KSC M11A1The Ingram M11 is arguably one of the most versatile and well designed machine gun in the world, writes an early real-steel review of the M11. The M11 is actually a modified version of the original M10, invented by Gordon Ingram over 40 years ago. Gordon Ingram returned to the United States from his duties in the US Army during WWII with an eye toward producing a submachine gun that was both more reliable and more efficient than those he'd seen during the war. He created a series of models that resembled the Thompson Submachine Gun outwardly; unlike the Thompson, however, these new guns required a minimum of machining and were simple to operate.
Of the Ingram series, the Model 6 enjoyed very few sales, mostly to South American governments. Unfortunately Ingram's timing was bad; there wasn't much of a market for submachine guns and what little market there was, was being filled with surplus arms from WWII. In 1964 Ingram set out to rethink the basic submachine gun design. The end of his efforts was the Model 10 or M-10. This gun is little larger than a conventional pistol but has a telescoping/folding metal stock and a front strap for aid in controlling the gun. The bolt telescopes around the barrel which extends back into the gun to just in front and above the magazine well.
Two chamberings of the M-10 were offered, one in 9mm Luger and the other in .45 ACP. Later Ingram created an even more compact version of the gun, the M-11, chambered for .380 ACP. All fire with extremely high cyclic rates well over 1000 rounds per minute; this may very well have been the factor that kept these guns from being accepted by potential buyers. Part of the reason was that the M10 and M11 cycled much too fast and made control very difficult. In fact, many owners had to perform conversions to slow down the cycle speed to make their M10 or M11 more usable. Others innovated their own conversions, such as installing a front grip to keep the barrel under control (see picture on left).
In 1967 Ingram joined forces with Mitchell Livingston WerBell III, a silencer designer. Soon the two had formed a business alliance with the WerBell suppressers being mounted on the M-10 pistols as a complete weapons system that was both compact and quiet. The two inventors spent much time trying to secure contracts from the US government (which was embroiled in the Vietnam War). Unfortunately their efforts never produced any results. Military personnel were very interested in the new arms, but the orders never followed.
In the early 1970s, the rights to the gun/suppresser combination were purchased by MAC (Military Armament Corporation) and the guns became known as the MAC-10 and MAC-11. Unfortunately WerBell and Ingram lost control of the company at this point and the new owners strategically ejected both of them out of the business..
A number of other variants of the M-10 have since been produced including the M-11/9 (a compact 9mm version of the M-11) and semi-auto "assault pistol" versions of the gun. All of these have met with varying success. But the original goal of Ingram, to create a viable military submachine gun, has never really been realized. The military just never seemed to become more than mildly curious about the inventor's super-compact submachine guns and has instead opted for "chopped" rifles like the AR-15 variant, the M4 Carbine, or the H&K MP5 submachine gun.
In the late 1970's, a company called RPB Industries bought the rights to manufacture the M10 and M11 series. They even bought the right to inscribe the famous Cobray logo on the gun (now seen on the receiver behind the ejection port).
Inevitably, the compactness and efficiency of the M10 soon found its way into the hands of well-financed criminals, most notably those in the cocaine business. It was widely recognized by law enforcement agencies at the time that the M10 was the most popular weapon of criminals; over 2000 M10's were seized from the drug trade alone in 1981. Needless to say, the M10 has a very infamous history. Part of the problem was that though the legal M10's were open bolt semi-auto only, conversion to full-auto was very easy and "took less than 2 seconds", according to some agents in the field. This led the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) to ban the sale of all open bolt M10's at the end of 1981.
The SM11, released soon afterwards, was easier to manufacture, and best of all it was made in such a manner that a closed-bolt semi-auto could be made using the exact same frame as the M10. The M11 enjoyed some success until they again became the focus of many criminal investigations in the early 1990s. In September of 1993, former President Clinton signed into law a ban on the production of the M11 9mm. Present day versions of the M11 were released in 1994 and are officially deemed the PM11/9. This version of the M11 resembles the banned M11/9's, and for all intents and purposes, is the same weapon. The only deletions were the magazine catch and the non-threaded barrel to comply with restrictions of the law.
If you have always been a fan of the M11, then it is likely you have read the previous review of the WA M11 we posted last year. The key point to note is that the WA M11 replicates the 9mm M11 manufactured by Military Armaments Corporation, while KSC's M11 is a replica of the .38 caliber M11 manufactured by RPB industries. Having said that, the two pistols are visually exactly identical apart from the markings on the receiver. Both possess the Cobray logo.
Following WA's decision to discontinue production of the M11 at the end of last year, many airsoft collectors expressed disappointment to us. While WA's M11 did not deliver high power or long ranges, it was invariably fun to shoot with its high cycle times and loud report. When KSC announced their intent to release their version of the M11A1, we were extremely positive on the news since we speculated that performance would be equivalent to KSC's own Glock 18C in terms of power and cycle times. Following the official release and through our comparison tests, we are happy to report that the KSC M11 fulfilled all our expectations! We almost suspect that KSC picked up on all the flaws of the WA M11 and specifically engineered against them to make their M11A1 a perfect pistol. In fact, we dare say that the new KSC M11A1 is just as much fun to shoot as KSC's own legendary TMP!
|Metal stock has 2 folding positions and can also be extended fully
On picking up the M11A1, we were impressed by its weight. At 1,360g, it is 40g heavier than WA's version - yet it felt much heavier. Even without the magazine installed, the M11A1's receiver felt hefty in our hands. We will not go into describing the M11's shape too much since it is identical to WA's M11 and interested readers should read that review. All the switches are much more tactile and crisp on KSC's M11A1. For example, the charging lever pulls back in a much cleaner manner than WA's M11, whose charging lever felt sticky and vague. KSC's bolt also flies forward with a metallic "clack" whereas WA's moves forward with a swish and a "thud".
