Retro Time Machines

The TEC-9 And .22

The Tec pistols are similar but different. The Tec-22 is ambi while the Tec-9 (bottom) has a left-side
charging handle. Note the sling attachment point on the back of the 9.

On the way home not too long ago I stopped by Scottsboro Gun & Pawn, which always has an interesting collection of used firearms. I noticed a used Tec-9, a 9mm pistol/sub-gun in the counter and asked to see it. I’m immediately transported back to the mid 1980s when I used to own one of these “nostalgic” firearms. This Tec-9 was priced right, it went into a “redneck” presentation bag — a brown paper sack — and it made it home to be shoved into the safe.

Swedish company Interdynamic AB designed the full auto version of the 9mm Tec-9 sub-machine pistol for the military market in the early 1980s. There were no buyers, so they began producing the KG-9, a semi-auto version, to sell in America under the name Interdynamic USA. The inexpensive pistol — no stock — is made of stamped steel and plastic with a few milled/hardened pieces.

The original KG-9 fired from an open bolt like the full-auto version. ATF said it was too easily converted to full auto — it was — so a closed-bolt version was produced, the KG-99. The company name changed to Intratec, after a buyout by one partner and the gun became the Tec-9. Are you still with me?

California banned the Tec-9 after a mass shooting, so the Tec-DC — “Designated for California” was created. In response to the 1994 assault weapons ban it became the AB-10. Production ceased in 2001, and now “Tec-9’s” — the generic name for all versions — are rare and prices are rising.

His Editorship in his other life as a cop in the early 1980s. He’s doing a bit of destruction testing on an old caddy using a then-new Tec-9 test gun. He told me not only was it not accurate, it was awkward to shoot and there was no way to carry it easily. Note the boxer stance and Model 66 on his belt.

TV Fame

Most people “discovered” The Tec-9 through the hit television show Miami Vice, where it appeared regularly in the hands of drug dealers. It soon became a status symbol for real-life gang members. I’ve always wondered whether art was imitating life, or was art influencing the street? The Tec-9 appears in The A-Team television show. Kurt Russell used one with great success in Big Trouble In Little China and you’ll see it in The Walking Dead zombie series. Editor Roy even has a picture of him test firing one when he was a cop back in the day. I eventually traded my Tec-9 for a “sensible” S&W Model 10 with a 2" barrel.

Today there’s a cult following for the Tecs. There were and are plenty of aftermarket accessories for Tec-9’s, from muzzle-breaks, barrel extensions and fake suppressors to upgraded internal parts. There are several forums on the ’net devoted to the Tec-9, full of tips on modifying and improving them. Old guys like me are buying ’em again, and younger shooters are rediscovering them. And yes, it’s still a major status symbol on the street.

The Tec pistols are simple, mostly plastic and stamped metal with a couple of hardened steel parts.
Field stripping is also easy, and there are numerous aftermarket parts available.

The most common way to fire the Tec models is the two-handed “boxer” stance.
You can also grip it with both hands like a pistol, or fire it one handed. Shades of Miami Vice, eh?

More Grist

A few weeks after my first stop, I dropped by the gun shop again. Déjà vu, except this time, it’s a Tec-22. I never owned the .22 long rifle version of the Tec, the price was right and there was a factory mag and original hard plastic case included. Who could turn this down? I took it home too, jamming it into the safe.

The Tec-22, or Scorpion or Sport 22, was produced from the late 1980s until 2000. Same concept — an inexpensive semi auto. It has an ambi-safety and uses Ruger 10-22 magazines, which is a big plus. Mags for some of these type firearms are expensive, which limits buying something just for the fun of it.

After reading and researching these pistols — part of the joy of acquiring new guns — I had many questions. It seems a lot of Tecs have feeding and extraction/ejection problems. Will mine even fire? And if they function properly, how accurate are they? Are Tecs basically pistols too big to shoot like a pistol?

Eventually I pull the Tecs from the safe, disassemble, clean and inspect them. The Tec-22 is simple to strip. There’s a latch on the rear, like an AK47, releasing the hinged upper. Flip the upper up and pull out the guts. The Tec-9 is more complicated, requiring a hammer/punch and use of the sling attachment to unscrew the cap from the receiver.

On the range there’s no joy. Both the 9mm and .22 have problems. Fortunately, I know just who to send them to. Randy Morris, who operates MHT Defense — the same shop building the Shootrite Katana AR — has plenty of experience with Tec pistols.

It turns out, the Tec-9’s extractor is chipped, a common problem, and the magazine is worn out. Both easy fixes. There are plenty of aftermarket options for both. The .22 requires a little tuning, and now runs great with BX 25 Ruger mags.

The Tec pistols are iconic firearms of the ’80s, and still have a cult following on the range and the street.
The Tec-9, the generic name for all versions, uses magazines specifically made for this pistol.
The Tec-22 works off Ruger 10-22 mags.

Fun On The Range

Shootin’ the Tecs is fun. Not very edifying, but way cool, if you get my drift. Just plain fun. You grip the gun with the strong hand and hold the magazine with the support hand. Raise up both arms in a boxing-like stance, line the sights up and press the trigger. Or, grip with two hands like any other pistol. And there’s always the one hand “gansta’” option. One thing for sure, regardless of how you shoot ’em, it’s entertaining. My buddy helping me test fire had never seen Tecs before. Now, he’s hunting for a Tec .22.

Accuracy? The .22 is great. At about 25 yards you hold the sights steady, press the trigger and get good hits in 3". The 9mm is another matter. At this distance I have to aim about three feet low and 18" left to score center hits. Makes it hard to determine a group size. But again, it’s all about the fun, right?

The Tecs are amusing to shoot, but I’m not sure they have much defensive value. They’re an ’80s icon, humorously reminding us of a “simpler” time when fashion, music and firearms were all about lookin’ sharp, feelin’ right and having fun. Should you come across one of these gems put it in a red-neck presentation bag and take it home. You won’t be sorry.

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