The Ground Up
A FULL-CUSTOM AR-BASED PCC BUILD
A full-custom Ar-based PCC Build
What are your favorite attributes in the AR-15 platform? If you’re an enthusiast of the rifle, you’d probably realize very quickly that there are many things about it that will come to mind. If you ask us, we’d say that it is its inherent modularity that really keeps it as popular as it is. Thanks to its ever-changing capabilities, the nearly 60-year-old design manages to stay relevant and shows no sign of stopping.
A hot trend among shooters over the past couple of years has been the pistol-caliber carbine (PCC). Although this category of firearm covers many carbines that fire pistol-caliber cartridges, it’s the AR-15’S modularity that makes it one of the most popular rifles in this field. With the great numbers of manufacturers that make parts and accessories for the rifle, it would be easy to assemble one starting with a stripped receiver by using nothing but aftermarket parts. In fact, we did just that.
With pistol-caliber ARS being as hot as they are now, it’s only natural that we went ahead and assembled one from all-aftermarket parts. The lower receiver is considered the foundation of the AR-15 and with pistol carbine builds, so it is important to choose one that can accept the magazine that you will be using with it. In general, 9mm ARS come in two styles. One is the Colt pattern, which accepts Colt-style submachine gun magazines that are very much like Uzi mags, and the other takes Glock magazines. We opted to go with a lower that takes Glock mags.
The Critical Capabilities NC-9 lower is a dedicated receiver that accepts Glock small-frame magazines such as those made for G17, G19 and G22. The lower comes complete with a magazine release and ejector and is machined from 7075-T6 aluminum. It is also has a matte-black anodized finish and a precision-machined mag well with beveled lip. It is engraved for use with 45- and 60-degree safety selectors.
One thing to know prior to assembling your own 9mm-firing AR is that some tuning may be required for it to run perfectly. For your PCC’S system to work correctly, you may be required to tune your lower’s ejector for it to function properly. To complete the lower, we added a few items from Battle Arms Development, including the company’s Cast Enhanced Bolt Catch and titanium enhanced front and rear takedown pins, which are precison Cnc-machined from Grade 5 Titanium.
“Thanks to its ever-changing capabilities, the nearly sixty-year-old design manages to stay relevant and shows no sign of stopping.”
We also dropped in a POF USA Enhanced Finger Placement Drop-in Trigger. The trigger is designed to naturally guide the tip of your finger to the same resting place for a precise, smooth, consistent trigger pull every single time. Complementing the takedown pins and keeping the trigger in place are a set of Black Rain Ordnance titanium hammer and trigger pins as well. Keeping everything in control is a Blackhawk! Knoxx AR Pistol Grip. The grip features a more pronounced palm swell and a grippy, textured surface.
Moving on to the rear, you’ll notice that we combined a Phase 5 Weapon Systems’ Hexone rifle-length buffer tube along with their Universal Mini Stock to create a strong, lightweight buttstock combination. A BCM
BCMGUNFIGHTER QD End Plate was added for single-point sling attachment when required. Within the buffer tube, you’ll find a Blitzkrieg AR-15 9mm Hydraulic Buffer. Blitzkrieg partnered with KYNSHOT to develop this 9mm-specific AR-15 buffer, which they say uses hydraulic shock absorption to dampen both the impact of the bolt at the rear of its travel as well as dampening the forward impact of the buffer's weight. This is all supposed to add up to softer perceived recoil.
The buffer is coupled with one of JP Enterprises Custom Centerless Ground and Polished Operating Springs. The spring is ground and polished and is said to offer a smoother and quieter operation in the buffer tube. We did notice that the typical buffer noise is greatly reduced after the spring was installed.
For the top half, we singled out New Frontier Armory’s Side Charging Pistol Caliber Stripped Billet Upper with Last Round Bolt Hold Open as a starting point. Similar to your .223 Rem/5.56mm AR-15, New Frontier’s upper allows for the bolt to be held open after the last round is fired, which isn’t always the case with all 9mm ARS. For ease of pulling the side charger back, we installed an extended charging handle, also made by New Frontier Armory. Installed inside the upper is a Faxon Gen 2 9mm PCC Blowback Full-mass Bolt Carrier Group. The BCG is ramped so it can be used with both Colt and Glock style systems and, unlike other dedicated 9mm BCGS, features an AR-15 pivoted and sprung style extractor.
