Semi auto thompson

Semi auto thompson DEFAULT

New Auto Ordnance Thompson 1927A1 Delux, Semi Auto, .45ACP, (out of stock, back order)

Home » Rifles » New Auto Ordnance Thompson 1927A1 Delux, Semi Auto, .45ACP, (out of stock, back order)


BrandAuto Ordnance
Caliber/Gauge.45 ACP
TypeSemi-Auto Rifles


Item Number:AO T150DT30
Action: Semi Auto
Caliber: .45 ACP
Capacity: 20/50
Finish: Black
Stock/Grip: Fixed Walnut
Sights: Blade/Adjustable
Barrel Length: 16.5”
Overall Length: 41”
Weight: 13 lbAll the classic details of the time honored original are reproduced in today’s semi-auto Thompson. The frame and receiver are machined from solid steel or aluminum. The wood is genuine American walnut. This .45 caliber carbine features a 16 1/2″ finned barrel, compensator and is available with a blued steel receiver or a lighter weight aluminum receiver. This configuration is our most popular model.
Action: Semi Auto – Caliber: .45 ACP – Capacity: 20/50 – Finish: Black – Stock/Grip: Fixed Walnut – Sights: Blade/Adjustable – Barrel Length: 16.5″ – Overall Length: 41″ – Weight: 13 lb – All the classic details of the time honored original are reproduced in today’s semi-auto Thompson. The frame and receiver are machined from solid steel or aluminum. The wood is genuine American walnut. This .45 caliber carbine features a 16 1/2″ finned barrel, compensator and is available with a blued steel receiver or a lighter weight aluminum receiver. This configuration is our most popular model.

Manufacturer Info


Auto-Ordnance Thompson 1927A-1 Deluxe Semi Auto Carbine .45 ACP 16.5" Finned Barrel 50 Round Drum/20 Round Stick Magazine Blade Front Sight Walnut Stock/Grip Blued Finish T150D

Buying a Firearm Online is Easy!
  • Add your selected firearm(s) to your shopping cart and check out.
  • Select a local Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) Dealer that will accept the firearm and complete the transfer. Find a FFL Dealer HERE.
  • If you choose an FFL Dealer that is not on our preferred list, you or your FFL Dealer will be required to fax or email us a signed copy of the Federal Firearms License referencing your Cheaper Than Dirt! order number. Download the Firearm Sales Form
  • Pick up your firearm from the FFL Dealer, who will need to do a criminal and mental health background check. Transfer fees may apply.
Buying Firearms on the Internet

Federal law requires firearms to be shipped to FFL Dealers. For an individual to receive a firearm from Cheaper Than Dirt! it must be shipped to an FFL Dealer in your state.

Locating a Federal-Firearm License Dealer (FFL) in Your Area

There are thousands of FFL Dealers in the United States. You may choose an FFL Dealer from our preferred listing or you may find a dealer in your area. To find a list of FFL Dealers in your area area CLICK HERE. If you choose a dealer that is not on our preferred list, either you or the FFL Dealer will be required to submit a copy of the Federal Firearms License referencing your Cheaper Than Dirt! order number. The FFL Dealer will usually charge a fee to conduct the transfer. There are duties that the FFL Dealer is required to do during the process which include a criminal and mental health background check through NICS. Remember, the FFL Dealer is doing you a favor and the process takes time to complete. Fees can vary so check with the FFL Dealer ahead of time to request a quote on the fees associated with your firearm transfer. The FFL Dealer is in business to make a profit and your internet purchase may be viewed as competition to their retail business. If you feel the fees are too high, you can search for another FFL Dealer.

Completing the Transaction

Once you place the firearm in your cart and checkout you will receive a confirmation email that has your order number and further instructions. We will verify the FFL license and also make the FFL Dealer aware that an order from Cheaper Than Dirt! will soon be arriving for you. Most orders are processed within 2-3 business days from the time we receive and verify the FFL Dealers information. Once shipped, your firearm will arrive at the FFL Dealer within 3-7 days business days. The FFL Dealer will begin processing the shipment. It may be an additional day or so before the FFL Dealer is ready to conduct the transfer of the firearm to you. Call the FFL Dealer and set an appointment to confirm that the firearm is ready to be transferred.

Please note! All Firearm Sales are Final

It is important to thoroughly inspect your firearm before completion of the transfer. Once the firearm is transferred into your name, Cheaper Than Dirt! will not accept a return or exchange under any circumstance. If a defect is discovered after completing the transfer, you must contact the manufacturer directly for repair or replacement.

  1. Girl country names
  2. Japanese breakfast wiki
  3. 603 estate sales facebook
  4. Home assistant lovelace custom cards

Your message has been sent.

ATTENTION: You are currently using an unsupported browser. We recommend switching to Google Chrome or Edge for the best on-site experience.

An error has occurred while processing this page. The site administrator has been notified. We apologize for the inconvenience.


View catalog

December 6, 2020

Sun City, AZ, US

Description: Auto-Ordnance Thompson 1927A-1 Semi Automatic Rifle. Comes in original box, with original paperwork, and 2 30 rounds magazines. Caliber/ Gauge: 45 ACP; Serial Number: 29174 Working Order: Firearm has not been tested; Background Check: Required; Keywords: Firearms, Guns; Ref: BD1207

  • Notes: FFL: All out-of-state purchasers of firearms post-1898 must be shipped to a licensed FFL dealer in your state. California does not allow the shipment of handguns or large-capacity magazines. Local bidders are required to fill out FFL paperwork and will be subject to a background check;
  • Dimensions: 16.5" Barrel
  • Artist Name: Thompson
  • Condition: This rifle is in great condition, please see photos for details.

Accepted Forms of Payment

American Express, COD (cash on delivery), Discover, MasterCard, Visa, Wire Transfer


Arizona residents MUST pick-up in person at Bradford's Auction Gallery with a scheduled date of pick up. Details and information will be included on the winning bidders invoice. Any local Arizona Buyer of Post 1898 firearms MUST complete all necessary registration forms at Bradford's Auction Gallery. Local Buyers MUST have a Valid ARIZONA ID with Current Physical Address. If your Arizona ID does not reflect your current address you MUST provide us with a secondary form of ID that contains your correct address. Arizona Gun Dealers must have a signed copy of their Federal Firearms License in order to accept delivery of modern weapons. ANY DENIED BACKGROUND CHECK WILL RESULT IN A REFUND MINUS A 25% RESTOCKING FEE.

Shipping for Out-of-State Buyers must be done through our 3rd Party Shipper Westside Mail Center. All firearms Post 1898 must be shipped to a valid holder of a Federal Firearms License on ALL Modern Weapons. The full cost of shipping and packing will be at the winning bidders / buyers expense. It is your responsibility to provide Westside Mail Center with the FFL dealer of your choice and they are responsible for sending the 3rd party shipper a copy of their FFL information. FIREARMS UNABLE TO BE SHIPPED TO YOUR STATE WILL RESULT IN A REFUND MINUS A 25% RESTOCKING FEE AND SHIPPING COSTS IF APPLICABLE.

We've Partnered with Westside Mail Center for all of your auction shipping needs. They offer FedEx, DHL, UPS and USPS services for most parcels. For those larger items, Packing, Shipping, Crating & Freight services are available. For questions related to shipping please feel free to contact them directly for shipping questions or quotes. Once we have received your payment your purchase will be turned over to Westside Mail Center our exclusive shipping provider. Westside Mail Center will proactively reach out to you to arrange packing, shipping and insurance.

Westside Mail Center
13794 W Waddell Rd Suite 203, Surprise, AZ 85379
Mon-Fri 9am - 6pm, Saturdays 9am - 2pm , Closed Sundays.
Phone: 623-825-6016
Email: [email protected]

All fees and costs associated with shipping are separate from the hammer price (winning bid), buyer's premium and sales taxes. The winning bidder / buyer is solely responsible for the shipping.

You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 21.0% and any applicable taxes and shipping.

