When someone comes into the shop to buy a gun the first question I like to ask is “what would you like to use this for?” Often the answer is home defense, especially among first time gun buyers. Self defense, particularly in the home, is one of the most primal god-given tasks we have as stewards of our spaces and families. So in a world of overwhelming options and fiercely held opinions-  what makes the best all around home defense weapon? I would like to make a case for the pistol caliber carbine, or PCC.

What is a PCC?

Simply put, a pistol caliber carbine is a carbine length firearm that shoots a common pistol caliber. Think AR-15 platform or similar but shoots a 9mm or .45. Pretty cool, right? That is the general idea. There are MANY not based on an AR type platform as well, allowing for different functions and ergonomics while accommodating almost any price point. For example, Kel-Tec, a company I respect for their willingness to try new designs in the firearm space, has a foldable 9mm PCC. KRISS USA has the KRISS Vector and its aesthetic, ergonomics, and performance have helped this PCC become something that never sits more than a day at the shop before selling. The CZ Scorpion Evo 3 is another one of my personal favorites for its ease of use, ability to accept accessories, and available aftermarket customizations. 

What’s the situation?

A home invasion is something I pray never to experience, but as much as we wish for them to not happen, we must live in reality and recognize that they do happen. Imagine the situation – you are fast asleep and your children are tucked in and sleeping in their rooms. Suddenly, you are awakened and filled with suspicion and dread as you hear the sound of humans moving around downstairs. You verify that your husband or wife is indeed next to you and maybe check the monitors and verify your littles are in their rooms. From the perspective of a normal, untrained general citizen, at this point your sympathetic nervous system takes over. Your heart is beating out of your chest, your breathing becomes rapid and shallow, and you start to sweat. You tell your husband or wife to call the police while you reach for your gun. As you open the safe, your sweaty butterfingers are stumbling to handle this basic task as your fine motor skills decrease, leaving only gross motor skills.

If you’re the average gun owner, you unfortunately haven’t trained as often as you should. You might have purchased something, fulfilled whatever state requirements are needed, and maybe you’re even in the minority and took a lesson or class and learned some basics. You did an acceptable job standing at the firing line and shot a stationary piece of paper 5-7 yards away from you. But now, someone is actually in your house with nefarious intentions. 

With the stage set as such, let’s walk through what tool is needed for this job.

Why a PCC for home defense?

Like I said, most people, myself included, don’t train as often as they should. And even then, our training might not have covered these situations. We basically need something that will have the power to neutralize a threat and be easy to use with minimal skill level.

Handguns are great and there are a plethora of instances where a relatively untrained person was able to neutralize a threat. But when it comes to your home and your family, it is best to be set up for success in every way possible rather than squeeze a trigger and hope for the best.

Arguably the biggest advantage a PCC has over a handgun is that it can be stabilized against your body. PCCs have either a stock or a brace affixed to the back, allowing the gun to be tucked into that pocket under your clavicle near your shoulder. You no longer have to worry about stability across multiple joints – your shoulders, elbows, and wrists – and can use the mass of your body to help keep the gun in position. This position allows your body to absorb much of the recoil, making well placed follow up shots much quicker for someone who doesn’t get much range time.

Pistol caliber carbines are typically easier to load. When your shaky, sweaty fingers will fumble and stumble to rack a slide on a handgun, you will wish you had a larger handle to grab and pull back to get that round in the chamber.

Next, PCCs are easily outfitted with a red dot and flashlight. Yes, many handguns are available now with a lower rail for a weapon mounted light and an optics ready slide, but the majority purchased across the board are not equipped for these items. Picking up a PCC in the middle of the night during a highly stressful situation and being able to simply put the red dot on the target after acquiring a positive ID with your flashlight is a lot easier than doing this with a handgun if you are the average gun owner with minimal training.

Another huge advantage of the PCC is that if you have a handgun, you will likely be able to practice with the same ammo as your handgun. If you have a pistol chambered in 9mm and you have a PCC of the same caliber, it’s easy to pick up a case at your local shop and take both your handgun and PCC to train. There are even PCCs that take Glock magazines so you could essentially load up a bunch of one type of magazine to feed through your PCC and a Glock if you have one.

Overall, no matter which home defense weapon you choose, the most important thing you can do is train. Many gun buyers leave the shop excited and filled with the best intentions to train regularly. If you are being honest with yourself and conclude that you likely won’t be able to spend much time training, then you want a firearm that can be shot effectively and safely with less training. This means if you’re a newer shooter, a handgun might not be the best choice for home defense. Pistol caliber carbines are an outstanding choice and something that even my own grandmother can operate.

If you’d like to learn more or want to come shoot a few varieties, we have many available for rent at The Machine Gun Nest.