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Legend of the MAC 10 Gun

Nowadays, you might be more likely to spot a MAC 10 in a film museum than a military arsenal. Nonetheless, this gun has certainly made a name for itself in weapons history.

Though small compared to other compact submachine models, it com-”packs-a-punch” into a tiny profile. The .45 ACP version boasts a rate of fire of 1090 rounds per minute (rpm) and the 9mm about 1250.

This means with one smooth trigger pull you can empty its 32-round capacity magazine in less than two seconds.

The Rise of the MAC 10...

The Military Armament Corporation Model 10 is officially abbreviated as "M10" or "M-10,” and more commonly known as the MAC-10. Gordon B. Ingram originally designed and developed this compact submachine gun - or “machine pistol,” depending on who you ask - in 1964. He initially marketed it as an ideal special operations gun.

The MAC 10 has a boxy, stamped sheet metal frame with a telescoping bolt chambered in either .45 ACP or 9mm. This design was a significant deviation from the Thompson-style frames of Ingram’s M-5 - M-9. It received little-to-no interest until Ingram met Mitchell Werbell III in 1969.

The Legend of the Mac 10 graphic 1

Werbell was on his way to Vietnam to showcase some suppressors he was developing in hopes to sell to the military. Ingram agreed to send him with a .45 ACP experimental version of his M-10 design. The combination of Ingram’s compact firepower with Werbell's suppression performance impressed their audience.

Thinking this was the start of what would be a dramatic increase in demand, Ingram and Werbell assembled some investors and formed the Military Armament Corporation (MAC).

The Legend of the Mac 10 graphic 2

Over the next few years, MAC sold some of the M-10 and M-11 models to various military operation branches--including the SEALS, UDT, and the Air Force. There were even several countries who bought relatively small batches; but the big military contract MAC was hoping for never came.

...And Its Swift Fall from Glory

By 1972, the investment group had seized control and forced Ingram and Werbell out of MAC. Then the Arms Export Control Act of 1976 prohibited exporting machine guns outfitted with suppressors. This legislation effectively destroyed any abroad market for the MAC 10.

Home soil provided no hope for redemption. The company had already declared bankruptcy by 1976, but any dreams of success on the civilian market finally and officially died with the 1984 Firearm Owners Protection Act. This banned the sale of new production machine guns to private citizens, skyrocketing prices on existing supply to extraordinary levels.

The main problem with it was the severe lack of accuracy. Later versions included a nylon strap attachment meant to temper the "lead spray" the MAC 10 released.

Still, it was incredibly difficult to control, with an effective range of only 50 yards. (By comparison, the M-16 boasts an effective range of no less than 500 yards).

"I didn't think the MAC-10 and -11 were up to police requirements for either accuracy or burst control," David Steele, who served for a time as weapons researcher for the International Association of Police Chiefs, wrote in The Gun Digest Book of Assault Weapons: "I thought both MAC models were fit only for combat in a phone booth."

The MAC 10 Gun in Hollywood and Culture

The Legend of the Mac 10 graphic 3

Following the company’s demise in 1976, the MAC 10 remained popular for subsequent years in two main spheres: Hollywood and the criminal element.

The MAC 10 made its debut on the big screen in “McQ,” starring John Wayne in 1974, but the gun fandom from the film was not enough to save the company. It became an iconic weapon for directors to include gunfight scenes. Both law enforcement and villains portrayed relishing the MAC 10’s small-but-intense firepower.

Unlike the badge-wielding heroes above, however, gangsters, drug lords, terrorists and other bad actors employed the compact to its full deadly effect in real life.

The characteristics made it marketable as an ideal special ops piece—concealability, high rate of fire, maneuverability in close quarters — also made it attractive criminals of all types. The MAC 10 became synonymous with crime during the 1980’s and was used in multiple high-profile homicides.

What do you think: was the MAC 10 over-hyped or underrated? Today, the MAC 10 is popular among civilians for range shooting and collectors as a historic timepiece.

In any case - whether you decide to hit the range with a cult classic or a Colt .45 - we’ve got your ammo covered.

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