March 07, 2023
By Will Dabbs, MD
Mike Bennett was 100% pure warrior. After three years in the Ranger Regiment and two combat tours downrange, Mike had gone over to the dark side. He survived Delta selection and, following the Operator Training Course, folded into a Saber Squadron. Five years later he was a seasoned assaulter, having found his home in The Unit. Bennett was the finest soldier his mighty nation could produce. In addition to peerless close combat skills, the man could run a car in a hostile city better than Jason Bourne and thrive in some of the scariest places on earth. He could blend in seamlessly most anyplace and kill on demand as the need arose. His operational experience ranged from Karachi to Caracas. Then he decided to take his game to the next level.
SAC/SOG (Special Activities Center/Special Operations Group) is the tactical paramilitary arm of the Central Intelligence Agency. When the first Special Forces operators moved into Afghanistan after 9/11 they were met on the ground by SOG guys who were already imbedded with local indigenous forces. There are less than 100 SOG Paramilitary Operations Officers in the national inventory. SOG operators account for most of the anonymous stars adorning the Memorial Wall at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. These somber etchings commemorate intelligence operatives who have given their lives in service to their country. Recruited from America’s premiere Tier 1 counter-terrorist units, these shadow soldiers are quite literally the best in the world. Their individual skillsets include the destabilization of foreign governments.
After successfully completing the 18-month Clandestine Service Trainee course, Mike Bennett was cleared operationally hot. His first mission would be a deep penetration operation alongside Sayeret Matkal and the Mossad to take out a High Value Target in a small town outside Teheran. Prior to his boarding the C-17 that would take him to his staging base in Haifa, he met the representative from the Armor and Special Programs Department, a nerdy-looking gearhead right out of central casting. The skinny guy’s government-issue ID tag read simply, “Bob.” Bob would issue the specialized deniable gear Mike needed to thrive while under deep cover in Iran.
Bennett’s kit was arrayed neatly across a standard eight-foot folding table in an expansive but empty airplane hangar. There was a Czech Vz-61 Skorpion machine pistol equipped with a sound suppressor and twelve loaded 20-round magazines. Alongside was a Russian MP-443 Grach 9mm handgun, also with a sound suppressor. Mike signed separately for the dozen gold sovereigns sewn into a discreet belt to be worn around his waist. The seasoned operator smiled. Religion might power the world’s most oppressive theocracy, but greed drove all of mankind. Bennet’s gaze stopped on the tiny black tube sitting between the miniaturized satellite communication system and the small silver canister containing the standard CIA-issue cyanide pill. The odd object rested alongside a sealed condom and small tube of KY Jelly.
The unfamiliar metal device was about the size of a tube of lipstick. Hefting the thing, Bennett twirled it in his fingers before asking, “What is this? I’ve never seen one of these before?” Bob responded, “That’s a vintage MAC Stinger pen gun in .22 Long Rifle. They’ve been in inventory since the 1970’s. Single shot, eminently reliable, and the most concealable firearm ever contrived by mankind. The gun is designed to be deployed as a last-ditch weapon at contact ranges as an alternative to suicide. When everything else is gone, you’ll still have your Stinger.” Bennett studied the tiny gun briefly before asking, “What do you do with it?” Bob pointed to the condom and the KY jelly with a scant professional smile.
Mike Bennett chewed on the technician’s words for a moment and said flatly, “Screw that, brother. I’m outta here.” He then turned and walked out of the cavernous airplane hangar never to return. When last he was heard from Mike Bennett was making a comfortable living selling real estate in a small affluent suburb outside of Boise.
A Peculiar Little Weapon
The MAC Stinger was the brainchild of Mitch WerBell III while in the employ of the Military Armament Corporation. WerBell was a tragically flamboyant character who got his start with the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) during World War 2. He patterned the odd little gun on the WW2-era T2 Stinger. The T2 was a disposable spy weapon that fired a single .22 Short round.
The MAC Stinger was actually a wee bit smaller than the original T2 at 3.25 inches long. The all-up weight was a mere 2.25 ounces. The little gun really could pass for a tube of lipstick in dim light. Stingers were turned from aluminum and were available either anodized gold or painted gloss black. Each Stinger came with a short leather carrying strap affixed at one end to a snap akin to that of a woman’s garter. This was intended to help keep the tiny gun oriented within clothing during vigorous movement. The Stinger shipped in a clear plastic case along with two barrels. One barrel was intended for practice, while the other was sealed on the end to exclude pocket clutter when carried for real. These guns originally retailed for a whopping $36 apiece. That would be about $255 today.
MAC designed several sound suppressors for these nifty little weapons. The earliest versions were twice the diameter of the gun and three times as long. A second protype was the same diameter as the gun but was still three times as long. The final production version remained nine inches in length and roughly 1.5 times the gun’s diameter. MAC didn’t produce a great many of these things, as the can made the overall package fairly bulky.
Running the Stinger is an intriguing experience. There is a wire safety clip that snaps in place and safes the gun in the manner of a hand grenade. My Stinger is missing this bit. For reasons that should be obvious, the gun should be cocked before it is loaded. To cock the weapon you unscrew the knob at the base and tug it out until the mechanism clicks. The knob rides outward on a steel shaft that activates the mechanism. You can then press the cap back up into the body of the gun and thread it back in place. Cocking the action causes the small pressed steel trigger to protrude slightly from the body of the weapon. The gun is now armed.
