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At first, 9mm carbine just sounds terribly wrong. Why on Earth would anyone buy a small caliber rifle that isn’t a tried and true .22LR or a bigger and beefier 5.56 rifle? I mean, that’s what all the cool kids have, right?
If that’s what you’re thinking, I hope you keep reading because I intend on changing your mind with some mind-altering facts as to why a 9mm carbine is a perfect addition to just about anybody’s armory!
Related Article: 15 Best Long Range Rifles (Ranked by a Marine Sniper)
We’ll discuss what to expect from a 9mm carbine and then I’ll do the digging for you and post up where to find the best deals!
Sig Sauer MPX 9mm Carbine
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KRISS Vector CRB Gen II
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CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 9mm Luger Carbine
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CMMG Mk9LE 9mm Luger M4
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The Skinny on the 9mm
You probably know all about 9mm handgun systems and most of you may have even operated one, but did you know the 9mm is one of the most world-renowned calibers and is used in just about every major country’s military and/or law enforcement agencies?
It has a perfect balance of power, considerably more than a .22 with significantly less recoil than larger calibers like the 5.56 or the .45acp. The 9mm is nearly impervious to major shortages like the .22 often faces and continues to be more economically friendly than most other popular calibers.
The 9mm has earned a bad rap, though. In the 1990’s, the craze was focused upon larger rounds. The idea was that home defense effectiveness is based on the size of the round and how much damage its capable of inflicting and this gave people the wrong idea about which platforms are worthy of their armories. People in guns stores everywhere gawked at those who bought small caliber weapons and of course, you’d never see the rough and tough guys with a wimpy little 9mm, right?
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Not all new trends have been fantastically pleasing but luckily the aforementioned demonization of the 9mm round is starting to die off and rightfully so! The 9mm round is more than capable of stopping a criminal and offers a very wide range of options to do so. Don’t let those die-hard large caliber worshipers fool you, a 9mm defense round is going to stop just about any living creature on the planet that can fit through your front door.
Aside from the ability to disable threats, the 9mm packs many benefits that are often overlooked for larger caliber damage. One, in particular, is the recoil or lack thereof. There are many 9mm carbines to choose from but no matter which platform you select, you will be receiving a fully short to mid-range capable rifle with nearly the recoil of a .22lr. This means quicker shooting capabilities, faster target transfer, and a higher level of precision when it truly counts.
Another big consideration when choosing a 9mm platform is collateral damage. The 9mm round doesn’t have the ability like larger calibers to penetrate thick walls and other material. This is ideal in home defense situations where you may have to fire at a target backed up to a wall where there could be people inside. This greatly increases the safety and usability of a 9mm chambered firearm in your home but still packs plenty of punch.
To wrap up a seemingly endless pro’s list about the 9mm, we have flexibility. The 9mm is one of the most usable rounds ever created and can handle a multitude of situations perfectly. From competition shooting to usage on a battlefield, the 9mm is there ready to perform its job. For the average joe, this means having a rifle on hand that is powerful enough to protect your family from a home invasion while also having a rifle to teach little Jimbo how to plink targets.
You can also obtain the 9mm in a massive plethora of flavors! That’s right, the 9mm comes in many different shapes and sizes, all with different features. The 9mm is one of the most researched and developed rounds in the world and with that comes a massive selection of different manufacturers, brands and styles. There have been BILLIONS of dollars dedicated to researching and developing 9mm rounds!
Oh yeah, one more thing. They’re cheap! The only platform you can operate that is cheaper than a 9mm carbine is a .22lr and even then, factoring in availability, 9mm is the better choice. We’ve seen .22lr shortages a few times throughout history now but I have never myself witnessed a massive 9mm shortage.
What is a 9mm Carbine?
A carbine is simply classified as a rifle with a shorter barrel length than what you’d find on its rifle counterparts. An easy way to think of this is to just take any standard rifle, like an AR15 and shorten the barrel size. That’s it! Carbines are just little baby versions of larger firearms but that doesn’t mean they are less effective or less fun to own!
Sometimes, though, a carbine is actually a longer variant of its original platform. Take the Kriss Vector or Uzi for example. To obtain one of these styles in most states legally, you would have to actually increase the barrel length to the minimum of 16”.
A lot of manufacturers decided to add things like faux suppressors and long muzzle attachments to meet the legal length requirements. Of course, an actual vector is a fully automatic submachine gun (SMG), so a semi-automatic variant with a longer barrel (faux suppressor method) was created to offer a vector style carbine to the general market.
You can find carbines in just about every standard rifle ammunition type, however, a lot of carbines are also chambered in pistol caliber ammo to enable their incredibly small and lightweight size. These carbines are dubbed as pistol-caliber carbines (PCC).
Initially, carbines were used in the buddy system with a revolver, firing the same rounds and enabling both close and medium-range effectiveness with one single type of ammo. A classic combo back in the wild western days was the legendary Winchester lever-action carbine paired with a Colt single-action Army revolver in 40 or .38.
