Roni “Civilian” Glock conversion kit
Oleg Volk 10.26.16
Six months ago, I wrote about Roni clamshell adapter for Glock pistol that turned it into a carbine. While CAA Roni has been available for several handgun brands, it’s never been all that popular in the US despite significantly improving pistol performance. The blame goes straight to the NFA 1934 restrictions that require a $200 tax stamp and year-long wait to convert a pistol into a “short barreled rifle,” which in turn requires filing travel plans with BATFE when going to another state.
The recent introduction of Mic Roni, an even smaller and more compact adapter available with two kinds of “arm braces” will probably make it more appealing. In the meantime, I got my hands on the long-anticipated non-NFA Roni “Civilian” adapter shipped with a 16″ barrel. While it’s even longer than the original Roni kit (it has to be 26″ long to qualify as a non-NFA rifle), it proved fairly lightweight.
With a Trijicon MRO red dot sight and a full 33-round SGM magazine, the resulting carbine weighs around 6 pounds. For comparison, the excellent JP Enterprises 9mm GMR13 weights 7.25 pounds empty and unsighted and feels heavier due to the hefty forend. The light weight and good balance are significant to this story.
Unlike the other Roni kits, “Civilian” requires partial disassembly of the pistol to install the longer barrel. The pistol may be fired with the 16″ barrel installed, but it’s awkward and fairly pointless. The user then must slip the plastic cocking piece over the back of the pistol slide. At first, I tried that with a KE Arms slide only to discover that the shape of the cocking piece is specific to the straight grooves of the original Glock. Once the pistol is ready for insertion, two pins are pushed out of the clamshell to open it and place the weapon inside. With experience, the entire conversion process can be done in about 30 seconds.
To lighten the clamshell further and to make its sides slicker, I removed the side rails. I also took off the spare magazine holder from the stock, mainly because it got in the way and my training assumed spare magazines on the waist.
The kit came with a folding foregrip, which likewise got removed. Instead of holding the carbine by the low-placed grip, I found it easier to hold it around the forend for better control. Although the carbine appears to be ported as a compensator, the actual muzzle goes all the way to the front of the shroud. A hand placed by the slanted cuts would not be in any danger. With the “Chris Costa” overhand grip, Roni becomes extremely controllable on rapid fire.
The operation of the pistol is unchanged, save for the charging handles on each side replacing direct grasping of the slide. After the initial loading, the next magazine can be started with the slide release lever. The barrel, as is typical of Browning-type short recoil designs, moves to unlock the action. The length of it is such that the muzzle reached almost the top of the shroud when in full recoil. The added weight of the barrel (about 3.5 times heavier than stock) and the weight and the friction added by the cocking peace uses up quite a bit of recoil. In practice, that means low-powered cheap 9mm ammunition might not cycle the action at all, while full power loads work perfectly and +P ammunition produces only a minimal kick and, helpfully, almost no visible muzzle flash.
Roni “Civilian” proved 100% reliable with all standard spec 9×19 ball, as well as +P defensive ammo (124gr Golden Saber) and two specialty carbine loads. One of them, Z-Shock by Velocity Munitions, is a 90gr zinc alloy load rated for 1400fps from pistol. It shot 1650fps from the 16″ barrel, giving a flat trajectory out to the limit of the practical aimed fire distance around 150 yards. Another carbine specific load made with slower powder, 77gr copper HP from Maker Bullets, developed 1850fps at the muzzle. Other 9mm loads gain useful velocity as well, typically lighter bullets speed up more than the heavier projectiles. With this kind of speeds, hold-over estimates got much easier. With the red dot zeroed at 25 yards and my elbows on a bench, I was able to hit steel (sized no larger than 12 inches square) out to 125 yards. Aimee Williams, a competition shooter, was able to do the same thing but out to 150 yards and standing! Standing only 5’2″, she was an excellent illustration of the kind of user Roni would serve well.
Mechanically, Roni is about as accurate as the base pistol, somewhere around 6MOA. Thanks to the ergonomic design, that mechanical accuracy can be applied almost without a loss to the target. 6MOA, while it sounds like a lot, is plenty good for 150 yard A zone torso hits or 50 yard head shots. Try that with a handgun! Roni fills the same niche as the 16″ Uzi closed bolt carbine, but at less than half the weight! The length of pull can be adjusted from 10.2″ suitable for petite adults and kids to 14″, and the stock has an integral adjustable cheekpiece as well. Everyone who tried this conversion enjoyed it.
Being a locked breech design, G17/Roni runs clean. No maintenance has been needed after the first 500 rounds, and that with a pistol that probably had as much through it prior to the conversion. Since the ejection pattern is angled forward, left-handed shooters can use Roni while hazarding only a little more powder fumes but not empty casings.
Since Roni kit isn’t a firearm, it’s available in all states except California. It can even be ordered from B&H Photo in NYC. Between the base G17 and the conversion kit, the overall price will be closer to $1K. Is the resulting weapon worth it? In my opinion, very much so. The ease of use and the excellent ergonomics puts Roni-enhanced G17 on par with the best of the dedicated 9mm carbines. While less accurate than most fixed barrel designs, Roni is much handier and doesn’t require learning a new manual of arms from the familiar pistol. It can be used effectively by pre-teens and petite women who would be hard put to lift or cycle a more conventional blowback 9mm rifle. To me, it was a very surprising and happy discovery. Along with Keltec CMR30, I recommend Roni especially to the smaller shooters, but I bring mine to every range trip because it’s just that much fun for the tall, strong men too.