‘The MAC-10 Was an Over-Hyped Hunk of Junk’

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Typically, I don’t like to blog about other blogs. But one of my favorite technology/information/gun sites (besides TFB, of course), War Is Boring, posted a great write-up of the MAC-10 and its high-speed rise and fall as a viable submachine gun. Entitled The MAC-10 Was an Over-Hyped Hunk of Junk, writer Darien Cavanaugh chronicles the basic history and development of the Military Arms Corporation Model 10 (MAC-10) as well as its prominence in Hollywood action films despite being a poor choice for almost any special operations mission.

The MAC-10 was so prominent in American culture during its heyday that its manufacturer advertised it—or, more accurately, the follow-on MAC-11—as “the gun that made the ’80s roar.” But by the time the ’80s actually rolled around, the MAC-10 family of guns had already fallen from grace on the commercial market.

Today the MAC-10 still has a loyal following on message boards and in Internet chat rooms for gun enthusiasts. The faded movie-star is, if nothing else, a fun gun to shoot.

Cavanaugh could have also mentioned that today the MAC-10 is typically purchased as an initial entry into the heavily controlled world of National Firearms Act (NFA) machine guns. Because of their low (by comparison) price, first time buyers can experience fully automatic weaponry at a fraction of the cost of other machine guns.

Also worth noting is that a company called Lage Manufacturing produces upper receivers, barrels and collapsable butt stocks that transform the MAC-10 into a modular gun with more options. So there is a solid argument that the MAC-10 and its variants is more popular among enthusiasts than it was at its debut nearly 50 years ago

Check out War Is Boring and the story on the MAC-10. And give them a follow while you are there.



Pete

LE – Science – OSINT.
On a mission to make all of my guns as quiet as possible.
Pete.M@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • aka_mythos

    “That’s the problem with these things, Daddy would have gotten us Uzi’s.” -Night of the Comet after a chearleader’s Mac10 jams.

    • Phillip Cooper

      GREAT movie. I’m gonna have to watch it again!

    • Rodford Smith

      Heh. I was thinking of that exact scene.

    • That movie is wonderful. I am a big fan.

      • Kivaari

        The scene inside a “black nightclub” was filmed in Aberdeen (WA) at “Ali Babba’s”. The cast and extras had to be bussed in from Seattle and Tacoma, as there were not that many blacks living within the county at that time. It was fun to be around the film crew. But we all wondered why the scenes showing Wayne and the woman driving north on highway 109, was not going to take them close to San Francisco. Just like the scene in “The Green Berets”, were the sun was setting in the east.

        • Cmex

          You worked on the film?

          • Kivaari

            No, local cop. They used some of our officers, the county and WSP. Parts were filmed on the Quinault Indian Reservation, to avoid having to deal with the state. I watched the tribal leader extort more money out of the producers. Typical, extortion, since the cost to re-set the scenes would have cost a great deal.. Much of the crew stayed in local motels. We had some issues with the stunt drivers, “driving” around town. Wayne even moored his yacht in our harbor part of the time. He spent a good deal of time in Port Townsend, where the yacht basin is named after him. We just had some laughs as people, places and things were common to us.

          • Cmex

            Neat. 🙂

          • Steve Skubinna

            Ah, Port Townsend. Just got my boat accepted at the Wooden Boat Festival this year. Always a fun town to visit.

          • Kivaari

            It’s a great place. The weather is arid, unlike most people think about wet Western Washington. The Navy has a nearby aviation station, since it is both strategic but great flying weather.

          • Steve Skubinna

            Until retirement last year, I spent a lot of time at the ammo pier across the bay at Indian Island. Every time I looked across at the paper mill “Up Where We Belong” would go through my head.

        • Don Ward

          Yep. As a Seattle native, I still love my McQ. One of my uncles was an extra for some of the Seattle scenes.

    • SirOliverHumperdink

      Great movie, on the same caliber as Starship Troopers.

    • gunsandrockets

      Perfect ‘B’ movie. Almost as perfect as Tremors.

      • smartacus

        wuzn’t Night Of The Comet the first movie to carry the new PG-13 rating?

        • gunsandrockets

          Close. Red Dawn was first.

          • smartacus

            oh yeah! Red Dawn

      • Zebra Dun

        I love Katherine Mary Stewart.

