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Buy Guns While You Still Can PART 4: Assault Pistols & Pistol Caliber Carbines

Written by Subject: Gun Rights

Buy Guns While You Still Can – PART 4:

Assault Pistols & Pistol Caliber Carbines

Before we start, a note of apology. I started this series of articles 9 years ago, at a point when I had a lot of time on my hands and could take the time to write. Then I gained employment once again, and that time was no longer available. So I never finished this series. That has been frustrating to some, who I know wanted to read more. But now that I once again have time on my hands for for the moment, I hope to finish a few more parts of this series. It only took 9 years.

When I started these articles, it was under the gloomy oncoming new presidency of Obama, a threat which needs no explanation. Now, with Trump in office, there is an irrational belief that gun rights are now secure and there is no need at this time to concern ones' self with accumulating gun stuff today. In fact, NOW is the perfect time to buy everything you can afford to, because the current state of things will not remain. Remember all the poor suckers who were spending far more than they should have been in past years during varied panic buying markets. Maybe you were one of them. Prices are now low and stuff is available. These are the good times. Don't waste them.

While part 3 dealt with "Assault Rifles", we now move on to "Assault Pistols" and pistol caliber carbines (commonly referred to today as PCCs).

I don't personally like the term "assault pistol" because it is an invented one devised by the evil forces of prohibitionists for political use by media lemmings. However, it has been in the American lexicon of language now long enough that most people have an immediate picture in their mind of a certain grouping of weapons when they hear it spoken. I also had previously been hostile to that type of pistol as it existed up until a few years ago because it was without hardly any practical or tactical utility, in my opinion.

But oh what a difference time can make. We live in interesting times.

But to go further, we must first define what I am speaking of. An "assault pistol" is usually a semi-automatic version of a submachinegun, such as an Uzi or MP5, minus the shoulder stock.

As a mere pistol, all of the members in this class are difficult to hold adequately firm enough and still to be accurate. Even with 2 hands, they are difficult to do anything other than make a lot of noise and look cool. However, some folks began to use slings as a steadying force, wherein a shooter would push the weapon out away from themselves and in that fashion having at least a steadier hold. But it was never as truly steady as if/when pulling a stock into the shoulder as would be done with the heavily registered and regulated machineguns or short-barrelled rifles.

But everything changed about 2012, however, when along came the first commercially manufactured and marketed "arm brace" for the AR15 pistols, which had until that time been mostly a toy for making loud fireballs and grins on faces.

Federal law says affixing a shoulder stock to any firearm with a barrel shorter than 16 inches makes it a short-barrelled rifle (SBR), and these are registered and regulated in the same manner as machineguns. But an arm brace, meant to simply help stabilize a very large handgun, was perfectly fine. But what if that brace was significantly large in and of itself that one could improvise and use it adaptively like a buttstock? Hmmmm. Was it then a stock? Or was it merely an arm brace? Folks began buying these arm braces like mad and openly using then as improvised stocks.

The practical effect was to have all the utility of an SBR, but without all the government BS. There was a few years there where the BATFE tried to scare folks into believing that by "misusing" an arm brace as an improvised shoulder stock they were violating some kind of law and could be prosecuted. But eventually, that bluff was called and it has been established that shouldering your pistol is not a crime.

Another thing happened at about the time the pistol brace was coming onto the scene. The .22LR ammo shortage of 2013 through 2016. This was an event that I could dedicate its own article to,...and perhaps I will, because there were many lessons to be learned from it. But suffice to say that, in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre in December of 2012, it looked as if the prohibitionists had the momentum to finally do some damage. As a result, stockpiling ammo and all sorts of other shooting goods began in earnest. And the commodity that dried up with the most surprise (and for the longest period) was previously common .22LR ammunition.

To realize the impact that had, one has to first understand how much of the recreational sporting market for firearms in the U.S. is based on the .22LR cartridge. It is HUGE!! Probably the vast majority of all weapons in the United States are .22LR, and many owners have more than one. It is the caliber nearly everyone starts off with when young (or at any age). Most subsistence hunters use it for small game such as rabbits and squirrels, and even larger animals like seals and alligators. And even among firepower freaks like myself, it is probably what we end up shooting the most, simply because it is cheap and plentiful. Or at least it HAD been.

