Sig MPX, the uber-9
With just a few days to go until SHOT, I think we can see a little more through the glass darkly. Here are some random thoughts:
2017 is the Year of the Pistol Caliber Carbine.
In the last few days I've been flooded with news releases on PCCs. There are a lot of "dedicated" units out there, plus most of the big AR makers have already, or are planning to, push PCCs to market. We've covered this topic extensively here on the blog/podcast, on Facebook on and on SHOOTING GALLERY. In fact, this season on SHOOTING GALLERY we will feature 9mm carbines and pistols and discuss their rise. So remember, you heard it here first!
Several sub-points on this one:
-- Companies who got in early stand to reap big rewards. Kel-Tec with their Sub 2000 comes to mind immediately, We used Sub 2000s in the AMERICAN MARKSMAN finals, and they were a huge success…not to mention workhorses.
-- In the AR arena, CMMG, JP Rifles and Rock River are all veterans in the market with solid products. JP has an upgraded version of their GMR-13, the GMR-15. I have a lot of experience with the JP GMR-13, and I would unequivocally say it is the top of the heap in 9mm carbines. But JP now has a lot of competition. Billy Wilson jumped into the fray last year with the Wilson Combat AR-9…I own Wilson Combat rifles and I've had a few minutes with Mike Seeklander's AR-9. It is a superb carbine, which is what I would expect from Wilson Combat.
--Sig Sauer has a MASSIVE hit with their MPX carbine (and the pistol version, for that matter), as does CZ with their relatively inexpensive Scorpion EVO carbines and pistols. The MPX has dropped neatly into the "MP-5 Oh My God I Have to Have One of Those!!!" category…I suspect if Sig could 3X their output, they could sell every one tomorrow afternoon. Sig's MPX (and CZ EVO carbine) sales will be driven even more by the next point…
-- USPSA has a huge home run on their hands with the Pistol Caliber Carbine division. New USPSA President Mike Foley took a big swing and hit this one out of the park. The first PCC Nationals will be held later this year, and the Sig MPX has — initially — emerged as the go-to gun for the division. I could go into a lot of blatherings about why PCC is the right division at the right time, but let me just throw some things out there…pent-up demand generated by 3-Gun, which is constrained by it high barriers-to-entry, ability to run PCC matches or ranges with only pistol bays, and ammo costs. Watch this one!
-- PCC-oriented companies like Quarter Circle 10 and Angstadt Arms stand on the verge of big growth, if they can keep from being run over by the big boys. Both of these companies build superb products. The "My Little Friend" pistol project for SHOOTING GALLERY ONLINE is based on QC10 products, and the Angstadt Arms pistol I have is destined to become an SBR. ARES Defense (now doing business as FightLite), the innovative AR-based company that pioneered the belt-fed AR and the traditionally styled AR-based SCR rifle, is going whole hog into the PCC market, with carbines/pistols based on their submachine gun platform, that features the ability to convert to a number of different pistol magazines. I note there's even a Nigerian company, BNTI Arms, with U.S. headquarters in Jacksonville, rolling out a 9mm into the U.S. market.
-- The rise of PCC also breathes life into a couple of other areas. For example, IWI, whose Tavor bullpup was the best-selling 5.56 carbine in the U.S. last year, offers 9mm conversion units and full 9mm carbines, using Colt-style mags. I will be running an IWI X95 9mm in USPSA PCC division later this year. Beretta's CX4 Storm carbine should also see abig boost. One other area to watch is the RONI pistol carbine conversion units. Having worked with SBR versions of this platform, it has a lot of potential. If you're willing to pony up the $200 and hang around for 6 or 7 months for the SBR paperwork (there is a carbine version), it's a neat idea to be able to ratchet your pistol into the RONI and have a carbine. If you don't want to go the SBR route, Mech-Tech has had their CCU pistol conversion system around for years…I think I still have a 1911 version from 15 years ago in my safe.
-- Other companies that stand to benefit from this trend are makers of 9mm carbines like TNW Firearms and their multicolored Aero Survival Rifles, which recently got an excellent review from AMERICAN RIFLEMAN. Other dedicated 9mm carbine companies like Just Right and Thureon Defense stand to benefit as well.
-- I think part of the PCC explosion on the AR platform is due to the debugging of the Glock magazine platform. Carbines/pistols using Glock mags are an easy step for not just Glock pistol owners, but because of their easy availability and larger capacity (30+ round mags from Glock, ETS and the Koreans) are a good choice for everyone. However, the venerable Colt magazines are far from dead. The original 9mm AR submachine gun, the Colt 635 from the early 1980s, used magazines based on the Uzi (and Uzi mags could be adapted to fit), and that magazine quickly became the standard for 9mm AR platform carbines and pistols. There are a LOT of Colt pattern mags out there, and since many many companies are committed to the Colt mags, there is a lot of development… Stag and IWI-branded mags are a definite step up, available in 10, 20 and 30 round versions.
-- The growth in the AR platform PCCs is being helped by the widespread availability of dedicated AR lowers for Colt or Glock magazines, as opposed to the magazines spacer blocks used originally by Colt and most of the AR pistol manufacturers for the last couple of decades. Well made spacers were no problemo (my Spike's Tactical pistol, for example) but there were some really crappy example out there that caused no end to problems.
-- A couple of more platforms to watch…with this renewed interest in 9m carbines and carbine-based pistols, the venerable HK MP-5 is staging a major clone comeback. HK is offering, essentially, their own MP-5 clone, the SP5K in pistol version (although I have been told a carbine version is in the works). It uses the classic HK roller delayed blowback system, is crazy accurate and costs a lot, in the $2700 range, a grand more than the Sig MPX — although, to be honest, all the MP-5 clones will set you back more than any of the guns we've talked about. I've run the Brethern Arms clones — probably my choice if I was buying — and they were super, being, in effect, semi-custom guns. THE FIREARM BLOG recently did a list of the other MP-5 clones out there. Realistically, if you want to go full John McClane and, in your dreams, launch Hans Gruber off Nakatomi Plaza, this is the way you've got to go.
-- Finally, and a readily admit this is an outlier, you can get an M1 Carbine in 9mm from Chiappa Firearms. I love M1 Carbines and am at a loss to understand why I don't have one. The Chiappa runs off Beretta 9mm magazines and has a somewhat sketchy reputation for reliability. Both Inland Manufacturing and Auto-Ordnance make well-thought-of M1 Carbine clones (I've got a lot of rounds through the Auto-Ordnance version), and the guys at A-O even built a few M1 Carbines for 3-Gun competition in jurisdictions where the AR was banned/restricted. Be fun to shoot these in a PCC match (although by USPSA rules the .30 Carbine is not a pistol cartridge).
-- I haven't mentioned Hi-Point Firearms here because I have no experience with them. Hi-Point has taken a lot of flack over the years from snippy gun nerds (hmmmm..I wonder if I know any of those?!?!), but they've been around a long time and are dirt cheap.