AR-Format Pistol Caliber Carbines: Wilson’s New AR9, or Something Cheaper?

   04.12.16

AR-Format Pistol Caliber Carbines: Wilson’s New AR9, or Something Cheaper?

Pistol caliber carbines have become extremely popular since the ammo shortage a few years ago. Just recently, the prolific Wilson Combat company released information about their new 9mm rifle the AR9.

At first glance it appears to be another AR-15 clone. In all honesty when you get past the marketing about how it’s built specifically for the 9mm, it is really another AR clone. It’s a quality-built 9mm AR with a quality AR price of $1,995.

Unfortunately, that price is what’s killing it in the eyes of the buyer.

For example.

  1. The Sig MPX is also a quality built AR style carbine: $1,732
  2. The Zenith MKE Z-5 Rifle is based of of the classic, reliable MP-5: $1,500
  3. The new popular kid is the CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 Carbine: $999
  4. We’ve covered the Beretta CX4 Storm 9mm Carbine: $800
  5. Just Right Carbines (JRC): $774
  6. Kel-Tec Sub-2000: $500
  7. MechTech Carbine Conversion Unit: $434

The problem that seems to be overlooked in the higher end hardware here is that people are not trying to find a pistol caliber sniper rifle. For most people the draw is towards shooting on the cheap, and usually using the same magazines we have for our pistols. For some it’s finding a nice host for a suppressor.

Here’s what people really want:

  • Cheap platform
  • Takes pistol magazines (Glock, Beretta, S&W)
  • Has a threaded barrel for an optional suppressor
  • Doesn’t spit gas back in the shooters face when suppressed
Red Lion modified Sub-2000 Gen 2
Red Lion modified Sub-2000 Gen 2

Cheap is subjective, but spending less is always a good thing. From the Beretta down to the Mechtech, pretty much all the options are far less than the AR9. The Beretta and MechTech only take one type of magazine (Beretta, Glock, 1911). So it’s safe to say the JRC and Sub-2000 are looking good. However, the JRC is only available for Glock and S&W magazines. The Sub-2000 is available in Glock, S&W, SIG, and Beretta! That’s variety. “But Crank, the Sub-2000 picture on Kel-Tec’s website dosn’t show a threaded barrel!” They are coming out with the threaded model this year called the Gen 2, and it’s not difficult to have yours threaded at a local gunsmiths shop in the meantime.

But what’s this about getting gas in your face? Well, suppressors cause a lot of back-pressure inside the action of a firearm. Gas jets back down the barrel and through the cracks and crevices of the internals looking for escape. Unfortunately, for those that love their AR’s and gas impingement systems, this creates a cloud of irritating gas next to the ejection port, and uniquely to the AR’s T-handle charging handle, the gas loves to seep out around that next to your face and burn your eyes with residue.

Thankfully the Sub-2000 is a blowback operation. If extra gas is coming out the ejection port, it’s fast and out of the way. Say what you want about Kel-Tec’s old quality complaints, they are improving, innovating, listening to their customers and still keeping shooting affordable.

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