The reason for this can be found by scrutinizing the nozzle and magazine feed assembly within the ejection port. KSC utilized a metal nozzle and a metal housing for the BB loading ramp mechanism. WA used plastic for every single component.
Even the safety on KSC's M11 felt more tactile and sure, whereas WA's felt a little vague and sticky. The firing selector on both pistols felt the same, though only "F" and "S" were marked on the KSC to denote the modes. WA's version spells out "Fire" and "Safe".
Disassembly of the KSC M11A1 is extremely easy and can be accomplished by first removing the retainer pin. The upper receiver then slides forward and up out of the lower receiver. Unscrewing the charging lever allows you to disassemble the bolt mechanism away from the upper receiver.
Metal parts on the KSC M11A1 match WA's version part for part. They include the threaded barrel, front sling mount, selector switch, charging lever, trigger, magazine, extendable stock, extension release buttons, and retainer pins. The retainer pins on the KSC M11A1 are also a little more fancy than the flush pins on WA's M11 as RPB M11's were designed with a spring loaded 2-piece retainer pin as opposed to the MAC M11's one-piece straight stud.
One other crucial metal part is the BB bumper rod within the magazine. This is the part that protrudes upwards and in the way of the nozzle when the magazine is empty. An inherent problem on the WA M11 was that this part was made of plastic and frequently warped and lost its effect after several days of firing. KSC ensures against this by making this piece metal. As such, the KSC M11A1 reliably locks the bolt in open position when the gun is emptied.
KSC's 48 round magazine is a stacked "pour-in" type that does not require a loading tool (though one is included). "Pouring in" was not always a smooth operation since the top of the magazine provides a very tight fit for the BB's and we had to push the BB's in every now and then when one got stuck during the pouring process (happened once for every 10 BBs on our test gun). Gas is charged into a visible valve on the bottom of the magazine. The KSC M11A1 is designed to reliably take HFC22 as propellant to deliver impressive power at close to 0.9J (tested in 31 degree centigrade conditions). Performance with even HFC134a was impressive and the M11A1 displayed no cool-down effects with either types of gas. The trigger is quite firm but has a short travel to allow you in releasing rounds at the slightest squeeze. The cycle time is extremely impressive and I tried as hard as I could to get a single shot off with a quick squeeze in full-auto mode - only to have 2-3 rounds run off before I could release the trigger. To add to the fun, the M11A1 is loud and rips off with a rat-tat-tat report. The fast blowback action jerks the pistol in your hand, though it is not strong enough to throw your aim off by too much; it was easy trying to get consecutive shots into close clusters from 5 feet away.
Unfortunately, the KSC M11A1 does not come with a silencer and we chose to install an aftermarket Tanio Koba M11 full metal silencer for testing. We tested the silencing effect against the stock plastic M11 silencer that came with the WA M11. Incidentally, the thread on both are the same so these silencers are interchangeable across the WA and KSC M11's. What we found was that the Tanio Koba silencer delivered highly impressive silencing effects, reducing the report of the KSC M11A1 to a mere "phup phup phup". The WA silencer also silenced shots on the KSC M11A! but its silencing effect was only half as good as the Tanio Koba's. We also tested the ANGs shortened M11 silencer which proved more effective than WA stock silencer but slightly less effective than Tanio Koba version.
What I will say next is reserved for real gun buffs: Screwing the Tanio Koba metal silencer on the M11A1 was also great fun as the metal threads slid over each other to deliver a slight grinding effect which can be felt by the twisting hand. This added greatly to the realism!
Accuracy is impressive at +/- 1 inch at 12 feet (in semi auto mode). Getting close groupings at that range is difficult unless you install a silencer which then allows you to stabilize the gun with your other hand, and using the extendable metal stock. Adjustable hop-up aids the M11A1 in reaching an effective range of 60-70 feet, and an actual range of around 100 feet. Hop up is adjusted using an included tool, and is made within the ejection port by twisting a dial on the BB feed ramp housing. Turn anti-clockwise for increased hop-up, and clockwise for less.
Upgrade valve options are expected soon for the KSC M11A1 which should boost power even more. Other rumored options include metal bodies, shorter and more compact magazines, a ported silencer from KSC, a MAC issue M11 silencer by KSC, front grab strap (which was included with the WA M11), and extended barrel and silencer sets.
In our opinion, the M11A1 makes a perfect skirmish backup weapon. It is literally as short as a regular pistol when the extendable stock is removed (simply by pulling it out all the way - see picture on left). With 48 rounds of full-auto fire, this should keep enemy heads down while you make a run for it (or move for the kill). The only gripe is that the M11 cycles much too fast and conserving the precious 48 rounds is extremely difficult; a task requiring calm and control to maintain 3 to 5 shot bursts.
|With the rear stock extended, the M11 can be shouldered
The KSC M11A1 is a must for any serious gas blowback machine gun fan. While we at RedWolf Airsoft have always believed that the KSC TMP was difficult to match in terms of feel, reliability, and power, KSC has proved us wrong by giving us the M11A1! What more can you ask for in terms of power, reliability, range, and fun all in such a small package? I dare guarantee you will not be disappointed!
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