  • Denis

    I have an mpa Mac mini clone, the 930dmg, it’s not as tacticool as the uzi pistol pro, but it’s lighter by almost a pound, has a lighter trigger pull 4lbs vs 12ish plus, it shoots 4 inch groups at 100 yards with a 3.5inch barrel. The brace folds up and it is extremely compact, plus I won’t go deaf if I ever need to use it like an ak or ar Sbr/pistol

  • iksnilol

    How can you overhype a sheet metal open bolt blowback SMG?

    That’s like saying the Sten is overhyped.

    • Spencer

      But Hollyweird is the king of hype….

      • Cmex
    • DW

      MP40?

      • iksnilol

        It wasn’t as crude as it looks. It’s a pretty good design which had a lot going for it.

        • Kivaari

          It was a nice gun, early on. The wood stocked version was better for use, just not for getting in and out of armor. It was too heavy, like the M1A1 SMG, but it has a certain air about it. In addition to the smell of smokeless powder.

      • Kivaari

        Very heavy for the caliber. The stock is terrible.

    • UCSPanther

      I’d take a Sten Mark II over a M-10 any day.

      • iksnilol

        I am still wondering how you can hype up an open-bolt sheet metal (or sheet tubing in the case of the Sten, I’ll be fair) SMG. I mean, it’s like hyping up a hammer.

        It’s so boring tech you can’t make it exciting.

        • Volk

          Because the average person doesn’t know what stamped means in this context and the gun community isn’t as well informed as we might like to believe, especially not back then. “Why would you use a army 223 to hunt? You’d blow the deer in half!”

          • iksnilol

            It is literally a metal box with a barrel and grip sticking out. I mean, it’s just not interesting.

          • Kivaari

            The MACs are and always were junk. Invented for jobs that never existed. When the Mathews “The Order” gang killed Alan Berg the talk show host, the witnesses described the gunfire as sounding like an electric drill. It’s sorta cool, if it isn’t you gun or ammo. Do it twice and you’ve had a lifetimes experience.

        • Kivaari

          There are hammers and there are hammers. I’d take an MP5 over any of the new HK plastic SMGs. There’s sheet metal, then there’s sheet metal.

      • claymore

        Guess you never put a lot of rounds through them. The sten single stack magazine has to be one of the worst ever.

      • Zebra Dun

        Give me a PPSH!

      • Adam

        Id take an Owen over all of them…

    • Zebra Dun

      The STEN came with a short barrel and a stock, it was a serious military Machine carbine.
      The MAC’s came as a pistol normally with a pistol length barrel, fired from an open bolt and NO STOCK it was illegal to attach a stock and if you had a stock the MAC would have to have a barrel at least 16 inches long. making the entire operation somewhat ludicrous and unwieldy.
      The ones I shot and saw had a fake silencer can attached otherwise you might blow your hand off.

      • Kivaari

        Well, the first ones were SMGs. The civilian pistols were simply an extension of marketing. Civilians bought more semi-auto pistols than the SMGs found world wide.

      • iksnilol

        The STEN was good enough… and cheap. So it worked well for its purpose.

    • Kivaari

      The MP5 is sheet metal. The Uzi as well. The M3/M3A1, and a whole bunch more. Some don’t look too bad. All those HKs, FNC. I like some sheet metal. I’d like a nice papered STEN Mk II or Mk V.

      • iksnilol

        You don’t want a STEN, trust me on that one. It’s the most common SMG here in Norway after the MP5.

        • Kivaari

          STENs are like Thompsons, they are not even close to being good SMGs. But regardless of their poor characteristics, both have a certain appeal from people raised on British and American WW2 movies. I’ve always wanted a Mk II and a M1A1.

          • iksnilol

            Eh, at least a Thompson has some class to it. Y’know?

            STEN is cheap though. I mean, you can build them at bicycle workshops. I saw ones made in Denmark with smooth barrels (no rifling).

          • Kivaari

            That’s what is neat about the STEN. It has that appeal simply because of its simplicity. Thompsons have appeal beyond being an overly complex and very heavy club. Handle a TSMG and fire it and you wonder why they would issue such a club. They did go bang, reliably. The M3A1 was a better gun from any aspects like cost, weight, ease of production, reliability and compact size. In 9mm it would have been better. The few 9mm guns made are scarcer than scarce.

