Thoughts on The Civilian PDW

Flux Defense

I’ve recently taken a renewed interest in the idea of a civilian PDW. The term PDW, or Personal Defense Weapon, has evolved over time. At first, it was a class of firearms that sat somewhere between a rifle and a submachine gun, a notable example being the P90. The Russians were the first to say let’s just make a super short rifle with the AKS-74U, but America has caught up to them. Guns like the SIG Rattler in 300 Blackout redefined the military PDW. In my opinion, the civilian PDW is a bit different, and I’ve been chewing on the idea since SHOT 2024. 


Ever since the nationwide brace ban injunction, we’ve seen a new rise in braced firearms. The new P365 Raider from Flux Defense, aka the Panty Raider, is what piqued my interest in the idea. At SHOT, we saw the release of the MP7 from Tommy Built Tactical, a Rock-based MP7 lookalike from PSA, and even a dress-up kit from FarrowTech for the KelTec CP33 that kinda filled that same roll. 

These and others, fill that Civilian PDW role and got me thinking about the usefulness of a civilian PDW, what the parameters of one should be, and how would you carry, deploy, and utilise the weapon. With this all in mind, I wanted to explore the concept in a series of articles, starting with this article that lays the general groundwork for the concept. 

Putting In The Research 

This isn’t an original idea, and I certainly didn’t come up with it. In doing my research, I found it’s been around in a few different forms for quite some time. Arguably, the concept of a truck gun isn’t too far from this idea. YouTuber Brass Facts has a video that I watched during my research. If you’re interested in the concept, watch his video. He lays out some great reasoning, suggestions, and more. 

I started with the initial concept of the PDW, which was started by NATO. The idea of a weapon that sits between a pistol and a rifle made sense. It should be small and compact but capable, easy to shoot, and reliable. For the civilian market, it would also need to be concealable for daily carry. 

With this loose set of rules, I was able to come up with a few different genres of potential civilian PDWs. My plan with this series is to explore each of these categories with a series of tests that will involve accuracy, speed, ease of carry, deployment, and overall ease of use. 

Potential PDWs

I’ve broken down potential PDWs into four categories. 

Braced Pistols 

By braced pistols I mean kits that are enveloped or engulfed by braces. This genre is mostly dominated by the Flux Raider series and the RT 20/20. I am not including the Roni kits or similiar apparatus. While those are fine for plinking and fun I don’t thing they are fantastic for serious use. 



Subguns are technically and legally pistols, but I’m separating them for clarity’s sake. These are guns like the CZ Scorpion are pistol-caliber weapons that mimic SMGs. The smallest models, sometimes known as the K models, are candidates for a civilian PDW. 

Quick Attach Pistol Systems 

An underrated but practical option is a quick-attach brace or stock design that can be attached to your handgun in seconds. This type of system has very limited options, but hopefully, we’ll have more than one to test. It’s pretty far from the civilian PDW but it might be capable.

Folding Rifles 

Everyone knows what I mean when I say folding rifle. There are only really two, and that’s the KelTec Sub 2000 and the S&W FPC. These offer a rifle option for a PDW. 

Carrying & Testing 

I won’t be using a super tactical or specialty bag. I aim to use a fairly standard-looking bag. It can be tactical in some ways but should appear plain and not overly large. I have a few in mind. We plan to get this series kicked off in the next few weeks, so stay tuned and drop in to see where we’ve landed on the civilian PDW. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.