The Thermonuclear Pocket Pistol: The MAC-11 .380 ACP

The Military Armament Corporation MAC-11 .380 ACP Submachinegun

Gordon Ingram served in the Infantry in World War II. The M6 submachinegun he subsequently designed never made much of a splash, though it was a remarkably prescient design. Bearing an esoteric similarity to the Thompson, the M6 incorporated such novel stuff as a two-stage trigger/fire selector. This mechanism allowed the shooter to select modes of fire based upon how firmly the trigger was pressed. His subsequent boxy sheet steel MAC-10 subgun ultimately became a movie star.

The MAC-11 .380 ACP

The innovative Military Armament Corporation M11 zips through .380 ACP rounds at around 1,600 rounds per minute. Compact and concealable, this diminutive little subgun occupies a unique niche in American firearms collections.

John Wayne introduced the world to the Ingram MAC-10 in the movie McQ. U.S., British, and Israeli Special Operations Forces even used a few for real. The MAC submachinegun, so named for the Military Armament Corporation that produced it, was a fixture in the hands of cinematic Bad Guys for years. The company never actually used the title MAC-10 to describe their guns. We gun nerds came up with that one ourselves.

With a minimum number of machining operations required for the bolt, barrel, and fire controls, Ingram’s eponymous submachineguns were cheap to build en masse. The full-figured MAC-10 in 9mm and .45ACP was, however, remarkably heavy given its diminutive size. A full-sized MAC10 weighed about what an M16A1 rifle did. In 1969, however, Ingram returned to the drawing board and scaled down his revolutionary submachinegun into something really tiny.

The .380 MAC-11 is actually quite small

With the stock collapsed and the suppressor removed, the fully automatic Ingram MAC-11 is not much larger than these .380 pocket guns.

The Baby Brother’s Vital Statistics

The .380 ACP MAC-11 is only about nine inches long with its stock collapsed and tips the scales at 3.5 pounds empty. The overall envelope is comparable to a standard 1911 pistol. The weapon fires from an open bolt and runs at up to 1,600 rounds per minute on full auto. In 1972 the guns sold for $86.50 each. That equates out to about $494 today.

Fire selection is via a rotating switch on the left front of the gun. The safety is a sliding switch inside the trigger guard that is somewhat akin to that of the M1 Garand. Deploying the stock requires that the heavy wire buttplate be squeezed and rotated before the entire assembly is extended. The process is easier to do than to describe. The MAC-11 will empty its entire 32-round magazine in 1.1 seconds.

Trigger Time

The MAC-11 is pretty accurate.

With the stock extended and taking my time I could keep most of my rounds on target at 7 meters.

This is not the tool to ring steel a kilometer distant. The MAC-11 was designed solely to provide a massive volume of full auto fire at near-contact ranges. At this specific mission the MAC-11 excels.

The stock wobbles a bit, but it is still preferable to a comparable stockless handgun. Meticulous attention to the trigger will restrict the gun to three round bursts but recreational use runs more in the five to ten round range. I can typically keep my bursts on a man-sized target out to perhaps fifteen meters. Beyond that this preternaturally tiny buzzgun becomes an area weapon system.

The gun was designed to be run with a sound suppressor. As the .380ACP is naturally subsonic the gun is actually pleasantly quiet with a can in place. The sound suppressor also gives you something handy to grip. The differences between running the gun with and without a sound suppressor are stark.

The .380ACP is indeed an anemic round. However, thirty-two of these modest little bullets delivered in just over a second can be breathtaking. The gun’s designers originally marketed the little gun as being comparable to a shotgun in its volume of close range fire.


All of the MAC submachine guns are specialists’ weapons. On a level playing field the MAC guns would have earned only the briefest of mentions in historical tomes. However, the MAC submachineguns were in production in the late 70’s and early 80’s. This means they were available at reasonable prices before the law changed in 1986 that outlawed further production of automatic weapons for sale to civilians. Their sheer numbers are what make these peculiar little weapons the entry weapon of choice for the typical American gun nerd ready to pony up the cash to join the registered machinegun club.

Don’t buy a MAC-11 thinking it will be fun or economical to shoot. Mine came with 1,000 rounds of ball ammo that I burned up in maybe three weeks. Once you get the feel of the little monster it will indeed do what you want it to so long as you pay attention to both technique and trigger discipline. Until then mind your fingers closely. Given that the MAC-11 is really no bigger than a standard 1911 pistol yet spews twenty shots per second it can be terribly unforgiving. It is, however, the closest thing to a true machine pistol that most of us will ever see.

Going full-auto with the MAC-11

This photograph shows the tiny little .380 MAC-11 doing its thing at around 1,600 rounds per minute. This smallest MAC gun is indeed a remarkable little bullet hose.

What do you think about the MAC-11? Think you’d give this fiery pocket pistol a try? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

22 Comments On This Article

  1. Looks like a lot of fun. Probably better off renting on from a range that does full-auto, then to buy one. Also, isn’t it cheaper to shoot 9mm?

  2. I have the M-9 in 9mm. Yes it is great fun. AND, it bump fires with ease. Over the years I have replaced the hammer spring, firing pin and many buffers. At one point the bolt broke the welded back plate and threatened to do me some harm. I had a metal strap welded around the rear of the receiver to protect me from this in the future. I am now working on fixing a rail on top to allow a real sight of some kind. You do need some kind of barrel extension so yo can hang on to the thing with out blowing the tip of your finger off. Crazy fun!

  3. As far as lethality, range, and economy the 9mm is a far better investment. Polymer tip HP 9mm will certainly bump up lethality.

      • Sorry. Live in communist Ct. And have both full size Uzi and m11/9 in full auto as well as suppressor for both. Problem is finding ranges to let you shoot them. Have Lage uppers. The last one, I believe the k version kicks ass. This upper with folding stock as well as full cnc machined internals will go up against a H&K Mp5 for 20k less. Would love a Mp5 but thought 20k for one 5 years ago was too much. Stupid me.

  4. Looks like fun. But we can have fun in NYS. Please help us repeal the Safe Act it unconstitutional. Thank you for your support.

  5. With the appropriate forms and licenses, this would be a nightmare to obtain. Then who needs it? Firing it is 20 dollars per second, so what are you going to do with it? It’s useless for anything but Killing people at close range.

    • twitterisfortwits

      Stop pissing in the pool, you turd-in-the-punchbowl.
      Of course it’s not affordable or practical. If jerkwads like you can drive monster trucks with super-bright headlights blinding everyone and a hitch sticking out a foot from the bumper, then maybe I just wanna dream about a fun little gun like this to make your truck into swiss cheese.

  6. At 1:35 years ago mach 10 we shoot it at the farm my old man got mad at me one night and he took the damn thing he buried it I never found it .