View full terms and conditions

Bid Increments

$0 $99 $5
$100 $199 $10
$200 $999 $20
$1,000 $4,999 $50
$5,000 $9,999 $100
$10,000 + $200

Soft Air Thompson M1A1 Electric Powered Airsoft Gun with Adjustable Hop-Up, 320-365 FPS

About Us

Concern Kalashnikov is the largest Russian manufacturing company that produces assault and sniper rifles, guided artillery projectiles and a wide range of precision weapons. The major part of the civilian products includes hunting shotguns, sporting rifles, various machines and tools.The Concern is the flagship of the Russian small arms manufacturing sector, producing about 95% of all small arms in Russia and supplying to more than 27 countries around the world.The Concern contains three brands: “Kalashnikov” (combat and civilian weapons)”, “Baikal” (hunting and civilian guns), and “Izhmash” (sporting rifles), also the Concern is developing new business lines that include remote weapon stations, unmanned aerial vehicles and multi-functional special-purpose boats.Concern Kalashnikov is an important branch of the Russian military-industrial complex (MIC) and is the leading organization of the holding company developing business in the area of advanced models of military complexes.


Thompson semi auto

You Can Now Own A Top-Shelf Tommy Gun Chambered In 9mm

The company behind the venerable Thompson submachine gun, a favorite of both gangsters and GIs, is releasing a deluxe (semi-auto) version of the Tommy gun chambered in 9mm for public consumption.

Auto-Ordnance, the American weapons maker founded by former U.S. Army Ordnance Department chief Col. John T. Thompson just over a century ago, is offering up a Thompson 1927A-1 Lightweight “Deluxe Semi-Auto” chambered in 9mm, rather than the traditional .45 ACP for which the Tommy gun is better-known.

You Can Now Own A Top-Shelf Tommy Gun Chambered In 9mm

The Thompson T5-9L20 submachine gun from Auto Ordnance

According to, the deluxe interpretation of the Tommy gun is based on the Kahr Firearms Group's reimagining of the classic design in the T5-9L20 Thompson, with a frame and receiver engineered from solid aluminum and buttstock and grips cut from solid American walnut. At 16.5 inches in the barrel and 41 inches overall, it's a slick-looking piece of American engineering.

The 9mm design is “an original design by Thompson Auto-Ordnance in-house engineers, using the original Thompson platform,” the company announced. And for the low, low (lol) MRSP of $1,364, you can rock this deluxe Tommy gun with a 20-round stick magazine.

Jared Keller
The Thompson M1A1 Submachine Gun (Full Auto)

How to Buy A Tommy Gun

How to buy a Tommy Gun - The legendary Thompson. Get your gun here.

We pretty much all drooled over a Thompson Submachine gun at or another, in real life or on the silver screen.

This is virtually a symbol of the prohibition era gangsters that used them to shoot up downtown New York, Chicago, Detroit and yeah, just about everywhere else. For close quarters combat, or even a bit of spray and pray, the fully automatic weapons were a gamechanger when it came to stopping power. They were a common sight.

It wasn’t just a gun for the gangsters of the 1920s. It was also a gun that has gone into action with the troops in a world war, the British army, as well as the US armed forces. Then there are the special forces, Law Enforcement Officers, the United States Marine Corps and elite fighting forces around the world.

For want of a better word, two of these guns starred in the St Valentine’s Day Massacre. Al Capone allegedly ordered the St Valentine’s Day massacre, when two of his men shot up 7 members of a rival gang in an underground garage.

How Many Are There?

1.7 million Thompson Submachine Guns were produced for the Second World War alone by the AutoOrdnance Corporation and Savage Arms for the United States and Allied forces. Of course, the rounds per minute on those guns were slightly higher.

It’s a gun that gave way to the likes of the HK MP5 and a variety of other 9mm SMGs that you can buy in semi-auto form,

Before then, it achieved legend status long before it bowed out of military service and into the hands of organized crime. You will still find old clones in active service in the Soviet Union, Africa and other regions. They believe in 45 ACP stopping power.

The Thompson M1 is a legend, an icon in its own right, That means they are thin on the ground and they tend to be before you get into the licensing issues and the Third Class license.

How Can You Buy a Thompson?

So here we have got a few ways for you to buy a Tommy Gun. We’ll give you the expensive guns, and also show you a way to own a semi-automatic for a fraction of the price. 

It won’t be the same, but it will be the difference between $1000 and $30,000. So, you know, there’s that…

Is it Legal to Own a Thompson Machine Gun?

A Thompson Sub Machine Gun is legal in some States, although it has to be pre-1986 to fit with the regulations.

So, yes, it is legal to own a Thompson Tommy Gun.

Just a few Thompson machine guns are included the 175,0000+ machine guns registered in the United States.

They Aren’t That Easy to Find

So they’re not easy to find and, due to this gun’s Hall of Fame status, you won’t get this world war winner cheap. All famous submachine guns come with a premium price tag, and well this is one of the Original Gangsters and armed forces favorites….

This gun is an American submachine gun legend. And yes it’s hard to find. In part, that’s thanks to the National Firearms Act.

Most of the fully automatic Thompson machine gun for sale ads tend to be pre-1986 National Firearms Act recreations, rather than active service weapons, when you read the ad closely. They’re still seriously expensive. 

So consider a box fresh, semi auto Tommy Gun replica, before you go too nuts with your money. It’s almost as good, better in some ways…

Basically these are all variations from Auto Ordnance, produced under license in one or two instances by the look of it. But basically, this is a fairly faithful semi-automatic recreation of the legendary SMG.

Where to Buy a Thompson Submachine Gun Replica

Auto Ordnance Thompson 1927A-1 Lightweight Deluxe Carbine rifle for sale. Perhaps the best modern Tommy gun rifle for sale.

1. Auto Ordnance 1927A-1 Lightweight Deluxe Carbine Rifle

  • Price: $1,900.00
  • Barrel Length: 16.5 inch
  • Total Length: 41 inch
  • Weight: 9.5lb


Most of the best Tommy Guns are actually semi auto rifles these days. So it is with this one, so replicas. This is the classic Tommy Gun replica and it’s a common sight.

It’s a classic example of the Chicago Typewriter, and it operates from the closed bolt position. That’s as close as you’re going to get to the full automatic weapons without a Class 3 firearms license.

Massive Drum Mags Give 100 Rounds

This gun takes the 100-round drum mags, too, as well as the classic 50–round drum mags and 20-round stick mags. The box magazines and Thompson combination do make for an exceptionally lightweight gun, too.

I mean this is still almost 13lb, so it’s no plastic AR-15, but then you do get a real wood vertical foregrip, a proper wood buttstock and a barrel with the period detailing.

A lightweight aluminum receiver helps trim the fat, though, and there really isn’t much excess here. There’s a purity of purpose that we love, even though we know a 45 ACP rifle is a niche thing for fun at the range and maybe pest control.

Thompson Sub Machine Gun, the short barrel pistol, without the stock

2. 1927A-1 Lightweight Pistol

  • Price: $1,900.00
  • Caliber: 45 ACP
  • Barrel Length: 10.5 inch
  • Weight: 12.9lb




Think the Thompson couldn’t get more gangster? Well look again, this is the pistol version that drops the stock completely. For close quarters combat, it’s an intriguing proposition.

Seriously, it might be a tribute to days gone by, but this is also a really serious home defense gun. Especially if all the custom AR-15s, AR pistols and 300 Blackout pistols are sold out…

This one is not cheap, but it’s a seriously beefy gun.

There are plenty of other options, but this does have a certain perverse appeal and we could imagine the home invader’s face when they’re staring down the barrel of this monster.

In the absence of actual automatic weapons, this will do you proud at close quarters…

The Donald Trump Edition Kahr Arms Thompson 1927a-1 Rifle - A special edition rifle you have to see with your own eyes. Buy yours here.

2. Kahr Arms 1927a-1 Thompson Rifle Trump Edition

  • Price: $1,789.99
  • Barrel Length: 16.5 inch
  • Total Length: 39 inch
  • Weight: 12.5lb


This is literally a pretty faithful Thompson 1927-A1 replica with Donald Trump’s face on it. I mean why wouldn’t you want that?

Well possibly a few reasons, but I can’t think of any right now. This gun is awesome. This is Leftist baiting small arms fetish . That’s good enough reason for us to look at the Kahr Firearms Group and smile.

Boys, you did us proud… Forget World War II, this could possibly start World War III.

And for other it seems, as this gun is permanently sold out. Some places are taking Kahr firearms backorders. But maybe just get in touch with Kahr Arms direct and see what they can do for you in the World War II small arms department.