The folks who immediately sought to stockpile all they could afford to buy ended up inadvertently triggering a panic when supplies ran low. Suddenly EVERYONE was looking to snag the last .22 ammo on the planet, and prices went absolutely stoopid. 3X or 4X the regular price and more is what people were demanding and paying. This happened to lots of other popular calibers too, but it all eventually subsided,...except for .22LR.

This produced an interesting intersection of economics after about 18 months. 9mm ammo had finally come down and could once again be had for .20 cents per round, but .22LR was still going for .15 cents each IF YOU COULD GET YOUR HANDS ON IT. For those that were able to handload their own 9mm ammo using scrap lead, cost per round was as cheap and sometimes CHEAPER than .22 ammo.

And thus, there was a resurgent interest in pistol caliber carbines (PCCs), primarily 9mm ones, which is the vast majority caliber of the type.

PCCs have been around for a very long time. The concept was popular in the old west. Many lever action rifles were chambered in the same calibers as the pistols many cowboys wore on their hip. In remote areas of the frontier where there was not only no Walmart nearby, but shopping at a general store might be hundreds of miles away and something you only did a couple times a year. Having only one type of ammunition to supply yourself with was easy and inexpensive and reduced complexity when it came to getting the supplies you needed. But as years went on and rifles became more powerful and capable of performing out farther and farther, the carbine and pistol combo thing fell out of favor, except for a few.

But short rifles in pistol calibers never went away. Even today, there is an entire shooting sports community dedicated to old west weaponry, and same caliber combos are popular. And as the shortage of .22 ammo dragged on,...grandfathers who wanted to take their grandkids to the range to blast some good times downrange began realizing that a light-recoiling 9mm carbine might not be a bad alternative investment. They already existed. Examples such as the out of production Marlin Camp 9 could be picked up cheaply for under $400. A bargain basement Hi-Point carbine could be had new for hardly $300. Or maybe the space age looking Kel-Tec SUB2000 for about $600?

And more serious shooters also noticed the attractive alternative. Many competitors in shooting sports, rather than blaze through expensive ammo for their guns they might use ultimately for the upcoming match, will keep their skills sharp by using the lowly .22 during practice because of (historically) lower cost. But what to do when supply and demand get all whacked? And subsistence hunters as well, who were perhaps the most hard hit group of .22LR users during the shortage, also noticed that if used carefully and with judicious marksmanship, 9mm was not necessarily the bloody overkill on much of the small game they needed to harvest that they feared it would be. And in fact, having a PCC in 9mm while in the field also provided a welcome little extra firepower to either defend against predators like wild dogs, bears or mountain lions, or to take slightly larger game opportunities that might present themselves like coyotes or feral hogs. A 9mm carbine might not be ideal for any of these, but had just enough to get the job done if the shooter did their part.

But lets not forget that new fangled pistol brace thingy. It had opened up a whole new world of possibilities for personal and home defense. With the ability to shoulder a pistol and aim with the steadiness of a rifle, folks could engage an attacker or dangerous animal at distances usually considered too far to be performed accurately with a regular handgun, yet was short and handy enough to not get in the way of clearing a house or getting in and out of a vehicle, like the hassle it can be with a true rifle or a shotgun. In fact, the unique niche that was usually filled for armed forces by use of a submachinegun, could now be finally addressed for mere citizens as well via a short and handy "assault pistol" with an arm brace.

Another trend that coincided during this time frame was/is and continues to be the growing popularity of civilian-owned silencers (more accurately known in the gun community as sound suppressors, or just "suppressors" for short). These too are licensed and regulated like machineguns. But unlike machineguns, these are still able to be manufactured by you at home legally (provided you comply with the laws regarding such).