Nowadays, carbines fit several rolls and offer incredible versatility and a usable platform for people of all experience levels. Carbines offer a rifle-like experience mixed with a decent amount of precision and range while eliminating a lot of the recoil and noise you’d find in a traditionally chambered rifle. This makes carbines especially perfect for young and inexperienced shooters or those of you with an injury.
Carbines are used everywhere from special forces and law enforcement to competitive shooting events. Carbines have also become especially popular in-home defense due to the rifle like utility encompassing smaller pistol calibers, which means less wall penetration.
Carbines are also often picked up for their overall value. In reality, if you just want something to plink targets with occasionally for fun, a pistol caliber carbine is a far better deal than most other rifles. The ammo is cheaper and more widely available, the firearm itself is generally cheaper, and the recoil is much friendlier!
What’s the Difference Between the Carbine and my 9mm Pistol?
A 9mm pistol is a pretty standard firearm that most people experienced in outdoor sports have probably had some type of run-in with. Some of you may have been underwhelmed by its capabilities and thus allowing you to fall into that “blah blah blah 9mm sucks blah blah blah” mentality. If this is you, don’t worry, it was me too! However, there is a massive difference in the nature and behavior of a 9mm round when shot out of a carbine versus a pistol that you should be aware of!
First and probably the most obvious difference is barrel length. With pistols having barrels around the 5” area, the round doesn’t exactly have a whole lot of time to get spinning and burn off all of its fuel before exiting the barrel.
Carbines solve this problem and maximize the effectiveness of a 9mm round by allowing it plenty of travel time safe and snugly inside a rifled barrel. This means the ballistics of a 9mm is greatly improved when shot out of a carbine. Muzzle velocity is significantly faster resulting in increased range and accuracy. The faster that bullet is moving along the ridges of a rifled barrel, the more likely it is to hold its elevation and angle.
Pistol recoil certainly changes depending on the size of the caliber, but its typically handled roughly the same by most shooters. When using a carbine, though, the recoil is nearly diminished to a small jolt and nothing more, making a 9mm carbine incredibly accurate to fire quickly. Dumping rounds out of a pistol probably won’t hit much of what you’re aiming at but with a carbine, dumping rounds out accurately is truly a thing of beauty.
Some shooters report increases of 300-500 feet per second (FPS) with their carbines over their pistol counterparts! Unfortunately, with how widely ballistics differ based on the exact model, platform, barrel length, 9mm manufacturer, type, and shooting conditions, I can’t provide you exact figures on the difference, so I encourage you to fire a 9mm carbine and experience the difference for yourself!
Why Should You Consider a 9mm Pistol Caliber Carbine?
The recoil is definitely one of the largest advantages of a 9mm carbine. If you can get past the cult-like mentality that a 9mm is not powerful enough, you’ll find a beautiful cauldron of happiness filled with power and control. 9mm Carbines offer a platform that is usable and friendly to just about anyone.
Many people with a disability or injury may find the same joy and usability in a 9mm carbine that they can no longer enjoy in their larger caliber rifles. Furthermore, letting those who aren’t so familiar with firearms wear the greenhorn with a 9mm carbine is a much smoother experience and offers a great starting point for beginners to practice and become comfortable with rifles.
Doesn’t it feel nice when you buy something that you can use in multiple different ways and is friendly with other things you’ve already bought? That’s the feeling you’ll get when you pop your pistol magazine into a 9mm carbine and fire away seamlessly. You should carry one or the other and no matter what, and have mags hiding somewhere that will fit either one. One ammunition type, one magazine style, two totally different platforms; it’s a match made in heaven!
When it comes to rifles, modifying and building them can be nearly just as exciting as shooting them. 9mm carbines offer an excellent platform for those of you who love tinkering. To make things simple, you can mod a 9mm carbine just as much as an AR15 depending on the model you select. They even offer 9mm carbines in AR styles with our beloved barrels covered in Picatinny rails.
Modding is fun, but you know what’s more fun? Modding even more because you saved a bunch of money on the rifle you chose! 9mm ammo is considerably cheaper to practice with and the actual rifles themselves are DIRT CHEAP! You can find great 9mm carbines for as low as $280 brand new!
9mm carbines are often found in crazy designs by manufacturers that are both interesting to use and functionally efficient. Take the Kel-Tech Sub 2000 for example. You can fold that bad boy up and stow it away in your significant others purse! There are tons of variation and features that you may not find in other larger caliber firearms.
A major contributor to the intricate designs of some 9mm carbines is how compact the magazine and other components can be manufactured. It’s easy to throw a folding stock in or some fancy looking grips when the original platform is low weight and possesses additional room otherwise taken up by larger receivers and magazines.
A lot of the AR15 fanboys are going to argue with me, but I promise, a 9mm carbine is a fantastic gun to simply just have. It’s cheap, it’s fun to choose, and it’s incredibly friendly to just about anyone looking to try it out.
