Review: Ruger PC Carbine Takedown Magpul Backpacker

By now, I’m sure you’ve likely already seen and considered the Ruger PC Carbine. We have featured versions in the past on The Shooter’s Log and have heard many positive reviews. This great rifle has much merit on its own, but when paired with the takedown system and Magpul furniture, it rises to a new level.

I have to admit, I had written this gun off in the past as being “just not for me.” For me at least, on paper it can be a bit lackluster. However, it really shines when you get it in hand. Boy am I glad I had the opportunity to give one a shot. It certainly changed my perspective. 

Ruger PC Carbine with Optic
With the UTG optic and a magazine, this classic carbine begins to look a bit more tactical.

PC Carbine Features

The Ruger Takedown is a feature-packed carbine disguised as a traditional rifle. An adjustable, rear ghost ring sight and guarded front post offers a familiar sight picture. 

As a lefty, I was pleased to see the reversible magazine release and charging handle. Ruger tends to be pretty good about that. Ruger also gives you the ability to pick the brand of magazine you use. The Ruger PC Carbine includes magwell sleeves for both Glock 9mm magazines and Ruger SR9/Security 9 17-round mags. Ruger includes one of its magazines with the rifle.

The Mapul Backpacker edition offers magazine storage in the stock for easy transport when the rifle is separated. The magazine does rattle in the stock. Because it needs to be able to fit different mags (depending on which magwell device you’re using), it can’t be an exact fit. Since this is just for storage during transport, it’s not a huge issue. Additionally, Ruger includes two cheek rest options (low and high) that double as the lid for the storage compartment.

The 16-inch fluted barrel is threaded 1/2×28. This would be a great suppressor host. The fluting helped with cooling, which helps with the takedown system should you need to shoot and leave quickly. The rifle incorporates a Picatinny top rail for your optics mounting needs and M-Lok slots on the forend for lights and lasers. Of course, the unique feature of the Takedown model is the quick-detach system, which allows you to quickly break the rifle in two for storage and transport. 

At 6.2 pounds without an optic, it’s a bit heavy for a PCC. This is not a deal-breaker by any means, but it is worth noting. I expect aftermarket options will fill that need in the future, perhaps with a carbon-fiber barrel.

Ruger PC Carbine Takedown System
Press in the tabs at the front of the forend and pull the metal latch on the underside. Then, you’ll be ready to take down the carbine.

Takedown System

The takedown system on the Ruger PC Carbine detaches the receiver and barrel with a quick pull tab. Ensure you have properly cleared and safety-checked the firearm. Next, lock the bolt to the rear with the lever catch (in front of the trigger guard). Then, simply depress the metal tab under the forend and twist clockwise. At this point, you are free to slide the halves apart. For transport and storage, close the bolt to prevent debris from entering the action. 

The Magpul design takes this one step further, allowing you to insert the breech end of the barrel into the rear of the stock. The locking tabs on the forend will engage with a section on the stock to lock it into place in a compact, stored arrangement. The magazine is stored in the stock, so everything’s wrapped up in one, nice little package. 

Ruger PC Carbine Stock Open Mag Compartment
The Magpul Backpacker stock features a storage compartment for the magazine.

To reattach, lock the bolt to the rear and insert the breech end of the barrel into the receiver at an angle. You should be able to see how the parts fit together. As you press the halves together, and overcome some light spring pressure, twist the two pieces back into the locked position. You will hear and feel the metal pull tab and side buttons click back into place.

For those concerned that this fancy takedown system will have an effect on your accuracy and zeroing, you need not worry. I tested separated the rifle three times within 300 rounds and experienced no degradation in accuracy.

To swap the magwell on the PC Carbine, first start by using the takedown system to separate the barrel and the receiver. Next, unscrew the two screws on the underside of the receiver. This allows you to remove the receiver from the stock. Place the receiver to the side. Then, looking down at the polymer lower, you’ll see the magwell section at the front. This slides up and out after depressing the magazine release and a little section on the mag catch. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but I will link to Ruger’s instructions demonstrating the process. Keep the mag release button depressed and the mag sleeve will slide and click into place.


  • Stock: OD Green Magpul PC Backpacker
  • Capacity: 17 rounds
  • Barrel length: 16.12 inches
  • Overall length: 35 inches
  • Front sight: Protected blade
  • Rear sight: Adjustable Ghost Ring
  • Barrel features: Threaded, fluted
  • Thread pattern: 1/2×28″
  • Weight: 6.2 pounds
  • Length of pull: 13.75 inches
  • Receiver material: Aluminum Alloy
  • Receiver finish: Type III hard-coat anodized
  • Twist: 1:10″ RH
  • Grooves: 6

Range Time

The Ruger Takedown carbine is a great deal of fun at the range. Toss it in a backpack with a few boxes of ammunition and you’ve got a great afternoon. I tested the PCC with 115-grain Blazer FMJ range ammo, a load that tends to perform well across a range of different firearms.

After one failure to feed in the first few rounds, I didn’t experience any more malfunctions. I attribute this to breaking in and working out any factory grease or gunk that may be in there. I like to test a gun as it comes from the box just to see how it runs and expect a bobble from time to time. The blowback action really flings brass to keep that ejection port clear and the bolt rides home with authority.

Ruger PC Carbine at Range
The Ruger ran well at the range.

Between the adjustable sights, high-quality barrel, and good stock trigger, the firearm delivered good accuracy. The trigger uses proven 10/22 components, so there’s a host of aftermarket options, should you want to crank things up a notch. 

Starting at 10 yards, I acclimated to the iron sights and got a feel for the trigger. Warming up, I stretched out farther and was able to achieve around 2-inch groups at 25 yards. However, I was overthinking it and pulling some of my shots off a bit. I have to admit, I’m a pistol shooter most of the time and could certainly brush up on my rifle skills.

Discounting the flyers, group size shrunk considerably to about an inch. With more practice and possibly an optic, I have no doubt the groups would close up. The PC Carbine can run a ragged hole in the right hands within 50 yards. For this first test, I was excited to see how the Ruger would perform out of the box. However, as I put it through its paces, I plan on running the UTG ACCU-SYNC red dot. This is a great budget 3 MOA dot with an excellent quick-attach mount. Stay tuned for a future review.

PC Carbine Magwell
Ruger includes two magwell options to use either Glock or Ruger ST9/Security 9 mags.

Recoil was minimal — it is a 9mm carbine after all. The recoil it did exhibit was straight to the rear and into the shoulder with little muzzle rise. With a good grip and proper stance, staying accurate during rapid fire was a breeze.

Final Thoughts

With a renewed outlook on the Ruger PC Carbine, I began looking for an open spot in my safe. This would be a handy firearm to pack for a camping trip or when traveling and you would like to bring something larger than a pistol. It’s also cool and fun — reason enough to own anything. With so many different variations of the PC Carbine, there’s a perfect version for everyone. 

What do you think of 9mm carbines? How about a takedown model that tucks away in a backpack? Share your thoughts in the Comment section.

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