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[Review] Cobray M11 9mm: Super Ineffective?

The Cobray M11 9mm looks like a MAC-10 submachine gun straight out of Miami Vice. But does its coolness factor beat out terrible ergos and accuracy?

    You know what Floridians love? 

    Orange juice, cigarette boats, and sub-machine guns

    As a Floridian I, like many, have an entrepreneurial spirit and like many Floridians I own an ‘import/export’ business that deals mostly with imported Columbian ‘coffee’ if you know what I’m saying?

    Cobray M11 ready to protect the boats
    Ready to protect the boats and “coffee” with my Cobray M-11/9

    With a business like this I am looking for new ways to expand and to protect what I own. 

    When it comes to shopping for personal protection I have to make some serious considerations. First I have a set of requirements that any importer of Columbian ‘coffee’ should always consider. Those requirements are as follows: 

    • How cool does it look? Looking cool is the first half the battle so you need a gun that catches the eye. A gun that looks a little scary. Is it a gun no professional soldier or law enforcement would willingly use? I can’t be looking like the fuzz.
    • Ergonomics are also important… I need a gun I can fire from the hip with or a gun I can easily hold sideways. Aiming is for suckers, and if you’re aiming how is everyone gonna see your bitch’n sunglasses and beard/mustache? I also gotta be able to wield it one-handed so I can drive my boat, or wield two guns at one time while jumping through the air. 
    Cobray M11 falling through the air
    Don’t try this at home, I’m a professional “importer”
    • Can I attach mostly useless stuff to make the gun look cooler
    • Accuracy wise I like a gun that throws bullets somewhat unpredictably. Think about if I don’t where the bullets are going neither do my enemies. 

    With these requirements in mind, let’s take a look at the Cobray M-11/9. MAC variants of all kinds have been popular with Floridians for generations now.

    Like most young ‘coffee’ importers I grew up watching Miami Vice.

    miami vice

    Table of Contents


    The Miami and Vietnam Connection

    In Miami Vice one of the favorite guns of the bad guys was the MAC-10 submachine gun. The MAC-10 is OG MAC variant and easily one of the most popular SMGs back in the 1980s. A man named Gordon Ingram designed the gun. 

    The real crime in the ’80s were the hairstyles…

    Its origin comes from a small company called Military Armament Corporation and the goal to provide an SMG for Spec Ops bubbas during Vietnam.

    It was a .45 ACP, blowback submachine gun, and it was only just bigger than a pistol. The gun did have an open bolt, a wire stock, and a top cocking handle. 

    Most impressively this little box of a gun could fire .45 ACP at 950 rounds per minute. The use of a suppressor was almost a must-have to control the thing. Its flimsy wire stock offered minimal support. 

    This became one of the smallest SMGs on the market and was designed to function with a massive suppressor from Sionics. Side note, Sionics was run by a guy named Mitch Werbell III and that guy could have his own article on his craziness. 

    The MAC-10 saw limited success with the Navy SEALs as well as the LRRP and possibly some Delta dudes used them in the Post Vietnam world. According to an article from 2017 the Air Force still has one MAC-10 in its arsenal. 

    U.S. Navy Seal Matt Bracken, Fall 1982 armed with a suppressed Ingram MAC-10

    The MAC-10 was also very popular on TV and in movies, as well as in the hands of Narcos in South Florida in the 1980s. It was used in the famed Dadeland murders and was a favorite of South American gunman and drug cartels. 

    While the coffee business is a bit cooler now it’s important that we keep the tradition alive and the M-11/9 follows in the footsteps of it’s bigger brother. 

    The big difference is the M-11/9 is the smaller 9mm cartridge, this allows the M-11/9 to be much smaller and somewhat lighter.

    Cobray made both machine gun variants and semi-auto pistols out of the Cobrays and they were a very cheap means to obtain a legal NFA SMG prior to the Hughes amendment. 

    Cobray M11 on a rock

    These guns are made mostly of stamped sheet metal and are made quite cheaply. The good news is the simple design allows them to be made cheaply and remain relatively effective and efficient.

    My model is older than I am and still runs fine. 

    Although it does rust rather easily. The Cobray models came with 32-round Zytel magazines.