For pure comedic factor alone, we love this simple blowback semi-auto rifle. Kahr Firearms Group never looked so good…

This Kahr Arms Thompson gets a stick magazine, which some of you are just going to prefer. The Donald’s stick holds a solid 20 rounds in that box magazine, too, so Stormy Daniels was clearly wrong.

Auto Ordnance Tommy Gun for sale. Buy a semi auto Thompson submachine gun right now.

3. SilencerCo Tommy Summit Suppressor and Violin Case kit

  • Price: $3,299
  • Caliber: 45 ACP
  • Barrel length: 11.5 inch
  • Total Length: 32 inch
  • Capacity: 50+1 rounds
  • Weight: 12.5lb


Auto Ordnance is the company that started the Thompson Submachine Gun thing all the way back in 1916.

Then, General John T Thompson started the company as he searched for the perfect military firearm that had no recoil or gas-operated mechanism  in the wake of World War I. The Annihilator 1 wa, with a friction delayed blowback action, in 1918.

In 1919 the Thompson Submachine Gun was officially ready for launch and General Thompson was soon to have a massive impact on the Second World War, even though he didn’t quite make it for the first World War. 

Modern Company is a Cover Band

The new Auto Ordnance isn’t really the same sort of company. It does produce a series of weapons, including 1911s, but the modern Auto Ordnance is a nostalgic look back on the weapons that changed the world. 

This might just be the most famous gun of all time and the simple blowback Thompson comes with the classic 50-round drum magazine.

One of the finer semi-auto 1927-a1 long guns is branded as a SilencerCo sale, but Auto Ordnance produced everything bar the can here.

Unsurprisingly we guess, the Auto Ordnance Summit is the peak of their craft.

If you’re looking for a perfect Tommy Gun replica, you don’t want the hassle of a full machine gun and the FBI background check that goes with it, then this could be the one for you.

Note, could be… There are a couple of other complications, like the SBR set-up and the silencer. That’s NFA territory…

It comes with the same 45 ACP caliber and it’s a faithful reconstruction of the 1928 model Thompson. You also get the suppressor, which is cool and yet really does turn this into a painfully expensive package.

It’s heavy, just like the original, it takes common or garden ammunition and it’s pretty much the best way to shoot a Thompson. The vertical foregrip is detachable and you can pretty much set up your weapon as you want.

Auto Ordnance Tommy Gun

Why Is The Tommy Gun So Expensive?

This is the special edition, which comes in the violin case. The suppressor is also part of the package and they ain’t cheap, especially as this is one of the smallest and lowest profile silencers in the class.

You also get a violin case, which I believe are available on eBay for not that much…

And it does look cool, but I have to be honest I’d go for one of the ‘lesser’ 1927-a1 long guns in their Thompson replica range. The silencer just means an NFA tax stamp, it’s not really an integral part of the experience and this route was meant to be about avoiding . 

Group Industries Thompson Sub Machine Gun Replica with full auto fire. It was $30,000, and now you can't get them at all.

4. Group Industries Thompson Machine Gun

  • Price: $30,000
  • Caliber: 45 ACP
  • Barrel: 10 inch
  • Total Length: 34 inch
  • Weight: 11lb
  • Capacity: 50+1 rounds (Drum mag not supplied)


The Group Industries homage is a great gun and it will give you the complete, fully automatic Thompson Tommy Gun experience.

It’s not an absolutely faithful recreation, but it is a gun that has taken some of the best features of the other Thompsons and installed them in a simple blowback gun that is largely based on the WWII machine guns for sale.

Now make sure you can get the paperwork for this gun and talk to your local Law Enforcement Officers if you’re new to this and you live in a State with heavy gun control laws. 

Get Your Papers in Order

You don’t want to spend $30,000 on an ornament, no matter how pretty it is. 

Most submachine gun owners have done the dance before, though, and have several in their collection.

They know that the legal paperwork is worth the effort and you get a truly unique firearm that will light up your face and the sky every time you pull the trigger. Rate of fire is an actual thing in their lives.

If you can, you should own a submachine gun at least once in your life. Especially if you have an outside range and a steady source of cheap 45 ACP ammunition.

This gun fires from the open bolt position and like the M1928A1 Thompson Machine Gun, it has a two-position safety. You can opt for semi-automatic mode, or fully automatic, and you will get to live out your gangster or special forces fantasy. 

Is that worth this much money? Well that’s for you to decide. 

Nicknames for the Thompson Submachine Gun

Criminal types and cops all like a snazzy name for their latest toys. The Tommy Gun is one of many nicknames. Others include the Chicago Typewriter, and the Trench Broom, because, well, it could sweep trenches…

It was also called the Street Sweeper, Annihilator, Chicago Organ Grinder, Chicago Piano, the Chopper and Chicago Style. As the sharp eyed reader will have noticed, Chicago crops up once or twice.

How to spend even more…

Famous Tommy guns with a rich history of violence and prohibition era criminality in the hands of a famous mobster inevitably turn up from time to time.

Check the likes of Sotheby’s if you’re into high-end vintage firearms. The auction houses can part you with some serious money for automatic weapons or other firearms all days long.

What About a Modern AR Pistol

If you want a pistol caliber carbine, and lots of people do, you have plenty of options these days. You can get a 9mm, 10mm or 45 ACP AR pistol, and you can also opt for a 300 Blackout pistol.

Blackout pistols are a particularly intriguing option. Fit a suppressor and load up with subsonic ammo and the ballistics largely mimic the 45 ACP.

Load supersonic ammo and you’ve got AR-15 range and a 250-yard kill shot in an AR pistol. That’s better than a Tommy Gun. We’re not going to lie.

Have a look at these posts if you fancy something a little more modern.


Similar news:

Thompson submachine gun

American submachine gun

"Tommy Gun" redirects here. For the Clash song, see Tommy Gun (song). For the book, see Tommy Gun (book). For similar uses, see Tommy Gunn.

"Chicago Typewriter" redirects here. For the Korean TV series, see Chicago Typewriter (TV series).

Submachine gun

Thompson Submachine Gun, Caliber .45
Thompson nobg-1.png

Model 1921 Thompson with vertical foregrip and 100 round Type "C" drum magazine

TypeSubmachine gun
Place of originUnited States
In service
  • 1938–1971 (officially, U.S. military)
  • 1921–present (other countries)
Used bySee Users
DesignerJohn T. Thompson
No. builtApproximately 1.75 million of all variants,[12] including:
  • 562,511 M1928A1
  • 285,480 M1
  • 539,143 M1A1
VariantsSee Variants section
  • 10.8 lb (4.9 kg) empty (Thompson M1928A1)[13]
  • 10 lb (4.5 kg) empty (Thompson M1A1)
Barrel length
  • 10.52 in (267 mm)[13]
  • 12 in (300 mm) (with Cutts compensator)

ActionBlowback, Blish Lock
Rate of fire approx. 1500 rpm (Annihilator)
Muzzle velocity935 ft/s (285 m/s)
Effective firing range164 yds (150 m[16])
Feed system (M1 and M1A1 models do not accept drum magazines)

The Thompson submachine gun (also known as the "Tommy Gun", "Chicago Typewriter", "Chicago Piano", or "Trench Broom") is a blowback-operated, air-cooled, magazine-fedselective-firesubmachine gun, invented by the United States ArmyBrigadier generalJohn T. Thompson in 1918. It was originally designed to break the stalemate of trench warfare of World War I, but was not finished until after the war ended.

The Thompson saw early use by the United States Marine Corps during the Banana Wars,[17] the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Irish Republican Army, the Republic of China, and the FBI (following the Kansas City Massacre).

The firearm became notorious during the Prohibition era, used as a signature weapon of various organized crime syndicates in the United States in the 1920s. It was a common sight in the media at the time, and was used by both law enforcement officers and criminals.

The firearm was widely adopted by the U.S. military during World War II, and was used extensively by the Allied troops during the war. It was designated as the M1928A1, M1 and M1A1 during this time. More than 1.5 million military Thompson submachine guns were produced during World War II.[19]

It is the first weapon to be labeled and marketed as a "submachine gun".[20]

The original fully automatic Thompsons are no longer produced. Numerous semi-automatic civilian versions are still being produced by the manufacturer Auto-Ordnance. These models retain a similar appearance to the original, but have various modifications in order to comply with US firearm laws.

