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Pistol-caliber carbines are emerging as some of the most beloved firearms on the market and it’s easy to see why. In addition to their lighter weight and increased mobility (compared to regular rifles), these modified weapons offer the best of both handguns and long guns. For instance, while chambering standard pistol ammunition, the unique construction of these carbines allows for higher velocity shooting and significantly lower recoil. As a result, pistol-caliber carbines provide an ergonomic and reliable shooting experience that is ideal for all your firearm purposes. Case in point, many shooters utilize pistol-caliber carbines for home-defense because they are noticeably quieter than most rifles and pistols and can handle all kinds of accessories. Additionally, it should not be overlooked that the price of handgun ammo is considerably cheaper, which gives these guns an obvious advantage.
In this edition of Gunivore Fast Five, we’re going to break down our picks for the top pistol-caliber carbines under $1,000. We understand that there are plenty of great options out there, but felt it was important to take price into consideration. Keep in mind that there are several great carbines and SBR’s, like the Springfield Saint AR-15 Pistol and Sig Sauer MCX that we left off this list because of their rifle caliber chamberings.
We at Gunivore love the KRISS Vector series because of its insane versatility and sheer pleasure value. The Vector Gen II CRB is offered in 9mm, 9x21mm, .45 ACP, 10mm, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG, so you have plenty of options to choose from. Similarly, KRISS’ unique construction provides for a wide variety of capacities ranging from 10+1 to 17+1. While most people focus on the Vector’s unusual design, many people forget the CRB’s incredible control. This extraordinary handling is due to the award-winning and innovative Super V Recoil Mitigation System, which led to the Vector being named the “best close quarters combat weapon” by the Military Channel’s Ultimate Weapons program. To put it into perspective, the KRISS Vector provides shooters with 60% less felt recoil and nearly 95% reduced muzzle climb.
To make their flagship firearm even more impressive, KRISS enabled the CRB to be field stripped in seconds and even threw in caliber interchangeability. While it may take a few mags to get used to the unique design of the Vector, most users find its controls to be surprisingly intuitive and easy to adapt to. Last but not least, we can’t praise KRISS enough for building the Vector pistol-caliber carbine to feed from detachable Glock magazines. Even if Vector owners don’t already own a Glock, the sheer popularity and availability of these magazines is a clear advantage.
Beretta CX4 Storm
Like the KRISS Vector, the Beretta CX4 Storm does not look like your run-of-the-mill firearm. Nonetheless, these highly-rated pistol-caliber carbines are definitely worthy of the trusted Beretta name. While many users complain about their lower than average capacity, they can’t deny how user-friendly the CX4 is. Similarly, the tactical masterpiece is lauded for its supreme lightweight and compact design and intuitive controls. I can’t quite explain why, but my first reaction to seeing the CX4 Storm was that it looked kind of cheap. After getting to know the carbine better, I realized how far off I was from the truth. In addition to a cold-hammer forged & chrome-lined barrel, the Beretta carbine was outfitted with a surprisingly durable black synthetic polymer frame. Nevertheless, the CX4 is really only a top-notch firearm when it is accessorized to the max. Keep in mind that with its semi-affordable price-tag, users will most likely want to invest in some solid attachments like vertical foregrips and mounted optics.
CZ Skorpion EVO 3
CZ may be famous for their pistols, but the Czech-American company is slowly building one hell of a reputation for their pistol-caliber carbine series. The CZ Skorpion Evo 3 has a seriously intimidating build and a performance to back it up too. The innovative Skorpion features several highly-praised components which have made it a favorite among shooters across the globe. For instance, CZ opted for a completely polymer exterior to keep weight low but went with steel internal components for added durability and dependability. Nonetheless, some shooters may not love the Skorpion’s folding stock, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker for most people. What really makes the CZ pistol-caliber carbine stick out is its uniquely amazing default sights. Although the Skorpion was outfitted with M-Lok attachment points at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, the fully-adjustable aluminum sights on these guys are simply remarkable. Besides for their windage-adjustability, CZ owners love the glare-reducing serrations on the elevation-adjustable front sights. Furthermore, the Skorpion features four aperture sight options on the rear to give shooters plenty of versatility in the field or on the range.
We’ve already seen some of the most unusually designed firearms on this list, so why not take a look at the Kel-Tec Sub-2000. This pistol-caliber Carbine is ridiculously nonconforming yet unbelievably popular. People tend to stumble across these guns due to their low cost and unique appearance, but they tend to keep them due to their reliable performance and wonderful ease-of-use. Because the Kel-Tec features so many unusual characteristics, it’s hard to determine which of them users prefer the most. Many shooters opt for the Sub-2000 because it can accept magazines from a variety of popular brands, including Sig, Beretta, Glock, & Smith and Wesson. Similarly, besides for its multiple caliber options, the Kel-Tec has developed a huge fan base thanks to its modular ability to fold into a 16.3” build. When you combine these features with the fact that it has a 3-position adjustable stock, dual-sided accessory rail, and ambidextrous controls, it’s no wonder why the Sub-2000 is one of the best-selling rifles in the world.
Best Pistol-Caliber Carbine Just Over $1,000: IWI X-95
The IWI Tavor X95 is definitely not your standard rifle. These futuristic pistol-caliber carbines are built on the unusual bullpup model which may take some getting used to. Nevertheless, these guns are insanely reliable, user-friendly- and surprisingly ergonomic. I have been fortunate enough to make many friends within the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and they have all told me that the Tavor is the go-to firearm for most Israeli infantry soldiers. In fact, many of them have told me that once you try bullpup, it’s hard to go back. Because of their 32-round high-capacity, shortened barrel, and multiple accessory rails, these carbines are the ultimate CQB or home-defense weapons.
Best Budget Carbine: Hi-Point 995TS
Okay I know Hi-Points are arguably the most hated guns on the market, but they are a niche firearm that knows its place and doesn’t claim to be anything more. After hearing all of the hate about Hi-Point pistols and carbines, I went out and gave them a shot, to see if they were as shoddy as everyone makes them out to be. I can assure you that they are surprisingly solid guns. Yes, they are definitely ugly and I wouldn’t pay very much for them, but as budget guns, they are worth every penny. The 995TS is simple, offered in several pistol calibers, and is even offered in a variety of finishes. Additionally, although these carbines look chunky, they are surprisingly lightweight and decently comfortable to shoot. And while there are plenty of attachment options to add to the multiple accessory rails, the 995TS is way more accurate than people give it credit for. That being said, it’s a great choice for a starter gun and could even do well as a home-defense weapon or truck gun.
We hope you enjoyed this Gunivore Pistol-Caliber Carbine rundown. Stay tuned for more in-depth reviews of the most exciting firearms on the market!