By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
The benefit of the Winchester 1892 was that it fired the same ammunition as many people’s sidearm, which made it quite popular among law enforcement and outdoorsmen in the late 19th century. Granted, the .44-40 model was most popular for that application as not too many pistols were made in .32-30 or .38-40, though the emergence of Cowboy Action Shooting has actually gotten a few producers to start doing so.
The pistol caliber carbine, however, fell into obscurity over the years as there wasn’t much need for them. There were definitely some out there; the Ruger Model 44 and Deerfield Carbines in .44 Magnum were fairly popular, even finding some adoption among law enforcement. Submachine guns come somewhat close, though the intended application is obviously different than that of a carbine. However, they seem to be becoming a bit more popular, which is a good thing.
While you obviously can’t put one in a concealed carry holster, the pistol caliber carbine makes for a fantastic home defense gun. Being able to load it with the same ammunition as your CCW is obviously handy.
The risk of overpenetration compared to using a rifle as a home defense weapon are decreased. Rapid fire also becomes far easier. Accuracy improves greatly as does ballistic performance, adding substantial velocity and muzzle energy.
For instance, The Truth About Guns found a Marlin carbine in .357 Magnum with an 18-inch barrel yielded muzzle velocities and muzzle energy close to lighter loadings of .30-30, which isn’t exactly the most powerful of rifle rounds but still puts plenty of deer in the freezer. You won’t turn a handgun round into a rifle round, but you’ll get close.
For the home defense role, a pistol caliber carbine gets a whole lot more power out of handgun rounds – which are otherwise puny compared to long guns – but while still being fairly maneuverable in close quarters. If you don’t want to rely on a handgun for home defense, this makes them rather ideal.
Though the range of a pistol caliber carbine is more limited than that of a rifle, you can do a lot more intermediate range shooting for cheaper. Granted, .223/5.56 NATO is usually quite cheap, but since they come in boxes of 20 rather than 50, 9mm is often cheaper per round when buying off store shelves.
As to hunting, a pistol caliber carbine with an appropriate cartridge is best up close and personal, though marginally longer shots become possible though perhaps not the best idea. For people who hunt from stands or otherwise in thick timber, a 10mm or .357 Magnum carbine is actually a dandy idea; you can down deer or hogs with relative ease with less weight and greater maneuverability than most rifles. Larger game may require sizing up to a carbine in .44 Magnum or .45 Colt, though longer-range shots of 150 yards or more are still best left to rifles.
That said, the pistol caliber carbine is practical, economical and an all-around great complement to anyone’s gun safe.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.