In the firearms world, there is a wide array of classifications for various types of weapons. These varying classes and “families” of weapons change over time, as buzzwords come and go; one of the current buzz terms, and one that generates a great deal of controversy, is the “PCC”, or the “Pistol-Caliber Carbine”.
A PCC is best defined as a firearm intended to be used like a rifle, but which fires a projectile and cartridge caliber commonly associated with a handgun. This is not really a “new thing” – the majority of the 19th Century Winchester family (YouTube) of level-action rifles all came in pistol cartridges, at first.
The first true “PCC’s” of the modern era, though, were the German submachine guns of the First World War, closely followed by the Thompson SMG, the famous “Tommy Gun” (a term that comes from WW2). These weapons – while not exactly “carbines”, as they were not “shortened rifles”, as such – showed armies that there was room in their doctrines for a lightweight and compact (comparatively speaking) type of “long-ish” weapon, that was cheaper and easier to produce than more conventional rifles and carbines.
In the United States this would eventually result, in 1942, with the introduction of the M1 Carbine. While using a cartridge considerably more powerful than most handgun cartridges, the .30 Carbine cartridge was far less powerful than a “full-power” cartridge, like the .30-06 used by the M1 Garand Rifle. The M1 Carbine was significantly lighter and handier than the larger and heavier M1 Rifle, and was only really usable out to about 150 yards/138 meters, but that was deemed to be perfectly sufficient for its intended use: giving troops who did not really need a “full-power” M1 Rifle something to defend themselves with that was more accurate and longer-ranged than a handgun.
The “carbine” field became somewhat muddied with the widespread adoption of the “intermediate” cartridge class after World War 2, but eventually settled back to the original idea of a “carbine”, that being a shortened version of a service rifle. One of the side effects of this adoption trend, meanwhile, led to fewer and fewer true “pistol-caliber” SMG’s being developed, as post-war battlefield developments made SMG’s largely redundant. Submachine guns were slowly pushed to the fringes, eventually used only by police or elite and highly specialized military units, primarily for hostage rescue and use in very crowded areas like airport concourses and large entertainment venues, where rifle cartridges – even coming from a shortened barrel – were not satisfactory, due to over-penetration at close-quarters’ range.
However, in areas that were friendly to private firearms ownership, the first PCC’s began to appear in the 1970’s. At first, these were weapons that mimicked the “look and feel” of SMG’s, but that fired only on semi-automatic. Soon, however, companies began to move away from the “military look”, as hysteria in certain quarters arose, and took on a more “civilian-friendly” look.
As the 21st Century dawned, companies in the United States began – after the 2004 sunset of the 1994 “Assault Weapons Ban” – to release PCC’s onto the civilian market. While little regard was given to these weapons at first, closer looks ensued as more an more people bought various types of PCC’s, for everything from recreational shooting to home defense. Inevitably, perhaps, highly raucous debate began as some quarters began to discuss the “tactical” uses of PCC’s…
…And, as in most debates about modern firearms, much hysterical screeching ensued.
The essential point of contention are that PCC’s are more or less useless against modern body armor – which is true…although the numbers of criminals staging “home invasions” at 2AM, while wearing high-grade body armor, is very low. As a result, the PCC is a good choice for home defense instead of a “full power” rifle or carbine, as its projectiles are less likely to leave your home and land a block or two away, in someone else’s home. As well, although there is a net savings on ammunition for practice, “training” (two different things) and recreational shooting, the savings are not that large, overall. One thing PCC’s are demonstrably good at, is acting as introductory weapon to ease new shooters into long-arm use.
Do PCC’s have a “military” use? For an established national armies or police forces, the answer is “not really”. Although some arguments could be made that police forces would do better with a PCC than an actual “patrol rifle” (usually a military carbine), any real need for a pistol-caliber long-arm is usually better filled by a submachine gun.
Unlike more high-powered firearms, PCC’s are well suited to “guerrilla factories”, especially using “additive manufacturing” infrastructures, as the tolerances required are considerably less than those required for fully-automatic weapons. Likewise, additive manufacture requires few, if any, of the tools, equipment and supplies needed – and thus more-easily tracked – for more conventional weapons.
In sum, then, if you are living in a “gun-friendly” location, a PCC is a good tool for both recreation and home defense, while also being a good choice for introducing new shooters to long-arms…and, if things really go sideways, they are a good choice for arming an insurgency or resistance movement, with the intention – as in Myanmar – of using them to capture more powerful enemy weapons.
The only “obsolete” weapon is the weapon that can no longer harm you. You have to work with what you have at hand. Thinking in advance is one of the keys to personal safety and survival.