History and service[edit]

Brigadier general John T. Thompson holding an M1921


Brigadier generalJohn T. Thompson was the original developer of the Thompson submachine gun, who spent most of his career in the ordnance department of the U.S. Army. He envisioned it as being a fully automatic rifle in order to replace the bolt-action service rifles then in use (such as the American M1903 Springfield).

Brigadier general Thompson came across a patent issued to the American inventor John Bell Blish in 1915, while searching for a way to allow his weapon to operate safely without the complexity of a recoil or gas-operated reloading mechanism. Blish's design (then known as the Blish Lock) was based on the supposed adhesion of inclined metal surfaces under pressure.[21] Thompson gained financial backing from the businessman Thomas F. Ryan and proceeded to found a company, which he named the Auto-Ordnance Company, in 1916, for the purpose of developing his new "auto rifle".

The Thompson was primarily developed in Cleveland, Ohio.[22] Its principal designers were Theodore H. Eickhoff, Oscar V. Payne, and George E. Goll. By late 1917, the limits of the Blish Lock were discovered (which is essentially an extreme manifestation of static friction), and, rather than the firearm working as a locked breech, the weapon was instead designed to function as a friction-delayed blowback action. It was found that the only cartridge currently in service suitable for use with the new lock was the .45 ACP. General Thompson envisioned a "one-man, hand-held machine gun" chambered in .45 ACP to be used as a "trench broom" for the ongoing trench warfare of World War I. Oscar V. Payne designed the new firearm along with its stick and drum magazines. The project was titled "Annihilator I". Most of the design issues had been resolved by 1918; however, the war ended two days before prototypes could be shipped to Europe.[23]

At an Auto-Ordnance board meeting in 1919, in order to discuss the marketing of the "Annihilator", with the war now over the weapon was officially renamed the "Thompson Submachine Gun". While other weapons had been developed shortly prior with similar objectives in mind, the Thompson was the first weapon to be labeled and marketed as a "submachine gun".[20] Thompson intended for the weapon to provide a high volume of automatic, man-portable fire for use in trench warfare—a role for which the Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) had been determined ill-suited. The concept had already been developed by German troops using their own BergmannMP 18 (the world's first submachine gun) in concert with their Sturmtruppen tactics.[25]

Early use[edit]

The first Thompson entered production as the M1921. It was available to civilians, but, because of the weapon's high price, initially saw poor sales. The Thompson (with one Type XX 20 round "stick" magazine) had been priced at $200 in 1921 (roughly equivalent to $2,902 in 2020).

M1921 Thompsons were sold in small quantities to the United States Postal Inspection Service[26] so they could protect the mail from a spate of robberies.[27] It was also sold to the United States Marine Corps who used their Thompsons in the Banana Wars.[28] Thompsons had also been widely used throughout China, where several Chinese warlords and their military factions running various parts of the fragmented country made purchases of the weapon, and subsequently produced many local copies.

The Thompson saw popularity as a point-defense weapon for countering ambushes by Nicaraguan guerrillas (in the Banana Wars) and led to the creation of four-man fire teams which had as much firepower as a nine-man rifle squad. Federal sales were then followed by sales to police departments in the US, as well as to various international armies and constabulary forces; chiefly in Central and South America.[27]

The major initial complaints concerning the Thompson were its cumbersome weight, its inaccuracy at ranges over 50 yards (46 m), and its lack of penetrating power using the .45 ACP cartridge.[29]

Some of the first batches of Thompsons were bought (in America) by agents of the Irish Republic (notably the Irish politician Harry Boland). The first test the Thompson in Ireland was performed by Irish Republican Army unit commander Tom Barry, of the West Cork Brigade, in the presence of IRA leader Michael Collins.[30] They purchased a total of 653 units, though US customs authorities in New York seized 495 of the units in June 1921. The remainder found their way to the Irish Republican Army by way of Liverpool, England, and were used in the last month of the Irish War of Independence (1919–21). After a truce with the British in July 1921, the Irish Republican Army imported more units, which were used in the subsequent Irish Civil War (1922–23). The Thompson was not found to be very effective in Ireland; having caused serious casualties in 32 percent of the action in which it was used.[2]

The Thompson achieved early notoriety in the hands of Prohibition and Great Depression-era gangsters and the lawmen who pursued them. It was also depicted in Hollywood films during this era, most notably regarding the St Valentine's Day Massacre. The Thompson guns used in the massacre are still being held by the Berrien County Sheriff's Department.[32] The Thompson has been referred to by one researcher as the "gun that made the twenties roar".[33][34]

In 1926, the Cutts Compensator (a muzzle brake) was offered as an attachment option for the Thompson. Models with the compensator were cataloged as No. 21AC, at the original price of $200. The plain Thompson (without the attachment) was designated No. 21A at a reduced price of $175.[23]

In 1928, Federal Laboratories took over distribution of the weapon from Thompson's Auto Ordnance Corporation.[35] The new cost was listed as $225 per weapon (equivalent to $3,391 in 2020), with $5 per 50-round drum and $3 per 20-round magazine.[35]

A British soldier equipped with a Thompson M1928 submachine gun (drum magazine), November 25, 1940

Nationalist China acquired a substantial quantity of Thompson guns for use against Japanese land forces. They began producing copies of the Thompson in small quantities for use by their armies and militias. In the 1930s, Taiyuan Arsenal (a Chinese weapons manufacturer) produced copies of the Thompson for Yan Xishan, then warlord of Shanxi province.

The FBI had also acquired Thompsons in 1933 following the Kansas City Massacre.[35]

World War II[edit]

The Prime Minister Winston Churchillinspects a 'Tommy gun' while visiting coastal defence positions near Hartlepool on 31 July 1940

In 1938, the Thompson submachine gun was adopted by the U.S. military and was used during World War II.

There were two military types of Thompson submachine gun:

  • The M1928A1, which had provisions for both box and drum magazines, utilized the Cutts muzzle brake, had cooling fins on the barrel, and employed a delayed blowback action with the charging handle on the top of the receiver.
  • The M1 and M1A1, which had provisions for box magazines only, did not have cooling fins on the barrel, had a simplified rear sight, and employed a straight blowback action with the charging handle on the side of the receiver.

Over 1.5 million military Thompson submachine guns were produced during World War II.[19]

Magazine developments[edit]

Military users of the M1928A1 units had complaints of the "L" 50-round drum magazine. The British Army criticized "the [magazine's] excessive weight, [and] the rattling sound they made" and shipped thousands back to the U.S. in exchange for 20-round box magazines. The Thompson had to be cocked, bolt retracted, ready to fire, in order to attach the drum magazine. The drum magazine also attached and detached by sliding sideways, which made magazine changes slow and cumbersome. They also created difficulty when clearing a cartridge malfunction ("jam"). Reloading an empty drum with cartridges was a difficult and involved process.

In contrast, the "XX" twenty-round box magazine was light and compact. It tended not to rattle, and could be inserted with the bolt safely closed. The box magazine was quickly attached and detached, and was removed downward, making clearing jams easier. The box magazine tripped the bolt open lock when empty, facilitating magazine changes. An empty box was easy to reload with loose rounds. However, users complained that it was limited in capacity. In the field, some soldiers would tape two "XX" magazines together, in what would be known as "jungle style", to quicken magazine changes.[36]

Two alternatives to the "L" 50-round drum and "XX" 20-round box magazines were tested December 6, 1941, at Fort Knox, Kentucky. An extended thirty-round box magazine and a forty-round magazine, which were made by welding two 20-round magazines face to face, jungle style, were tested. The testers considered both superior to either the "XX" box or "L" drum. The 30-round box was approved as the new standard in December 1941 to replace the "XX" and "L" magazines. (The concept of welding two box magazines face-to-face was also carried over to the M42 submachine gun.)

M1 development[edit]

The staff of Savage Arms looked for ways to simplify the M1928A1, and produced a prototype in February 1942, which was tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground in March 1942. Army Ordnance approved adoption (as the M1) in April 1942. M1s were made by Savage Arms and by Auto-Ordnance. M1s were issued with the 30-round box magazine and would accept the earlier 20-round box, but would not accept the drum magazine.