You won’t have to go through a safety briefing to brace your kids or your friends from the recoil and you won’t have police asking you if the intruder gave you those shoulder bruises. Throwing a 9mm carbine in the daily driver is also a pretty great way to ensure you have boomsticks at the ready, no matter the situation. The 9mm carbine will likely cover all of the range levels you’d need in a dangerous situation and, as mentioned before, packs plenty of power to get the job done.
How to Choose the Best 9mm Carbine for YOU
First and foremost, the budget is the number one thing you need to hash out before buying guns. How much can you spend without your significant other beating you with a frying pan?
Most 9mm Carbines are going to run in the $600-$1500 range with a few exceptions like Hi-Points offering at under $300 or Sig Sauer beauties reaching well over $2000. As with just about any firearm you purchase, you’ll want to set aside at least $200 for transfer fees, FFL fees, FBI background checks, shipping, etc. You’ll also likely need (or want) to buy ammo and tacticool gear to pimp out your new boomstick.
Plays Nice With Others
Do you already own a few firearms? Possibly a 9mm handgun? If so, that handgun may share some of its goodies with your new 9mm carbine! Not all carbines take all handgun mags, though, so ensure that your carbine is specifically made to accept the same magazines as your 9mm pistols. This is especially handy if you carry your pistol by day and then come home and plop those mags into your carbine for home defense or maybe a little fun after work.
Some of the specially designed 9mm carbines have proprietary magazines and thus will not accept magazines from 9mm handguns.
If you already have some tacticool attachments for an AR15 or similar style rifle system, you may be able to use them on your new 9mm carbine so long as you check beforehand if they are compatible. Most 9mm carbines also come with the ability to accept many attachments similar to the AR15 platform. Of course, some one-off designs will be difficult to mod and may not play nicely with grips, optics, muzzle breaks, rails, etc.
Does Size Matter?
No matter what they say regarding other topics, in the world of 9mm carbines, size does indeed matter! To choose a barrel length that fits your needs, you’ll need to narrow down what you plan to use your carbine for the most. Of course, there are barrel lengths in the middle that will roughly suffice for any situation, but if you know for a fact that you’ll be using this STRICTLY for home defense, going with a shorter barrel length may be ideal. On the flip side, if you want to get the most precision out of your 9mm rounds, a longer barrel length would be the option to go with (something in the 18” realm).
Remember, in most places, any rifle which possesses a barrel length of under 16” is considered a short-barreled rifle (SBR) and is illegal without proper licenses and documentation. For most of you, 16” will be the shortest legal option you have for a 9mm carbine.
Other than barrel length, some 9mm carbines come in styles that decreased the total length of the firearm away from the shooter. Bullpup and SMG styled carbines meet the standard barrel length of 16” but they are considerably less lengthy when shouldered than something like an AR15 model.
Does it dress nicely?
There are hundreds of options when it comes to carbines, but the truth is, most of them to the average gun enthusiast is going to operate and perform roughly the same. So long as it checks the boxes mentioned before, the difference maker in which you choose will likely come down to the style and design of the firearm itself. Do you fancy an AR15 look-alike or more of a compact CQB style such as the Kris Vector? You can find a 9mm carbine in just about every style of firearm and some of these will really stand out at the range!
After reading through the guide you should have a pretty good idea of what will fit your needs and by this point, I hope you’ve decided on whether or not a 9mm carbine fits your needs adequately. I will now review some of the most popular 9mm carbines on the market and give you the location of their whereabouts so that you too can enjoy these tiny but mighty boomsticks!
I will leave a little disclaimer here. In most cases, the more you spend the more you get. In nearly every other article you’ll find on this website you’ll notice I encourage spending the extra dough to get state of the art equipment, however, this is not usually the case in 9mm carbines. Of course, spending more will get you more, but this “more” is usually for aesthetic purposes in this case and doesn’t always mean the performance of the firearm will be considerably better than its cheaper counterparts. Budget bin 9mm carbines, in my opinion, operate just as well as more expensive carbines and sometimes their simplicity is what makes them so great of a purchase in the first place.
Budget Bin: 9mm Carbines Under $500
These carbines are more aligned for the casual shooter and are perfect for those of you looking for cheap entertainment. With that said, any carbine firing a 9mm round is certainly capable of home defense applications.
As mentioned before, just because these are comparably cheap does not mean they aren’t practical or reliable. At under $500 these are truly amazing deals and are suitable for just about anyone.
Here are the Best 9mm Carbines (Listed by Price)
11. 995TS Hi-Point 9mm Carbine
Price Range: $240-$350
Style: The 995TS Hi-Point 9mm carbine has a proprietary polymer skeleton design with a 4140 blued steel barrel and that is 16.5”. It is extremely lightweight at 6.25lbs and 31” overall length. It comes in several different color configurations and camo designs (black is the cheapest)
My Review: If you have any experience at all with the hammer looking hi-point pistols, you’ll know they’re better off actually being used as a hammer. With this said, however, Hi-Point has decided to step it up and offer an incredible carbine at an industry low price. The low price mixed with Hi-Points prior reputation is certainly enough to perk up your whitetails, but don’t be alarmed as their 9mm carbine exceeds expectations!
