Thomas .45 ACP?


December 8, 2007, 09:49 PM
Anyone recall much about the Thomas .45 ACP pistol by AJ Ordnance?

A friend just bought one NIB from an estate.
It is the strangest little pistol I have seen in many a moon.

It has a blow-back action, with a grip safety operated Blish-Principal slide lock, for want of a better description.
And the slide is way too light for a blow-back .45 ACP!
In fact, the whole gun is too light for a slide for a blow-back .45 ACP!

When the grip safety is depressed, twin angle bars go up into matching angle notches in the slide, which seems to have been designed to hold it shut until it is fired.
At that point, apparently recoil/chamber pressure causes the angle locks to disengage from the slide allowing it to blow open and chamber another round.
Which would seem to give your hand a powerful slap from the grip safety slide lock blowing open.

Problem is, the grip safety has very little movement, and is hard to depress with a normal grip. This allows the trigger draw-bar to open the slide about 1/8" inch before the striker drops, at which point it will fire out of battery! :what:

History of the company?

This thing flew under my Radar somehow, and I had never heard of one before.

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December 8, 2007, 11:26 PM
I think by your description that we can get a very good idea as to why they aren't very common. I don't imagine that they sold a boatload of them.

December 8, 2007, 11:42 PM
I've fired one of these before, and you're right, it IS a very odd bird. It looks sort of like a hammerless PPK on steroids, and my firing impression was that it was definitely uncomfortable to fire; when the slide comes back, it slams the "grip cam" back into the web of your hand, but if you were shooting at someone or vice-versa, I doubt you'd notice it much.

Jim K
December 8, 2007, 11:58 PM
Sounds like an interesting piece. Many collectors like to pick up failures, maybe hoping for the next Paterson Colt. But you have to admit there is not a lot interesting about a gun that is just one out of a couple of million.

That does not mean it is worth a lot of money, only that it is different.


December 14, 2007, 07:16 PM
I can remember seeing ads for this gun in Guns and Ammo, back in the late '70's. There's also a brief article about it in the 1978 Gun Digest. It's called the Alexander/A.J. Ordnance "Thomas" .45 DA Auto. Specs are: 6 1/2 " overall length, 4 1/4" high, 3 1/2" barrel, 32 oz. unloaded. It was descibed as a delayed blowback, double action only semi-auto, with a fixed stainless steel barrel, and a magazine disconnector safety. Available only in blue, it retailed for $250.
Kind of an unusual design in that the lever within the backstrap engages v shaped bars that when moved into position, locks the slide in place with the frame. Pulling the DA trigger sets and releases the striker and the recoil forces the bars to disengage from it's locked position. The backstrap lever also functions as a grip safety as the trigger is blocked until the lever is engaged. The recoil spring is located around the barrel. So basically the action of the gun is unlocked until it is actually grasped in your hand. Sounds like a lot of effort would be needed to shoot this gun, especially if the trigger pull is heavy to begin with.

December 14, 2007, 10:28 PM
The only reference I can find other than Blue Book of Gun Values isThe Gun Digest Book of Modern Gun Values.

Thomas 45
Semi-automatic; double action; 45 ACP; 6 shot magazine; 3 1/2" barrel; 6 1/2" overall length; checkered plastic stocks; windage-adjustable rear sight, blade front; blued finish; matte sighting surface; blowback action. Introduced 1977; dropped 1978. Only about 600 ever made. Collector value.

The only copy of this book I have is the 11th edition, copyright 2001.

Blue Book places the value of a 100% gun at $600, 98% @ $525.
(BB does note to add 50% for chrome or stainless steel)
Hope that helps.......Merry Christmas!

December 15, 2007, 12:43 PM
Thanks for all the info guys!

I must say though, that the gun my friend just bought appears to be brand new, unfired, in the box with all the paperwork. It is very well made, and highly finished without any traces of tool marks or roughness anywhere. First class quality all the way!

But it very definitely will fire out of battery with the grip safety not depressed.
I don't think it is defective.
I think it is made that way.

I tried a lead pencil down the barrel and snapping it without the grip safety pressed, and the trigger drawbar opened the slide about an 1/8" and then the striker snapped and stuck the pencil in the tile ceiling! :what:

August 23, 2008, 09:51 PM
Did your friend want to sell he Thomas DA .45? I might be interested. Please let me know what he would want for it.



August 24, 2008, 01:22 PM
I'll try to remember to ask about it the next time I see him.


August 30, 2008, 10:04 PM
I am new to the forum, but I am an avid collector and researcher of Thomas Pistols. I have been compiling data for a Thomas fan club. Might I ask the serial number range of your gun? Lowest S/N are 0010XX, the highest I've seen is 0015XX. Three finishes were available: Blued, satin nickel, and nickeled. As production went on, there are several subtle changes to the sights and the frame.
I think the gun is easy to shoot due to its weight. It is very accurate because of the fixed barrel. However, the other replies are correct: The gun will fire out of battery, and you get a peppering of powder if the backstrap is not pressed in. If you have any questions about the gun, I'd be happy to share the information I have.
Also, be very careful with the grips, they crack easily and replacements are impossible to find. A company in called Tyler Tru-Fit produced ivory micarta grips for the Thomas in the late 1970s. I have a pair on my nickeled gun.