Combat use[edit]

German Fallschirmjägertroops in Tunisia with a captured M1928A1 Thompson submachine gun

The Thompson was used in World War II in the hands of Allied troops as a weapon for scouts, non-commissioned officers (corporal, sergeant, and higher), and patrol leaders, as well as commissioned officers, tank crewmen, and soldiers performing raids on German positions. In the European theater, the gun was widely utilized in British and Canadiancommando units, as well as in the U.S. Armyparatrooper and Rangerbattalions, where it was issued more frequently than in line infantry units because of its high rate of fire and its stopping power, which made it very effective in the kinds of close combat these special operations troops were expected to undertake. Military Police were fond of it, as were paratroopers, who "borrowed" Thompsons from members of mortar squads for use on patrols behind enemy lines.[39] The gun was prized by those lucky enough to get one and proved itself in the close street fighting that was encountered frequently during the invasion of France. A Swedish variant of the M1928A1, the Kulsprutepistol m/40 (submachine gun, model 40), served in the Swedish Army between 1940 and 1951. Through Lend-Lease, the Soviet Union also received the Thompson, but due to a shortage of appropriate ammunition, its use was not widespread.[40]

In the Malayan Campaign, the Burma Campaign and the Pacific Theater, Lend-Lease issue Thompsons were used by the British Army, Indian Army, Australian Armyinfantry and other Commonwealth forces. They used the Thompson extensively in jungle patrols and ambushes, where it was prized for its firepower, though it was criticized for its hefty weight and poor reliability. Difficulties in supply eventually led to its replacement in Australian Army units in 1943 by other submachine guns such as the Owen and Austen, and British forces also largely replaced it with the Sten gun. Thompsons were also given to the Royal Australian Air Force and Royal Australian Navy. New Zealand commando forces initially used Thompsons but switched them for the more reliable, lighter, and more accurate Owen during the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal campaigns.[41] The U.S. Marines also used the Thompson as a limited-issue weapon, especially during their later island assaults. The Thompson was soon found to have limited effect in heavy jungle cover, where the low-velocity .45 bullet would not penetrate most small-diameter trees or protective armor vests. (In 1923, the Army had rejected the .45 Remington–Thompson, which had twice the energy of the .45 ACP). In the U.S. Army, many Pacific War jungle patrols were originally equipped with Thompsons in the early phases of the New Guinea and Guadalcanal campaigns, but soon began employing the Browning Automatic Rifle in its place as a point defense weapon.

The Army introduced the U.S. M3 and M3A1 submachine guns in 1943 with plans to produce the latter in numbers sufficient to cancel future orders for the Thompson, while gradually withdrawing it from the first-line service. However, due to unforeseen production delays and requests for modifications, the M3/M3A1 never replaced the Thompson, and purchases continued until February 1944. Though the M3 was considerably cheaper to produce, at the end of World War II, the Thompson, with a total wartime production of over 1.5 million, outnumbered the M3/M3A1 submachine guns in service by nearly three to one.[19]

After World War II[edit]

Two Israeli policemen, armed with Thompsons meet a Jordanian legionnaire near the Mandelbaum Gatec. 1950

Thompson submachine guns were used by both sides during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Following the war, Thompsons were issued to members of Israel's elite Unit 101, upon the formation of that unit in 1953.[45]

During the Greek Civil War, the Thompson submachine gun was used by both sides. The Hellenic Armed Forces, gendarmerie and police units were equipped with Thompson submachine guns supplied by the British and later in the war by the United States. The opposing Communist fighters of the Democratic Army of Greece were also using Thompson submachine guns, either captured from government forces or inherited from ELAS. ELAS was the strongest of the resistance forces during the period of Greek Resistance against the Germans and Italians and were supplied with arms from both the British and the United States. After the demobilization of ELAS, an unspecified number of arms were not surrendered to the government but kept hidden, and were later used by the Democratic Army of Greece.[46]

The Thompson also found service with the KNIL and the Netherlands Marine Corps during their attempt to retake their former colony of Indonesia.[47] Captured examples were later used by Indonesian forces against Dutch forces[citation needed] and during by Indonesian infiltrators during the 1965 Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation.

By the time of the Korean War in 1950, the Thompson had seen much use by the U.S. and South Korean military, even though the Thompson had been replaced as standard-issue by the M3/M3A1. With huge numbers of guns available in army ordnance arsenals, the Thompson remained classed as Limited Standard or Substitute Standard long after the standardization of the M3/M3A1. Many Thompsons were distributed to the US-backed Nationalist Chinese armed forces as military aid before the fall of Chiang Kai-shek's government to Mao Zedong's communist forces at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949 (Thompsons had already been widely used throughout China since the 1920s, at a time when several Chinese warlords and their military factions running various parts of the fragmented country made purchases of the weapon and then subsequently produced many local copies). During the Korean War, US troops were surprised to encounter communist Chinese troops armed with Thompsons (amongst other captured US-made Nationalist Chinese and American firearms), especially during unexpected night-time assaults which became a prominent Chinese combat tactic in the conflict. The gun's ability to deliver large quantities of short-range automatic assault fire proved very useful in both defense and assault during the early part of the war when it was constantly mobile and shifting back and forth. Many Chinese Thompsons were captured and placed into service with American soldiers and marines for the remaining period of the war.

The Yugoslav Army received 34,000 M1A1 Thompsons during the 1950s as part of a US Military Aid to Yugoslavia Agreement. These guns were used during the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s.[10]

During the Cuban Revolution, the Thompson submachine gun was used by both Batista's army and Fidel Castro's guerrillas. Both the latter and the Brigade 2506 also used some during the bay of Pigs Invasion.[49]

During the Vietnam War, some South Vietnamese army units and defense militia were armed with Thompson submachine guns, and a few of these weapons were used by reconnaissance units, advisors, and other American troops. It was partially replaced by the MAC-10, albeit during Vietnam, the fully automatic fire provided by the M16 made the Thompson less effective than it previously had been. Still, not only did some U.S. soldiers have use of them in Vietnam, they encountered them as well. The Viet Cong liked the weapon and used both captured models as well as manufacturing their own copies in small jungle workshops.[50]

The Australian government destroyed most of their Thompson machine carbines in the 1960s. They shipped their remaining stocks to arm the forces of Lon Nol's Khmer Republic in 1975. They were then captured and used by the Khmer Rouge.

In the conflict in Northern Ireland, known as the Troubles (1969–1998), the Thompson was again used by the Irish Republican paramilitaries. According to historian Peter Hart, "The Thompson remained a key part of both the Official IRA and Provisional IRA arsenals until well into the 1970s when it was superseded by the Armalite and the AK-47."

The Thompson was also used by U.S. and overseas law enforcement and police forces, most prominently by the FBI. The FBI used Thompsons until they were declared obsolete and ordered destroyed in the early 1970s.[51]

Collector interest[edit]

Because of their quality and craftsmanship, as well as their gangster-era and WWII connections, Thompsons are sought as collector's items. There were fewer than 40 pre-production prototypes. The Colt Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut was contracted by the Auto-Ordnance Corporation to manufacture the initial mass production of 15,000 Thompson Submachine Guns in 1920. An original Colt Model 1921 A or AC, Model 1927 A or AC, Model 1928 Navy A or AC, properly registered in working condition with original components can easily fetch from US$25,000 to $45,000+ depending on condition and accessories. For WWII, approximately 1,700,000 Thompson Submachine Guns were produced by Auto-Ordnance and Savage Arms, with 1,387,134 being the simplified World War II M1 and M1A1 variants (without the Blish lock and oiling system).

