8 Best Pistol Caliber AR-15 Carbines (AR-9) By: Eric Hung

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Chances are you have a Glock or might buy one down the road.

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It’d be nice to have a carbine that shares both ammo and mags right?

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Glock Mags
Some Glock Mags

And how about something that might be already familiar to you in the ergonomics and function of the AR-15?

Boom!

Aero Precision EPC Shooting
Aero Precision EPC Shooting

The AR-9 was born and has taken over the market ever since.

Let’s go over why they make sense and then a couple of our favorites.

Table of Contents

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Why Pistol Caliber Carbine (PCC) AR-9s?

I probably already spoiled it above…

But it simply makes sense to have both your long gun and sidearm in the same caliber and magazine. Especially if you aren’t looking to expand your collection past a few firearms or are looking primarily at home defense.

Plus, we love our Glocks (Best Glock Models) and our AR-15s (AR-15 Buyer’s Guide).

Favorite AR-15s
Favorite AR-15s

And as opposed to handguns which take a lot more skill and training to shoot well…you have many more points of contact and a longer sight radius in a PCC.

Plus, with pistol-braced variants, you can have everything in a shorter package without sacrificing much.

UDP AR 9 on the farm
UDP AR-9 on the Farm

That shorter length also allows you to add a suppressor, and since it’s an AR…endless upgrades.

Sig Sauer MPX K Banish Suppressor
Banish Suppressor

AR-15 & AR-9 Parts Compatibility

A big question that comes up…how much of an existing AR-15 can you keep?

Most things are the same…but you’ll see a big difference in lowers.

First is the ejector:

PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver
PSA PX-9 Sharp Lower Receiver

And also a different magwell to handle Glock (or other pistol mags).

PSA PX-9 Glock Magazine Magwell
PSA PX-9 Glock Magazine Magwell

Also, on the lower is a different magazine catch style that I actually prefer to standard AR-15s. Different manufacturers will differ slightly…but it’s a larger/longer catch.

Aero Precision EPC Mag Release
Aero Precision EPC Mag Release

On the upper, you’ll have a different bolt for your specific pistol caliber that’s simpler due to most guns being direct blowback. That also means no gas block or gas tube!

And, of course, a caliber-specific barrel.

PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle
PSA PX-9 9mm Bolt and Charging Handle

And though the lower will take any mil-spec AR-15 trigger group…I’d opt for something specifically built to handle the more recoil of the AR-9. Check out our suggestions in Best 9mm AR-15 Triggers.

Otherwise…you’re good with swapping everything else out!

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Best Budget Option

    PSA Complete AR-9

    Wallet-friendly, fun to shoot

    $699 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  2. Best DIY

    Aero Precision EPC-9

    Last round bolt hold open, have to build it yourself

    $314 at Aero Precision
    Jump to Details
  3. Mid-Tier Option

    Angstadt Arms UDP-9 Pistol 6″

    Pricey, Glock aftermarket compatible

    $1369 at GunPrime
    Jump to Details
  4. Most Compact

    Foxtrot Mike FM-9B

    Small, lightweight, compact

    $670 at Brownells
    Jump to Details
  5. Scorpion EVO Compatible

    PSA AR-V

    Compatible with Scorpion Evo mags, looks cool

    $990 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  6. Smoothest Shooting

    CMMG Banshee Series

    Unique system cuts down on recoil

    $1719 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  7. Editpr’s Pick

    Sig Sauer MPX

    Easy to use, nice, small package

    $1999 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details
  8. Best High-End Option

    B&T APC9 Pro

    Can run B&T, Glock, and Sig Sauer P320 magazines

    $2499 at Palmetto State Armory
    Jump to Details

Best AR-15 Pistol Caliber Carbines (AR-9)

1. Palmetto State Armory (PSA) PX-9

A major name in budget options for a wide range of firearms, the PSA PX-9 is a solid installment in their lineup.

PSA 9mm PX-9
PSA 9mm PX-9

And one of the best bang-for-the-buck starter AR-9s you can get.

Fit and finish are decent, but it will always go bang. And in the end, that’s what really matters, right?

I’ve used them for a couple of PCC competitions and had a blast.

