We first briefly mentioned the MechTech carbine conversion kits back when we did a spotlight on the indomitable .460 Rowland, once a wildcat and now SAAMI-aproved cartridge that takes a .45 and doubles it. “Pistol powders have changed, gradually, since 1906 when Colt and John Browning finalized the .45 Auto. So has metallurgy and manufacturing in general. With the right chamber, you can absolutely crank up the pressure on a .45. A lot.
Left: .460 Rowland, right: .45 ACP
“SAAMI pressure for .45 ACP and .45 +P is 21,000 and 23,000 PSI, respectively. .460 Rowland starts at 40,000.” You take a regular .45 ACP bullet and get it moving at supersonic speeds, and you’re looking at almost twice the energy; over 850 foot-pounds of force from a single shot.
So while you can shoot it out of a pistol, that stops being fun after, oh, you even start shooting, really. Masterpiece Arms used to make a carbine chambered in .460, but it was sadly discontinued. That’s when we discovered MechTech.
MechTech makes these fascinating 16-inch uppers for America’s two most popular semi-automatic pistols, 1911s and Glocks. They’re called Carbine Conversion Units, or CCUs. And they start at a very reasonable $350.
To install one on a pistol, you field strip it and slide the CCU onto the topless pistol frame. And that’s it. This doesn’t change the legal status of your gun, it doesn’t require some ATF-stamping business, and it’s completely reversible. They’re available in a whole mess of chamberings, too. For 1911s they’ve got ‘em in 9mm, .38 Super, .40 S&W, 10mm, .45 ACP, and the jaw-dropping .460 Rowland. Glock models come in the same calibers, except instead of .460 Rowland, has a CCU available in .357 SIG.
And the thing is, pistol-caliber carbines are nothing to sneer at. If you jog over to our own Jim Downey’s Ballistics by the Inch you can see that many handgun get bullets as much as 20, even 25% greater muzzle velocity going from service-length to carbine-length barrels. Pistol ammo is cheap to practice with and easier to reload than rifle ammo, and carbines are easier to use than handguns.
Especially one that nominally weighs 5.3 pounds. It’s pretty compact, too, between 25 and 34 inches, depending on how you configure one. They’re available with a wide variety of accessories; rails, quad rails, top rails, pistol grips, M4 telescoping stocks, collapsing wire stocks… they’re pretty Lego.
But what if you don’t want to buy a 1911 or a Glock just for something like this? Not to worry. As stated, those guns are so freakin’ common in this country that you can find stripped frames for each and just build it from there. 1911 frames are easy to come by both locally and on the Internet, and usually run between $200 and oh, let’s say $600 for a fancy STI double-stack job. Extended competition magazines are also around, in case you want to rock 27 rounds of .38 Super in your MechTech carbine. And you should.
What you might not have known is that there are aftermarket Glock frames around, too. Two companies come right to mind, CCF Raceframes and Lone Wolf. CCF makes alloy frames that are patterned on Glock frames, feature interchangeable backstraps, and a variety of finishes. They cost $320. The other option is Lone Wolf. Their Timberwolf frame is a polymer job that is designed to have a Glock-textured grip with a 1911 grip angle. It runs $200. This way you can build a dedicated pistol carbine pretty easily without sacrificing a complete handgun to do so.
MechTech makes a very compelling product that, for not an insane amount of money, has a wide appeal. Whether you’re looking for a small carbine that’s easy to handle and easy to feed, looking for a home-defense platform, plan on doing something a little more operator-like, or are just looking for a fun and interesting firearm, go peruse the MechTech website. There’s a heck of lot going on there.