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9mm ARs: Pair of Wilson Combat AR9s

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Engineers at Wilson Combat took a fresh look at its cutting-edge ARs and decided to create a dedicated 9mm platform — the AR9 series.

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The Wilson Combat AR9 rifle (top) is a dedicated 9mm that feeds off Glock Gen4 magazines. The AR9 pistol (bottom) packs all the features of the rifle but in a compact package.
The Wilson Combat AR9 rifle (top) is a dedicated 9mm that feeds off Glock Gen4 magazines. The AR9 pistol (bottom) packs all the features of the rifle but in a compact package.

Available in carbine, SBR and pistol configurations, Wilson’s new AR9s are compatible with Glock, Smith & Wesson M&P, and Beretta 92 magazines.

These are three of the most popular handguns, so Wilson Combat has made it easy to pair your favorite 9mm handgun with a duty-ready, AR-platform pistol or rifle. Not only do the weapons use the same ammunition, but they’ll also share the same mags.

The ability of these ARs to use common 9mm service pistol magazines makes them ideal candidates for cost-effective training, offering less recoil and muzzle blast compared to 5.56mm AR platforms.

The magazine release on the Wilson Combat AR9 is oversized for faster manipulation.

For home defense, the 9mm comes in a wide variety of bullet options to prevent overpenetration, yet the cartridge is finally being loaded to its full potential to stop threats. The FBI switching back to the 9mm round is prima facie proof that the round provides the required performance.

Several manufacturers have converted the AR platform to 9mm over the years, but it takes some well-thought-out engineering to make an AR run consistently on a pistol caliber diet. According to Bill Wilson, “Those old Colt-style magazines were unreliable, and if you drop a fully loaded one, it will most likely bust open and leave you stuck.”

That is why Wilson Combat designed the AR9 series around proven, reliable mags like those from Glock, S&W, and Beretta. These magazines are durable, reliable and quite common. Drop one on a cement floor and they won’t split open.

And while older designs use a magazine well block to convert an existing 5.56mm lower to be compatible with a skinny 9mm mag, Wilson’s AR9s are built from the ground up for the nine.

I recently got my hands on the Wilson AR9G Carbine and AR9G Pistol for testing. These models use Glock Gen4 and Gen5 magazines, hence the “G” in their names. They work with any 9mm Glock Gen4 or later magazine, from tiny G26 mags all the way up to 31-round G18 ones.

Optics versatility is one reason to consider a 9mm AR to complement your handgun.

The guns start with Wilson Combat’s proprietary BILLet-AR upper and lower receivers, which are made from 7075-T6 aluminum and designed to accept standard AR parts like triggers, charging handles, buttstocks, optics, and more.

The lowers sport integral trigger guards and heavily flared magazine wells for fast reloading. Working a skinny magazine into a lower designed for a larger mag has its challenges, but the magazine wells on the AR9s I tested literally funneled the handgun magazines home with confidence. This lower/magazine combination is designed so that the bolt will lock back after the last round is fired.

Like most other 9mm ARs, Wilson’s AR9s use a closed-bolt blowback operating system, and my test guns were very smooth shooters. Wilson Combat invests a lot of time and effort into making its ARs run smoothly, and the AR9 series is no exception.

The internal parts are slick in operation; the charging handle and bolt carrier group work with you, not against you. In operation, the blowback system harnesses the force of the fired bullet to send the bolt carrier group rearward, and the recoil spring in the receiver extension sends the bolt forward.

With such a wide variety of ammunition on the market, it says a lot about Wilson Combat quality that the AR9s I tested ran so smoothly and flawlessly. No matter what bullet shape I tested — round nose or flat hollowpoint — all of it exhibited excellent feeding.

The AR9 series employs a dedicated 9mm lower for superior function and reliability.

The uppers are rated for +P ammo, and since their barrels are longer than a G17’s, I recorded higher velocities and energy with each test load. The AR9 bolt carrier group is a proprietary design with a heavy-duty claw extractor and plunger ejector tuned for enhanced reliability.

The bolt carrier group looks similar to that of a direct-impingement AR, but it’s heftier and without the bolt carrier key, cam pin, and a few other pieces. The extra weight of the bolt carrier group is needed for the blowback system to operate, and this is what makes some 9mm ARs recoil more harshly as the bolt slaps back and forth. You won’t notice that on AR9 weapons, however.

The AR9 lacks the extended shell deflectors you’ll see on other 9mm ARs; they use shell deflectors like those of other Wilson Combat 5.56mm NATO ARs, and the same-sized ejection port. Wilson optimizes its AR9 barrels for suppressors with minimal gas blowback. Made from carbon steel, the match-grade barrels feature 1-in-10-inch twist button rifling.