Best Budget Option
699

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
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PSA stocks everything from complete carbines to complete lowers and complete uppers so you can build to your heart’s content.

However, it should be noted that most PSA AR-9s do not have Last Round Bolt Hold Open.

PSA PX-9 Lower
PSA PX-9 Lower

But they domake some of the best-looking AR-9s we’ve seen (or shot!).

Check out our full review here.

What’s your take on the PSA?

Readers’ Ratings

4.98/5
(925)

Your Rating?

2. Aero Precision EPC-9

Looking for something a little more refined…and perhaps with a last round bolt hold open (LRBHO)?

Our recommendation mirrors our regular AR-15…and that’s to check out Aero Precision with their EPC-9 (Enhanced Pistol Carbine).

Aero Precision EPC Shooting
Aero Precision EPC Shooting

It’s definitely enhanced with the LRBHO as well as some small niceties that make building and using it an upgrade.

Remember the mag release? The EPC-9 might be our favorite.

Aero Precision EPC Mag Release
Aero Precision EPC Mag Release

And if you’re building your lower from the ground up…you’ll appreciate a threaded bolt catch to avoid marring the finish when installing.

Aero Precision EPC Mag Release
Aero Precision EPC Threaded Bolt Catch

The fire control group also has hardened pins to deal with the extra recoil from the blowback system.

But how does it shoot? In one word…great.

Aero Precision EPC Featured Image
Aero Precision EPC at Night

Check out our full review of the Aero EPC-9 here.

Want a shorter pistol AR? We’ve built an 8.3-inch barrel version and love its balance, adequate rail space, and extra maneuverability.

Aero EPC-9 8.3" Build
Aero EPC-9 8.3″ Build

Want to snag one? Aero is meaning to be mostly built at home…but there are plenty of complete uppers and lowers to choose from!

Best DIY
314

at Aero Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

314
at Aero Precision

  • Aero Precision (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

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  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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Oh, yea…we also have a video review too:

3. UDP-9 by Angstadt Arms

The UDP-9 is a finely-tuned 9mm AR-15 pistol that’s compatible with Glock and Glock aftermarket magazines.

Angstadt UDP-9 On a Stump
Angstadt UDP-9 On a Stump

While it does have a pretty hefty price tag, there were no corners cut when making this AR-9. Plus, it’s not afraid to eat only the steel-cased stuff.

UDP AR 9 ammo
UDP-9 with Ammo

Since the UDP-9 functions like every other standard AR-15, you don’t have to worry about getting adjusted to new controls when shooting it for the first time.

We have a complete article on the UDP-9.

If you’re looking for a high-end AR-9…check out the UDP-9.

Mid-Tier Option
1369

at GunPrime

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

1369
at GunPrime

  • GunPrime (See Price)
  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

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And you know it…a video!

4. Foxtrot Mike FM-9B

Looking for a small AR-9? Check out the Foxtrot Mike FM-9B.

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Shooting
Foxtrot Mike FM9B Shooting

There are 10-inch, 5-inch, and 4-inch variants. And here we have their tiniest bois!

A little too close for my comfort, but even without a folding stock, you’re good to go inside a gray man backpack.

I’d much rather have a QD suppressor ready if you go with the 4-inch variant.

Best 9mm and Multi-Caliber Pistol Suppressors
Best 9mm and Multi-Caliber Pistol Suppressors

But 10 inches will give you a good amount of usable rail space and lower the possibility of losing some digits.

It’s also reasonably priced and comes with last round bolt hold open.

Foxtrot Mike FM9B Bolt Open
Foxtrot Mike FM-9B Bolt Open

Check out our full review of the FM-9B to see what other aspects we liked.

Most Compact
670

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

670
at Brownells

  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Rainier Arms (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

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  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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And we also have a video review as well:

5. Palmetto State Armory AR-V

PSA hits our list again, but this time with the AR-V…a decently priced PCC with a unique twist.

Using either PSA’s proprietary AK-V/AR-V magazines, the AR-V can also use CZ Scorpion EVO mags.

PSA AR-V Left Side
PSA AR-V

We dig this PCC’s ability to give you some options in terms of mags, especially if you already own a Scorpion or PSA’s 9mm AK variant.