Open area shooting spots are decreasing every year, many are shut down by complaining residents nearby who dislike the noise. So, much like in Europe where everyone lives so close together, suppressors are becoming more accepted even by non-shooters because they keep folks from getting on each other's nerves. And they are also useful as safety devices to preserve hearing. In fact, suppressors are now legal for use when hunting in more states than ever before. No need to disturb the neighboring vegans out working on their cannabis farm while you decimate the pesky feral hog population, because you're a conscientious conservationist who puts a muffler on your gun.

And so it was that 9mm PCCs exploded in interest in the last 5 years. And during that time, the trend has gone towards ever shorter, quieter and also high volume ammo capacity. To the point now that anyone who introduces a new PCC or "assault pistol" design on the market for sale, provides that they have threaded muzzles for attaching suppressors,...short length barrels to keep the envelope small and handy,...ability to accept high-capacity feed devices,...or sometimes all of these features.

Often pistols that end up in this compact envelope are referred to as "Personal Defense Weapons" (PDW), which is a designation the military and NATO created a couple decades ago to describe a concept for a weapon designed to be issued to vehicle crews and other rear echelon troops not intended to see combat but need a weapon for eventualities. Preferably one that is easy to carry and unobtrusive as they go about their menial labor tasks where a full rifle gets annoyingly in the way. Such weapons are also attractive for pilots and air crews because they stow away in small spaces.

So is one of these an item for you? Well, let's break down the common specimens currently on the market to help you decide.

AR15-based types:

It should be no surprise that the most popular assault RIFLE in America is also the currently most popular assault PISTOL in America. It wasn't always like that. But no other base weapon system has the modularity, and therefor been as extensively developed and customized with after-market options and accessories. While back in the 80s and 90s Uzis, MACs, and TEC-9s were the primary 9mm bullet hoses, the CAR-9 or AR-9 (and numerous other derivative names it goes by) has overtaken them. But just like the development of digital camera media cards waged war in the 90s to determine who's format would win out (the SD card won), there has been a battle to determine which legacy surplus magazines would win to determine the standard. Originally, STEN mags were used, because they were cheap and plentiful. But they have reliability issues, and that type fell by the wayside. More reliable, but expensive and sometimes hard to source, were MP5 magazines. But few of those types found favor. Mostly due to price. Colt had used modified surplus UZI mags for their original SMG version back in the early 80s, and they retained that when they started selling a semi-automatic carbine rifle version shortly thereafter. Many folks copied that, and it was the dominant type until a few years ago when someone found a way to use Glock magazines. Because there were 10-round Glock mags, if you lived in a state where you couldn't own regular magazines, this could suit your situation. But because there were also 33-round mags for Glocks, you had that as an option as well if you lived somewhere more enlightened. This also harkened back to the old west theme of utility, wherein your Glock sidearm could use the very same magazines as your main weapon, and vice versa. Today, the Glock mag version is being produced in greater quantity than the Colt/Uzi version. Although they are probably equal in numbers currently owned. Another part of the reason Glock mag versions increased in popularity over the Colt/Uzi style is that for a time, the world market of available cheap surplus Uzi mags dried up for a few years, and items that had previously cost only $9 each rose to nearly $30. The Glock mags were a few bucks less than that. While things have equalized of late and the prices between the 2 types are pretty much the same now, future supply of Uzi mags might not always remain inexpensive, since as a SMG it is being phased out of inventories all over the world after 50 years of use. But the Glock remains popular as ever and still in production, along with the magazines.

So, if you decide you want an AR15-based 9mm, what criteria should you set to look for?

As you can see in the picture above, the Colt/Uzi style has magazines that protrude directly downward at the 90 degree angle. The Glock type have a rearward raking cant. For some people, this is an esthetic that matters to them. You decide.

Early versions did not have designed into them a Last Round Bolt Hold Open feature (or BHO). The Glock mag versions, however, were the first to incorporate this, though some Colt/Uzi variants now have it as well. If that is a feature you desire, shop around.