There is a small knurled collar at the front that rotates to serve as yet another safety. With the collar in the fire position the trigger is free. In the safe position, the trigger is blocked. The safety collar on my gun seems to be seized in the fire position. No amount of grunting or cursing on my part could break it free, and I was unwilling to put the soft aluminum in a vise. As a result, the gun is hot as soon as it is cocked.
To load the weapon you simply unscrew the barrel, drop in a standard .22LR round, and screw it back in place. At this stage in the process you take great care to keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. Now direct the weapon toward something you dislike and squeeze. Recoil is surprisingly sharp. Accuracy is quite comical. It’s not that the barrel is short. It is that there really is no barrel. The tip of the bullet rests just below the level of the muzzle. Much beyond contact range is a crapshoot. Interestingly, the firing pin strikes the base of the case in two places on opposite sides of the rim. The firing experience is honestly fairly nerve-wracking. “Accidentally Shot Himself with a 50-Year-Old Deathtrap Pen Gun” would look pretty stupid engraved on a tombstone. The weapon would indeed be a bit more manageable with a sound suppressor in place.
As you might imagine, Uncle Sam gets a bit confused when confronted by something as weird as the MAC Stinger. It’s not as terrifying as a grenade launcher or antitank gun, but this ain’t your grandad’s sporting shotgun, either. As a result, the authors of the abominable National Firearms Act of 1934 dreamt up a whole new category of firearm to accommodate such strange stuff as this. They christened these odd guns AOWs or Any Other Weapons.
The AOW category covers such ordnance as cane guns, umbrella guns, certain types of stockless shotguns, and guns that don’t really look like guns. These are weapons that resemble wallets, calculators, or cell phones and which will fire in that configuration. The LifeCard which is a small single shot credit card-like pistol (TrailBlazerFirearms.com) and the two-shot smart phone-like pistol which was made by Ideal Conceal are not considered AOWs because they do not fire from their disguised configurations and must be folded open to operate. Conventional-looking handguns made today with ancillary vertical forward pistol grips are also classified as AOWs. This would include semiauto versions of the HK MP5K or any Glock or similar railed handgun with a forward handgrip installed. Transfer of an AOW requires the same paperwork, fingerprints, and wait times as do short-barreled rifles and shotguns, machineguns, or sound suppressors. Unlike those previous items, however, the transfer tax is only $5. The acquisition process is otherwise identical.
Long Mountain Outfitters (LMO) purportedly made a limited production run of around 100 Stingers in the early 1990’s, but these guns did not incorporate original MAC parts. The basic design is a trial attorney’s dream. It would be lyrically easy to shoot yourself with this thing. In the same year, LMO was making their Stingers, Bob Braverman patented a curious pen gun of his own. Unlike most concealable little guns like the MAC Stinger that transfer as an AOW, Bob’s design was carefully crafted to remain a conventional pistol in the eyes of the law. The end result was undeniably brilliant though fatally flawed.
Bob christened his creation the Braverman Stinger. To ready this weapon for firing the operator tugs on each end of the gun against spring tension. Once separated, the two halves of the weapon can be bent into the rough shape of a conventional handgun. The internal spring then holds the two halves in this configuration. This maneuver also deploys the small steel trigger. The Braverman gun was originally produced by the American Derringer Company based in Waco, Texas. They called this first weapon the Model 2. Production soon transferred to the RJ Braverman Corporation of Meredith, New Hampshire. At this point these weapons took on the name Stinger. The Braverman Stinger was offered in .22LR, .22WMR, .25ACP, .32ACP, and .380ACP. Production stopped in 1997.
The Stinger Manufacturing Company resumed production of these curious little guns in Michigan in 2002. At some point an intoxicated aspiring rap artist was playing with his Braverman Stinger at a party and accidentally shot himself in the head with it. The grieving family secured legal representation, and the Stinger’s fate was sealed. Two years later, this company went under as well, and the Braverman Stinger was officially no more.
The Military Armament Corporation is justifiably well known for their extensive line of compact pressed steel submachine guns. Mitch WerBell and company tried desperately to convince the Army to bin all their M1911A1 .45 Automatic pistols in favor of MAC submachine guns as Personal Defense Weapons. Had Uncle Sam followed this troubled path there would have resulted carnage aplenty when countless thousands of Army Privates were unleashed behind these profligate little bullet hoses on military firing ranges. The very thought makes my skin crawl.
The tiny Stinger suppository gun was but a footnote to the tragic drama that was the Military Armament Corporation. Curious, terrifying, tiny, and cool, the Stinger was a solution in search of a problem. It is, however, still a fascinating artifact of the gun culture in the 1970’s back when the hair was big, the music was loud, and disco reigned supreme.
About the Author
Will is a mechanical engineer who flew UH1H, OH58A/C, CH47D and AH1S aircraft as an Army Aviator. He is airborne and scuba qualified and summited Mount McKinley, Alaska, six times…at the controls of an Army helicopter. After eight years in the Regular Army, Major Dabbs attended medical school. He works in his urgent care clinic, shares a business building precision rifles and sound suppressors, and has written for the gun press since 1989.
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