  • Mick Finn

    I recall reading a write-up on the Mac-10 long ago, and it called it a ‘phone booth gun’; if you want to hit your target you’d better be in a phone booth with it.

    • Eric Atkinson

      Room broom. I too have fired a surpressed MAC-10. I enjoyed it but it is best used as a “dump gun.”

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    I only want to point out that the MAC accuracy (or lack thereof) has nothing to do with the barrel lenght, as that article says.

    • Pete M

      I noticed that too. Thanks for pointing that out.

    • Poor folding stock, open-bolt action, high rate-of-fire, and poor excuse for sights. . . none of which are helpful

  • Spade

    My first intro to MGs was a MAC. Ran into a guy at a public range who’d just gotten one.

    Technically MGs weren’t allowed at the range, but it didn’t matter because it never went full auto.

  • Wolfgar

    You have to admit, they are a lot of fun to shoot. I have never seen anyone shoot one that didn’t have a big smile on their face when they were done shooting a 9mm MAC-10. As far as class three firearms go they are one of the most affordable. Tactically they may suck but on the fun monitor they rate high in my opinion.

  • Anomanom

    My main issue with the MAC series is that the handgrip is god-awful. On most versions its too large (or the wrong shape) for me to hold comfortably.

  • 68Whiskey

    “War is Boring,” the Buzzfeed of war reporting.

    • Pete M

      I don’t consider it War “Reporting”. It may be aggregation, but it’s not at Buzz Feed levels…

      • Cmex

        Waiting for them to post a numbered list of 17 reasons why alternating ammo brands in a mag to get different casing colors in flight will make you a more racially sensitive operators. Then they’ll be Buzzfeed.

    • Tritro29

      And half the crap they report is not even fact-checked…they did a piece on the DP28. Let us say it sucked.

    • Bit

      They’re a mixed bag but certainly not on Buzzfeed levels.

  • Schnee

    But in Miami Vice when the crazy dude dual-wields and hoses down the mannequins? Dual-wields! And the serial numbers had been ground off so thoroughly that even ACID ETCHING couldn’t bring them up!

    Seriously though, the Lage uppers that are available for these things and their cousins make them a no-brainer for your one and only subgun.

    • Schnee

      Greatest cheese episode!

    • myndbender

      Agreed. Lage has really made a MAC-10/11 purchase a lot more practical & l read where MAC’s w/Lage uppers have actually defeated MP5’s in subguns matches.

    • Kivaari

      A milling machine removes numbers. It just leaves an air cooling vent. Acid wont bring it out no matter how hard you try.

  • Kivaari

    In that John Wayne movie “McQ” the beach scenes were filmed north of Ocean Shores (WA) near Moclips and Pacific Beach. In the ending scenes and while credits role all the cops shown were actual cops from the area. The ambulance used to “carry the bodies” off the beach was the Ocean Shores FD. They had t shoot the scene over again since the ambulance crew was yoking it up, and the director thought those packing dead bodies, should have sad faces. Conveniently one of the deputies was also the county coroner.

  • Kivaari

    The MACs are junk, unless you have a stack of original magazines. Then they work.

  • Some Rabbit

    Had a chance to fire the MAC-10 in .45 once. It was uncontrollable and it was a struggle to get more than three bursts out of a full mag. A shotgun with 00 buck would be a better choice in a tactical situation IMHO.

    • Kivaari

      Take an MP5 or M4 over either M10 or shotgun.

      • h311r47

        The MP5 set the standard for controllability for shoulder-fired full-autos in my book. I can’t imagine the MAC stacking up by comparison. It sure looks like fun as a bullet hose, though.

        • Kivaari

          My standard issue “rifle” was an MP5A2 for around 10-12 years.
          I loved them.

    • RealitiCzech

      Yeah, but sometimes you get trapped in a phone booth with multiple hostiles, and for that it’s ideal.

      • Some Rabbit

        LOL!, Good point. So that explains the Glock 18.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    MACs are only meant to be shot from the hip. Unless I can use to live my dream of being an 80s action star I don’t see their point. They have no practical purpose yet I still want one!

    • claymore

      Where did you come up with that specious piece of fantasy?

      • Harry’s Holsters

        Movies

    • David Sharpe

      The stock and strap prove you wrong.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        I’m speaking for my purposes specifically. MACs only purpose for me would be to live out my fantasy of being an 80s action star!

    • They are fun to shoot especially the 45 acp suppressed model.