In fact, the first variants of this produced were all made using actual AR15 lower receivers that were modified by way of magazine adapters. Not all adapters were made the same, and some had features others did not. For instance the original Colts had an adapter that was permanently installed in the larger magazine well by means of being drilled and pinned. Other adapters like the no longer manufactured VM HyTech unit simply inserted in place of an AR15 magazine and latched in using the standard release button. It also utilized the original catch location on the Uzi mags, so they did not have to be modified to be used. These are highly sought after today and command a premium price.

But more recently, manufacturers have been fabricating "dedicated" lower receivers specifically and only for 9mm magazines. And it was with the advent of these that BHOs were finally added.

But if you are one of those who already has an AR15 or a spare AR15 lower receiver laying around, and don't want to buy another serial-numbered item for Uncle Sugar to track you by, the current generation of adapters are better than ever and DO include a BHO feature. One such is made by American Tactical for the Glock mags.

https://www.americantactical.us/5864/detail.html

Or if you prefer an adapter that uses the Colt-style modified Uzi mags, and has a BHO feature, those now exist as well. https://www.kakindustry.com/ar-15-parts/upper-parts/barrels/9mm/ar15-9mm-mag-adaptor

If you go this route, utilizing a gun/receiver you already own, then you will need to buy an upper receiver barreled assembly for 9mm. There are many, Many, MANY choices where to get one and how much to pay. Too much to cover here. (Better to simply refer to my upcoming article all about the AR15 series, which will be even more expansive and informative than the AK47 article I did in 2011. https://www.freedomsphoenix.com/Article/097974-2011-10-17-ak47-rifle-report.htm ) But regardless of whatever upper assembly you buy, absolutely be certain that you get with it a "ramped" bolt assembly. This is critical because the dimensions of the bolt carrier of the AR15 parent weapon design are such that they don't exactly translate well to application in the 9mm conversion. Without going into all the esoteric engineering mumbo jumbo as to why, suffice to say that if you have an "old style" non-ramped bolt, it re-cocks the hammer in less than 1/2" of bolt stroke.  As a result, the hammer is thrown back very fast.  That method of re-cocking hurts your hammer pin and your lower receiver hammer pin holes.  The ramped bolt, on the other hand, does this in 1 1/4" of stroke. Less stress, no premature wear.

And another important feature to be cognizant of about the bolt you choose is whether the underlug and breechface are cut to feed from the wide Colt/Uzi style mags or the narrower Glock style mags. One can work in both, but not the other.

As you can see here, one is wider than the other. That's fine for the Uzi magazines, but the feed lips on Glocks are narrower, so only a thinner underlug can clear and scoop up a round from the magazine. Nowadays, almost all current production 9mm AR bolts are machined with the narrower Glock specs so that it can be used in either type no matter which magazine is used. But there are plenty of the older types in circulation, so beware.

One final note on what to demand on your barreled upper receiver assembly,...be sure to know whether you want a threaded muzzle or not, and what thread pitch you desire if you do. The most common thread pitch is 1/2x28, which is the same as is on the original .223 caliber rifle. In the early days of the CAR-9 (the designation Colt used on their 9mm carbines), Colt chose to use a 1/2x36 pitch. The reasoning was sound;...if a 1/2x28 muzzle device meant for the smaller diameter .223 caliber were mistakenly attached to the 9mm rifle, when the .355 diameter projectile suddenly tried to squeeze through a .223 hole at 1200 feet per second,...there could be catastrophic consequences. But consumers fumed at this because it limited the rifle's adaptability to other existing accessories, and today nearly all threaded 9mm weapons have a 1/2x28 thread. Beware when buying things you wish to hang on the end and that they actually are sufficient bore to not cause an obstruction. Also, quick detachable lugs are increasingly gaining favor, even though the range of things to attach that use this is limited. But the primary purpose is for attaching sound suppressors. Rather than having to spin and spin and spin on your quieting can, if it uses the typical 3-lug mount, just press on and give it 1/3rd a turn and it locks in place.

So whether you like it mild,...or wild,...there is an AR-based 9mm likely to satisfy you. They can be had as cheaply as $550 and all the way up to much as stuff you want and are willing to spend. Some of the nicer custom ones can reach $1800;

The Ruger 9mm PC Carbine

On a slightly more traditional plane, which Ruger is known for, they have recently introduced the PCC. (Yes, they just ripped off the whole classification for the name) It outwardly resembles a much more traditional rifle (ergo – it is also Politically Correct – PC, get it?), but it is more tactical and practical than it outwardly appears.

