Below is my review of the Ruger PC4, which is a carbine rifle chambered for .40 S&W:
The Ruger PC4 is a semi automatic pistol caliber carbine – a rifle that fires a pistol cartridge. The PC4 is chambered for .40 S&W, and there is also a 9mm version available (the PC9). The PC4 (and the PC9) use Ruger pistol magazines, which is especially nice for those who already have Ruger pistols. Both the PC4 (sometimes called the PC40) and PC9 weigh in at about 6.5 pound, with barrels that are just over 16″ in length. The PC4 and PC9 are blowback operated, which is somewhat rare for such carbines. Sighting options include standard iron sights, or ghost ring sights. The standard proprietary Ruger scope mounts are also built in to the receiver. Production of the PC4 and PC9 was stopped a few years ago, after Ruger decided there wasn’t enough demand to justify continued production. However they can still be found at gun stores and online. I found mine at a local gun store for under $600.
The PC4 and PC9 have automatic drop and firing pin safeties, along with a manual safety in the rear of the trigger guard. One interesting feature related to how these carbines are blowback operated. One of the downsides to blowback operation is that the action is not usually locked closed, but is instead only held closed by spring pressure. If the firearm is dropped or jarred, it is possible for the action to partially open, preventing proper operation of the firearm until the user notices those problem and closes it back up. Ruger fixes this by having the action lock closed, and then unlock as either the trigger is pulled, or as the action is manually operated. This feature is very well done, and I didn’t even notice it at first until I read more about the PC4 online after I bought it.
The PC4 feels great to hold, and is pretty well balanced. Balance can be a problem with blowback operated firearms, due to the need to have the action be heavy enough to stay closed as the bullet travels down the barrel, leading to too much weight in one place. Ruger avoided this problem as well, by using weights on the end of a light weight bar to better distribute the weight. The result is a well balanced carbine that is comfortable to hold and shoot. The one thing that I don’t like is the recoil pad. It is made of a rather rigid rubbery material, with ridges in it. I would have preferred a recoil pad that was either a bit softer, or that didn’t have those ridges. I don’t care enough to change the recoil pad, but I thought I would still mention this.
Firing the PC4
This is a fun carbine to shoot, and accuracy was great. I was firing offhand on a 50′ indoor range, and managed to shoot 1″ groups pretty easily. I look forward to going to an outdoor range to see how the PC4 does at longer distances. I will say that recoil was a bit heavier that I expected, given that I was only firing .40 S&W pistol cartridges, although the recoil was by no means unpleasant. I’m guessing the recoil felt heavier than I expected because this carbine is blowback operated, meaning that the action does very little to soften the felt recoil. That said, I do want to be clear that this recoil was quite light compared to any shotgun or centerfire rifle I’ve ever fired, and should not pose a problem for even the most recoil sensitive people.
The PC4 is a nice carbine, especially for those of us who already have pistols chambered for .40 S&W (or the PC9 for those who have pistols chambered for 9mm). Accuracy is good, recoil is light, and a variety of hard-to-notice features relating to safety and the blowback action are nice touches as well. The blowback operation is simple and reliable. Since this carbine is no longer in production, finding one may be slightly difficult, but is worth the effort.