Your friends might laugh at you when you get it. When you ask if they want to shoot it, they’ll probably say something like “I’ll try it another day (never).” That said, after they see this carbine in action you’ll catch them drooling over this thing, searching where to find them and how to buy one!
The carbine overall has a funky flavor to it. It’s certainly not an AR-style and it’s not exactly a traditional SMG style either. It’s kind of in its own odd reject ninja category but getting past its unorthodox skin you’ll find an economically friendly solution to putting rounds down range with incredible accuracy and durability. The Hi-Point 9mm carbine exceeded every single expectation I had for it and after finding out how cheap they are, I wonder why everyone doesn’t have one of these!
The link above will take you to the cheapest variant I could find, however, if you aren’t a fan of black, you can find this carbine in a bunch of different colors and camo skins. They also have package deals that include optics, vertical foregrips, folding stocks, etc. All Hi-Points offerings also come with a fantastic warranty that includes quick repairs and/or replacements.
- Doesn’t accept any popular 9mm handgun magazines
- Hi-Point doesn’t have a great reputation
- One of the cheapest options available. This is by far the best bang for your buck than any firearm will provide
- Significantly higher quality than Hi-Points pistols
Here is a great video showing this Hi-Point 9mm Carbine in action!
10. Kel-Tec SUB-2000 G2 Semi-Auto Rifle
Price Range: $390
Style: Another one-off design, the Kel-Tec Sub 2000 is most easily describable as a folding stick that goes boom. It comes in a few variations which accept popular pistols magazines such as Glock 17, 19, 22, 23, Smith and Wesson M&P, Sig Sauer P226 or Beretta 92, 96. You get either black, tan, or OD green color configurations. The Kel-Tec 2000’s most identifying feature is its ability to fold in half and fit inside a drawstring bag. Once folded, this thing is incredibly tiny! It’ll come with a standard 16.25” which takes up half of its total length (30.5”) and a barrel covered in M-LOK Picatinny rails.
My Review: If SBR like portability in a fully legal, foldable configuration is something that interests you, look no further than the Kel-Tec sub-2000 G2. Before throwing this in your backpack, though, you’ll need to figure out which model best suits you. Obviously, if you have one of the pistols I mentioned above in the style section, it may be in your best interest to choose a model that plays nicely with what you already have! Keep in mind, the sub-2000 can accept double stacked mags and even Glocks 33 round monstrosities. Once you’ve figured out which model in 1 of the 3 color variations mentioned above, blame the mechanic! It’s easy because these are to be had under $400 which makes this purchase easy to hide from the missus!
At this price, this 9mm carbine is nearly cheaper than some of the handguns it shares magazines with! Incredible! Equipped with Picatinny rails, you’ll be able to throw on optics and attachments for ARs you may already have lying around.
Once you’ve got this bad boy in your possession, the first thing you’ll do is fold and unfold it. It’s incredibly easy and literally splits the total length in half, allowing for this carbine to fit in even small sling bags.
Shooting this thing is another matter entirely. To offer such portability at such a low weight, a few things had to be sacrificed and like most things, comfort takes a hit in the name of convenience. Firing the sub-2000 is incredibly uncomfortable compared to most other carbine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still easily handleable, even for the youngins, but its no Cadillac. The firing mechanisms are placed directly under where your cheek rests, making the slamming of the blowback piston consistently amplified. This plus a very heavy trigger pull makes the sub-2000 a bit awkward to fire, but nevertheless, 2” groupings at 25 yards barebones are easily had.
Another huge plus in being a proud owner of a sub-2000 is the aftermarket community. There are tons of additions, upgrades, and tacticool gear that will dramatically increase the comfort and usability of the Kel-Tec sub-2000.
- All plastic design that feels kind of cheap
- The blow-back system is located directly under where your cheek rests, resulting in a bit of discomfort that should be absent in a 9mm carbine
- Cheap and affordable companion to most popular handguns
- Incredibly lightweight and compact (4.25lbs)
Here is an awesome video of the Kel-Tech Sub-2000 in action.
9. Chiappa M1-9 Carbine
Price Range: $480
Style: The Chiappa M1-9 Carbine is a very basic and standard World War II style carbine that looks similar to the original M1, which was issued to soldiers in over 6.5 million copies.
The Chiappa M1-9 Carbine is chambered in 9mm Luger and will accept magazines from the Beretta 92. Equipped is a blued 18” barrel and adjustable rear sights, all encompassed on a hardwood stock that equates to a 35” overall length.
My Review: A throwback to the WWII era, Chiappa has brought us an affordable tribute to the original M1. For those of you who would rather a realistic look and a tried and tested design, this carbine is perfect! She also plays nicely with the Beretta 92, creating a fantastic historical duo that anyone would be proud to own.