    These are apparently a weak point, and I’ve replaced mine with KAK Z Mags, which are metal and available in 30- and 50-round capacities. 

    ProMag also makes Cobray M-11/9 magazines and they are much more economically priced.

    at GunMag Warehouse

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    The Cobray M-11/9

    Sometimes this gun is referred to as the MAC-11, however, Cobray did not use the MAC designator. The MAC-11 is actually a .380 ACP submachine gun. The Cobray is simply the M-11/9, but it’s easy to see how the names could get confused. 

    This is a semi-automatic, blowback-operated 9mm pistol that fires from the closed bolt. Although some open bolt semi-autos existed but they were quickly kiboshed by the ATF for the easy ability to turn them into machine guns. 

    ATF Meme Guy
    TotallyNotATF has entered the chat

    So using the categories I set up above let’s judge the M-11/9 for its ability to protect ‘coffee’ and territory. 

    Does It Look Cool? 

    Hell yeah, it does! Look at this thing! It’s a rectangle going horizontally and a smaller rectangle going vertically. It’s massive and heavy, and much bigger than a pistol needs to be.

    Cobray M11 in a tree

    The barrel is only 5 inches long, but the thing weighs 3.75 pounds (or 1.7 keys of…coffee). 

    While many will say since it’s just a 9mm pistol, and that a Glock 17 with an extended magazine is just as effective, in fact most of you will say it’s more effective.

    Sure the Glock is lighter, has better sights, lower recoil, has the ability to mount a light, and even factory optic’s ready options. 

    Group of glocks
    Some of the Best Glocks

    But the M-11/9 has rectangles! Aggressive looking rectangles! Rectangles that demand respect. It’s a scary-looking gun. I can hear the commandos, the concealed carriers, and many other folks with ‘common sense,’ calling the M-11/9 a big useless gun. 

    Look how scary it appears to be though! It’s so scary that politicians want to ban it on looks alone. It doesn’t matter that it’s a relatively underperforming weapon by “expert” opinions.

    Cobray M11 looong mag
    Looong magazine!

    The fact that police and the military haven’t used it in nearly 50 years doesn’t mean it’s not a good gun. 

    It’s the cops and soldiers, clearly, they are afraid of it because of its scary looks. 

    How Are Those Ergos

    When you grab the vertical rectangle that acts as a pistol grip I know what you’re thinking.

    It’s uncomfortable to handle, and it is rather large and wide and even in my XXL hands it feels like it’s a bit much. 

    Cobray M11 mac and cheese
    Get it? GET IT?! Mac and Cheese! Ha!

    However, since the weapon doesn’t have a slide like most pistols and it has a larger space between the trigger guard and the end of the barrel you can hold it here with your support hand while you fire it from the hip. 

    This makes it easy to control the gun as it bucks and rears as you pull the trigger as rapidly as possible.

    The magazine release is a heel magazine release at the bottom of the pistol grip. It’s perfect because you don’t want to reload fast or anything crazy. 

    Take your time, enjoy the sensation of pulling the stick out of the gun.

    Smoke a cigarette, comb your hair, pop your collar.

    collar pop

    You aren’t doing it fast, especially if your magwell is a tight one. Some of the Cobray’s produced, including mine, have overly tight magwells and need a ‘magwell stretch’ to function correctly. 

    To get this mag out I have to pull the hell out of it. Inserting a mag requires you to slam the mag in place and shove it into the magwell with some authority. 

    The safety is very AR 15 like and placed easily for reach with the trigger finger. It does require a long push to get it from safe to fire though. It’s one of the better parts of this gun. 

    Cobray M11 on the deck
    Cobray safety looks stright off an M16

    Since it’s a handgun it can be easily fired with one hand. I mean the legal definition of handgun is a weapon designed to be fired with one hand and the Cobray does it.

    I can easily drive, smoke a cigarette, drink some Mountain Dew, use one hand to talk, and so on and so forth while still wielding my Cobray M-11/9. 

    The M-11/9 is also the perfect gun when you need to fire as you fall through the air, yelling “Ahhhhh.”

    Can I attach Mostly Useless Stuff to Make it Look Cooler? 

    This is America? So yeah. 

    Bad weather american
    Florida? Florida.

    In fact, that front portion of thread around the barrel makes it a perfect host for fake suppressors to make the gun look even scarier!

