Pistol-caliber carbines are a coming thing, it seems – and have been, for over a hundred years. The more things change… Excerpt:
Submachine guns are incredibly potent firearms in close quarters and in the hands of a skilled operator. They have fallen out of favor with modern militaries for two major reasons: their limited effective range, and the rise of the short-barreled assault rifle.
These fully automatic or select-fire pistol-caliber firearms offer the individual soldier increased firepower over a sidearm, with better maneuverability than a full-sized rifle in close combat.
Many firearm manufacturers have capitalized on the strengths of these designs, offering civilian-legal, semi-automatic sub-guns in the form of pistol caliber carbines. This idea is not new—Auto Ordnance developed semi-auto versions of its (in)famous Thompson SMGs in the 1970s.
A decade later, H&K engineered an ATF-approved semi-auto version of the MP-5, and RPB Industries developed the M-10 and M-11 open-bolt versions of the MAC-10 and MAC-11 sub-guns. While most of these pistol-caliber carbines were based on famous SMGs like IMI’s UZI carbine, semi-auto-only variants of lesser-known SMGs like the S&W M-76 (the MK-760) also surfaced on the civilian market.
Interestingly, some designs followed the exact opposite path, like the Beretta CX4. Instead of evolving from a submachine gun, the CX4 began as a semi-auto pistol-caliber carbine, before being developed as a select-fire weapon for the government of India as the Mx4 SMG—with more than 36,000 examples manufactured for that contract alone.
But this is anything but a new idea. Not all that long ago the well-equipped guntwist frequently carried a carbine that digested the same fodder as his revolver, such as the above-pictured ’92 Winchester. It’s a handy combination. I’ve been looking around some for one of the modern replicas of the 92 in .45 Colt (which the originals were never chambered for) to match my favorite woods-bumming revolvers. There are some replicas of the 66 and 73 Winchesters available in that chambering, but I prefer the Browning design. The 92 is slimmer, lighter, handier.
Rossi makes a good replica but it’s worth searching to find an old Interarms import version, rather than the new models on sale today. Why? The old Interarms guns are direct copies, which the new versions are burdened with an idiotic crank-type safety atop the bolt. There is probably some lawyerly reason for this, but in reality a gun with an external hammer should need no other safety, and the only really effective safety is the one between the shooter’s ears.
The new modern guns are doubtless handy, efficient and accurate, as the tests in the linked article would seem to indicate. But lever guns have one significant advantage – they are legal in jurisdictions where semi-autos are restricted by ignorant pols. And, in the eyes of yr. obdt. at least, they are nicer to look at.
And besides – if it’s good enough for the Duke, it’s good enough for anyone.