This carbine has an 18” barrel which is slightly longer than most 9mm rifle carbines on this list. It doesn’t fold up or have some kind of insatiable portability mode, but it does have a vintage feel that is unmatched by other carbines in this category. There are also some fun mods available including stock swaps and metal bayonet lugs and barrel bands to swap out for the factory plastic ones.
There was an issue with feeding while using lower grain ammunition. This problem is fixed by using 147 grain NATO rounds!
- Has minor feeding issues with lower grain ammo
- A tried and true design that has seen both combat and heavy civilian usage with great results
- Decent aftermarket available meaning you can build one that fits your style and use case
Here is a good video reviewing the Chiappa M1 Carbine.
8. Ruger PC 9mm Carbine
Price Range: Under $500
Style: Traditional Ruger takedown design modeled after the legendary 10/22 takedown rifle. This carbine is compatible with SR-Series, security-9, and Glock magazines and boasts a barrel length of 16.12” and a total length of 34.37”. The Ruger PC comes with a top located Picatinny rail and their traditional glass filled black nylon stock.
These are available in two models, the 19100 and the 19101 versions. The only difference is the magazine they come with, which can either be 10 or 17 round magazines respectively.
My Review: This Ruger 9mm carbine has one of the simplest designs on the market today but make no mistake, it’s are top-notch in reliability and performance. If simple and sweet is up to your alley, the Ruger PC 9mm carbine is a perfect match for your next range date. This carbine is recommended by professionals as one of the most reliable 9mm carbines to date.
There’s not much else to say about it other than the rail on top is a fantastic integrated addition for easily adding optics and this pistol caliber firearm is great for some quality range time or home defense! It’s incredibly easy to strip and clean and I’d say these are one of the easier 9mm carbines to become familiar with the platform for someone new to owning a pistol caliber carbine firearm.
The Ruger PC 9mm carbine is incredibly easy to acquire targets with the factory sights. It’s the perfect plinker for anyone on a budget.
- No threaded barrel options
- Some fitment issues with older Glock 19 magazines
- Modeled after the famous 10/22
- Simplistic and lightweight design
Here is a cool video of the Carbine in action!
Mid-grade: 9mm Carbines Under 1000 Dollars
This is the area of cash shelling that you’ll start to find some of the most popular rifles and SMG look-a-likes in 9mm carbine variants. Not necessarily better in performance than our budget bin friends, these carbines usually combine a stylish design with enhanced features such as faux suppressors, larger magazines, and stronger build quality.
7. Beretta CX4 Storm
Price Range: $500-$700
Style: The Italian CX4 Storm very closely resembles a Bullpup design, however, it doesn’t technically meet all the requirements and as such it kind of sits in an awkward gray area. I mean come on guys, look at the picture, how do I explain that in words? If you already have one of the coveted Beretta PX4 handguns, you’re in luck, as the CX4 accepts the same exact M92 magazines and even the extensions which allow you to run both firearms with just one type of magazine and caliber!
My Review: You either love it or you hate it. Some people think they look like toy guns, some people think they are interesting and quirky enough to deserve a spot in their safe. Whatever your thoughts, they’re pretty cool and they won’t cost anywhere near four figures so they’re pretty available to those of you looking for a modern style 9mm carbine.
The CX4 might look crazy but the accuracy is anything but crazy, expect roughly 1 to 1.5-inch groupings at 25 yards or better with an optic.
- 16 Inch 6-groove RH twist barrel that is chrome lined and hammer-forged
- Bullpup-like magazine position
- Highly modular and easy to upgrade/modify (I suggest replacing the factory stock polymer firing hammer for a steel version)
- Comes with a very comfortable buttstock spacer that virtually eliminates discomfort from recoil, making these great rifles to teach children with
- Full-length Picatinny rail system on the top for optics and a tri-rail system for further modifications. The bottom rail actually slides out from the stock, pretty neat!
- Shares compatibility with the 9mm Beretta M92 magazines
Here is a good video of the CX4 Strom in action!
6. Palmetto State Armory Gen4 Shockwave Pistol Carbine
Price Range: $500 – $600
Style: These AR-9s should be pretty familiar as they are modeled after a traditional AR platform and basically look just like an AR15, just smaller. The pistol grip, the brace, the handrail, it all looks pretty similar to an AR15 except perhaps being a bit smaller and everything looks normal until you see that tiny little mag-well with that tiny little 9mm magazine. Yes, these are very modular and easily modifiable just like an AR15 platform so if you’re anything like me, the stock furniture will probably be swapped out rather quickly and your PSA Shockwave will be unique to you in no time, just make sure you either file for SBR or keep a “brace” on it!
My Review: Before we get started I just want to make it clear that these are “technically” pistols. The arm brace is not a stock, it’s an “arm brace”. Fine, it’s not a carbine, it’s semantically a pistol, but for our purpose and what you’ll be using it for, it will behave and give a very similar (the same) experience as a 9mm carbine platform would provide.
The build quality here is phenomenal and the price is competitive. End of review.