The heart of this carbine is a 16-inch Rainier Arms Ultramatch 9mm barrel. It starts out as a stainless steel match grade Shilen blank, which is finished in a bead blast and rifled with a 1:10-twist rate. At its tip is the combined duo of the Fortis Muzzle Brake and Control Shield blast device. The Control Shield can
“With pistol caliber ARS being as hot as they are now, it’s only natural that we went ahead and assembled one from all aftermarket parts.”
“One thing to know prior to assembling your own 9mm firing AR is that some tuning may be required for it to run perfectly.”
be quickly attached and taken off and was designed to push noise forward while its top ports keep the muzzle device flat on target.
The sexy handguard is made by Kaw Valley Precision. Made solely for use on PCCS, the lightweight carbon-fiber handguard features an ultra-thin 1-5/8-inch outer diameter. They get away with this small diameter because AR PCCS don’t require a gas block or gas tube. So the space that’s usually reserved for those items on regular ARS isn’t needed. This allows it to be the thinnest handguard that we’ve encountered. The small diameter does still allow clearance for most muzzle devices. Our intention for this build it to run it at local steel plate matches. The matches have paper targets that are as close as 5 yards and steel from 15 yards out to 150 and many times beyond. With that goal in mind, we dove headfirst into outfitting the carbine with optics. The big dog onboard is Vortex Optic’s Razor HD GEN II-E scope. The newest version of this variable 1-6x24 powered scope is nearly a quarter of a pound lighter than its predecessors and with its crystal-clear glass, even at maximum magnification, the Razor is truly bang for your hard earned buck. It sits in a Midwest Industries 30MM QD Scope Mount complete with smooth operating QD levers and a multifaceted adjustment nut to get the exact tension required.
For close-up shots, we will utilize a Vortex Optics Razor red dot that sits in a Midwest Industries Offset Rail. The offset rail attaches to any Picatinny rail and allows for the offset mounting of lights, lasers and, as in our case, optics.
Being that this build was based on us sharing magazines between our Glock pistols and this carbine, we were able to use our existing “big stick” Glock mags. These 33-round behemoths are great to use in pistols at the competition, but are essential to use with PCCS. We further modified these factory mags by fitting them with Arredondo Glock base pads and springs. These base pads increase our round count by about five or six rounds, which is nice especially when tackling moving targets such as Texas Stars. We’ve fed the PCC plenty of ammo since it was built, but it seems to like Rainier Munitions 9mm 147-grain FMJ Match Subsonic the best.
The build, as with all AR builds, was a fun one to tackle. The best thing about it is that thanks to the modularity of the AR-15’S design we can change any single part of it we want to at any time. You know, in case a new part comes out that we’d like to try out. Then again, as with most of our extra parts, they always mange to spawn and become complete rifles themselves. We wonder why that is!
“The build, as with all AR builds, was a fun one to tackle.”
The onboard optic is a Vortex Razor HD GEN II-E scope sitting in a Midwest Industries 30MM QD Scope Mount complete with smooth QD levers and a multifaceted adjustment nut.
The POF USA Enhanced Finger Placement trigger is designed to naturally guide the tip of your finger to the same resting place for precise, consistent pulls. The lower is a Critical Capabilities NC-9, a dedicated receiver that accepts Glock small-frame...
The heart of this carbine is a 16-inch Rainier Arms Ultramatch 9mm barrel with the combined duo of a Fortis Muzzle Brake and Control Shield blast device at its tip.
For the top half, we singled out New Frontier Armory’s Side Charging Pistol Caliber Stripped Billet Upper, which allows for the bolt to be held open after the last round is fired, not always the case with 9mm ARS.
Our intention for this build it to run it at local steel plate matches; for close-up shots, we will utilize a Vortex Optics Razor red dot that sits in a Midwest Industries Offset Rail.