getting out and running the weapons.
So, all this being said, in a grid-down, ‘me and my buddies out on our own protecting ours’ situation, I can’t advocate limiting yourself to a PCC for commonalty’s sake. Should everyone have matching sidearms? Yep. Should everyone have the matching primary arm (except for specialized roles)? Yep. Don’t undergun yourself. Just because heavily dated stats may evaluate combat at 0-200m doesn’t mean your weapons should only work within that envelope.
Hope this didn’t muddy the waters too much-
NC Scout

3 thoughts on “Question From a Reader-

  1. Caveat-

    I have no infantry experience. I’m a former (mildly) competitive shooter with wide experience using a wide range of calibers and firearms, mostly metallic cartridge. I hunt, and have never in over 40 years of hunting ever lost a game animal that I have shot at, and I have killed game with everything from .22 rimfire to full house rifle rounds to a 12 gage shotgun with slugs. I’ve killed big game with pistols, too.

    If I were setting up a group, I would NOT use pistol caliber carbines as my primary weapon choice. Here are some reasons why, from a shooter’s perspective-

    -Pistol rounds are much less capable than carbine (.223, 6.5 Grendel, 7.62 Russian short) or rifle (7.62 x 51, 7.62 x 54R, .30-06 etc) Their trajectory is much worse and the terminal ballistic effects drop off much more quickly. This means that they are harder to hit with at any range, the hit effects at distance are much less, and they do not penetrate as well. You will need many more rounds to duplicate the effect of one carbine round.
    -Pistol rounds turn concealment into cover. Example- bad guys hiding behind a car would be covered against pistol fire; against a .223, not so much, engine block excepted. Carbines penetrate small trees and cars with ease; rifles more so.
    -In a SHTF scenario it is a good bet that bad guys will quickly recover body armor, and it is likely that should you encounter such you’ll need to deal with it. Pistol rounds do not penetrate soft armor well, and their ballistics mean that you will have to approach well within a carbines engagement range before you can be effective. In other words, bad guys with body armor and rifles or carbines can shoot your group members with relative ease for a couple hundred yards before your team with pistol caliber weapons can get close enough to do the business.
    – Pistol carbines are not much easier to shoot than ARs or AKs.

    The only area where pistol rounds have an advantage is reloading. It is a LOT quicker and easier to reload a straight walled pistol round than it is to reload a bottle necked rifle round. For hunting, a .357 or .44 lever action carbine has much to recommend it, but for defensive purposes, it is not a first choice.

    Long story short, I agree with NC Scout, who has “seen the elephant” and spent time on the sharp end. I would not go the pistol caliber route.


  2. Name Omitted

    NC Scout, keypounder74,

    You bring up good things to consider as I’ve been wondering the same thing myself. I’m seriously examining the IWI Bullpup offerings to equip my family as the carbines are quite maneuverable and are an alternative to SBRs. One question though, Scout. When you mentioned standardized primary weapon, did you mean caliber or carbine type? Just wanted to confirm. Your blog has really opened my eyes with regard to comms. Thanks for what you provide.

    1. When I ‘standardize’, that means each person in your group/tribe/militia etc are the same caliber and use the same magazine.

      However- Your agreed-upon weapons types should have at least the same takedown pattern and replacement parts. This means that even if all my crew has AKs, not every AK is the same, so if each of mine are Romanian and yours are Yugo we’ll have a problem keeping replacement parts. The same goes, to a lesser degree, for Colt vs. most other ARs.

      There’s definitely nothing wrong with the IWI rifles, other than expense.

Comments are closed.