Okay, fine, I’ll explain! Sure, there are tons of AR9 options on the market but in my opinion, the offerings by PSA are some of the best value options you can find. For the price, the bang for the buck is absolutely insane.
The PSA Shockwave comes tricked out and well-loved with special interest of the details such as that polished and enhanced trigger, premium furniture, the PSA ½-36 6061 9mm Fluted Flash Can, an aircraft-grade aluminum 6061-T6 anodized upper, a nitride treated Gen 4 hybrid 8620 steel bolt and some KAK industries goodies including the pistol stabilizing blade and the KAK pistol brace.
You’re getting a platform that has the modularity you need to make it your own but also a platform that comes ready to rock and roll out of the box with premium parts, premium craftsmanship, and a price that allows the purchase of plenty of rounds to put through it!
- A 4-inch chrome moly vanadium barrel
- Comes with a PSA 5 inch M-Lok handguard and rail system
- Magpul MOE pistol grip
- Uses ETS round Glock Magazine (the same mags a 9mm Glock 17, 19, or 26 would use)
- A PSA Enhanced and Polished Trigger (EPT) which is a smoother and crisper trigger than a traditional MIL-SPEC trigger
Here is a good video review of this carbine in action!
5. CMMG Mk9LE 9mm Luger M4
Price Range: $850
Style: Traditional M4 styled 9mm carbine that, aside from the magazine, looks just like the basic CMMG AR15 offering. This bad boy comes with a 16” barrel, collapsible stock, M4 2-piece handguards, A2 compensator and pistol grips, and a 32-round magazine. Any color available so long as it’s black. 32” overall length and 6.2lbs sets this carbine right in the middle of sizing for 9mm carbines.
My Review: If you are a diehard M4/AR15 style fanboy, this is the 9mm rifle to get, although there are a few differences you’ll notice. First, the magazine (in my opinion) looks a bit odd sitting under what appears to be an M4. To me, it just looks weird, but that’s what you get with a 9mm carbine. Second, there is no gas tube and instead, it’s been replaced with a blowback style system.
There are a lot of 9mm carbines like this one that boasts a similar style, but this one, in particular, has been completely re-engineered specifically for the 9mm round. A lot of the competitors are simply conversion kits that are typically flimsy and do not offer the same reliability and performance as the CMMG 9mm carbine. This carbine is solid and offers a very low level of sound and recoil to boot.
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the handguards and pistol grip, but luckily for me and others that share this opinion, the CMMG 9mm carbine is exceptionally easy to modify with a massive aftermarket selection.
- Doesn’t come with M-LOK rails on the handguards
- Magazines are a bit expensive
- Incredibly easy to modify and will accept just about any of the same attachments you’d expect to use on an AR15
- Tried and true CMMG durability and performance
Here is a good video review of this 9mm carbine in action.
4. CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 9mm Luger Carbine
Price Range: $1070
Style: The ever so popular CZ Scorpion EVO design has finally come to us in the form of a 9mm beauty. Attached, to fit the legal barrel length requirements is a faux suppressor that will certainly get looks at the range. At 16.2” barrel length, this carbine boasts a blowback semi-auto variant to the real CZ Scorpion. This means we’ll still get the folding stock, low profile flip-up sights, ambidextrous thumb safety, and a lightweight polymer frame, all in a package that weighs just under 7lbs.
My Review: Before talking about the carbine itself, let’s talk about the actual company, CZ. This company is notorious for listening to its customers and providing exactly what has been requested. The CZ Scorpion EVO Carbine is precisely what the market has suggested, and CZ has delivered. In fact, as they were manufacturing the original rifle variant, they already had plans to create American legal variants with 922r kit conversions because so many people loved the design and performance of their rifle. Since converting the rifle was costly and kind of a pain in the butt for the average Joe, CZ did us a favor and created a standalone carbine variant so that everyone can enjoy their design!
This is probably the most comfortable and ergonomic “assault” style rifle/carbine out there. Shooting this thing feels like you’re firing an airsoft gun. The muzzle flash is nearly nonexistent and.. recoil? Where is it? I don’t know, as I can’t find this recoil you speak of with this carbine. It’s a wonderful thing. Like a hot knife through butter, this carbine shreds targets with absolute ease.
It looks cool. It shoots well. It’s unbelievably comfortable. It’s one of the cheapest firearms to fire that encompasses the prior stated metrics. Why WOULDN’T you want one? Alongside M-LOK rails that allow for a plethora of upgrades and modifications, there is really no reason not to pick one of these up.
- A bit on the heavy side for polymer frame carbines
- Beautiful CZ Scorpion platform that loves to draw attention at the range (Can you get anymore tacticool than a CZ Scorpion?)
- Incredibly durable despite its polymer frame and offers low amounts of recoil
Here is a good video review of the CZ Scorpion in action.
9mm Cadillacs: Over 1000 Dollars
For those of you who love spending money to have the latest and greatest head-turners, look no further! I’m not going to promise a significant increase in performance over cheaper 9mm carbines, but I will promise some sick designs and extra attention at the range.
