The pistol caliber carbine, or PCC, is a major trend in guns that shows no signs of slowing down. Though not a new idea by any means, owning a carbine chambered in the ubiquitous 9mm Luger has become very popular of late.
There are several reasons for the recent resurgence of the 9mm PCC, including: The ammunition is cheaper than 5.56, the rifles are easier to shoot accurately than the 9mm pistols to which they are related and, with ammunition advances, the PCC is a practical home defense option.
Having a carbine and pistol that shoot the same ammunition is an advantage, but is less important today than it once was. Perhaps the biggest reason for this surge in sales is the simple fact that PCCs are just plain fun to shoot. The PCC class has become very popular in shooting competitions.
Many manufacturers now produce PCCs, giving consumers several options. The introduction of the Sig MPX and the CZ Scorpion signaled to the market that some major manufacturers believed the PCC movement was more than a passing fad. When this writer jumped on the PCC bandwagon it was with the experience of testing numerous brands, and the winner was the new GMR-15 from JP Rifles (www.jprifles.com). This article will discuss why stocking PCCs, and the JP GMR-15 in particular, is a good idea.
Over the last five years PCC ownership has started to build momentum, in spite of the general lack of commercially available guns. For a long time, amateur gunsmiths took up the task of building PCCs from component parts. Standard uppers from modern sporting rifles (black rifles) may be paired to dedicated 9mm lowers.
The biggest challenge for the do-it-yourselfer is to get the combination of parts to run reliably. Nearly all PCCs are blowback actions, meaning the bolt is blown backwards to eject spent brass and chamber a new round much the same as with any semi-automatic pistol. Tuning a PCC with the proper weight buffer, buffer spring, trigger and bolt to run consistently is not easy. It takes much trial and error for the do-it-yourselfer. Monitoring any of the online PCC forums shows this is a persistent and prominent problem for this platform.
Apparently, enough DIY builders were struggling through this challenge that some big name firearm brands took notice and began to produce complete PCCs. As a result, in the past couple of years PCC buying has become somewhat of a craze. The most popular models sell so quickly they are hard to keep in stock. It is not uncommon to see backorder status for the most soughtafter guns, and margins are strong. The 2017 SHOT Show was littered with new entrants for this rapidly growing market.
Knowing 9mm PCCs can be finicky, retailers should put reliability near the top of the criteria for what to stock to ensure happy customers. For this writer, reliability was just as important as accuracy for selection of a 9mm PCC. The former was important to avoid headaches, and the latter stemmed from a strong personal disdain for inaccurate firearms.
Having had the chance to use a .308 JP rifle at the 2015 NRA World Shooting Championships, the quality, beauty and accuracy of JP rifles was known to me. In addition, two personal modern sporting rifles have hosted JP triggers for years with great success.
JP Rifles is not new to the 9mm PCC game. They have been quietly making them since about 2012, with their GMR-12. JP continued to advance their design and introduced the GMR-13 around 2013, and their reputation for running any and all ammunition is well established. This wasn’t enough for JP however, so recently, they introduced the GMR-15, which is their next-generation model. It features last-round bolt lockback and a generously flared magazine well.
Weight has been removed where possible from the billet machined upper and lower. An optional feature, not included in this test rifle, is a non-reciprocating side charging handle. A standard AR-style charging handle is featured on all GMR-15s, including those with the side charger option. The safety is ambidextrous and a brass deflector is added just rear of the ejection port.
The MSRP of $1,699 for the GMR-15 may seem steep at first, but not when considering all of the standard features. The 7075-T6 billet aluminum upper and lower are perfectly mated, and the hard-coat anodizing is deep and rich. The superb JP adjustable trigger and silent captured buffer and spring are also standard. For those not familiar with the JP trigger, it breaks cleanly and has a very short reset. The version on this test rifle breaks at 3.25 pounds as measured by a trigger gauge. The silent captured spring eliminates the “boing” sound common to AR-style rifles.
The GMR-15 includes the JP Supermatch air-gauged and button-rifled barrel, which features cryogenic treatment. The standard finish is polished stainless steel, but buy-up options include bead blasting or Black Teflon such as with the test rifle for this article. The JP Riflebuilder application on the JP website allows the customer to choose specific options during the online purchasing process.
Often the first thing new PCC owners do is replace the buttstock, which is expensive for something like the Sig MPX. There are several stock options for the GMR-15 at no additional cost, and the Hogue stock included on this test rifle was outstanding. The Hogue stock is rubber OverMolded, as with their handguards, and collapsible for multiple length options. Multiple QD sling sockets are built into both sides, and the stock itself is very comfortable on the GMR-15. A quality soft-sided rifle case is also included.
One of the best selling points on the JP GMR-15 is that the user need do nothing to the rifle to make it perform besides attach an optic and feed it ammunition. It just runs and runs out of the box. In the field, this test rifle had exactly zero malfunctions during a hundred rounds of firing three different brands and weights of ammunition. Out of the box shootability and reliability are key selling points.
Many other PCCs cannot boast this kind of reliability; trigger replacement on other PCCs is also common and problematic. Certain aftermarket triggers are not warrantied for use in PCCs and problems with feeding can arise when swapping out triggers in PCCs. The GMR-15 has none of these issues — just load it and shoot. Advertised accuracy is 3 MOA for the GMR-15, and that was achieved in testing using American Eagle 147 grain FMJ flat nose ammunition and a Leupold VX6 4-24×52 riflescope. The scope was used only for the accuracy test, as red dot optics are much more suitable for PCCs.
PCCs have two magazine style options: Glock and Colt. The GMR-15 uses the GLOCK platform, which coincidentally is the type of pistol this writer uses in 3-gun competition. This crossover capability helps keep costs down for those who already have acquired Glock magazines and pouches. The 31-round Glock magazines work very well with the GMR-15 as do Glock 17 magazines. Extensions for either are readily available including on the JP Riflebuilder website.
Competitions using PCCs have become very popular, and are arguably the fastest growing segment of multigun or practical shooting competitions. This growing market will need to be served by retailers with reliable, accurate pistol caliber carbines. In this domain the GMR-15 knows no peers. In addition to the GMR-15, retailers can expect to supply this market segment with optics, magazines, ammunition and targets — the latter two items in bulk.
Featured image: Steve Gaspar