The Cobray M11/9 – Makin’ the 80s Roar

There is something about the machine pistol that dominated the 1990s, especially in the pop culture realm. The MAC 10, the Tec 9, and the Mini-Uzi dominated the movie market and were the guns of bad guys as far as movies were concerned. They are large, scary, but compact and could be easily hidden for taking over plazas, planes, and even trains. Life and fiction often intercede and these guns did become favorites of criminals and terrorists in a variety of capacities. The controversial nature, the design, and my love of 1980s action moves lead me to purchase a Cobray M11/9. That and a 200 dollar price tag.

Mines not much of a looker. That low price tag came with a lot of rust that I’m still trying to bust off of the gun. Every corner of the gun is roughly, and a bit rusted. But it shoots.

The Cobray M11/9 is often mislabeled the MAC 11. The MAC 11 is a 380 ACP version from the original Military Armament Corporation. The Cobray M11/9 is a weapon based on the MAC series of guns but is a pistol and not an SMG. This is a cheap, title 1 way to acquire a MAC type pistol.

The M11/9 and MAC Family in Pop Culture

MAC style firearms absolutely filled movies in the 80s and early 90s. They were often post samples, or converted to full auto, or blank firing only full autos, or any other way to simulate full auto fire. No one wants to see a MAC firing one round at a time.

The MAC and its derivatives starred in over a 100 movies and television shows in the 1980s and 90s. The MAC 10 stared in over 60 movies between 1980 and 1990. Outside of movies the terms MAC 10, MAC 11, and the MAC show up in dozens of rap songs. A quick search of shows just how easy it is to weave these guns into rhymes.

As a kid who was raised on violent action movies and tv show I saw the MAC is movies like Invasion USA, the Lethal Weapon series, Cliffhanger, and Robocop. Not to mention shows like Miami Vice and the A-Team featured the MAC. We can’t forget it’s famed movie premier with John Wayne where a suppressed MAC 10 was his constant co-star. The gun is literally on the movie’s poster.

In the Real World

The first thing you notice when picking up the MAC is it’s grip is way too wide. It’s wide for my 2XL hands. The second thing is how heavy this beast is. The third thing is that you realize it feels pretty gangster in the hand.

The look, weight, and massive magazine lends itself to that famed gangster look and feel. Its like the modern Tommy Gun in a lot of ways. Except it wasn’t really used in crime.

There was certainly a few high profile criminal uses of these guns, but they were never used in widespread crime. SMG variants are rare and too valuable for average criminal use. They did pop up here and there in Miami during the 1980s Drug Wars. However, when compared to other weapons used in crime the MAC series would be minuscule in comparison.

Pistol variants like the M11/9 are much cheaper, but also huge, heavy, hard to conceal and offer no advantage over the standard Glock 19. The MAC and its criminal reputation comes from its association with bad guys in movies, rap songs, and of course the scary way it looks.

Shooting the M11/9

The original MAC 10 series of guns has an incredible rate of fire and would dump a 32 round magazine in about 1.2 seconds. International Association of Police Chiefs weapons researcher David Steele once said the MAC 10 was, “fit only for combat in a phone booth”.

To help control the MAC 10 a suppressor from SIONICs was introduced that was absolutely massive. It wasn’t only a suppressor, but it was designed to be held to help support the gun.

The semi-auto M11/9 is a bit different. It’s a closed bolt, semi-auto design. The frame is extended and it looks like a stretched out MAC. The gun is a lot of fun to shoot, but not exactly an easy gun to shoot. First off, the massive bolt that runs back and forth throughout the gun, this seems to make the gun rear backward and then dart forward creating an interesting recoil impulse. That being said muzzle rise isn’t bad at all.

The M11/9’s sights are atrocious. They feature an open sight and below it a rear peep sight. The peep sight is terrible, and without a stock, it’s pretty terrible. The open sights on the rear are tiny, but far from perfect.

The front sight is a bent piece of metal that is somewhat hard to see. I can outshoot this gun with my J frame snub nose.

The trigger is actually surprisingly nice. It’s light, a hair long, but the reset is very short. I was honestly shocked. These guns also have a lot of trigger slap, and that’s why it has a small piece of rubber over the trigger. This stops it from hurting your trigger finger.

But It’s Fun

The gun is still so much fun to fire. Sure, I’m not producing tight groups but burning through a magazine of 9mm has never been funner. Firing one handed, or fro the hip like an 80’s bad guy puts a stupid smile on my face.

Yeah the ergonomics kind of suck outside of the trigger and safety. The safety is an AR type design and floats back and forth with ease from safe to fire. It’s very easy to use though. Be prepared to pinch yourself a time or two use the top coking device.

Wooo everyone loves a heel mag ejection right?

Also, the aftermarket is surprisingly large. You can even swap uppers for something more modern with rails, a side coking device, and enhanced ergonomics. MAC pistols can even be built from unfinished 80% lowers. You can change mag platform to the Sten or Uzi. Also metal magazines are affordable and available from Shockwave technologies. I have 3 or their 30 rounders and one of their insane 50 rounders.

The MAC, and by extension, the Cobray M11/9 series are fun and fascinating guns. They are an interesting piece of firearms history for both the gun world and the pop culture word.

This little burp gun isn’t perfect and a Glock would be much more viable in any serious situation. But a Glock will never be as cool as a MAC, or even a Cobray M11/9.

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.