3. KRISS Vector CRB Gen II
Price Range: $1300
Style: The legendary Vector platform has come to us in the form of a 9mm carbine Cerakoted with a faux suppressor to appease the barrel length feds. This is the epidemy of tacticool and comes with a 16” barrel length for the shortest 9mm carbine experience legally possible. Of course, the folding sights are present and you’ll have access to a full-length top-mounted Picatinny rail and underbelly rails for your mounting pleasures. For you, Glock owners out there, fear no more, as this model of the Vector accepts your handy dandy Glock mags. The overall length is a measly 35.25” and it weighs in at 7.8lbs.
My Review: Taking modularity to the next level over the coveted MP7, the Vector was designed for tactical entry teams deployment into CQB situations. The vector is purpose-built to provide firepower superiority over enemies in close up combat. The vector does one thing and one thing well, spit bullets at targets in blinding speeds.
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Of course, the general population isn’t allowed to spit bullets at blinding speeds but the general public does love the style and design of the Vector, so what do we do now?
Enter the KRISS Vector CRB Gen II, a 9mm carbine variant to the real deal. It’s not going to empty the magazine in less than a second but it is going to grant you access to small crowds taking pictures and asking questions at the range. Completed with the Defiance KRISS M4 stock, this is one of the shortest but most controllable carbines on this list. Firing this bad boy truly feels like operating an extension of the human body. The style conforms to a shooter’s stance so well that you will fell you’re truly one with this gun.
Recoil? Nah. KRISS’s patented V recoil system truly shines on this 9mm carbine variant. The V recoil system is built to handle full auto capabilities, so it’s no wonder that on single-shot modes it exceeds expectations.
This article is all about 9mm carbines, but I can’t review this KRISS Vector Gen II without mentioning its tool-less caliber changing function. Easily change from 9mm to .45acp by swapping out the receiver in seconds.
Overall, you don’t NEED to spend $1300 on a 9mm carbine, but will you WANT to? Hell yes. This thing is far more amazing than I can possibly put into words. Firing a 9mm carbine Vector is a totally different ball game than other 9mm carbines on this list and certainly gives you a bit of rep with the boys.
- KRISS doesn’t know what cons are
- Patented V recoil system all but completely eliminates recoil
- Is this not the coolest gun ever? Cmon man, you’re not fooling anyone, you love its design!
Here is another great video by Hickok45 reviewing this carbine.
2. Zenith Z-5RS
Price Range: Originally, these were priced to sell around $1800 but they sold so well that you’d be lucky to find one under $2000
Style: The style is certainly something you won’t be unfamiliar with even if Zenith isn’t a name brand that you immediately recognize. The design here is based on the coveted purpose-built CQB weapons system and highly regarded ergonomic king, the German-designed Heckler & Koch MP5.
Zenith is an American company based out of Afton Virginia and when the Z-5RS came out, the original HK MP5 had no civilian variants and thus, weren’t legal to own for the majority of the people that adored the design for a very long time. HK MP5 platforms (SP5) eventually were released in civilian versions but started to become collectible and extremely expensive and as such, wear and tear starts to really eat into the value of your precious collectible firearm. Furthermore, many of the MP5 variants that were imported into the states had to omit certain key features that made the platform great in the first place. Zenith ensures this isn’t a problem and every Z-5RS comes with the same great features we liked to see from the original MP5 design with no omissions.
In comes the Zenith Z-5RS. A firearm that doesn’t have historical collectible value (yet) and a firearm that isn’t just a silly knock-off but arguably right on par with the quality and performance of the actual HK MP5. These firearms are manufactured by MKE in Turkey at state-of-the-art facilities and are imported by the Americans that work at Zenith stateside. MKE is a licensed manufacturer of the original MP5 and many other high profile firearms and used very similar or the same true-to-spec machining and tooling to create the parts that later go into the creation of the Z-5RS.
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My Review: Before we get started, yes, I’ll admit, it is more of a “pistol” than a rifle and as such, it doesn’t perfectly fit the definition of a pistol caliber carbine, however, it does give a very similar experience and at the end of the day, it’s just semantics and it’s really just a pistol carbine. The Zenith Z-RS will go toe to toe with any 9mm carbine and I can guarantee it’ll leave a smile on your face.
The Zenith Z-5RS is every bit of a capable 9mm carbine that anything else on the list could be. The 3-lug barrel makes it extremely easy to attach and detach a suppressor if you so choose to jump through the hoops to get that legal. These firearms are just as, if not more, rugged and durable and capable of surviving heavy abuse while still maintaining accurate and reliable function.
The MP5 has an official standard of accuracy at 25 meters consisting of a 3” grouping. That’s a bit of a joke for the Zenith Z-5RS and adding an optic makes with the included Picatinny rail system just exacerbates that point. These are little tack drivers and will send those 9mm rounds downrange as accurate as anything else you’ll ever see at the range.