A Model 1921A believed to have been owned by Bonnie and Clyde, but without historical documentation to substantiate this provenance, sold at auction on January 21, 2012, in Kansas City for $130,000.[53]


Operating characteristics[edit]

Thompson M1928A1, field stripped

Early versions of the Thompson, the Model 1919, had a fairly high cyclic rate of fire, as high as 1,200 rounds per minute (rpm), with most Model 1921s at 800 rpm. In 1927, the U.S. Navy ordered 500 Thompsons but requested a lower rate of fire. Thompson requested Payne to develop a method of reducing the cyclic rate of fire. Payne then replaced the actuator with one that was heavier, and replaced the recoil spring with one that was stiffer; the changes reduced the rate of fire from 800 to the 600 rpm of the U.S. Navy Model 1928. Later M1 and M1A1 Thompsons averaged also 600 rpm.[54] This rate of fire, combined with a rather heavy trigger pull and a stock with an excessive drop, increases the tendency for the barrel to climb off target in automatic fire.[54][55] Compared to more modern submachine guns, the Thompson is quite heavy, weighing roughly the same as the contemporary M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle, and requires a lot of cleaning. This was one of the major complaints about the weapon by U.S. Army personnel to whom it was issued.[29]

Thompson 1921, field stripped

Although the drum magazine provided significant firepower, in military service it was found to be overly heavy and bulky, especially when slung on the shoulder while marching.[55] The M1928A1 Thompson drum magazine was rather fragile, and cartridges tended to rattle inside it, producing unwanted noise. For these reasons, the 20-round and later 30-round box magazines soon proved most popular with military users of the M1928A1, and drum compatibility was not included in the design of the wartime M1 and M1A1 models. The Thompson was one of the earliest submachine guns to incorporate a double-column, staggered-feed box magazine design, which undoubtedly contributed to the gun's reputation for reliability. In addition, the gun performed better than most after exposure to rain, dirt, and mud.[29]

The selective-fire (semi or fully automatic) Thompson fires from the "open bolt" position, in which the bolt is held fully to rearward by the sear when cocked. When the trigger is depressed, the bolt is released, traveling forward to chamber and simultaneously fire the first and subsequent rounds until either the trigger is released or the ammunition is exhausted. This eliminates the risk of "cook-off", which can sometimes occur in closed-bolt automatic weapons.


The Thompson submachine gun varies in field strip procedure, depending on the variant. World War II-era M1 variants and RPB models field strip more easily than the M1921.[citation needed]

The 1928 variant can be disassembled easily by first detaching the stock, then sliding off the lower receiver and then simply removing the internal parts, cleaning them, and then putting it back together. When opened up, the Thompson features a small number of parts that need to be removed including the spring, bolt, Blish Lock, and actuator bolt.



Persuader and Annihilator[edit]

There were two main experimental models of the Thompson. The Persuader was a belt-fed version developed in 1917/18. It was partially built, but never completely finished. The Annihilator, serial no. Ver 10 prototypes were similar in appearance to the later models, but without the rear sight and butt stock mounts. The Annihilator prototypes first were fed from a 20-round box magazine, but later, the 50- and 100-round drum magazine models were developed.

Model 1919[edit]

Starting with the Serial no. 11, the Model 1919 takes the final appearance of the later Thompsons with the rear sights and butt stock. The Model 1919 was limited to about 40 units; the first built did not use the drums, as it was too difficult to fire. Many variations have been noted within this model. The weapons had very high cyclic rates up to 1,500 rpm. This was the weapon Brigadier General Thompson demonstrated at Camp Perry in 1920. A number of Model 1919s were made without butt stocks, rear and front sights, but the final version closely resembled the later Model 1921. This model was designed to "sweep" trenches with bullets. The New York City Police Department was the largest purchaser of the M1919. Some experimental calibers aside from the standard .45 ACP (11.4x23mm) were the .22LR, .32 ACP, .38 ACP, and 9mm.[27]

.351 WSL variant[edit]

Only one prototype was made in .351 WSL using a standard 20" barrel which had a ROF of 1000rpm.

Thompson .30 Carbine[edit]

The layout and ergonomics of the Thompson submachine gun were also considered for the role of a Light Rifle before the adoption of the M1 Carbine. It was based on the M1921/27 variants. However, it was turned down without testing due to logistical problems.[57]

.30-06 variant[edit]

A .30–06 variant was intended as a rival to the M1918 BAR. It had an extended receiver with a recoil buffer and fed from 20 round magazines.[58]


Model 1921[edit]

The Model 1921 (M1921) was the first major production model. Fifteen thousand were produced by Colt for Auto-Ordnance. In its original design, it was finished more like a sporting weapon, with an adjustable rear sight, a blued, finned barrel and vertical foregrip (or pistol grip) and the Blish lock. The M1921 was quite expensive to manufacture, with the original retail price around $200, because of its high-quality wood furniture and finely machined parts. The M1921 was famous throughout its career with police and criminals and in motion pictures. This model gained fame from its use by criminals during Prohibition, and was nicknamed "tommy gun" by the media.[citation needed]

Model 1923[edit]

The Model 1923 was a heavy submachine gun introduced to potentially expand the Auto-Ordnance product line and was demonstrated for the U.S. Army. It fired the more powerful .45 Remington–Thompsoncartridge which fired a heavier 250 gr (0.57 oz; 16 g) bullet at muzzle velocities of about 1,450 ft/s (440 m/s) and energy about 1,170 ft⋅lb (1,590 J), with greater range than the .45 ACP. It introduced a horizontal forearm, improved inline stock for accuracy, 14 in (36 cm) barrel, bipod, and bayonet lug. The M1923 was intended to rival the M1918 Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), with which the Army was already satisfied. The Army did not give the Model 1923 much consideration, so it was not adopted.

Model 1921AC (1926)[edit]

While not a new model in the usual sense of incorporating major changes, in 1926 the Cutts Compensator (a muzzle brake) was offered as an option for the M1921; Thompsons with the compensator were cataloged as No. 21AC at the original price of $200.00, with the plain M1921 designated No. 21A at a reduced price of $175.00.[23] The Model 1921 was thereafter referred to as Model 1921A or Model 1921AC, though some collectors still refer to it as the Model 1921.

Model 1928[edit]

The Model 1928 was the first type widely used by military forces, with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps as major buyers through the 1930s. The original Model 1928s were Model 1921s with weight added to the actuator, which slowed down the cyclic rate of fire, a United States Navy requirement. On these guns, the model number "1921" on the receiver was updated by stamping an "8" over the last "1". The Navy Model 1928 has several names among collectors: the "Colt Overstamp", "1921 Overstamp", "28 Navy", or just "28N".

The 1928 Thompson would be the last small arm adopted by the U.S. Army that used a year designation in the official nomenclature. With the start of World War II, major contracts from several countries saved the manufacturer from bankruptcy. A notable variant of the Model 1928 with an aluminum receiver and tenite grip, buttstock, and forend, was made by Savage.[59]


The M1928A1 variant entered mass production before the attack on Pearl Harbor, as on-hand stocks ran out. Changes included a horizontal forend, in place of the distinctive vertical foregrip ("pistol grip"), and a provision for a military sling. Despite new U.S. contracts for Lend-Lease shipments abroad to China, France, and the United Kingdom, as well as the needs of American armed forces, only two factories supplied M1928A1 Thompsons during the early years of World War II. Though it could use both the 50-round drum and the 20- or 30-round box magazines, active service favored the box magazines as the drums were more prone to jamming, rattled when moving, and were too heavy and bulky on long patrols. 562,511 were made. Wartime production variants had a fixed rear sight without the triangular sight guard wings and a non-ribbed barrel, both like those found on the M1/M1A1.

In addition, the Soviet Union received M1928A1s, included as standard equipment with the M3 lighttanks obtained through Lend-Lease. These submachine guns were used to a limited extent by the Red Army.[60]

An M1928A1 with an unusual inline stock, modified with elevated sights to increase accuracy, also was produced. Some Thompsons were built with a folding stock, similar to M1A1 Carbines used by Allied tank crews, drivers and paratroopers and submarine raiders.[61]

Service variants[edit]

Thompson Machine Carbine (TMC)[edit]

In 1940, Commonwealth troops in Egypt and North Africa were issued commercial model Lend-Lease Colt- and Savage-manufactured M1928s. Section leaders carried them instead of pistols or rifles. Many of the Colt models had French-language manuals packed with them as they had been abruptly diverted to England after the fall of France. They soon discovered that the weapon was prone to jamming due to sand. To fix this, the armorers removed the Blish Lock and replaced it with a hex bolt to keep the cocking handle and bolt together. The 20-round Type XX magazines had their peep-holes welded shut to keep sand out and the 50-round Type L drums were discontinued. Ammunition was scarce as it was either in small lots of Lend-Lease commercial ammo or obtained from adjacent American troops. It was later replaced by the 9mmSten gun and Lanchester SMG.

The Japanese captured enough Thompson M1928 SMGs and ammunition when they captured Hong Kong and Malaysia that it became a limited standard weapon. The only Japanese submachine gun, the Type 100, was limited in number, and lacked the reliability or stopping power of the Thompson. Ammunition was usually in US 42-round Lend-Lease commercial cartons or Australian 28-round military cartons captured from the Commonwealth forces that was sampled, tested, and resealed with Japanese arsenal stickers.

