I Fired a Full-Auto Thompson!


August 5, 2007, 09:26 AM
I know alot of you have probably already "been there-done-that", but I rented a full-auto Thompson a couple of weeks ago in Houston and let me tell you, for those that have not done this and are into guns, it's one of the top 10 things to do before you die.
I bought 200rds of .45acp and loaded up 8 30-rd mags and the clerk and I hit the lane. The weapon is awkward at first, but doesn't take long to figure out the controls and operation. The accuracy is definitely affected by your psychological state at first, but after the first few rounds, you get the hang of it pretty quickly.
Single shots are relatively accurate, but it just doesn't seem natural with this weapon, I used a silhouette target at about 15yards and kept most of the round center mass after about the third magazine. Even firing through a whole magazine, keeping them in the center was not difficult.
The recoil is very pleasant, not imposing, but enough to let you know that something is going on and I think the rhythm helps keep you on target better.
After it was all said and done, I got to thinking that this would not be a weapon I would want to have to use in combat. Not that it's too heavy or awkward, but even though it pours out an impressive amount of lead in a very short period of time, it's shooting pistol rounds. At extended ranges of 100yds or more I'm not sure it would get the job done. I'm not so sure that it would be worth shooting at anything past 75yds, and I'm sure there are an abundance of combat situations where targets may present themselves past that range. Would you give away your position just to try?
I'm sure it would be one of the top five weapons to use to clear rooms or to use in urban situations, but I feel that a good pump shotgun would perform just as well, if not better in some situations.
Either way, it was a good time and thought I'd share my experience and thoughts.

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General Geoff
August 5, 2007, 09:33 AM
The Thompsons were used as close-combat sweepers. If an enemy presented itself more than a hundred yards away, chances are you had a dozen GIs with Garands around you to rectify the problem. :)

The Deer Hunter
August 5, 2007, 09:34 AM
That sounds like a lot of fun, I hope to do that some day. :)

About being in combat with the Thompson, if your referring to WW2, your not alone. Pretty good chance all of your buddies(carrying Garands and Carbines) will probably be shooting at the enemy as well. And even if .45 isnt very accurate at long ranges, the side with the most lead in the air will generally win.

Father Knows Best
August 5, 2007, 09:36 AM
Good for you! They sure are fun! I had the chance to shoot both an M28 Thompson and a German MP-40 about 20 years ago, and I still remember today how cool that was.

In terms of usefulness, subguns are best suited for defensive use. If you are defending a position against multiple attackers at close range, they are excellent weapons. There is a reason, however, that the assault rifle was developed. Assault rifles offer all of the advantages of subguns (compact, light weight, controllable as a shoulder-fired full auto, ability to carry lots of ammo, etc.) but with much better range and penetration.

August 5, 2007, 09:51 AM
Do you know which version you fired, amprecon? The M1921/1928 have a cocking knob that rides on TOP of the receiver, while the M1/M1A1 have a cocking knob that rides on the side. The 1921 had a much faster rate of fire (obo 900 rpm) than the others, and later versions slowed that down to around 550-600 rpm. There's a reason these guys are hanging together: the Thompson takes care of close-in threats, and the BAR man gets anything further out.


August 5, 2007, 10:11 AM
Well, I wasn't sure which version I fired, I believe the barrel was made and fit for it, it had some weird "home-made" muzzle brake on it and both appeared to have been painted black. The cocking handle was on the side, but it had a vertical fore-grip and I don't remember there being any cooling fins on it either. It was hard to tell the firing rate as this was my first fully auto firearm I ever fired but I went through a 25-rd mag in about hmmm...... what seemed like 3 or 4 seconds.

August 5, 2007, 10:12 AM
Sounds like a blast! What range in Houston?

August 5, 2007, 10:14 AM
It was likely a modified M1 or M1A1 then (the shooter above on Okinawa has an M1A1, with the simplified rear sight).

August 5, 2007, 10:16 AM
Mmm, I think it was called Top Gun on Beveryhill st just south of Richmond Ave. and just west of 610. They also had a Sten and an Uzi for rent.
Yeah, the sights were not comlicated at all, like a 90 degree bent piece of metal with a hole drilled in it.

August 5, 2007, 10:18 AM
Thompsons are around 600 rpm. If you want reliability, the M1A1 is the gun to have, but a 1921 or 1928, particularly with a drum, is a real treat. Most people who shoot my Sterling compy are amazed at the lack of recoil an open bolt SMG has. There's an M1A1 Thompson in my future. I just need to figure out where to get the cash :)

Glad you had fun. It's addictive.

August 5, 2007, 10:39 AM
I shot a full auto tommy gun in AZ at Scottsdale gun club. It was expensive but worth it.

Can anyone point me in the right place to learn about getting a full auto permit?

thanks, pete

Houston Tom
August 5, 2007, 10:57 AM
Top GUn is a great Range. IT is on Beverlyhill just off Fountainview, between Richmond and 59 south.