    You can even toss on a weird strap on the front to hang the gun conveniently from a hook on your weapon’s wall. 

    at Optics Planet

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    You can attach other ‘useful’ things to this gun if you want too, I guess. 

    If you want an easy way to attach a brace, or optic, you have a few options out there. A company called Stormwerkz makes an adapter for both AR and SIG MPX/MCX stocks and braces should you go that route.

    at AR15 Discounts

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    They also produce an optic’s mount for mini red dots like the Trijicon RMR. 

    Is it Accurate? 

    Of course not, shooting this thing is like pissing in a tornado, you have no idea where your projectile is going.

    I mean it’s going forward, but that’s the only guarantee. Don’t expect one inch groups, or headshots at 25 yards. 

    Do you know what a beaten zone is? Or a cone of fire? These terms are typically applied to belt-fed machine guns, or support weapons in general. 

    beaten zone

    A beaten zone is the ovalish area in which your projectiles land. A cone of fire is the projectiles in the air forming a cone. A belt-fed support weapon isn’t designed for precision, and the seemingly poor accuracy of the rounds is a benefit to the weapon’s ability to suppress a target.  

    The Cobray M-11/9 is the only handgun I’ve ever fired that has machine gun like cone of fire and beaten zone.

    Is that a good thing for a handgun? Traditionally most people say no, and these supposed experts want a gun that “shoots straight” and is “consistent.” 

    The Cobray is very hard to shoot accurately, it can be done, but it’s not easy. The Cobray M-11/9 has terrible sights.

    You have a small hole and a half notch and a gray metal post as sights. They may work better with a stock, but as a pistol the Cobray’s sights suck. 

    Cobray M11 top view
    Cobray “Sights”

    The trigger is long, mushy and has some serious snap back. You’ll see most triggers coated with some form of rubber because trigger smack is so bad on these guns. 

    Additionally, the blowback action means the gun has a big and heavy bolt. That bolt going back and forth means the gun is moving way more than your average handgun. This makes follow up shots a mess. 

    Everything about this gun just makes it hard to shoot accurately, so it’s much better to fire from the hip and keep your enemies guessing. 

    Cobray M11 shooting from the hip
    BLAST ‘EM!

    Where To Buy A Cobray M-11/9

    This…might be one of the harder things about this little gun. Sadly, the Cobray isn’t in production anymore. But the good news is that they’re cheap!

    Unless you want a full-auto version, then prepare yourself to shell out.

    Cobray m11-9 full auto
    Full Auto Cobray M-11/9 Sold At Rock Island Auction For $7,475

    For a normal semi-auto Cobray, you can often find them on GunBroker for a fairly reasonable price range of $800-$1,000.

    at GunBroker

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    What About Reliability? 

    Well surprisingly so the M-11/9 is a very reliable little gun. The Mags can be a weak point and the Zytel mags have big issues with their feed lips breaking or stretching.

    With the metal Z Mags the gun runs without issue. 

    It seems to cycle a wide variety of ammo with no issues. Keep in mind I mostly put 115-grain FMJs through the gun of the brass, steel, and aluminum variety. It all runs and ejects and cycles when I use the metal mags. 

    Best 9mm Range Ammo
    at Palmetto State Armory

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    With the Zytel magazine in place the weapon would occasionally eject a round, but fail to load the next round.

    The bolt would slam home and the trigger would reset but the chamber was empty. Not an issue with the metal mags.

    The Truth About The Cobray M-11/9 

    This is a niche gun best used for flexing in your slickest Hawaiin shirt, your most mirrored glasses, and in your fastest boat.

    Cobray M11 sideways action shot

    It’s not a good gun for defending the home, or concealed carry, or competition. 

    It’s best for protecting your imported Columbian coffee business. Or for just goofing off at the range.

    The Cobray M-11/9 might be one of the most ineffective handguns out there. It’s proof that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover. 

    Cobray M11 and MTN Dew
    Do The Dew

    The series of rectangles that make up the Cobray M-11/9 makes it look more dangerous than any modern Glock 17, HK VP9, or SIG P320, but in reality, it less effective for any real role than those aforementioned guns. 

    What’re your thoughts? Did I miss something? Or are these pure range toys? Let me know below! For some more awesome purely fun firearm action, take a look at the Dumbest Glock Build Ever!

