Carry Life | At Home With The AR

posted on April 17, 2015

In Carry Life last week, we took some serious shots at two bad ideas. The first was BATFE’s announced (and since retracted) proposal to ban sale and import of M855 AR ammunition. Like so many attacks on Second Amendment protections in the Bill of Rights, this one sounds good to lots of folks. Hopefully it’s now clear that this was either an intentionally deceptive end-run to attack virtually all rifle ammunition in the long haul, or merely evidence of incredible ignorance. Whatever, good riddance to the ban is the upshot—however temporary such status may prove.

The second bad idea was the notion of an AR pistol as a "carry" firearm. A pause for clarity here, and one which we hope you’ll always remember: You are going to read about firearms we don’t like in Carry Life, but please don’t confuse these with poor firearms. Our Windham example is of the first type. We enjoyed shooting it, and found it accurate (within the obvious limits of such a configuration), reliable and very well-made. Though we cautioned it was a bad match for inexperienced shooters for a very specific reason (muzzle control), this isn’t Windham’s fault in any way. Translation? Not sure we’d shell out for it, but that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t enjoy the heck out of having one of your own.

A poor firearm—or any product, for that matter—you simply aren’t likely to hear about from us. These appear now and again, and we send them back with a polite note. Well, usually polite: If it’s actually unsafe, then “Katie, bar the door!”

Now we come to the point: We said labeling a 27-in. long, 6-lb. firearm as “easily concealed” was preposterous (as White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest did here) and would, by the same token, be a poor choice for carry.

But does that mean any AR is unsuitable for any Carry Life defensive role? No, emphatically.

In fact, one chain of defensible logic leads to exactly the opposite conclusion. In 2001’s “The Seven Myths of Gun Control,” author Richard Poe cites a Florida State University study that concluded that 98 percent of defensive gun uses (and there are somewhere between 760,000 and 3.6 million per year) do not involve the firing of a single shot. In other words, this means the presence of a firearm in the hands of an intended victim halts an otherwise criminal aggression. In this context, is it too much to impute that a more intimidating defensive arm might be more effective? Draw your own conclusions about being somewhere you don’t belong, and suddenly finding yourself peering down the business end of an AR.

This brings us to the Lone Wolf PCC AR. AR-pattern carbines chambered in pistol caliber cartridges aren’t any sort of new. As far as we know, the original example was a Colt in 9 mm. Using a modified bolt, it was quickly followed by others and employed a magazine block cut to accept Uzi magazines (yes, that Uzi). Depending on whom you asked, it was a nifty solution to a semi-problem: AR familiarity and reliability married to a cartridge without the concussion and over-penetration risk attendant to a 5.56.

As far as reduced concussion and over-penetration control, it was all good. As to the reliability thing, though, not so much. The Uzi magazine rule was “buy a dozen, and hope three or four work.” Good news was/is that they are/were cheap. They’re difficult to load, it’s true, but readily available. Of course you had a whole new set of problems in a round-count-limited state.

Enter some clever guys who thought “hmmmm … awful lot of Glocks out there. I wonder if those magazines …”

In a word, yes.

A fine idea got better. Widely available, super tough magazines from 10 to 33 rounds mated to a blowback AR (no barrel-vented gas, no piston rod) resulted in mild recoil, low report and a hearty welcome on many ranges where an AR was otherwise arma non grata. We’ve got more than 1,000 rounds through ours with only a tiny handful of failures during what we’d term “wear-in.” Even these we blame on mis-manipulation by us.

Our misgivings about pistol ARs are addressed in multiple ways, too. A stock provides a second point of contact on the firearm for the shooter, and helps enormously to keep the muzzle from sweeping body parts (especially the lower legs and feet). The stock also provides proper handling cues in other ways, which helps any previous training come into play. 

Most important, though, is how the excellence of Eugene Stoner’s design makes the jump to pistol caliber while maintaining all the “pointability” advantages inherent in a rifle. We invited a variety of shooters to test the G9, and specifically those who had no PCC AR experience. To a man—and several enthusiastic women—they absolutely loved this carbine. We fitted it with Magpul BUS, an EOTech and Aimpoint PRO sights; All of 'em ran like crazy.

With luck, the Carry Life implications are clear. Most of us will spend two-thirds of our life around home, where regular carry considerations—mostly those of discretion (or simple politeness, if you prefer) and weight—don’t apply. Because the Lone Wolf G9 PCC dials down the risk of over-penetration while invoking rifle-handling benefits, it’s a perfectly reasonable home-defense tool. 

Remember, of course, that this is no excuse for improper storage, especially around children or others unsuited for unsupervised firearms handling. Like any long arm used in confined spaces, we’d recommend training that takes the added length into account: There are safeties and subtleties beyond those of a handgun.

Now Carry on.


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