Models used in the Pacific by Australian troops had their sling swivels remounted on the left side to allow it to be fired more easily while prone. A metal sling mount was fitted to the left side of the wooden buttstock. Ammunition was manufactured in Australia or obtained from adjacent American troops. It was later replaced by the Owen Machine Carbine.


Fire Controls on an M1928A1 Thompson. Front lever is the selector switch, set for full auto.

Responding to a request for further simplification, the M1 was standardized in April 1942 as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1. Rate of fire was reduced to approximately 600–700 rpm.

First issued in 1943, the M1 uses a simple blowback operation, with the charging handle moved to the side. The flip-up adjustable Lyman rear sight was replaced with a fixed L sight. Late M1s had triangular guard wings added to the rear L sight, which were standardized on the M1A1. The slots adjoining the magazine well allowing the use of a drum magazine were removed. A new magazine catch with the provision for retaining drum magazines removed, was produced, but most M1s and later M1A1s retained the original. The less expensive and more-easily manufactured "stick" magazines were used exclusively in the M1, with a new 30-round version joining the familiar 20-round type. The Cutts compensator, barrel cooling fins, and Blish lock were omitted while the buttstock was permanently affixed. Late production M1 stocks were fitted with reinforcing bolts and washers to prevent splitting of the stock where it attached to the receiver. The British had used improvised bolts or wood screws to reinforce M1928 stocks. The M1 reinforcing bolt and washer were carried over to the M1A1 and retrofitted to many of the M1928A1s in U.S. and British service. Late M1s also had simplified fire control switches, also carried over to the M1A1. Certain M1s had issues with high rate of fire climbing up to ~800 RPM. The exact cause remains unknown, but was resolved with the transition to the M1A1.[62]


Both sides of the Thompson M1A1 shown with 30-round magazine

The M1A1, standardized in October 1942 as the United States Submachine Gun, Cal. .45, M1A1, could be produced in half the time of the M1928A1, and at a much lower cost. The main difference between the M1 and M1A1 was the bolt. The M1 bolt had a floating firing pin and hammer, the bolt of the M1A1 had the firing pin machined to the face of the bolt, eliminating unnecessary parts. The reinforced stock and protective sight wings were standard. The 30-round magazine became more common. In 1939, Thompsons cost the government $209 apiece. By the spring of 1942, cost-reduction design changes had brought this down to $70. In February 1944, the M1A1 reached a low price of $45 each, including accessories and spare parts, although the difference in price between the M1 and M1A1 was only $0.06. By the end of the war, the M1A1 was replaced with the even lower-cost M3 (commonly called the "Grease Gun").


Model 1927[edit]

The Model 1927 was the open bolt semi-automatic version of the M1921. It was made by modifying an existing Model 1921, including replacing certain parts. The "Thompson Submachine Gun" inscription was machined over to replace it with "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine", and the "Model 1921" inscription was also machined over to replace it with "Model 1927." Although the Model 1927 was semi-automatic only, it was easily converted to fully automatic by installing a full-auto Model 1921 fire control group (internal parts). Most Model 1927s owned by police have been converted back to full-auto. The original Model 1927 is classified as a machine gun under the National Firearms Act of 1934 (a) by being "readily convertible" by swapping parts and (b) by a 1982 BATF ruling making all open bolt semi-automatic firearms manufactured after the date of this ruling classified as machine guns.

Model 1927A1[edit]

The Model 1927A1 is a semi-automatic replica version of the Thompson, originally produced by Auto-Ordnance of West Hurley, New York for the civilian collector's market from 1974 to 1999. It has been produced since 1999 by Kahr Arms of Worcester, Massachusetts. It is officially known as the "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Model of 1927A1." The internal design is completely different to operate from the closed bolt and the carbine has a barrel length of 16.5 in (420 mm) (versus open bolt operation and barrel length of 10.5 in (270 mm) for the fully automatic versions). Under federal regulations, these changes make the Model 1927A1 legally a rifle and remove it from the federal registry requirements of the National Firearms Act. These modern versions should not be confused with the original semi-automatic M1927, which was a slightly modified M1921 produced by Colt for Auto-Ordnance.

The Model 1927A1 is the semi-automatic replica of the Thompson Models of 1921 and 1927. The "Thompson Commando" is a semi-automatic replica of the M1928A1. The Auto-Ordnance replica of the Thompson M1 and M1A1 is known as the TM1, and may be found marked "Thompson Semi-Automatic Carbine, Caliber .45M1".

Model 1927A3[edit]

The Model 1927A3 is a semi-automatic, .22 caliber version of the Thompson produced by Auto-Ordnance in West Hurley.

Model 1927A5[edit]

The Model 1927A5 is a semi-automatic, .45 ACP pistol version of the Thompson originally produced by Auto-Ordnance in West Hurley from the 1970s until the early 1990s or late 1980s. It featured an aluminum receiver to reduce weight. It has since been replaced with the Kahr Arms TA5 Pistol, which features a 10.5" barrel and steel receiver, unlike the 1927A5's 13" barrel and aluminum receiver.

As per the NFA (National Firearms Act of 1934), the "1927A5 .45 ACP Pistol" is simply classified as a "Firearm" (Any type of firearm with an overall length of 26" or greater, that does not have a buttstock) as it neither fits the definition of a Pistol or Rifle under federal law. This categorization also legally allows it to have 1921 or 1928 style foregrip equipped, unlike other "pistol style" Thompson variants, without an AOW (Any Other Weapon) Tax Stamp.

Auto-Ordnance 1927A5 DOJ BATFE Firearm Classification Letter

1928A1 LTD[edit]

The 1928A1 LTD is a civilian semi-automatic conversion by Luxembourg Defense Technology (LuxDefTec) in Luxembourg. They are made from original 1928A1 guns of various appearance (with or without Cutt's compensator, ribbed or smooth barrels, adjustable or fixed sights), that were imported Lend-Lease guns from Russia.

Export variants[edit]

BSA Thompsons[edit]

In an attempt to expand interest and sales overseas, Auto-Ordnance entered into a partnership with and licensed the Birmingham Small Arms Company Limited (BSA) in England to produce a European model. These were produced in small quantities and have a different appearance than the classic style. The BSA 1926 was manufactured in 9mmP and 7.63mm Mauser and were tested by various governments, including France, in the mid-1920s. It was never adopted by any military force, and only a small number were produced.[64]

RPB Thompsons[edit]

Special purpose variant[edit]

A special purpose machine pistol variant of the Thompson is manufactured by RPB Industries of Atlanta.[65]

Suppressed variant[edit]

A version with a threaded barrel for suppressors, side folding stock, and modified sights.

Civilian ownership[edit]


All variants and modified versions of Thompson submachine guns (even semiautomatic-only versions) are prohibited by name in Canada, as part of Prohibited Weapons Order No. 13 in 1995. Consequently, they cannot be legally imported or owned except under very limited circumstances. For example, to own one the person must be "grandfathered" and have owned one before the bill was passed against it. The submachine gun is not grandfathered like in the U.S., only the owner. The submachine gun can only be sold to other grandfathered individuals; this keeps prices extremely low as the number of permitted licensed individuals is very small and dwindling with time. Eventually, all prohibited guns will be out of circulation.[66]: Part 1.86 [67]

United States[edit]

The perceived popularity of submachine guns such as the Thompson with violent gangsters in the 1920s and 1930s was one of the main reasons given for passage of the National Firearms Act by the United States Congress in 1934. One of its provisions was that owners of fully automatic firearms were required to register them with the predecessor agency of the modern Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The law also placed restrictions on the possession, transfer, and transport of the weapons.

There are several U.S. made automatic and semi-automatic variants, copies, or replicas. The semi-automatic versions are less regulated by federal law.

United Kingdom[edit]

The possession of any fully automatic firearm is prohibited in the UK by the Firearms Act 1968; prohibited firearms can be possessed on a section 5 certificate, but these are not issued for sporting purposes. A fully automatic firearm that has been converted to semi-automatic fire, such as the Model 1927, is prohibited by the Firearms Act 1988, as is any centre-fire purpose-made semi-automatic weapon, such as the Model 1927A1. It is now effectively impossible for a firearm of this type to be legally possessed by a member of the general public, except in certified deactivated condition or where specifically manufactured as a semi-automatic in calibre .22LR.