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    29 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Jim Haws

      Love the article. When I first started reading my jaw dropped open and I stopped breathing! Then I realized it was just allegorical (get it? Al Gore.) if I have to spell it out it’s not funny. or should I say just plain fun!
      Keep ‘‘em coming!!

      March 14, 2023 4:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      These things were popular when they first came out, early 80s(ish). I worked in a USAF F-16 fighter squadron in Utah. One of the pilots, Todd, in the Weapons and Tactics office had a FFL. I remember other pilots walking in to the office and talking with Todd about purchasing said weapon. Todd would pull out the latest Shotgun News, find the dog-eared page, show the other pilot, quote a price, and wait for the guy to write a check. Then he would call his wife and have her place the order. I can’t remember how many times I watched these transactions transpire, including my own.
      Mine didn’t last long in my collection. First time I took it to the “range”, the first hot shell casing flew thru the air, and if by using GPS, dropped into my wife’s shirt. Her next words - get rid of it. Traded it in on a Savage side by side .410.

      June 24, 2022 6:59 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      (Cobray safety looks stright off an M16)

      I believe you misspelled the word "straight."

      May 2, 2021 2:33 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Would it be legal to take a closed bolt semi auto version and convert it to an open bolt post purchase?

      March 19, 2021 12:37 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Jim Haws

        No. I believe that would be a federal violation of the 1986 Hughes amendment. Also, why? Open bolt has no reasonable advantage.

        March 14, 2023 5:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Ever consider putting some oil on your firearms?

      November 14, 2020 12:50 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        They should not use the same name for the semi-auto and full-auto. Readers or viewers are misled to video posts that state M11/9 or Cobray M11/9 or MAC11 when in fact they are semi-auto; not in the same class of firearm as full-auto. A semi-auto version of the real M-11 cheapens the concept of the submachinegun. By the way, I spell out my full-auto as a one word noun; there is not such word as "submachine" (submachine gun) often used, and no law against clean names. Good article for reading though.

        February 6, 2022 12:20 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Bill Berg

          My Cobray 11/9 is a registered full-auto open bolt.. I've had several of these,
          none were semi-auto.

          July 18, 2022 11:31 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Found one of these in Dad's gun safe this week. He passed away last year, so Sis and I are finally divvying up the guns & ammo. Was doing a little research on this gun and found this article. I'm laughing my butt off! Thanks for this. :)

      November 13, 2020 8:44 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Hugo Duque

      Hi Travis, I'm in the market for one, is in gunbroker and my bid is tops right now. Hope i win it.
      Great article with enough info to know what to expect. Thanks.

      September 7, 2020 4:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Scott Fog

      3years ago I picked one up for $300 from a guy in Sedonna. It was the standard pistol type but it came with 6 mags and a spare upper with a 16" barrel and a square tube down angled T-shaped stock. Never saw one before with such a funky optional carbine configuration so I had to get it. Don't fire it much but it has never had the slightest hiccup. Hard to charge but in carbine mode it's kind of cool and definitely attracts attention.

      June 27, 2020 4:46 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      Get the carbine upper for it, and turn it into a useful tool. No less accurate than any other 9mm carbine. Great fun article though!

      May 4, 2020 5:17 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Larry Pearce

      Ok Seriously, you just made my day, haha... and its my birthday! 1st time ever quarantined! Great Vid, great demo and overview too, ... So, I have (I guess) an M11? or is there a MAC 10 9mm, I have been calling it a Mac 11, but read that Cobray didn't use the "MAC" term for the 11, and that the 11 is a .380? Mine is def. a 9mm Semi

      March 27, 2020 10:32 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        David, PPT Editor

        Happy birthday!

        March 27, 2020 10:41 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      Good work. But you still have your index finger. You don’t shoot this weapon with enough enthusiasm

      December 29, 2019 7:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      The original MAC 10 is super accurate, especially in full-auto. That's because it fires from an open bolt, and the bolt weighs about a pound. It's especially scary when you mount a scope on one. You saw Escape from New York didn't you?

      October 8, 2019 8:02 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Kevin Jackson

        Escape from New York made me buy a MAC back in the day - $350, should have bought dozens.