The muzzles are threaded 5/8×24 TPI and come equipped with QCOMP flash suppressors, which have multiple ports to reduce muzzle climb. My test AR9G Carbine came with an unfluted 16-inch barrel (fluted 16- and 14.7-inch barrels are available) and the AR9G Pistol had an 11.3-inch barrel (8-inch tubes are an option).

A Burris FastFire 3 reflex-style optic makes an ideal sighting system for the Carbine, it sports a 3 MOA dot and makes target acquisition scary fast!

My test AR9Gs shared many similar Wilson Combat features, including the company’s TRIM handguard, Starburst-textured Bravo Company pistol grip, two-stage Tactical Trigger Unit (TTU) set at 4 pounds, and matte black Armor-Tuff external finish. Aside from their barrels, the Carbine and Pistol vary when it comes to their stocks.

The Carbine has an adjustable, wiggle-free Wilson/Rogers Super-Stoc. On the other hand, the AR9G Pistol came equipped with a Shockwave Blade forearm support for greater stability while firing. I ran both on the range with some extra G17 Gen4 and G19 Gen4 magazines loaded with ammo from Black Hills, SIG Sauer, and Wilson Combat. For targeting, I added an Aimpoint CompM4 and Burris FastFire reflex sight to the Carbine and Pistol, respectively.

Wilson guarantees that its AR9s will shoot 1.5-inch, five-shot groups at 50 yards with premium factory ammunition, and it was finally time to put this claim to the test. My testing of the AR9G Carbine began at 25 yards, where I could easily keep five-shot groups under 2 inches offhand.

This setup was near perfect, with the bolt operating smoothly and efficiently. The bolt and magazine release buttons are oversized with aggressive checkering. Combined with the flared magazine well, my reloads were very fast. The muzzle brake stifled muzzle rise when shooting rapid-fire strings, and I could still achieve tight groups.

Wilson Combat guarantees that its AR9 will shoot 1.5-inch, five-shot groups at 50 yards with premium factory ammunition.

Using a rest at 50 yards, my groups measured about an inch. With SIG Sauer’s V-Crown ammo, I was able to squeeze out a five-shot group that measured 0.89 inch.

That kind of accuracy is exceptional, especially when you consider that the 9mm was never designed for use in a rifle. In short, there are really no compromises in terms of the AR9G Carbine’s performance or accuracy. The first thing I noticed about the AR9G Pistol was how great it looked and shot.

The Burris FastFire’s 3-MOA reticle allowed me to get on target quickly. The Burris red-dot allows shooting with both eyes open, so grasping the pistol with both hands and centered to my chest yielded excellent control in rapid fire. The AR9G Pistol performed exceptionally — it was smooth, accurate and consistent. With a tactical light mounted to the handguard, it’d make an excellent home defense weapon, especially paired with a handgun that shares the same magazines.

I keep saying it and it bears repeating: Pairing your sidearm with a rifle makes a lot of sense, and Wilson Combat has done a great thing by offering so many AR9 variants to satisfy shooters with Glock, Smith & Wesson, and Beretta magazines. And they’re Wilson Combat ARs — so you’re getting top-quality weapons that are truly accurate and reliable.

MODEL: Wilson Combat AR9G Rifle
ACTION: Blowback, Semi-Automatic
OVERALL LENGTH: 31.25-32.75 in.
WEIGHT: 6.4 lbs.
HANDGUARD: Wilson Combat T.R.I.M. Rail
STOCK: Rogers Super Stock
GRIP: Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter
SIGHTS: Optics Ready
FINISH: Matte Black
CAPACITY: Glock Gen4 Magazine Compatible, 17+1

MODEL: Wilson Combat AR9G Pistol
ACTION: Blowback, Semi-Automatic
OVERALL LENGTH: 24.25-27.55 in.
WEIGHT: 6 lbs.
HANDGUARD: Wilson Combat T.R.I.M. rail
BRACE: Shockwave Blade
GRIP: Wilson Combat/BCM Starburst Gunfighter
SIGHTS: Wilson Combat QDS Flip Up Sight System
FINISH: Matte Black
CAPACITY: Glock Gen4 Magazine Compatible, 17+1

Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second, energy in foot-pounds, taken 15 feet from the muzzle by a ProChrono digital chronograph; accuracy in inches averaged from three, five-shot groups at 50 yards.

Editor’s Note: This excerpt is from 9mm: Guide to America’s Most Popular Caliber, available now at

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