A redesign of a police carbine (again, PC, see a theme here?) introduced in 2007, 10 years later Ruger came back and improved it in substantial ways. Most significantly, it now quickly disassembles in half, making it a "takedown" rifle. Without using politically incorrect folding stocks or wickedly short barrels, this rifle can now fit in a small satchel under the seat of an aircraft or truck or unobtrusively in a backpack. The muzzle comes threaded from the factory with the common 1/2x28 thread pattern so you can suppress it as well.

But unlike most companies, Ruger has smartly decided to not fight the Glock craze. While the previous models only accepted proprietary Ruger pistol magazines, this new one can be had with an adapter to accept Glock mags. As a result, it has quickly become popular and has been difficult to keep on the shelves.

CZ Scorpion EVO

Available as either a stocked carbine or a short-barreled pistol, the Scorpion has been a good seller these last 5 years. Originally a submachinegun designed in the Czech Republic, the semi-auto variant is imported here. As a result, the proprietary magazines it uses, while inexpensive, they are not readily stockpiled as surplus and future acquisition of more could potentially be an issue if there is another unfortunate political turn here at home. Lightweight, it is made primarily out of polymer wherever possible, and you can get one for about $800-$900. Beware that the early imports had muzzle threads of 18x1mm, which is an oddball here. More recent imports have 1/2x28. It also has a BHO feature. Magazines cost about $20.

SIG MPX

The next hot thing for the last couple years has been the SIG MPX. Both the MPX and the Scorpion have been going head to head in the American market, since they were both introduced at about the same time. The MPX may look a bit as if it is derived from the AR15 type rifles, and in fact, it does borrow many design features. However, unlike the ARs, it does not have a bolt buffer tube sticking out of the back, so arm braces on the MPX can collapse to an even shorter and compact length, or alternatively fold to the side like a more traditional side-folding butt stock. It also uses a proprietary polymer/steel hybrid magazine of excellent design,...but unfortunately costs a pretty penny. While not as light as the Scorpion, that weight helps to absorb some of the recoil impulse, making for a pleasurable shooter. The trigger is noticeably more refined, as you might expect from Swiss manufacturing. It also has a BHO feature, ergonomic controls are familiar to anyone used to an AR15. But here is where the Scorpion is competitive;...price. The MPX will run you about $1600, and that's BEFORE you buy a supply of the $55 magazines! So really, you can buy 2 Scorpions for the price of one MPX. The MPX also has an oddball european13.5x1mm metric left-handed thread pitch. Despite all of this, I want one of the pistols in the worst way.

Brugger & Thomet GHM9

Another fine Swiss product is this pistol derived from a submachinegun. A relatively recent import, and an expensive one,...the GHM9 is rather nifty. Again, with designing cues obviously taken from the ergonomics and modularity of the AR15, it is rather intuitive to use and manipulate. It has a BHO feature, a 3-lug mount AND 1/2x28 threads (so you can choose either when mounting muzzle devices). It uses proprietary magazine that unfortunately run $60 each. It is a lovely compact somewhat concealable unit available for $1300, which is less than the SIG MPX, so it has that going for it. One bright light on the horizon is that B&T has let it be known that they too are aware how Glock is dominating the world, and so a Glock magazine grip frame conversion piece will be available later this year. (pictured below on the right.) No word yet what that price will be, but if it saves $40 per magazine, it is probably worth it.

Grand Power STRIBOG

Rather similar to the B&T GHM9 above is the STRIBOG from the Slovakian manufacturer Grand Power. Similar in envelope, but not in price, the STRIBOG (which is the name of an old slavic god of storms) was originally designed around the reliable and inexpensive Uzi magazines. Recently seen models sport a newer polymer magazine that looks suspiciously like merely plastic-clad Uzi mags,...but we shall soon see. Either way, at $29 each, they aren't too horribly priced. Being released this month, it already has quite a buzz going around from aficionados who have gotten their hands on one to wring out and test fire. At only $700, its cheaper than even the CZ Scorpion. I predict these will be popular, and of course (like always), I want one for myself.