AKV up hill
AK-V Up the Hill

Operating with a 10.5-inch barrel covered by a PSA 9-inch M-LOK handguard, we found the AR-V to be pretty reliable and accurate.

PSA AR-V Shooting Left Side Close Up
PSA AR-V

It has a matching mag release that is on the AK-V and takes a little bit of getting used to…but it is great once you do.

PSA AR-V Right Side Receiver
PSA AR-V Right Side Receiver

Of course, you can check out the review here to learn more.

Scorpion EVO Compatible
990

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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And yes…a full video review on the AR-V!

6. CMMG Banshee Series

Want to look down on all these blowback guns with an air of superiority?

Check out CMMG’s Banshee series, which relies on a proprietary “radial delayed blowback” gas system that seriously cuts down on recoil, especially during rapid fire.

There are, of course, 9mm variants…but been there done that…we hands-on tested their 10mm.

Banshee long mag
CMMG Banshee 10mm

And from our reviewer’s mouth…”it ran like a scalded dog” by eating up that extra oomph and making the 10mm feel like 9mm.

There are also different levels of awesomeness within the Banshee series…from the 100 to the 200 to our tested 300. It comes with everything you might want already upgraded.

Plus, it looks great.

Banshee Side
CMMG 10mm Banshee Side

Check out our full review here. Or even check out a full review of the 5.7 Upper.

Smoothest Shooting
1719

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

1719
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Kygunco (See Price)

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7. Sig Sauer MPX

Here’s another high-end AR-9 option…that scoffs at the idea of a simple blowback action.

Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting
Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting

The Sig MPX uses a short piston recoil system that lets you get rid of the buffer tube for a nice compact package, especially in a pistol format.

1999

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

1999
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)
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Prices accurate at time of writing

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Everything will be familiar to a standard AR-15 and with the added bonus of nice ambidextrous controls as well.

Sig Sauer MPX K Controls
Sig Sauer MPX K Controls
Sig Sauer MPX K Receiver
Sig Sauer MPX K Receiver

It shot flawlessly for us and was a joy suppressed.

Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting Barrier
Sig Sauer MPX K Shooting Barrier

And in the dark…

Sig Sauer MPX K Night Shoot
Sig Sauer MPX K Night Shoot

Check out our full review of the MPX for all the details. This might be our favorite AR-9 based option at this time.

See it in all its glory in our video:

8. B&T APC9 PRO

Want another high-end PCC to consider? Then look no further than the APC9 Pro from Brügger & Thomet.

BT APC9 Pro
BT APC9 Pro

Made in Switzerland, the APC9 Pro is one of the most flexible guns on this list as it is capable of running B&T, Glock, and Sig Sauer P320 magazines based upon which lower you select.

And while the forend isn’t very long, the dual, auto-folding, non-reciprocating charging handles won’t get in your way. This helps keep the overall profile very compact.

BT APC9 Pro
BT APC9 Pro

The controls are a pretty familiar blend, and the APC9 Pro handles very well. Felt recoil is manageable and even tame when a suppressor is used – but don’t forget the adapter because the barrel has the European tri-lug setup.

All this capability comes at a lofty price, though!

Best High-End Option
2499

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

2499
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)
  • KY Gun Co. (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

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You know you wanna read more on this neat, little gun, so check out our full review or peep the video below!

Final Thoughts

So, in summary, AR-9s are a fun blend of a handgun caliber and a carbine length. We’ve given you some of our favorite AR-9s from budget creations…

Best budget AR-9
699

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

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to more bang-for-the-buck options that come with a last round bolt hold-open option.

314

at Aero Precision

Prices accurate at time of writing


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314
at Aero Precision

  • Aero Precision (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)

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And our current favorite with the Sig MPX.

1999

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

1999
at Palmetto State Armory

  • Palmetto State Armory (See Price)
  • Brownells (See Price)
  • Guns.com (See Price)

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • 25% off all OAKLEY products – OAKLEY25

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Still looking for other PCC options? Check out our non-AR-specific article Best Pistol Caliber Carbines for more ideas.