Once the darling of the late 1990s during the sub-machine era, pistol caliber carbines (PCC) have surged in popularity. Building your own PCC from a parts kit can be daunting. In the Aero Precision EPC-9 Review, we’re taking a look at a novel solution to that problem.
Aero Precision EPC-9 – the simple solution
One of the problems with building a PCC often is making sure you have all the correct matching pieces. You need an AR9 lower receiver, the correct upper receiver, a different bolt carrier group, and the list goes on and on. This Aero Precision EPC-9 review takes a look at Aero’s elegant solution to the PCC build problem. Some companies just offer a complete rifle, which Aero could do. Instead, they offer all the components you need to build your own AR9-style carbine under one website.
EPC-9 Specifications and Components
For the Aero Precision EPC-9 review, we built our review gun into a 16-inch carbine. Using Aero’s website made this simple. Add a 16-inch complete upper to the cart, a Magpul stock, a 9mm bolt carrier group, and last their AR9 style lower. The lower is an FFL item, so it went to the local gun shop, but the rest ships direct. The neat thing about the Aero website is you can order the receiver kit in whatever configuration you want. For example, if you want to start with a stripped 9mm lower receiver, you can. Stripped lower and upper together? Piece of cake.
Alternately, you can skip all the boring assembly and buy complete lowers in either rifle or pistol configuration. Standalone barrels are available, or opt for a complete upper. The review rifle’s complete upper has a coyote tan finish. Additionally, it features Aero’s Enhanced M-LOK handguard, and an A2 style compensator.
Engineered from the ground up to accept Glock magazines, the EPC’s lower receiver also comes with additional nice features. When you buy the complete lower, you get a Magpul pistol grip that pairs with the enlarged trigger guard. All the 7075-T6 Aluminum forged lowers include the enlarged magazine release, along with a nicely beveled magwell. Our review rifle uses a black receiver, creating a nice “chocolate chip” appearance on the gun.
Shooting the EPC-9
Despite a multitude of available barrels, including 5.5, 8.3, and 11 inches, the Aero Precision EPC-9 review rifle sports a 16-inch barrel. This ensures the rifle is legal for pistol caliber carbine division in all the relevant shooting sports, without the hassle of the short barreled rifle paperwork. The EPC is available as a braced pistol, however braced pistols aren’t legal for the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA) or the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA).
Zeroing was accomplished at 25 yards, a good intermediate distance for a competition rifle. Federal American Eagle 124 grain FMJ won the coin flip for zero ammo. Other brands tested included Sellier & Bellot 124 grain FMJ, Buffalo Bore 124 grain FMJ, Federal 124 grain HST, and Federal 150 grain Syntech Action Pistol. All the FMJ ammo ran like clockwork out of 33 round Glock magazines. However, the JHP and the Syntech both experienced multiple failures to feed. The EPC-9 didn’t seem to like the flat nose profile of those rounds. It would slam them into the feed ramp and deeply set the bullet back in the case.
Accuracy with the FMJ was exactly as hoped. Unsurprisingly, the small batch production Buffalo Bore 124 grain FMJ shot the smallest group, right around 0.5 inches at 25 yards off a rest. Recoil was mild, which you’d expect when shooting a 16 inch 9mm carbine. The proprietary bolt carrier group and buffer make shooting a direct blowback carbine pretty pleasant.
Where the Aero EPC-9 really shines is practical shooting drills. It feels like this rifle wants to go fast, and it proved that running a series of drills known as the Gabe White Standards. This drills test a pistol shooter’s skills at 7 yards with four tests. The first is a failure to stop drill, then 2 head shots, followed by a bill drill, then lastly 4 shots to the body and 2 to the head. With the EPC-9, shooting these drills 2/3rds faster than the highest pistol standard was a piece of cake.
Accessories for the Aero EPC-9
The Aero Precision EPC-9 review gun came well-equipped, but like most carbines lacked any sights. The upper receiver and the handguard have M1913 rails all the way down. All it took to mount a Vortex SPARC AR optic was turning a fewscrews. If you wanted, you could set this rifle up as a serious CQB gun with flashlights, IR lasers, etc. For competition purposes, a simple Crimson Trace green laser lives on the test gun where a fixed front sight would go. The green laser is daylight visible and gives the shooter an aiming reference if they’re shooting from an awkward position in a match.
Aero Precision EPC-9 Cost
Calculating cost is tricky, because the more you break the EPC-9 down into components, the more affordable it gets. However, if you add an EPC-9 Carbine Complete Lower Receiver w/ MOE Grip and MOE SL Carbine Stock to your cart, and then add an EPC-9 Enhanced 16″ 9mm Complete Upper Receiver w/ Enhanced 15″ Handguard, the cost for those two components is $809. Add a bare bones charging handle and the 9mm bolt carrier group, and you’re looking right at $1,000. That’s not bad for an AR9 style rifle that’s built from the ground up to shoot pistol caliber rounds.
During the Aero Precision EPC-9 review, the rifle really showed why people enjoy shooting PCCs so much. It’s accurate, it’s reliable (with FMJ), but mostly it’s fun to shoot. You can really feel like you’re ripping fast shots one after another, and yet stay completely in control of the rifle. It’s like driving a race car with an autopilot, and that’s a fantastic feeling.