  • Chi Wai Shum

    MAC10 never was a commercial success and there is a reason why.

  • gunsandrockets

    My introduction to the MAC-10 was the movie, “Three days of the Condor”

  • Al

    While the Mac has it’s shortcomings, it was used successfully by the Israelies in the raid on Entebbe hostage rescue.

    • Al Wise

      Only in the movies.

      • Al

        The actual hostage rescue, Operation Thunderbolt, in 1976, may be before your time, but the Israeli commandos quite certainly did use suppressed M10’s in this operation.

        • Avery

          Was that for deniability? I would have thought Uzis would probably be a bit better operational weapon.

          • Iroquois Plissken

            They went in disguise so if they had Uzis the enemy would immediately know it was them. Also, a suppressed Mac10 is shorter than an uzi with suppressor.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    My dad had one when I was a kid. I used to do mag dumps in the back field all day mowing down milk jugs filled with water and whatever else I could find. I was 11 or 12.

  • olivehead

    Wait, there’s a MAC-10 in this scene?

    • Avery

      Kinda hard to notice between Kurt Russel’s guns and Adrienne Barbeau’s cannons 😉

  • Al Wise

    The original article is so full of errors that it could not have been fact checked. Starting with the name. It was never a MAC-10. No where. It is an M-10 produced by MAC. M-16 and AK-47 rate of fire is 800rpm? Ridiculous. But why let fects get in the way?

    • David Sharpe

      M16: 700–950 rounds/min cyclic.

      AK47: Cyclic rate of fire: 600 rds/min.

      They were kinda right on the M16, totally off on the AK.

      • gunsandrockets

        Yeah, before they fixed the problems with the M16, some examples had cyclic rates exceeding 1,000 rpm.

    • Kivaari

      Rate of fire depends on lots of things. In the M16 when the army dropped IMR for ball powders I drive the guns up to circa 1200 RPM and destroyed rifles. That is one reason the M16A1 was developed.

  • Avery

    People going on about what movies they first saw the MAC in, my first sighting was probably The Ostermann Weekend, where John Hurt’s CIA hit team is using laser-sighted MACs in the big shootout vs. Rutger Hauer and Craig T. Nelson near the end.

  • RealitiCzech

    Who’s gonna tell the Duke of New York that he’s doing it wrong?

  • RealitiCzech

    I never saved the mayor’s nephew’s honor. That was my assistant commander. I was in the hospital that day after taking multiple .338 Lapua wounds in the back when attempting to roust some dangerous characters from the Jelly Belly store.

    • Cmex

      And the Gamestop — don’t forget the Nerdzilla we had to corral with our GPMG from the Gamestop! XD

  • R.

    I love everyone comments, it’s easy to tell who has actually owned and carried one in a special DeSantis Shoulder Rig. Very compact with lots of firepower, the last bullet leaves the muzzle before the first brass hits the ground. Make mine 45acp, no 9mm crap, original suppressor works great with the slow and heavy 45. A real crowd pleaser. Unfold the wire stock, hold on to the Nomex covered can, and fire away. With practice and cases of ammo, you can get pretty good. It’s made for heavy firepower in a discrete carry package, from the 1970’s era. Now a days I carry a 8″ AR 300 Blackout, a little more range about the same firepower. Things haven’t changed much except now, Attorneys are attached to every shot. Remember keep your finger pointed at your target, think twice before doing nothing, know your backstop, keep current at the range, and if you screw up, your feed to the Sharks.

  • Dragonheart

    It always amazes me of those that speak with great authority on subjects they know nothing about. Anyone that thinks an original M-10 is a hunk of junk or a joke has never used one.

    • Iroquois Plissken

      Seriously, just look at how many m10s are out there still running after 30 years and thousands and thousands of rounds.

  • Zebra Dun

    O. K.
    So, I’ve fired a semi auto one of these in .45 acp at pistol ranges and an open bolt it was barely adequate, it was a good thing it had a large magazine to walk shots into your target which once in the groove could hit a six inch pie plate at 25 yards regularly. Using the butt locked into the shoulder stance no buttstock, quick kill style.
    I saw a Mac 11 in .380 acp fired and was impressed by the way it emptied it’s magazine in the blink of an eye yet was still only accurate to 15 yards one out of ten shots hit the man size target.
    I have heard the MAC 10 and 11 were perfect for a CQB in a telephone booth (for the uninformed once the only way to call someone when you were not at home was a booth with a phone for a quarter) I cannot see a military application for it unless you happened to be in a phone booth and were attacked in one.
    Perhaps a breach entry into a closet.