Hi-Point Carbine

Ok, I hear you,...these have all been rather expensive. Even the Slovakian STRIBOG! Well, now we're gonna cruise the trailer park. (And that's not an exaggeration.) Perhaps the lowliest, certainly the cheapest,...in both price and quality,...is the (excuse me while I hold my nose) Hi-Point carbine.

I don't consider myself a gun snob. But just like art, I know what I like. I know a decent steak when I taste one. And I know from handling one of these they are el cheapo crap. However,...my opinion of Hi-Point was formed years ago when I first encountered their earlier products, which were $99 cast pot metal blaster handguns that exhibited a severe lack of reliability. They operated from a simple blowback principle, using a massive slide assembly that just didn't work well at all. But they sold fantastically well simply because they were cheap and for some folks, that was all they could afford. Something is better than nothing, after all. To my surprise, they did not go out of business, and in fact, were successful enough to expand out into developing a short rifle based off of their icky handgun. To everyone's surprise, however, that little rifle actually turned out to be not so bad.

I won't go so far as to call it a "good" rifle. But for one thing, that massive slide on the handgun, which caused most of the reliability problems, actually works ok in the carbine. Rather than a slide, the carbine simply has a massive cast iron bolt similar in mass. With the buttstock mounted to one's shoulder, that blocky chunk of steel doesn't have to play catch up in the physics department like it does in a loosely held handgun, and cycles rather briskly and reliably,...to my and everyone's amazement. While it only utilizes a single-stack 1911 magazine of 8 rounds, extended capacity models exist up to 15 and 20 rounds. Likewise, if you prefer, it also comes in .45 and 10mm, using the same 1911 pattern mags for those calibers. In recent years, Hi-Point has even started making threaded muzzles standard on these rifles. Acquiring (legally) a suppressor for one of these would likelycost more than the cost of the weapon, but,...ok,...I'm hip.

In the years these have been around, they've actually seen quite a lot of urban combat. Untold ghetto shoot outs have occurred with these, usually in the hands of honest citizens defending against home invaders. More than a few trailer parks have seen these set criminals to flight. Brand new, you're likely to pay just over $300 for one. If you hunt the pawn shops and gun shows and internet classifieds, perhaps $250 or less. That means you can almost outfit a family of 3 with these for the price of a CZ Scorpion, or 6 for the price of a SIG MPX. But just remember,...you get what you pay for. SEAL team approved commando gear this is NOT.

MP5 and variants

The MP5 is iconic. Almost everyone recognizes it from tv and movies. Both the good guys and the bad guys have used them. In submachinegun form, it was used by nearly every nation on the planet outside of the Soviet bloc. It must have been doing something right.

Well, yes,...but you're gonna pay for that legend. Prices start at about $1700. Everything about these is expensive. Freakin' Germans!

KEL-TEC SUB2000

Much more affordable and rather handy and unique is the SUB2000. Like the Ruger PCC, this design gets around a lot of the BS people have to put up with in states run by libtards. Rather than using a folding stock to save length while stowed, it simply folds entirely on itself. This is a nifty bush pilot piece or for storing in a backpack or under a car seat. There have been many variants that have used many different magazines. By far the most prevalent is the one designed for Glock mags, thereby being able to sport 33 rounders. But they have also had versions that use mags for Berretta 92 series, Ruger P85 series and perhaps others. They also have been chambered in .40S&W in addition to 9mm. While early generations of this did not have a threaded muzzle, by popular demand, current models do.

TNW Aero Survival Pistol/Rifle (ASP/ASR)

The little TNW ASR has been around a while and doesn't get any love. Its rugged, reliable, uses Glock mags, and is nearly as modular as the AR15-based carbines and pistols. Most folks, however, have never heard of it. One thing the Aero series does that most in the pistol caliber carbine class does not, is that it is ambidextrous, being convertible between operating as a left-side ejecting weapon or a more traditional right-hand side ejector. So all you lefties,...this one is probably for you!

