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Guide to Upgrading your Ruger PC Carbine

Gun nuts have a soft spot for hard-use rifles. Ruger’s PC Carbine is the perfect example. This rifle isn’t about to win any beauty pageants, but it is built to be tossed in the back of the truck and run-ragged on the range. This is a gun you can train with that won’t shoot holes in your wallet, and one that will still be going strong long after you’re not.

The Ruger PC Carbine--a 9mm that packs a punch.
The Ruger PC Carbine–a 9mm that packs a punch.

The Ruger PC Carbine

Let’s start with some basic definitions. The Ruger PC Carbine looks like some of its other black-rifle ancestors, but that’s more of a costume than anything. This is, at its core, a carbine chambered in a pistol caliber: 9mm.

That makes it legally a rifle, which is why it has a longer barrel and a stock. And even though it is anemic when compared to rifle calibers, the extra length on the barrel is optimal for pulling out all of the 9mm’s potential. Any ammo you choose for this will be leaving the barrel at a higher velocity than is advertised on the box.

And this makes it an exceptional gun for self-defense. If you’re looking for a reasonably compact home-defense gun, this one is even better (as the 9mm isn’t nearly as likely to over-penetrate as wayward rifle rounds). In short, this is a rock-solid option for close quarters.

In its stock configuration (shown here with a Ruger mag) the PC Carbine is purposefully designed and well thought out.
In its stock configuration (shown here with a Ruger mag) the PC Carbine is purposefully designed and well thought out.

Where does Ruger get it right?

This one’s easy. Unlike so many AR makers who cobble together an entry-level gun that almost immediately needs some serious upgrades, the Ruger PC Carbine is a bold design that is highly adaptable out of the box. In this respect, it is like the Ruger ARs.

There’s no need to work on the trigger, exactly, as this is not a bench gun. The stock is functional as is, and the forend, with its M-LOK slots, is a solid platform for the needed additions. Everything about this gun is good, to begin with, so there’s not much that you would want to replace in the traditional sense.

What’s missing from the Ruger PC Carbine?

This question is far easier to answer. We’re going to work our way through all of the basic ways this rifle might be used to find the answers, and we’ll begin with mobility.

The Ruger PC Carbine, just like every rifle, needs a sling. You can’t always carry it in your hands, and dropping it down on your strong side will allow you more control over lights, phones, doors…

The Magpul MS4 is the perfect choice for the Ruger PC Carbine.

Check out the Magpul MS4. This is a robust and easy-to-use design that connects with a QD stud to the base of the PC Carbine’s receiver.

The MVG is a simple foregrip from Magpul. It has clean lines and provides a useful grip on rifles.

Slings allow you to drop the rifle, but what if you want to hold it more securely. Look at adding a vertical foregrip. As this is a rifle and not a pistol, you can add vertical grips or hand stops.

Check out the AT3 M-LOK Hand stop. This is a nice minimalist option that can give you the ideal place to index your support hand. And these can be added to pistols, too, without running afoul of the law.

Get a grip

As for the grip, this may be the one place that you would choose to replace something. As the Ruger PC Carbine accepts AR grips, you have unlimited choices for what you might like to put in there.


Hogue AR-15 Overmolded Pistol Grip with Finger Grooves
The Hogue grips have palm swells and finger grooves.

This is typically more of a concern for those with really large or really small hands, but there are subtle adjustments you can make to grip angles or materials, if you want to get wild.

Once you have firm control over the gun, you’ll need to decide what to feed it. The ammo selection is getting better these days, and there are lots of magazines in stock. For Ruger PC Carbine, you’ll want at least 10 mags–and likely more.

Ruger mags are much harder to come by. Ruger knows this, though, which is why they include a GLOCK magazine well adapter with these.

Buy in bulk and save money. Two of these would do it.
Buy in bulk and save money. Two of these would do it.

For GLOCK mag versions of the PC Carbine, you can go with any number of options. For the most reliable, look for factory mags. Or go with Magpuls.

The most obvious addition to the Ruger PC Carbine

The most obvious addition to the Ruger PC Carbine will be sights. This gun needs sights, and the factory set-up doesn’t allow for the easy addition of any iron sights, so we’ll be talking about optics. Pointing it downrange, after all, will only get you so far.

As for optics, Ruger has provided two clear options. Above the chamber, there’s a traditional stretch of rail that will allow for the addition of scope or red dot. Forward, above the barrel, is a shorter section of rail for mounting an optic out farther.

Which would work better? That depends on your needs. Do you need an LPVO or a red dot?

The traditional placement of scope or optic will allow for a very familiar feel for most of us. With the optic or scope put closer to your eye, you’ll need to establish a good position for eye relief. In this position–especially with scopes–your field of view is typically limited to what you see in the scope.

The AT3 Red Tail Scope is an ideal option for precision at close quarters.

The AT3 Red Tail allows you to work with minimal magnification at super-close ranges (like inside of buildings) and still provides the versatility of a 4X for making longer shots. This is a great choice for an LPVO, and a perfect addition to the back-end of the PC Carbine.

Open Box Return - AT3™ 3xP Scope - 3x Prism Scope with Illuminated BDC Reticle
The AT3 3xP will be good for those looking for a fixed magnification.

The AT3 3xP is a good option for a compact scope that will provide the speed of a red dot along with some minimal magnification.

AT3 ARO Micro Red Dot Sight with Absolute Cowitness Mount

The AT3 ARO is great for a minimalist option that you run farther down the barrel.

The forward section of the rail provides a great way to mount an optic–especially a red dot–farther away from your eye. This opens up your field of view and allows you to keep a clean view of all of your surroundings while also keeping your eye on your target.

This grew out of the old Scout Rifle concept–which predates practical red dots–in which a 1.5 power scope was placed forward of the action on rifles designed to be used at close quarters. The increase in the field of view allows for exceptionally fast target acquisition (if you train with the design) and allows for both eyes to remain open. If you need surgical precision at longer distances, you work with Kentucky windage, but it still works.

Very few scope makers make dedicated scout scopes anymore. Red dots do the same thing (almost) and are smaller and even faster for target acquisition.

The AT3 RD-50 is larger than the ARO, but it is built like a tank.
The AT3 RD-50 is larger than the ARO, but it is built like a tank.

Check out the AT3 RD-50.

Ruger Got it Right

There’s no doubt that this is a unique gun. From its adaptable mag wells to the versatility and ambidexterity of its controls, this is an ideal way to build out the perfect PCC for home defense, or for an ideal truck gun.

And there’s not much that you need to really make it sing. After the optics and ergonomics are addressed, this gun will be fully functional. That said, as this is not a ubiquitous design, you’ll need more range time with it in order to push its limits and become proficient.

One Last Tip

If there’s anyone that knows the AR-15 platform, it’s the US military. As a special offer for our readers, you can get the Official US Army Manual for AR-15/M4/M16 right now – for free. Click here to snag a copy.

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1 thought on “Guide to Upgrading your Ruger PC Carbine

  1. How fo I change the pistol grip on the ruger pc carbine chassis? Several people on youtube says you can put a magpul grip on the gun but I cant find any videos or instructions on how to do it

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