August 31, 2008, 01:06 PM
Will try to check when I see him again. We don't cross paths very often.

I don't even know if he still has it. That was 9 months ago when I first posted about it.


September 3, 2008, 05:34 AM
Thay sound like an interesting piece, does anyone have any pics that I might see? please.

September 3, 2008, 06:23 AM
Here's the only picture I could find, a scan out of Zhuk's "Handguns of the World"; it shows the backstrap and the angled cam cuts in the slide, but it's hard to describe how "chunky" the pistol actually feels in your hands. Most of the weight is in the top of the pistol, and though it's an interesting design, you can get either more power or more shots in a pistol that's as small or weighs less. The stats says it's 6 rounds, 33 ounces, with a 3.3 inch barrel.

September 4, 2008, 03:44 PM
Thanks for posting that drawing; I don't have that one. I'll have to buy that book. Nowadays, there are plenty of smaller, lighter big-bore pistols. In 1974, when the patents for the Thomas were applied for, there was nothing like it on the market. It even pre-dated the Detonics MKI. It was .45, hammerless, and all double action. A very innovative idea at the time. I'll dig out a couple of mine and post some pics.

September 4, 2008, 04:45 PM
SDC - Thank you Sir. I don't believe I have ever seen one of those before.

September 5, 2008, 11:02 PM
A recent thread over on LouderThanWords

April 30, 2009, 07:42 PM
I bought one of these when it first came out. I shot it a couple of times back then and remember that it had quite a kick. I haven't shot it since, and in fact, I'm going to go dig it out of my gun safe and take a closer look at it after all these years. Please let me know if you have any questions or would like me to post any pics.


April 24, 2010, 05:51 PM
I bought one new in the 1970's, a THOMAS ACP 45 serial no#001014. I carried a WALTHER PPKS 380 at the time and recognized the similarity except for the hammer and was interested in upgrading to 45 acp. I found the gun difficult to shoot due to the size of my hands and wrists and the long trigger pull. After shooting several clips through it, I cleaned it and put it back in the original box and that is how it has sat these many years. It is as close to 100% as you can get. not long ago I saw one posted with a higher serial number for near $1000.00. Anybody interseted please contact me.

March 14, 2011, 02:52 AM
Hmm I can tell you this! The designer is my grandpa, his name is Frank S. Thomas, and although I never met him he was supposedly a genius. He lived in West Covina, where it was manufactured and he sold off the patent, as my grandmother told me. Wish I had the chance to meet him... I have a few parts of the gun, the blueprints and my mom has a working model plus a prototype.. personally I was shopping online for someone selling, and came across this post!

April 3, 2011, 03:05 AM
One of these is for sale at Oak Tree Range near Valencia California. I looks quite nice as I have a PPK and like it. After reading this I'm not sure. At $340
I can just almost buy something new. I would have goon for it if about $200

The Lone Haranguer
April 3, 2011, 08:22 AM
This thing flew under my Radar somehow, and I had never heard of one before.

July 29, 2011, 09:41 PM
I have a Thomas .45 acp, ser. no. 1174. Great shape, never fired it - afraid to! Don't know anything about it or even how to take it apart. It actually feels pretty good in the hand. Got it from my brother-in-law (deceased). Will probably take it to a gunsmith. Any thoughts?


July 30, 2011, 08:14 AM
They're pretty simple, and actually easier to take apart than a PPK; unload the pistol and remove the magazine. At the rear of the frame, there are two spring-loaded rectangular buttons (one on each side). Pressing those in will let you pull the slide back and up off the frame as soon as the cut-outs are cleared, and that's as far as disassembly will normally need to go for cleaning and lubrication. On the one I've handled, those rectangular buttons would also popu out of the frame once the slide was off, so make sure they go back in the proper spot during reassembly. HTH.

March 29, 2012, 11:12 AM
Sarco is selling the stripped pistol frames for this gun as "Paper Weights". The barrel support has been torch cut off the frame but otherwise they are intact. With the machinist drawings I believe they would be salvageable and one could build/make ones-self a one of off the BPs.

They are listed as Thomas A.J. Arms Paper Weight Frames.

December 28, 2012, 09:32 PM
Is there any kind of manual out there. I just inherited a Thomas 45 and curious how to disassemble and any other info that is available.


December 28, 2012, 10:30 PM
As far as I know, there is more info in this thread I started 5 years ago about the Thomas .45 pistol then there is available anywhere else.

I have been a gun nut for over 50 years, and this is about as good as it gets in one place concerning them.

I don't know what to tell you about an owners manual?
I think there was one in the box with the gun in post I ask about in post #1.
I even think I glanced through it.

But that was then, and this is now.


December 23, 2014, 10:31 AM
Hey, I am the one that drew the pencil drawings for Frank in his garage in West Covina. He was an amazing man, I would love to get in touch and see if I can shed any light on the man and the gun. Jerry.
I was very sorry to hear of his passing, I talked to his wife and was advised that all my drawings were being held until everything was sorted out. I moved to Washington state in 1978, so was unable to contact since then.

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