The Z-5RS is personally the carbine I chose, however, there are actually a few other variants worth checking out:
- The Z-5 comes with a 16″ barrel and A2 stock.
- The Z-5 Sport is a more sporty version of the Z-5 and comes with a receiver only adapted for the included 10-round steel magazines, a welded single-piece A2 stock, and pistol grip, and a slightly longer 16.15” barrel.
- The Z-5K is the shortest variant of the Z-5 lineup and achieves this by dropping the tri-lug and threaded end from the 5P variant.
- The Z-5K classic is the same as the Z-5 but with an integrated vertical foregrip and no 3 lug adapter. This model does come with a Picatinny rail for optics.
- The Z-5P is the truest to the form factor of the MP5K with a tri-lug and 1/2×28 threaded muzzle.
- The Z-5P SB is the truest to the form factor of the MP5K with a tri-lug and 1/2×28 threaded muzzle that instead of the traditional smooth forearm, you get a more modern M-LOK forearm with an optical Picatinny rail system and folding pistol brace.
- The Z-5RS (Reverse Stretch) is the classic 8.9″ barreled MP5 configured as a pistol or factory SBR and comes with a tri-lug and 1/2×28 threaded muzzle.
Literally the only con I can think of is that the extractor pins are notorious for wearing out far before any of the other components, however, this is an extremely simple replacement.
- An 8.9” barrel length with an OA length of 17.9”
- Paddle mag extractor
- 3 lug adapter
- MP5-Esque iron sight configuration
- Extremely upgradeable
Here is a good video review of the Zenith Z-5RS.
1. Sig Sauer MPX 9mm Carbine
Price Range: $1700
Style: Gas-operated 30 round capable MP7 SMG 9mm carbine variant with flip-up sights that are built by yours truly, Sig Sauer, so long as you’re willing to pay dearly for it! A polymer shell sporting a legal (with flash hider) minimum 16” barrel length and weighs in at 7lbs. Other goodies include a telescoping stock, AR styled trigger system, lancer polymer magazine construction, 3 prong flash hider, ambidextrous charging handle, and a KeyMod rail system.
My Review: As always, Sig Sauer is here to appease our big-spending readers. If you’ve got the money, this is a beautiful piece of art provided by one of my favorite manufacturers. This MPX changes the 9mm carbine game a bit by offering a short-stroke pushrod gas system and a 30 round magazine. Something I’ve always complained about was small 9mm carbine magazine sizes, so I thank you, Sig Sauer, for including a nicely sized magazine with this incredible little carbine.
So let’s talk more about this gas system that Sig Sauer has developed especially for this firearm. The special design of the MPX allows for even less recoil than a traditional blowback 9mm system would generate and allows for a personal defense weapon (PDW) style stock to be used without a special buffer or bolt carrier. This system is by far the best recoil reduction system in the world of 9mm carbines today which allows for accurate firing as fast as you can pull the trigger.
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Speaking of little, this thing is insanely tiny! The actual barrel length(13.3”), of course, isn’t legal at all but to adhere to the laws and bring us the smallest possible carbine Sig went ahead and threw on a 2.7” flash hider to meet requirements.
If you just love spending money and the price tag of the MPX wasn’t enough, there is a decently sized aftermarket selection for this firearm including all new furniture kits, grips, triggers, etc.
If this beast by Sig Sauer is something that interests you, I wish you the best of luck in finding one! They’re tough to come by and have faced insanely high demand.
The only cons I see:
- Gas operated 9mm carbines are not very popular due to their complexity and additional weight
- At this price point, you could purchase top brand AR15s and still have the cash to boot for ammunition
- The Keymod handguard is slowly going out of style and losing market share to the M-Lok handguard style and thus, future modifications may favor the M-Lok design
- Reliability in harsh conditions
- Superior magazine size to most 9mm carbine variants
- Extremely modifiable with tons of aftermarket support.
Here is a great video review on the Sig 9mm Carbine!
A carbine is a shorter version of the same model. Usually, the carbine has a barrel shortened from its original length.
Modern carbines are compact versions of rifles.
A major difference between a rifle and a carbine is the length.
Rifles with long barrels are more accurate while carbines with shorter barrels are easy and fast to fire but less accurate.
Carbines are primarily good for home defense. They are also effective in confined spaces and capable of inflicting devastating damage within a short period of time.
9mm carbines are one of the best because there are a variety of models to choose from. They have proven designs and pistol magazine compatibility.
Also, the ammunition is cheap and recoils are less felt.
That’s it, boys, that’s the list of best 9mm carbine systems out there and would most certainly recommend all of them! Of course, there are many more and every so often manufacturers release new 9mm carbines so it’s certainly not an end all be all type of list. 9mm Carbines are steadily gaining traction in the world of firearm sports and home defense so don’t be a laggard, pick one up ASAP and enjoy sharing one type of ammo and perhaps even one type of magazine with your favorite hand cannons!
With that said, if something new comes out or you think I’ve missed a major player, post it up in the comments section and we’ll have a discussion about it!