Buying a new one will run you about $800, but I have seen used ones for $500. And if you desire, they are available also in .45acp, 10mm, ,40S&W and .357SIG. Threaded barrels can be had on request or ordered separately as a spare part.

Just Right Carbine (JRC) and Pistol

Very similar in layout, options and price to the Aero product is the JRC. Like the Aero, the JRC uses Glock magazines, can be modified to eject left or right, breaks down into sub-assemblies for easy stowage and transport, and is available in 9mm, 10mm, .357sig, .40S&W and .45acp. Prices are nearly exact.

However, early production examples of this design exhibited inconsistent quality control, with reports of some units having a pesky habit of jamming with anything other than rounded nose ammo. More recent production appears to have resolved this, but beware used ones for sale. Later production units have the bolt handle on the right side, while earlier production samples had it on the left side.

EXTAR EP9

Made right here in Arizona, the folks at Extar have a lot of experience in making polymer AR15 type rifles. Many of the production staff and technicians formerly worked at Cavalry Arms, which BATF dastardly shut down about 8 years ago. The tooling and expertise was later formed into Extar. They spent the last 5 years making a cheap and affordable .223 AR15 pistol and now have come out with 9mm, 10mm and .45 AR-inspired pistols called the EP9, EP10 and EP45. I say "inspired" because although it looks like it is an AR pistol and operates much like one, it really isn't. The technical break down on that would be a munch of gunsmithing googly talk, but trust me when I summarize it all by saying they have done away with the complicated and expensive to machine bolt assembly of the AR15-based guns and instead devised a simpler and less expensive system. As a result, the retail price for one of these right now is only $420! Not too shabby at all! They utilize Glock magazines (of course), have a BHO feature, threaded muzzles and weigh under 5lbs. when empty.

For those of you already familiar with the operating handle or charging handle on an AR-type weapon, you might appreciate that the EP9 does away with that and has a left side charging handle on the foregrip.

MAC-10 / MAC-11/9 series

The ultimate 80's iconic dope dealer machinegun. Seen in every shoot em' up cop flick from1976 in McQ with John Wayne, to John Travolta in Pulp Fiction. So ugly even a STEN gun would look handsome next to it. In fact, although different in appearance, the MAC-10 and the STEN have a lot in common. They were both designed to be simple and cheap to make,...both ran like crap,...both have a legend they don't deserve,...and both would not be fielded today by any serious soldier with any self-respect.

Never the less, there are plenty out there today, and even still in production, currently under Masterpiece Arms. To be fair, the modified ones turned out today by Masterpiece are much improved, also more expensive,...so it all balances out.

Genuine original MAC-10s and MAC-11s from before 1981 are easily convertible to machineguns, so they are scarce and command a price about $1500 if you find one. Don't bother with them. Later versions redesigned to operate differently and harder to convert are much more available and much more affordable. The majority of those are the M11/9 variant, seen on the right in the picture above. Not too long ago you could pick up a used one for as little as $250, although they are more commonly now closer to $400, but they aren't worth it. The triggers are horrendous, the bolt knob/handle is too small and rips your hand up. The sights are poor, the ergonomic atrocious, and the plastic Zytel magazines are also crap and break easily. Metal replacements exist, for $60 each. Yikes! But they were cheap back in the day. So just like the Hi-Points, they sold a lot of them.

Over the years, the design and tooling and patents were sold several times and the guns made many different ways at many different locations by many different management teams. They have had several brands and different model designations. Eagle, MAC, Cobray, to name a few. Currently, the modified design is at home with Masterpiece Arms. Along the way, some of these folks have tried to fix the problems endemic to the design. Masterpiece Arms has done the most tweaking and seems to finally have it right with their current MPA30 designation. In the early 2000s, MPA substituted STEN magazines to do away with the horrid Zytel ones. The STEN mags were more rugged, and cheap at that time, costing only $3 or $4 each, but STEN mags are notorious for bad quality control during their manufacturing years and many just don't work. The thinking at MPA back then was that's ok,...if you gotta buy 10 to end up with 5 that work, that's still cost effective. That happened to be true at the time. But things change. STEN mags finally got scarce after decades of plenty and prices for those nasty things go for over $20 and every one of them is a roll of the dice. So MPA did something intelligent;...they redesigned a whole new grip assembly to use Glock magazines. And since then, the MPA30T runs pretty damned well. Current production units are easily identified by their angled grips as opposed to the older straight ones.

