Pistol Caliber AR – Fun, Cheap and Worth Your Time

Dirty Bird DB9 9mm / Pistol Caliber Receiver Set
Dirty Bird DB9 9mm / Pistol Caliber Receiver Set –   A set like this is an ideal choice for starting your pistol caliber carbine. It accepts any Glock style small frame pistol caliber magazines in 9mm.

To be completely honest, in a post-300BLK world, a pistol caliber AR doesn’t make a lot of sense…or it didn’t to me until my brother started talking wistfully about wanting to visit the range with something “new and FUN to shoot.”

Frankly, he seemed a bit burnt out by the seriousness of his firearms collection. Name a high dollar ‘tacticool‘ firearm…its probably in his safe.  He wants for very little.  But lately, he’s firmly focused on getting back to the “fun”…and for him, that has meant 9mm carbines.  Going hands-on with them again has been a wonderful reminder of just how fun and practical these guns can be at the range.

A recent range day spent with an assortment of carbines…B&T APC6, AR SBR, Glock 17 with ALG 6-Second Mount, H&K SP5K and an H&K UMP45.

It started with simply dusting off the H&K MP-5A3…then an UZI that hadn’t left the safe in well over a decade.  Then came a H&K SP5K, then a most recently, a B&T APC9…I confess, by the end of a recent day at the range with these 9mm carbines, what I once considered a somewhat outdated is now something I look forward to building myself as soon as I can scrape the parts together.  

The Beginning of the 9MM Pistol Caliber AR

The fun-focused and inexpensive pistol caliber AR I now plan on building using the Dirty Bird receiver set I posted above can trace its beginnings back to the Colt SMG. This offering seemed to make sense at the time, as it was easy to control, had familiar handling, allegedly penetrated less than the 5.56…and a had lot less muzzle blast.

Colt SMG in 9mm.
Colt SMG in 9mm – Early Pistol Caliber AR

Another benefit to door kickers of their day was the ability to make a quick entry and easily saturate a target with controllable fully-automatic fire at close range. 

Admittedly, as an avid preteen reader of late 1980’s/early 1990’s tactical weapons magazines, Colt’s SMG didn’t seem as “cool” as H&K’s MP5 or the Mini-UZI…and so I kind of nervously laughed it off. Thanks to Die Hard, I was a giant MP-5 fan.  Positioned next to the MP5 in magazine pictorials, the Colt SMG seemed like a threat.  The Colt was Reggie Miller…the MP5 was Michael Jordan.

Terrorist from the movie Die Hard holding an H&K MP5A3

More than that, and like Reggie Miller, it was just odd looking…9mm ARs had that goofy, skinny mag poking out of the oversized mag well.  It just didn’t look quite right.  

But that was then.  So what’s changed?

So Why Build a Pistol Caliber AR?

The UDP-9 by Angstadt Arms is a compact personal defense weapon chambered in 9mm and fed with GLOCK® magazines.

There’s nothing I can really say to make you believe me…and it might just be something you have to experience, but wow, these are just very fun guns to shoot.  The size and weight…the ability to effortlessly fling piles of piles of cheap 115gr. 9mm ball ammo down range with speed and precision is just something you have to experience.  It is just very pure and enjoyable.

Also great…I can get my rifle fix at the 50-yard range without bringing along extra different and more expensive ammo.  More and more I’ve switched over to 300BLK…then end result has not been cheap.  Not so with the 9mm carbines.  The same white boxed ammo and reloads we feed our Glocks allow us to shoot very cheaply…and allow us to hand it off to our wives without worry.  No flinching, just fun and a pile of Glock magazines.

For us most recently, fun has been having impromptu steel-plate challenges with the various 9mm carbines vs. the Glock 17 with the 6-second ALG mount…with just an ammo can of 9mm between us.

Another bonus is we never have to pack up midway through our range visit to switch from the steel plate range over to the rifle range.

Pistol Caliber AR – More than a Range Toy?

My current home defense gun, depending on my mood or level of indecision, is a either a Lipsey’s/Vickers Glock 17 with AmeriGlo fronts or a suppressed 300BLK SBR with an Aimpoint T1.

Lately I half-seriously wonder if I shouldn’t mix the two and build myself a compact, suppressed home defense carbine with the T1. It would be easy to control, lightweight, and offer me a bit more stability than the pistol.  It would also free up closet space, as I could store my comically large stack of 30-round AR mags downstairs.

Realistically, I’ll probably still end up going with my Glock 17 or 300 BLK SBR for home defense.  I’ve got so many rounds through either to where I truly would bet my life on them functioning.  Not to mention the ballistics of a 9mm vs. a 110-grain Barnes in 300 BLK…its a totally different animal.

A top-tier 9mm AR like Wilson Combat’s AR9 would probably make for a very handy and dependable home defense firearm

Also, on the budget pistol caliber AR I’m building…stuffing Speer 124gr Gold Dot or 115gr Cor-Bon into the carbine and being absolutely certain it will work…well, that will take a lot of time and experimenting first. That said, I look forward to sharing my findings once the build is complete and I have some extra Cor-Bon or Gold Dots I can blow through.

In the meantime, I look forward to building and soon sharing with you what promises to be one of the most fun and pleasurable range toys there is…it might even have a slight home defense twist.  We’ll see.

Regardless of what sort of build you are thinking of in the near future…definitely don’t discount the pistol caliber AR.  Seriously, don’t doubt it until you try it…Not everything in life has to be totally practical.

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