The Most Useless Gun I Own: The Cobray M-11/9

Cobray probably has one of the more colorful histories of any gun company. The company was founded sometime in the 70s and more or less gained its fame from producing some rather odd firearms, most famously their series of MAC clones, like the subject of today’s article, the M-11/9. On top of that, they made guns with names like Street Sweeper and Terminator. Mitch WerBell began a counter-terrorism school in association with Cobray, and they often graced the pages of Soldier of Fortune magazine.

The M-11/9 has an interesting history that dates back to the original Military Armament Company. MAC, founded by Gordon Ingram and Mitch WerBell, designed the famed M-10 submachine gun, also known as the MAC-10 in popular parlance. MAC would produce the weapon until its bankruptcy.

A company called RPB Industries purchased parts, pieces, and slats. They produced an open bolt pistol version of the MAC series until the ATF put the kibosh on these guns. According to the ATF, they were too easy to convert to fully automatic. A machine operator with RPB named Wayne Daniel purchased the remaining inventory and formed SWD.

SWD produced semi-auto, closed bolt variants of these guns as well as transferable machine gun variants. The company switched names several times from SWD to Leinad and then Cobray, which would produce this specific M-11/9.

The M-11/9 In Living Color

While terms like MAC-10 and MAC-9 follow these weapons around like white on rice, they were never officially called that. This specific model is often mistakenly called a MAC-9 due to the 9mm chambering; however, the MAC-9 was never a thing. Cobray’s nomenclature was M-11/9. The original M-11 was a .380 ACP version of the gun and was produced as both a semi-auto pistol and a full-auto SMG.

Cobray M11/9 right side
It is surprisingly reliable.

The M-11/9 came along and gave us a semi-auto pistol and full auto SMG in the more popular 9mm caliber. Later on, there would be an M-12 in .380 ACP that was semi-auto only. These guns are super cheap to construct and very simple weapons.

It’s a stamped steel weapon with a big rectangular receiver and a rectangular grip that feels like a 2×4 in my hand. The magazines feed into the pistol grip, and the gun shipped with a crappy Zytel mag. In all fairness, these mags were probably fine when first produced, but after decades of existence, they are showing their wear.

Inside the gun is a simple blowback system that works but won’t impress. One of the few highlights of the gun is its AR-like safety. Other than that, the Cobray M-11/9 has to be the most useless gun I own. Why?

You might think reliability, but honestly, the gun goes bang. I’ve yet to run into any serious issues, especially with new magazines. No, reliability isn’t the problem. It’s everything else.

It’s too darn big!

What’s the point of a 9mm handgun that’s this big? When compared side by side to a Glock, it’s impossible to find any advantage. The Glock is smaller, light, and more efficient and effective. The Cobray M11/9 is too big to conceal, even with a flush-fitting magazine, and too uncomfortable to carry.

At 3.5 pounds, it’s a boat anchor, or at least it makes a good impression of one. Why is it so big? Well, it’s designed to be a small submachine, not a big pistol. In a perfect world, this would have an open bolt and a stock, and I’d be spraying 1,200 rounds per minute. However, as long as the ATF and NFA exist, that isn’t going to happen.

Bucking Like a Bronco

You might say, “Travis, all that weight helps eat up recoil.” You’re right. If a Glock weighed three and a half pounds with its short recoil system, the recoil would be very little. Weight helps recoil, but not always. When the weight is what’s moving back and forth in the gun, it’s not super comfy.

m11/9 grip
The grip is absurdly large.

Since the gun uses a blowback design, you get the full force of recoil. It snaps and bucks. The blowback operation requires a heavy bolt and recoil spring. This means the heavy bolt moves back and forth, giving you a nice heavy dose of recoil. The open-bolt pistols had much less recoil because the bolt only went rearward and locked open.

That is not the case with the Cobray M-11/9.

Crappy Sights

The sights consist of a circle cut in the rear and a notch at the top. The idea is for precision shots with the peep sights and quick shots with the open sights. These are just tabs and holes in a piece of metal, so they are completely non-adjustable. They also suck, mostly because they seemed to be designed to work with a stock, and we don’t have that.

The front sight is a piece of metal that’s bent down a bit, and that’s it. The sights are an afterthought, and the top cocking design ensures adding an optic isn’t easy.

Cobray M-11/9 front sight
I’m pretty sure this isn’t supposed to be bent.
Cobray M-11/9 rear sight
The rear sight sucks and the thing rusts crazy easy.

Terrible Ergonomics

Oh boy, I mentioned the 2×4-like grip already, but it bears repeating. The top cocking design offers you a little disk to grab to charge the weapon, and it sucks. The magazine release is a heel style that works but isn’t fast. The safety works, and that’s the only thing I can say I like about the gun. It’s just terrible and clearly very cheaply made.

Cobray M-11/9 top cocker
A top cocker is less than stellar.

Oh, mine also suffers from a magwell tightness issue. It’s super tight, and you have to yank the magazine out with serious force. This is somewhat common on these guns, and a magwell stretch can be done to fix the issue, but it’s lipstick on a pig.

So why do I have it?

I have it because silly guns like this because it’s fun. The Cobray M-11/9 is a product of its time and as close to a real MAC as I’ll ever want to get. It does entertain me when I occasionally shoot it. It’s a great conversation piece, and it’s a weapon you can break out, and everyone will want to try, even if they never want to own one.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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