At the 2019 NRA Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana this past April, Sol Invictus Arms announced the release of their TAC-9 pistol platform. The TAC-9 is a modernized 9mm subgun, built for portability with blowback-operated system that is completely contained in the receiver, negating the need for a buffer tube. Adding to the versatility, the TAC-9 uses commonly available Glock-pattern magazines.
We showed you some of the prototypes of the TAC-9 the gunmaker had on display at SHOT Show 2018, but the design took a bit longer than expected to finalize.
If the name sounds familiar and the gun looks a bit familiar too, that’s because it shares a few syllables and other similarities with another blowback-operated 9mm pistol from another era.
The Infamous TEC-9
Swedish arms maker Interdynamic AB built the famous, or should I say infamous, TEC-9 series of 9mm pistols from 1985 to 2001. The subguns were developed as the full-auto MP-9 in hopes of receiving a contract from the Swedish government, but when that didn’t materialize, the inexpensive machine pistol hopped the pond and landed on American shores as a semi-auto firearm.
As soon as it hit the shelves in U.S. gun shops, controversy followed the TEC-9. Despite being imported as semiauto, the original variant of the TEC-9 line, the KG-9, fired from an open bolt—like many submachine guns do, which helps them shed heat during full-auto fire.
This drew the ire of the ATF, as they could be illegally converted to full auto by anyone with even the most rudimentary of gunsmithing skills. After less than a year of production, the ATF classified the KG-9 as a Title II machine gun in 1982 because of how easy the conversion proved to be.
Interdynamic AB hit the drawing board, and released the KG-99 shortly after. The new iteration of the TEC-9 fired from a closed bolt, satisfying the federal letter agencies. An unintended result of the change was increased accuracy, as the relatively heavy bolt no longer acted against the relatively light pistol when firing. This led to better groups, but no one would be splitting playing cards in half with the pistol.
The gun was inexpensively built, bordering on what some might call cheap, and it showed. Reliability was questionable at best. The earliest versions could only fire mild 115-grain loads, as hotter rounds would blow the blow the plastic lower receiver apart, making the gun useless. It would still prove popular, as the sub-$200 price point made them just about disposable.
One of the founders of Interdynamic’s U.S. arm, George Kellgren (of Kel-Tec fame) sold his portion of the venture to partner Carlos Garcia in 1984. After gaining full control of the company, Garcia promptly changed the company’s name to Intratec. The KG-99 was also rebranded, now wearing the TEC-9 moniker of infamy.
The pistol would remain much the same, with a few exceptions. To allow the pistol to shoot warmer rounds, the internal recoil buffer was replaced with a threaded metal end cap that held up to higher pressures. The sights were also slightly modified, and moved a bit, though they were still rudimentary.
The inexpensive nature and confusing appearance—bearing an uncanny likeness to the full-auto counterparts—made the pistol popular with the criminal element. Drug runners in Florida frequently used it during the peak of the cocaine epidemic. The gun was famously used in the 1989 Cleveland Elementary School shooting, where five children were killed before the gunman took his own life. All of this would lead the TEC-9 to be banned by name in California, which led to yet another iteration of the gun, the TEC-DC9 (Designed for California), with minor modifications to circumvent the state’s rules, mostly consisting of a simple name change.
Despite the changes, the TEC-DC9 still grabbed the attention of anti-gunners. The features on the TEC-9 served as a blueprint for the authors of many gun control bills. The threaded barrel was denounced for its ability to accept suppressor, and the 32 round capacity of the magazine was too high for lawmakers. Even parts that did nothing to increase rate of fire or improve accuracy, such as the barrel shroud, where included on the prohibited list on most pieces of gun control legislation.
It would later be banned the Clinton Administration as part of the now expired Federal Assault Weapons Ban, as one of the 19 firearms specifically named. During this period, the gun was reconfigured without the threaded barrel or shroud to meet the new regulations, and sold as the AB-10 (After Ban). The gun now came with a 10-round magazine in lieu of the previous 32-round sticks.
Though it was outlawed at the time, the TEC-DC9 would be used in the Columbine shootings. This further added to the gun’s poor reputation. Production of all the TEC-9 variants would cease in 2001, when the company went out of business.
While the TEC-9 is known for its use in misdeeds, the engineers at Sol Invictus Arms designed the TAC-9 for the good guys. Noting that motorcycle patrol officers are often the first responders to active shootings, Sol Invictus wanted to provide a compact weapon system that could be stored in a saddlebag and deployed quickly.
The blowback-operated system ensures reliability, and the entire action is housed in the upper receiver and there is no buffer tube needed, making the TAC-9 a compact and modular platform. A full-length Mil-Standard 1913 rail provides plenty of real estate to mount iron sights or optics.
Though the TAC-9 uses the same ammunition and magazines as the Glock sidearms that many departments already employ, the heart of the TAC-9 is an all steel bolt that works with a standard AR-15 fire control group. This offers superior reliability, especially when compared with the TEC-9, and maintains the familiar controls that many shooters are already accustomed to.
The 9mm TAC-9 is also equipped with a modular quick disconnect barrel system, allowing you to choose from a 5.5- or 8.5-inch 4150 chrome-moly barrel. This enables the user to switch from a pistol configuration to more of a carbine set-up quickly and without the need for special tools. The barrel, bolt, and steel receiver all feature a nitride finish for excellent corrosion and wear.
In addition, the TAC-9 also includes an adaptable rear trunnion that allows the customer to use a folding stock or standard AR-15 buffer tube. This makes pistol and carbine brace/stock configurations endless.
The MSRP for the TAC-9 in the pistol configuration is $705; the pistol with SBM4 brace is $824.