  • Kivaari

    Does he shoot with both eyes open? A friend was told he needed to keep both eyes open to shoot shotguns. His glass eye added some depth perception.

  • Kivaari

    A .380 version was getting traded around between cops in my area about 40 years ago. It was junk then as well. Now the one I should have illegally bought was an Owen. A deputy and I parked on the beach and he said he’d trade me for my M39-2. I told him I could use my M39-2, and not the Owen. I should have done it as the parts alone were worth many times more than the pistol. My luck, I’d be the local cop that got arrested.

  • Anton_Zilwicki

    I owned one of these things back in the early 80’s. Cost me $2700 including the NFA stamps for the suppressor and the full auto Open Bolt garbage that it was. I put 5000 rounds through it. best ammunition un-loader I ever owned. It jammed a lot. I had 15 magazines of various capacities only 5 or 6 of them fed reliably. I did manage to double my money after “Invasion USA” came out.

  • Iroquois Plissken

    Adding a wrap around grip, vfg, solid stock, and side cocking upper with optic completely changes the gun. With a Lage upper installed many Mac 10/11s are beating $30,000 mp5s in subgun matches. While clearly not as nice, m10s were designed to be simple and easy to produce, at which it was successful. Gordan Ingram based the gun’s design on requests from anti-castro rebels training in Costa Rica who wanted a gun that was small, suppressed, and cheap to produce. He learned of these requests from a former Peruvian army officer that was operating an illegal firearms factory in Arizona, where the first m10 was made, and it was actually seized by the ATF in a raid. Many countries adapted their own versions including South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Tiawan still uses a design based on it. There was even a British version which police there find from time to time in the possession of drug dealers. Israeli forces used them during the Entebbe operation as it was shorter than the Uzi with suppressor and the enemy would know it was them if they rolled up with Uzis. There’s also a famous picture of a navy seal using one in training prior to heading over to Beiruit. I’ve heard stories of them being carried by US “security advisors” in South America and spooks in Vietnam. Mitch Werbell, one of the original owners of MAC and designer of the sionics suppressor was formerly a spook and he operated a training facility in Georgia. He basically specialized in counterinsurgency and training rebels to carry out coups. Interestingly, Larry Flynt gave him a check to carry out a hit, which he advertised to others as a show of disagreement. Soon after he fell ill and died under mysterious circumstances. This was immediately after attending a party at Flynt’s Mansion,which he was conviniently absent from. So while the Mac 10 has shortcomings, it’s still a cool piece of Americana with an interesting history. With a little work and practice they can be turned into a respectable open bolt sub gun.

  • Iroquois Plissken

    Why does my comment keep getting deleted ?

  • Iroquois Plissken

    Gordan Ingram based the gun’s design on requests from anti-castro rebels training in Costa Rica who wanted a gun that was small, suppressed, and cheap to produce. He learned of these requests from a former Peruvian army officer that was operating an illegal firearms factory in Arizona, where the first m10 was made, and it was actually seized by the ATF in a raid. Many countries adapted their own versions including South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Tiawan still uses a design based on it. There was even a British version which police there find from time to time, usually in the possession of drug dealers. Israeli forces used them with the sionics suppressor during the Entebbe operation as it was shorter than the Uzi with suppressor and the enemy would know it was them if they rolled up with Uzis. There’s also a famous picture of a navy seal using one in training prior to heading over to Beiruit. I’ve heard stories of them being carried by US “security advisors” in South America and spooks in Vietnam. Mitch Werbell, one of the original owners of MAC and designer of the sionics suppressor was formerly a spook and he operated a training facility in Georgia. He basically specialized in counterinsurgency and training rebels to carry out coups. Interestingly, Larry Flynt gave him a check to carry out a hit, which he advertised to others as a show of disagreement. Soon after he fell ill and died under mysterious circumstances. This was immediately after attending a party at Flynt’s Mansion,which he was conviniently absent from. So while the Mac 10 has shortcomings, it’s still a cool piece of Americana with an interesting history. In the right hands with a little work and practice they can be turned into a respectable open bolt sub gun.