The newer models by MPA command a higher price because they are newer and actually work pretty good. The triggers are still horrible, though better than in years past, and at least they come from the factory with a rail to attach an optic, so you don't have to use those tiny crappy sights. At $400 to $750 depending on whether used or new or rifle or pistol, you could do worse. You could also do much better.

UZI

Everyone knows the Uzi. The SMG version has served all over the globe, including Secret Service Presidential protective details. It has been seen everywhere and still chugs along today somewhere. As a result, although many are being retired out of service in most countries where they have served, the remnant parts are so numerous that folks here in the U.S. and elsewhere have assembled some into working semi-auto civilian versions for you and me.

These definitely bring the cool factor. But are they useful? And are they expensive? Well, its a mixed bag. They use the famously reliable Uzi magazine, and those are plentiful and inexpensive at the moment. They are battle-proven to be rugged. You can literally beat someone to death with it. That's been done before. But the trigger has been redesigned from the original and is just not any good for accuracy, and neither was the original, really. It is heavier than most semi-auto PCCs because it used to be a true heavy duty weapon of war. It's kinda like trying to use a meat cleaver to peel an orange. It can be done, with skill and dexterity,...but why, when there are better options? Cheap examples of these sell for $700 if you're lucky to find one, and usually more. But if you like looking like the Terminator, this could be for you.

TEC-9

Another iconic 80s and 90s gangbanger noisemaker is the famous TEC-9. It actually started out as the KG-9 prior to 1981, then redesigned to prevent so easily becoming a machinegun and renamed the KG-99. Yet other re-designations followed, such as the TEC-9, then the TEC-99, the AB10 and I forget how many others. Early models had perforated heat shields and threaded barrels, while later ones did away with those in order to try be PC.

I don't recommend these for anything other than posing on a gangsta rap CD cover or exercising in frustration. For one thing, no means of attaching a butt stock or arm brace exists for these. Even if one did, the triggers are atrocious, which means so is any hope for accuracy. And even if none of that should dissuade you, they are very finicky when it comes to the ammo you feed them. Designed to be a military weapon originally, they are accustomed to military power level ammo. Most off-the-shelf commercial stuff like you can get at Walmart just usually is not hot enough to make it cycle reliably. Magazines are now hard to come by and expensive as well. Other than building your rep as a Mall Ninja, there is no utility to these things. Just run away.

There are a lot of other pistol caliber carbines and "assault pistols" out there. I cant possibly cover them all in this limited space. Most, like the TEC-9, were made primarily as big boy toys without any practical utility to them, so I've left them out. Or they are obscure and never produced in great quantity and probably difficult to locate one. Or, like the lever-actions chambered in revolver calibers, while still eminently usable afield for outdoorsmen, don't quite fall into my criteria of also having a tactical capacity. Gun guys might argue with me about this, such as 'but what about this' and 'you forgot that one'. Just like car guys, we'll never completely agree on everything. But this is after all meant to be an introduction only, so new entrants into the gun scene can have a reference point from which to begin their own search for data.

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Chip Saunders
Entered on:

You are welcome Mike BYOB. Glad you appreciate it. While I would enjoy writing about these things for periodicals, most of those communities are a closed loop. You need to either be an industry insider or someone with your own website or video channel. Perhaps one day I should take my articles and update them and self publish via Amazon. Hmmmm,...maybe.

Comment by - Mike NOYB
Entered on:

Nice, well written article. Should be very helpful in navigating all the various choices in this segment of the market. You should be submitting your articles to Firearm News. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.


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