The gun, in a government approved semiautomatic conversion or clone, can legally be owned by hunters and sport shooters. With a design date prior to 1942 it is not considered a "weapon of war." Only the fully automatic version is a prohibited weapon. As a long gun, it can be bought by hunters (even if it cannot be used to actually hunt for legal reasons). There are disciplines in government approved sport shooting rulebooks that allow this type to be used, therefore the gun can be bought by sport shooters, too.


  •  Albania[68]
  •  Algeria[69]
  •  Argentina: M1928 and M1 Thompson
  •  Australia:[68] Used by Australian forces during WWII until it was replaced by the Australian-made Owen submachine gun.
  •  Belgium[68]
  •  Bolivia[71]
  •  Brazil: Used by the Brazilian forces from WWII[72] until the mid-1980s.
  • British RajBritish India: Widely used by the Indian Army in the Malayan Campaign, in the European theatre and Burma Campaigns
  •  Canada[75]
  •  Cuba
  •  People's Republic of China: Unlicensed copies[77][78]
  •  Republic of China[4]
  •  Colombia[68]
  •  Croatia[3]
  •  Czech Republic[68]
  •  Dominican Republic[68]
  •  Egypt[79]
  •  France:[77] The M1928A1 was used as the Pistolet-mitrailleur 11 mm 43 (C.45) M. 28 A1.[80] The M1A1 was also used.[81]
  •  West Germany:[68] Used post World War II; received from the U.S government.
  •  Greece: Used by Greek armed forces, resistance fighters, Gendarmerie and police units during World War II and immediately postwar period.[46]
  •  Guatemala[83]
  •  Haiti[84]
  •  Indonesia: Examples captured from Dutch forces were used during the Indonesian National Revolution and later by Indonesian Army Special Forces in the 1950–70s
  •  Iraq: Iraqi insurgents[11](
  •  Iran: Used by the Imperial Iranian military.[86]
  •  Ireland: 123 used by the Irish Defence Forces during the Emergency.
  •  Israel:[45]
  •  Italy: Captured examples pressed into use by the Italian Army prior to September 8, 1943.[87] Also supplied to partisans and to the Italian Co-belligerent Army.[88] After the war, it was mostly issued to Italian Air Force troopers[89] and the Carabinieri.[90]
  •  Japan: Were used in some quantities by the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force[91]
  •  Jordan[7]
  •  South Korea: Limited received U.S government used during the Korean War and Vietnam War. After the Vietnam War all Thompson SMGs were scrapped.
  •  Kingdom of Laos: Limited received by U.S government and used during the First Indochina War and Vietnam War.[92]
  •  Luxembourg: M1A1 in service 1952–1967, replaced by Uzi.[93]
  •  Malaysia[68][8]
  •  The Netherlands: In early World War II, at least 3,680 Thompsons acquired through Lend-Lease[23]
  •  New Zealand: M1928 and M1928A1[94]
  •  Nicaragua: The Nicaraguan National Guard received M1928A1s and some were captured by Sandino's rebels.[96]
  •  North Korea: Chinese-made Thompsons used by the Korean People's Army in the Korean War.[97]
  •  North Vietnam: Unlicensed copies.[77] Used by Viet Minh in the First Indochina War.[5]
  •  Pakistan: Used by the Pakistani army during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947
  •  Philippines[68]
  •  Poland: Used by the Polish Armed Forces in the West during WWII[98] and by resistance fighters during the Warsaw Uprising (from supply drops)
  •  Portugal: Small number bought for police use, designated m/1928[99]
  •  Somalia[100]
  •  Union of South Africa
  •  South Vietnam[3]
  •  Soviet Union[101]
  •  Sweden[102]
  •  Turkey: Used between 1950s–1970s, saw action in Korean War[citation needed]and 1974 Cyprus Invasion[citation needed]
  •  Ukraine: observed, unknown user[68]
  •  United Kingdom. First issued to the GHQ Liaison Unit ('Phantom') in February 1940, in advance of main War Office contracts.[103]
  •  United States: Employed by the United States Marine Corps[27] and by the United States Army 1938,[104] including paratroops in World War II.
  •  Uruguay Uruguayan Army and Navy they used from 1942 it until the late 80s.
  •  Vietnam Used by Việt Minh and Viet Cong during Vietnam War.
  •  Venezuela[105]
  •  Yugoslavia[10]

Non-state groups[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^"The Sandino Rebellion, 1927–1934". Retrieved 2011-12-25.
  2. ^ abHart 2003, pp. 187–188
  3. ^ abcdeBishop, Chris (1998). Guns in Combat. Chartwell Books, Inc. p. [page needed]. ISBN .
  4. ^ abMcNab, Chris (2002). 20th Century Military Uniforms (2nd ed.). Kent: Grange Books. p. 47. ISBN .
  5. ^ abWindrow, Martin (15 Nov 1998). The French Indochina War 1946–54. Men-at-Arms 322. Osprey Publishing. p. 24. ISBN .
  6. ^ abLaffin, John (15 Jun 1982). Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 1948–73. Men-at-Arms 128. Osprey Publishing. p. 32. ISBN .
  7. ^ ab"Weapons of the Malay CTs 1948–1960".
  8. ^ abcDyker, David A.; Vejvoda, Ivan (9 December 1996). Yugoslavia and After: A Study in Fragmentation, Despair and Rebirth (1st ed.). London: Routledge. p. 120. ISBN .
  9. ^ abSmall Arms Survey (2012). "Surveying the Battlefield: Illicit Arms In Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia". Small Arms Survey 2012: Moving Targets. Cambridge University Press. p. 321. ISBN . Archived from the original(PDF) on August 30, 2012.
  10. ^Yenne 2009, p. [page needed].
  11. ^ abcdefgWar Department (1943-10-11). TM 9-2200 Small Arms, Light Field Mortars and 20-mm Aircraft Guns. War Department. p. 59.
  12. ^ abcWar Department (1943-10-11). TM 9-2200 Small Arms, Light Field Mortars and 20-mm Aircraft Guns. War Department. p. 57.
  13. ^"Full Power/Full Auto: The Thompson Goes Metric And the MP5 Goes American".
  14. ^"Thompson 1921 Submachine Gun". Modern Firearms. 27 October 2010.
  15. ^Schroeder, Michael J. (2019-03-26), "Digital Resources: The Sandino Rebellion Digital Historical Archive, Nicaragua, 1927–1934", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.013.77, ISBN , retrieved 2021-07-05
  16. ^ abcIannamico, Frank (1999). The U.S. M3-M3A1 Submachine Gun. Harmony, Maine: Moose Lake Publishing. pp. 14, 55. ISBN .
  17. ^ abJames, Gary (1996–2006). "Development of the Thompson Submachine Gun".
  18. ^Hatcher, Julian S. (1947). Hatcher's Notebook. Military Service Publishing Co. p. 44.
  19. ^"The Unofficial Tommy Gun Page".
  20. ^ abcdIannamico 2000, p. [page needed]
  21. ^Gudmundsson, Bruce. (1995). Stormtroop Tactics: Innovation in the German Army, 1914–1918. Praeger Press.[page needed]
  22. ^Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Postal Inspectors: The Silent Service, Unexpected Duties. "The Postal Inspection Service became the first law enforcement agency to purchase the Thompson submachine gun ..."
  23. ^ abcdFitzsimons 1977, p. 2487
  24. ^Schroeder, Michael J. (2019-03-26), "Digital Resources: The Sandino Rebellion Digital Historical Archive, Nicaragua, 1927–1934", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, Oxford University Press, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.013.77, ISBN , retrieved 2021-07-05
  25. ^ abcBert Kortegaard (2000-09-21). "M1A1 Thompson Submachine Gun". Archived from the original on 2011-12-17. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
  26. ^Ryan, Meda (2003). Tom Barry: IRA Freedom Fighter. Mercier Press. p. 125. ISBN .
  27. ^Ashcroft, Brent. "St. Valentine's Day Massacre: Tale of two guns". WZZM 13 News.
  28. ^"Thompson Model 1928 Submachine Gun". National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2008-06-12.
  29. ^Helmer, William J. (1969). The Gun That Made the Twenties Roar. MacMillan. p. [page needed]. ISBN 

51 52 53 54 55