September 25, 2020
A quick look at the new Ruger PC Charger in 9mm leads some folks to ask the question, “What is that?” Well, it’s a pistol. It’s a pistol that can be outfitted with a red dot, an arm brace, and a standard-capacity magazine to make it a low-cost, but highly effective self-defense firearm.
The PC Charger pistol firmly squares off as a more-affordable alternative to the B&T APC9K ($2,450), CZ Scorpion EVO 3 S1 pistol ($884), HK SP5 ($2,800), Rock River RUK-9 ($1,100) and SIG Sauer MPX K ($1,830).
Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of these are their status as “pistols,” which allows the owner to take them anywhere he can legally carry concealed. Granted, no one is stuffing one of these in their pants, but tossed in a backpack these guns provide a higher hit probability than a regular pistol when properly outfitted.
Moving the Goal Posts
This unorthodox-looking pistol is part of Ruger’s Charger line that originally appeared in 2015 as a takedown rimfire. However, the new Charger has features to make it an excellent choice for personal defense. The first is the chambering in 9mm. Nine-mil ammunition has seen a ton of development and is now the most common round issued to law enforcement. The caliber is a great selection for self-defense and training, and is common enough that it’s one of the most inexpensive centerfire cartridges on the market.
When I travel, I like to be more heavily armed than when I’m hanging around the house. I prefer firearms that can be shouldered because they are easier to shoot accurately. A pistol that can be put to the shooter’s shoulder for firing features the best of both. Since this is a pistol and pistols are legally allowed to have arm braces, this is a good time to review the legal ins and outs of arm braces when mounted on pistols such as the new PC Charger.
The Bureau of Alcohols Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) has made multiple rulings on pistols and arm braces, and every time the rules seem to change. In fact, at the time of this article’s writing, the ATF was considering making a fourth ruling that will likely be hostile to supporters of the Second Amendment. This is one area of the law where the government continuously changes its interpretation of the law, so it’s important to stay educated when attaching arm braces on pistols.
That said, the most current ruling on March 21, 2017, states, “incidental, sporadic, or situational” contact with the shooter’s shoulder does not constitute a redesign of a brace-equipped firearm, so long as the firearm remains in its approved configuration. As long as the consumer doesn’t alter the arm brace or the firearm, it is legal to use. An alteration that could land a person in trouble would be removing the the handstop on this model Charger and replacing it with a vertical foregrip. The law is unclear if this constitutes a “redesign,” so assume it’ll get you in trouble.
Performance in a Tiny Package
The PC Charger comes with a section of Picatinny rail machined into the back of the receiver. This section of Pic rail allows for the attachment of a stabilizing arm brace. The arm brace evaluated here is SB Tactical’s new TF1913 ($200, sb-tactical.com).
The TF1913 arm brace is only .85-inch wide and lays flat up against the PC charger when folded. The brace can be moved vertically on the rail to get the comb into the height most desirable for the shooter. The lowest setting is where the brace lays flat against the receiver.
The brace opens with a tug and locks into place. The vertical portion of the brace (similar to a buttpad) was rigid enough to provide good support when making “incidental, sporadic, or situational” contact with my shoulder. The length of pull with the brace extended is 121/2 inches.
The trigger Ruger put in the PC Charger uses “proven 10/22 components.” The PC Charger trigger measured 4 pounds (even), and it had so little creep that most of the time it felt like there was none. If this pistol were mine, I’d leave the trigger alone. The 4-pound pull weight was pleasant for plinking, but heavy enough that I’d consider it appropriate for home defense.
This is a take-down (TD) Charger, so the handguard and barrel readily separate from the receiver. Completely disassembled, the receiver and folding brace seen here measure a scant 11 inches, making it smaller than most laptop computers. All it takes to remove the barrel and handguard is to lock the bolt and depress the tab under the barrel while rotating the handguard. Then, the two pieces separate. It takes seconds to separate the two.
As can be seen by the accuracy table, the PC Charger performed well with five shots at 50 yards averaging 1.31 inches with three loads. I fired the Charger from the bench with a red dot sight mounted and attribute the excellent accuracy to the crisp trigger and tight barrel lock-up.
The removeable barrel has a knurled nut that sits close to the receiver. The nut clicks as it turns, so it’s easy for the shooter to repeat any adjustments made. Spinning that nut adjusts how much distance there is between the lug abutments in the receiver and the barrel face that contacts the receiver. The locking lugs on the barrel seating against the receiver’s lug abutments ensure headspace is always correct (which is set at the factory), but spinning the nut ensures the barrel can’t move under recoil.
It’s easy to tell if the barrel is too loose by grabbing it and pushing/pulling it away from and towards the receiver. If there’s any movement, the barrel is too loose. Another indicator the barrel is too loose is poor accuracy. If accuracy is greater than 2 inches for five shots at 50 yards with quality ammunition, the barrel is probably loose. Simply tighten the nut to fix.
Perhaps the most popular feature of the PC Charger is the ability to use both Ruger and Glock magazines. The Charger ships to accept Ruger SR-Series and Security-9 magazines, and includes one 17-round magazine. The SR-series magazines are available in 10-, 15- and 17-round capacities. Those magazines retail for around $40, but can be found online for about $25 each.
An Easter egg in the box reveals a magazine adaptor for Glock 9mm magazines. These are everywhere and many shooters already have a pile at home. The Charger accepts everything from a 10-rounder to the G19’s 15-round mag to the G17’s 17- and optional 33-round mags. I did my endurance testing using Glock magazines because I figured if there was going to be a problem feeding, it would be with the Glock magazine. There were no problems.
Being able to use Glock magazines with the PC Charger opens up the pistol to strong aftermarket support that Glock enjoys. There are a number of companies that manufacture magazines and magazine accessories for Glock pistols — everything from clear magazines to aluminum extensions.
Leaving No Lefty Behind
The Charger is ambidextrous and can place the charging handle and the magazine release on either side. What isn’t ambidextrous is the safety, so left-handed shooters will have to gun-juggle a bit.
Finally, the Charger has an integral Picatinny rail atop the receiver and a threaded barrel. These are two features that eliminate some of the stress associated with shooting, but for different reasons.
The integral optic rail guarantees the scope base will never come loose. Once the optic mount is torqued to the optic and tighted to the receiver, there is nothing to work loose. A periodic check of optic-to-mount and mount-to-receiver is all that’s required. Scope bases can and do work loose on occasion, and the screws holding them in place often require scope removal to check.
I could make the argument that threaded barrels should be mandatory these days thanks to the availability of suppressors. Suppressor remove all blast and make shooting more enjoyable.
The PC Charger 9mm pistol allows the owner to have a gun that excels at everything from plinking to self-defense. Ammunition is still available and inexpensive. To reiterate, because it’s a pistol it can be carried concealed in a backpack for those times a little more firepower would be comforting. I can think of few companions I’d enjoy traveling with more.
Ruger PC Charger Specs
- Type: Blowback operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 17+1 rds.
- Barrel: 6.5 in., 1:10-in. twist
- Overall Length: 16.5 in.
- Weight: 5 lbs., 3 oz.
- Grips: Ruger AR-556
- Finish: Anodized (aluminum), blued (steel)
- Trigger: 4 lbs.
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $799
- Manufacturer: Ruger, 336-949-5200, ruger.com
Ruger PC Charger Performance
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