        April 10, 2020 8:10 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Joe Gavron

      I have a .380 Cobray MAC11. Inaccurate. Clumsy. But fun to shoot

      October 7, 2019 7:14 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        I also have a RPB M11-A1 in 380ACP. I can put two 30 round mags all in the 10 ring at 45 feet with sustained automatic fire using cheapo AR flip up iron sights. Try working on your trigger control. It isn't super easy with a 12lb pull and that bolt lurching forward. I call it riding the wave - at least the first shot. After that you need to rely on your well engineered after market upper and some muscle.

        October 12, 2019 1:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Dusty Bottoms

      Dude, you just made this one of the funniest articles I’ve ever read. Keep doing what you doing as I enjoy reading every article of your I come across.
      Got to get me another one so I can protect my “coffee” business

      Strength & Honor
      Truth. Valor and Respect

      October 7, 2019 2:45 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Thomas Harrison

      Lage Mfg. and Vegas CF-W are the answers you seek my friend. You have the first part of the three part riddle correct - Shockwave Z Mags they make the guns reliable. Now make it modern.

      Lage manufacturing makes modern upper receivers for the entire MAC family of guns, mostly the NFA SMG versions, but they have a model or two out there for the closed bolt semi. They are highly accurate, high quality slow fire upper receivers that tame the rate of fire down to the 600+ RPM range. The Lage family has turned the lowly MAC into a highly effective, reliable and efficient weapon that's fun as hell to shoot. They have a website. They are works of modern industrial art as well, they are very pretty, very, very pretty - much in the same vein as the Vegas CF-W bolt is a work of functional industrial art.

      CF-W you ask? Coffee Freak - Tungsten (W is from the PTE). Vegas CF-W makes a solid Tungsten bolt that in conjunction with the included spring set slows down even the stock SWD-M11 upper receiver to a controllable fist full of full auto fun. I found Vegas SMG on FB, just type in Vegas SMG you can't miss the machine guns. The bolt does not fix the sucky sights however, go to the Lage family for their railed uppers and put the good stuff on it.

      FYI, I think a company in Ducktown, TN still makes the semi-autos.

      October 7, 2019 2:10 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        I forgot something awesome, Lage Mfg. also makes a slow fire AR upper receiver in 223 that utilizes standard AR mags. It's out of my price range, but it elevates the MAC SMG weapons platform to a much higher level.... and yes ironically I live in Florida LOL! A MAC 10 was my first "handgun" as a kid. It sucked, it sucked out loud, I hated the thing. Now I am in love.

        October 7, 2019 2:43 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I disagree, as an adult, and watching every episode of Miami Vice, I was introduced to this gun there, a clip is above in the article.

      I then had to have one, saw several at the gun show and almost bought one. They were cheap, under $300 then. But the coolest.

      Realizing the gun didn’t fit any niche, I finally got over the “Need”. Hey Sonny Crockett had a .45 1911, guess what I wound up with? That was cheap too, a Norinco, had to do, I couldn’t afford too much.

      The article is great! I love the humor and references.

      From a practical side, it does a good job of letting you know, this is just an expensive toy. It makes me glad I passed and got the Norinco.

      Great article!

      October 6, 2019 4:20 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Havoc Man

        Sorry to burst your bubble, but Crocket carried a Bren Ten, not a 1911.

        October 6, 2019 7:34 pm
        • Commenter Avatar
          Le Squale

          The Bren Ten was there at the beginning, then it was replaced in 3rd season by a S&W 645. According to some articles the Bren Ten was chambered in 45 ACP and not the 10mm AUTO as everyone would expect... not sure about this. There are also some funny stories about Don Johnson not being able to handle the 10mm in a live ammunition training session. Not sure about this one either...

          October 6, 2019 10:38 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Monte Walsh

      Junk like tec 9s. Waste of a article.

      October 6, 2019 3:55 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Simón Olguín

        This article is a service for people like me, to know which gun do not buy.

        October 6, 2019 10:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Scott C.

      The only reason to get this this at all is to use it for a trigger pack and put a Lage upper on it. Then it becomes a really nice subgun.

      October 6, 2019 1:00 pm
      • Commenter Avatar

        It works real cool, had 1 bro came thru when needed it to!

        October 7, 2019 6:17 am
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