August 5, 2007, 11:25 AM
Top Gun is 5 minutes from my house:D

I've rented a full auto 9mm Uzi there, and a full auto .45 thompson. I preferred the Uzi. Next time you houston guys go, try the Uzi.
It climbs more than the thompson, but its much lighter and pushes backwards less. Also has a much higher rate of fire:D

Father Knows Best
August 5, 2007, 11:37 AM
Can anyone point me in the right place to learn about getting a full auto permit?
There is no such thing as a "full auto permit." Either your state allows private citizens to own fully automatic firearms, or it doesn't. Most do. From your name, I assume you live in Connecticut. I believe CT does allow private ownership of full auto firearms, but not select fire. CT also has state level registration of them.

In general, you can buy a machine gun by passing a special BATFE background check and paying a $200 transfer tax. The background check takes 6-12 weeks the first time you purchase a machine gun, and subsequent purchases go quicker. The real kicker is that you can only buy "fully transferable" machine guns. They will have what is known as a "Form 4" and be on the federal NFA registry. A fully transferable Thompson will sell for around $25,000 and up. An M-16 starts around $15,000. The cheapest subguns will cost you around $5,000.

August 5, 2007, 01:35 PM
Sounds like a great experience!

I saw a show recently, could have been Discovery or History Channel, and an LEO (not sure what state) preferred to use a Thompson over an AR-15- easier to fire and better knock down power.

A close family friend (Lt in the USMC) used a Thompson in Vietnam due to the firepower and reliability. It is a great gun.

August 5, 2007, 01:39 PM
A shooting friend of mine also carried a Thompson in Vietnam. He says it's his all time favorite gun. He could have carried something else (M14/M16), but he preferred the Tommy.

I've fired several FA subguns but never a Thompson. I would love to give one a spin. It's a beauty.

August 5, 2007, 03:57 PM
I've fired several Thompsons over the years.
All were easily capable of inducing what I call, "The 30 round grin!"

I have come to prefer 9mm subguns for fun shooting. That's mostly because the ammo, and sometimes the mags, are cheaper. Thompsons are definitely a classic sub gun though.

August 5, 2007, 06:02 PM
I rented one last time I was in Vegas - what a blast! Although, I almost walked it up into the ceiling. It had a metal buttplate and it nearly slipped off my shoulder while firing. Lesson learned; lots of fun in doing so.

August 10, 2007, 01:57 PM
I used to have more fun when I only knew how to fire bursts, but I score better in matches and save ammo when I fire double-taps out of my friend's H&K MP-5. It's a worthwhile skill to learn to double and single with the selector switch on full-auto, but don't forget to occasionally shoot a long burst for fun.
Schennberg.com (http://www.schennberg.com)

August 10, 2007, 03:45 PM
Tommy's are a blast , I got to spend quite a bit of trigger time on a 28 in our local subgun matches , but the Tommy's have jumped in price so high that she is relinquished to safe queen status but does make it out once a year.
Very controllable trigger and just has a nice feel to it.
Lately I have had way more trigger time on the UZI which is fun , but its not a Tommy :)

August 10, 2007, 04:22 PM
A friend of a friend of mine was smart enough to buy a M1928 before the 1986 ban. I think he paid around $1,000 for it, plus the $200 tax. It always attracts lots of attention when fired, though the attention is not always welcome (several times the police have come out to his house to investigate reports of fully automatic weapons fire.:cool: Once they see the paperwork, though, they're cool with it)! His brother also owns a couple full autos: a Colt AR15 conversion, and a Cobray 9mm MAC. We always have lots of fun when we go down to their neck of the woods.:D

Father Knows Best
August 10, 2007, 04:46 PM
It always attracts lots of attention when fired, though the attention is not always welcome (several times the police have come out to his house to investigate reports of fully automatic weapons fire. Once they see the paperwork, though, they're cool with it)!
My brother is an LEO and member of his department's SWAT team. He has a G36 with "da switch" as part of his SWAT issue equipment, and the department provides plenty of practice ammo. We went out to a friend's home in rural Michigan to shoot it one day, and had burned through close to 1,000 rounds when a police car rolled up the driveway. The young officer (he looked 12) was investigating reports of the "Michigan Militia" training in the woods. Ha! We told him that he had huge cajones if he was willing to head into the woods solo to check out such reports. He left grinning after we let him shoot a couple of mags, himself.

August 10, 2007, 06:27 PM
We have a friend like that FKB, they have MP5's to play with... I'll have to bug him about the next time they have "training day"...

August 10, 2007, 08:42 PM
One cool thing about the Thompson is that with its weight and slow rate of fire, you can keep the muzzle down pretty effectively. One day when I was playing with one, I was able to swing through ten plates and pepper poppers and knock them all over in one long burst, clang thump clang thump. No way to do THAT with an Uzi.

August 10, 2007, 08:57 PM
firing a Thompson MG was the most fun I have had with my clothes on! I enjoyed it more than the MP5, M16, AK47 that were available


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